First off, dust off your city stuck-up-ness. I just made that word up, but you already know the meaning. Then pick up a backpack, and fill it with some non-fancy clothes, walking shoes, sunscreen (always), a reusable water bottle, toothbrush, extremely (no cheating here) basic essentials, and your best attitude. Ease yourself into a tech free mode. Play a few videos to remind yourself how the bird song and an extremely soft rustle of the breeze playing hide and seek with thick leaves sounds. Sounds good? You are ready.
The reason Tall Trees fits in right with your woods haunting plans is because it’s hidden right amidst a Narnia like jungle. It is miles away from the cacophony that is Manali town. So if you get struck by mall-withdrawal symptoms easily, you will have to give this one a skip. This is for the ones who like it quiet and pristine, simple but beautiful.
The jungle holds Tall Trees close to its heart, like a beloved secret. Get off the road at the NH-22 Chandigarh Manali highway, about 12 kilometers before Manali, and drive through a beautiful bridge laden with Buddhist flags. Not long after you cross the rustic bridge, you will see Tall Trees peaking from behind dense clusters of trees. If you pay attention, you can already hear the busy-body stream that rushes down from the uphill waterfall to the Beas river, casually sauntering across the resort. The cold April morning when I landed at Tall Trees, winter was playing the role of a boyfriend from nightmares, just refusing to leave, and showing serious behavior issues. To me, it felt like heaven. I thrive in cold weather.
Just because this is a spot away from the city does not mean your worldly comforts take a backseat here. While you check-in, your room heater will already be running, and you will walk into a super clean, cozy and comfortable room, with a balcony or patio, each with a private seating area. A hot beverage and a platter full of cookies will be waiting. I had the first floor Superior Room overlooking the garden, with the stream running right under the balcony. The resort has eleven spacious rooms, because wood haunters can’t really deal with walls closing in on them. The décor is minimal, non-fussy, and free of tacky excesses. You would want to linger, but don’t. That white bed will whisper sensuously, but focus. Unpack your bag, and get those shoes out. It’s time to get down to that forest business.
Before you wander forth to explore the woods around the resort, you must eat. The food here is made for evolved senses, fresh and flavourful, plated with love. The nerve-wrecking “fine-dining” circus of smoking bowls and unsuspecting, random ingredients beaten into reluctant caviars is thankfully absent from the menu here. The kitchen staff are a prompt, efficient and smiling lot. You can choose to have your meals at the quiet restaurant, at your room, or at one of the tables by the stream. I’d say, explore all options.
The use of the freshest local produce ensures that your food is uncomplicated, subtle but with layers and layers of delightful flavours. There is a good mix of options for the vegetarians and the non-vegetarians. My favourites were the Rajma with Parathas, and the Grilled Fish with Lemon Butter Sauce. The highlight of my stay was this elaborate breakfast spread that I devoured sitting next to the stream – fresh fruits, fluffy cheese omelette, and delightful pancakes served with a drizzle of honey. Even a woods haunter could get used to that heady combination of a great morning meal, cool mountain air, and the picture-perfect setting of lush greens and a sparkling stream.
The city you came from will start becoming a distant memory now. Dust will start gathering on your worldly stresses. Go for a leisurely trek through the jungle surrounding the property. If it feels familiar, you are probably thinking about the magical forest of Narnia. Soak in the mysterious, quiet, and calming magic of the woods. The resort can get a picnic arranged for you with the company of a stirring chorus of a hundred birds chirping away amidst the large trees. Quietly stalk that red beetle soundlessly scurrying away through the twigs. At this point you might start wondering about your life in general, and about your desk job in particular. It’s a natural part of your slow transition into a woods haunter. Embrace it.
You are just getting started! Sign up for a fishing trip, and learn some patience, perseverance and humour. A local guide will be assigned to you, and he will turn up with a fishing rod, worms dug out fresh from the ground, and unending enthusiasm to help you get a prime catch. I my case, my guide, Rambo’s determination was matched by the river fishes’ infinite resolve to stay alive. We laughed our heads off, moved from spot to spot, drove uphill on his motorbike in search of more worms, discussed his two kids, met some elderly folks from his village, exchanged pleasantries and fishing stories with some locals passing by, and nearly got caught in the sudden rain. We didn’t catch any fish that day. It didn’t matter.
About this time, you will feel a loss of grip on your city habits. Don’t panic. Relax and slip into the pace of the mountains. Read. Watch the sunset. Watch brave little birds observe you observing them. Count butterflies. Hear the wind-chimes jam some mean music with the breeze. Learn the first names of all the people working at the resort. Grab a mountain bike and go exploring. Maybe drive to Manali town to remind yourself why you didn’t choose to stay there. Maybe buy some colourful socks and caps which you will never use again. Come back. Feel relieved. Wear those walking shoes. Leave the room. Go, haunt the woods.
A time will come when you will have to leave the resort. It will hurt a bit. You will make a promise to yourself to come back some day. I know I did, and I don’t break promises.
GOOD TO KNOW
Tall Trees Resort is located about 15 minutes away from Manali –you still have accessibility to the main town of Manali, while savoring the peace and quiet the resort offers.
Choose at least a two days’ stay in order to enjoy the activities offered by the resort – fishing, trekking, mountain biking, rock climbing.
The property has eleven rooms that give you all the privacy you require, while giving you full access to some of the most stunning views of nature.
Beverages and snacks are served throughout the day at the restaurant.
While spring and summer are the best times to visit Tall Trees, carry ample woolens, as the weather even in the summer months can get cold.
Carry comfortable walking shoes for the treks.
With a 24 hours notice, you can request a private barbecue at the resort.
This is a great place to visit as a couple, as a family, or even as a solo traveler looking for a few days of rest and rejuvenation.
There are some indoor games and movies to keep an entire family engaged and entertained.
There is high speed WiFi connection across the property.