Welcome to Himalayan Village Sonapani!

Sonapani is a quiet, scenic spot that is miles away from the tourist track, both physically and mentally. We are a destination devoid of anything that will remind you of the city, a spot that is ideal for honing the "art of doing nothing".

To reach us you may have to walk for about 25 minutes, as we are connected only by a narrow village dirt path, not for the faint hearted to drive on. There is a safe parking space available and the luggage is carted in on our ponies.

For our guests we have 12 independent cottages constructed from mud bricks that were sun-baked on site 12 years ago. Over the years the saga of new guests leaving as friends and returning guests becoming family has continued.

At Sonapani we believe in the kind of hospitality that comes from the heart. My wife and I love meeting and hosting people, and with our two young kids we look after our guests as a family. We certainly are not a "welcome drink on arrival" and "fruit basket in the room" kind of a place. A welcome drink is a reflex action in any Indian home & as far as a fruit basket in the room is concerned, we have at least one fruit tree outside each cottage, so our guests can just reach out and pluck ripe organically grown fruit during the season!

If you want to escape the bustle of city, if you want to finish reading (or writing!) that long pending book, or go on short walks or some amazing day long hikes, if you'd like to spend some quality time with your loved ones or sip a malt sitting around a bonfire, or just spend your time watching the magnificent panorama of the snow-clad Himalayas, we are happy to host you at Sonapani. For more details please go through our website or call me at +91 800 6300 100 or email me at ashish@himalayanvillage.com.

Look forward to seeing you in Sonapani.

Warmly,
Ashish Arora


Facilities

Sonapani is spread over 20 acres that can be reached after a pleasant 25 minutes walk through the orchards of our village, Satoli.

Nestled among fruit trees and vegetable gardens are 12 independent single bedroom cottages. Each cottage has one bedroom, a small dressing area and a private sit out. The bathrooms have solar water heaters for running hot/cold water supply for bucket baths.

The cottages are spread out on five levels. The ones on the lower levels offer a higher degree of seclusion and privacy. The cottages on the upper levels are closer to the common areas. If you like being around people or if you want to walk less to reach the common areas please ask for cottages on the upper levels.

The community areas comprise of a dining hall, a bonfire space and other comfortable spots for socialising. The meals are served buffet-style and there are no regimented meal times so our guests can enjoy their holiday sans any deadlines.

A lot of the food is grown on our farm and is free of chemicals. We use processed food items sparingly in our kitchen. Almost all the food is prepared from scratch and is home cooked. Our breads, cookies and cakes are all freshly baked, our preserves are made from fruit plucked from our own orchard. The cuisine is primarily north Indian but with diverse regional dishes finding a place on the table. We love to prepare our local Kumouni khaana for our guests, so please ask for these dishes if you like to try different kinds of food.

To sum it up, we are a basic place but the "basics" are right. The cottages are made of sun-baked mud bricks hand made on location, the floor is of recycled slate, the bathrooms are clean, the linen fresh and the beds comfortable.

We are assisted by a dedicated team of workers from nearby villages in our hospitality that is warm and straight from the heart.


Things to do

Experience a life without television and Wi-Fi as we have none. Commune with nature.
Pluck fruit and wild berries (during season) or climb trees.
Go for walks in the jungle and explore the numerous walking trails around Sonapani. Enjoy views of the snow clad Himalayan peaks, like Nanda Devi, Trishul, Nandakot, Maiktoli, Panchachuli and Chaukhamba.

Picnic besides a stream that is a 30-minute walk from the resort.
Sit around a bonfire in the evenings.
Explore the traditional Kumouni villages around Sonapani.
Buy locally made, fair-trade handicraft products (www.kilmora.in)

Places one can drive to:

  • Jageshwar, a cluster of 104 ancient stone carved temples
    72KM/2.5 hours
  • The Binsar wildlife sanctuary
    65 KM/2.5 hours
  • Muteshwar, driving through a beautiful reserve forest
    15 KM/40 minutes

  • We'd be happy to pack lunch for you & organise a local cab.

    We'd be happy to pack lunch for you and organise a local cab for these trips.

    Signature walks:

    Mukteshwar

    This is a day hike that takes you through a reserve forest area to the quaint British-era town of Mukteshwar. The walk is about eight kms long and takes three to five hours depending on fitness levels and the number of photographs you click en-route. We pack a picnic lunch for this walk. In Mukteshwar one can visit the PWD guesthouse that offers an expansive view of the Himalayas and the valleys below. It was a favourite spot of the legendary Jim Corbett. There is an old Shiva temple close by.

    "Chouli ki Jaali" is a rock face behind the Shiva temple where local youth who are trained as mountaineers offer rappelling, rock climbing and valley crossing for a fee.

    If there is time and stamina left then one can walk back to Sonapani using a different route that is all downhill, taking about three hours. Or you can hire a cab for about Rs 600-700 and drive to Sonapani in 40 minutes.

    The Mukteshwar trail is complicated and requires the services of a local guide. We help train young men as guides and apart from giving them a chance to interact and learn from city people it also helps them earn some pocket money. The guide fee is Rs 400/ per day.

    Trek to Kapileshwar

    The 10th century Kapileshwar Temple is a three to four hour downhill walk from Sonapani. The temple is a protected ASI monument and is made of stone with beautiful and intricate carvings.

    Right next to the temple is a small rivulet where one can indulge in some water splashing. The route to the temple is through a beautiful village called Mona that still retains its traditional look and feel.

    After a picnic lunch the return walk can be quite taxing as it is all uphill. A local cab can be hired from about half way on the route up. A guide can be hired for the Kapileshwar walk as the last stretch is slightly complicated. One can do without a guide if one is ready to be a little more adventurous as one finds villagers on the route once in a while.

    Trails around Sonapani

    There are a lot of beautiful walks around us suited to different age groups, fitness levels and temperaments. Depending on how you are feeling on a particular day, walks ranging from 45 minutes to three hours can be suggested.

    As we had said in the beginning: Here in Sonapani doing nothing also is a very viable option!

    Child Friendly

    Having two young children of our own we understand the requirements of children and the anxieties of parents while on holiday.

    From sterilising feeding bottles to feeding the child that one special dish of his/her liking when everything else fails or any such option that will make your stay more ‘at home’………we are happy to provide.

    There is enough in and around Sonapani to keep children engaged. The idea is to expose them to a life without television and modern gadgets. There are picnics in the jungle, a stream, fruit to pluck, trees to climb, birds and butterflies to identify and our gentle Tibetan mastiff ‘Jhumroo’ to play with.


    Tariff

    Presented below is our detailed tariff plan.

    :: Cost per day per person on twin sharing basis   ₹ 3000
    :: Cost per day per person for family cottage*    ₹ 3200
    :: Cost per extra adult    ₹ 2100
    :: Children between 5 to 12 years of age    ₹ 1100
    :: Children below 5 years of age    complimentary

     

    Packages

    :: 3 nights/4 days package cost for a couple ₹ 21000
    :: 2 nights/3 days package cost for a couple    ₹ 15000

     

    *We have two family cottages which have a separate area for kids with a bunker bed to accommodate two children. Tariff for kids between 5 to 12 years of age is Rs.1100 while tariff for an extra adult staying in the room remains the same, as in case of other cottages.

    The cost is inclusive of breakfast, lunch, dinner. morning/evening tea and all taxes.

    The cost does not include cost for travel, bottled water, juices, soft drinks, cocktail snacks and items of personal nature.

    Driver/helpers/maids are charged Rs. 400 per day for food and stay. Separate accommodation for maids is not available.

    Booking & payments: Please pay 100% advance for a confirmed reservation. Please send us a booking request and we will send you our account details for making the payment.

    Minimum cancellation charge is 15% of the total amount. Cancellation charges within 15 days of the arrival date would be 50% of the total amount while cancellations done within 7 days of arrival date would be 100% of the total amount.


    A bit of History

    At the heart of himalayan village sonapani is an old natural spring. It’s water is believed to have medicinal properties and that is how this place got its name - Sonapani. ‘Sona' in Hindi means ‘Gold' and 'pani' is water. So, welcome to the land of golden water!

    The story dates back to the days of the British Raj. Once, while crossing this ridge, some British army officers from a nearby cantonment happened to stop and drink the water from this natural spring. They instantly realised that there was something very special about this water.

    They were so fascinated by it, that in the later half of 19th century and early 20th century, water from this natural spring was supplied to the british officers of the nearest army Garrison (Almora) on ponies and horses.

    One of these officers was Captain Kushal Singh Burathoki, a highly decorated soldier of the 3rd Queen Alexandra's own Gurkha Rifles. Upon retirement, when the British offered him land of his choice for his post retiral days, he opted for this piece of land. In the middle of no where, it was indeed the charm of this water and nature's brilliant display of beauty that drew Captain Burathoki towards this land. He named it ‘Sonapani Estate' and then lived here happily thereafter, farming and hunting! The house he built, a 100 years old stone structure, now is our home.

    The 3rd Gurkhas
    Beyond some bald statements, such as the fact that this unit was raised in the year 1815, after the conclusion of the first campaign of 1814-1816 Nepal wars, details of the early history of the battalion is shrouded in mystery. This battalion was initially known as ‘The Kumaon Battalion' and later got the name ‘The 3rd Gurkhas'.

    It was this battalion that captain Burathoki served, fighting wars from Nepal to Afganistan. His bravery was acknowledged and he was decorated with the ‘Order of British India', ‘Indian order of merit' and ‘Sardar Bahadur'. He also served as the honorary magistrate of Almora.


    Get Involved

    One can get involved in socially relevant initiatives run by us or by other friends of the community.

    We always require a helping hand for the Livelihoods project for village women, planting trees in the Van Panchayat forest (community forest) or supporting  the local school.

    Please write to us at: ashish@himalayanvillage.com if you’d like to know more or volunteer.

    In return we promise you good food, great company and an experience you’ll always cherish.

    A school in the mountains

    Chandi Maati, Kumaon

    Chirag School

    Contact us

    We love meeting new people – travelers, artists, thinkers, walkers and trekkers. Anybody who needs a break, or wants to slow down and reconnect with nature, is welcome. Come visit us anytime of the year. Tell us a little about your idea of a memorable holiday, the number of days at hand & the composition of your family/group and we will be happy to assist you in planning the trip.

    You can also write to us for organising offsites and interesting events.

    Locate Us on Map
    How to reach (PDF download)