Hotel Review: Club Mahindra Kandaghat Resort, Himachal Pradesh in India
Words by Bindu Gopal Rao
A holiday in the hills is a perfect antidote to relax and take a break from urban stress. Well, after all the air in the hills is so pure that it has an immediate effect of enhancing your spirt almost immediately. And what better way than to head to Club Mahindra Kandaghat Resort that allows you to soak in the abundance of nature while having the time of your life.
Surrounded by the lush green peaks of the Shivaliks which are the lower part of the majestic Himalayan range, Club Mahindra resort is located at Kandaghat is 25 km from Shimla and 96 km from Chandigarh and is an oasis of calm spread over a whopping 16 acre campus. A close to 2.5 hour drive from Chandigarh Airport gets you here and the nip in the air is palpable.
We are given a traditional welcome and served a warm apple, cinnamon and honey drink that immediately warms us up – both to the place and its people. And there is more – a traditional Himachali cap – worn by people in this region is given as well and formalities done, we are escorted to our rooms. Walking past the well-manicured lawns it is the bright hued flowers that are bursting in the pots that catch my attention. The greenery and the bird song promise to unfold a holiday like no other and soon I reach my room – a studio that is expansive with a seating space, a large bed, a dressing area and an attached bathroom. Kitchen essentials, a microwave and a tea/coffee maker are also part of the in room amenities. This apart, free wi-fi is provided across the resort so there is never a moment when you are not connected with the world outside. I am told that the 72 well furnished rooms come in various categories – hotel block, studio and 1 bedroom units that are usually preferred by the club’s members and time share owners. All the rooms have a stunning view of the verdant forests and tree laden hills. Being located off the tourist hub, the tranquility of the space is hard to miss and yet you are not too far from the tourist spots making this an ideal location.
The Club Mahindra group is known for being a destination for family holidays and this is exactly why the resort offers a plethora of activities. You can have fun with a session of paint ball, archery and target shooting as well as indulge in a zip line – this is on the longest one in Himachal Pradesh. Kids can be completely kept occupied at the activity zone which has a variety of indoor games as well as art and craft activities. Check out your sporty side and indulge in a game of TT or billiards in the indoor games area or the digitized cricket outdoors. But if you are like me and want to soak into the blissful natural experiences, you will love the colourful sunsets here. I was here for three nights and each night was a new spectacle in the skies. Safe to say that arguably this is one of the best places to see the sunset – the skies put up a colourful show each evening turning from blue to pink, orange, yellow purple, peach and more! Or simply take a walk around the property – which will take you up and down winding paths into landscaped spaces, sunset points, fountains and waterfalls. And not to forget the abundance of avian life – I was lucky to spot several birds including the Himalayan Bulbul, Drongo, Swallow, Blue Whistling thrush, Rosefintch, Babbler, Oriental White Eye, Red billed blue magpie and Great tit. Stop by at the organic herb garden where you can see how vegetables are grown and used in the kitchen in house. Adventure junkies, take a guided trek on the hiking routes and catch a view of the mighty Karol Tibba of the Greater Himalayas. Just be mindful that this is a steep trek so go well prepared with the right gear.
A good holiday is always accentuated several notches higher when you have good food and this is one place where you will be spoilt for choice. Apart from breakfast, lunch and dinner, there is high tea with snacks as well as an outside street food counter prior to lunch that serves delectable paani puri, a tangy street food and gulab jamun with ice cream. While I was here Executive Chef Kunal Bharadwaj and his team treated us to a variety of gastronomical experiences starting with a traditional meal called Dham that is associated with festivals and special occasions. Laid out on low seating, the meal is served in a thaali that includes local Himachal fare like Siddu a lentil stuffed fermented dough. Paneer Channa Madra which is a fennel infused stew with cottage cheese, Dohi Dal, black split lentils tempered with clarified butter and Tawa Bhala, a lentil dumpling tossed with spicy onion and tomato gravy. Additionally you have Bedwan, a deep fried stuffed roti, Pahadi Mass, a tangy lamb stew and Katta Murgh which is chicken marinated and cooked with dry mango that lends it a tangy sourness. For dessert, we were served Kaddu ka Mitha a white pumpkin sweet infused with dry fruits that guarantees you gastronomic heaven. In fact each meal we had here was different from each other being treated to Italian, Mexican and Mughlai fare there was never a dull moment on the table. The resort has expansive spaces and if you are celebrating a special occasion, they can curate a custom meal experience in special dining spaces too! This apart there is a buffet on for all meals so you are never hungry while you are here.
While I was here, I was also involved in a tree planting activity which was a lot of fun that came with a great purpose. I was also fortunate to meet with the women of the local self-help group of the nearby villages who are a fine example of what real life heroes are all about. These women not just work in the fields helping their spouses in the farms but also look after their homes and make products like sweaters, caps, gloves and even pickles and preserves. You can buy these in the souvenir shop at the resort too. This is one of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities that the resort does. It is the staff’s attention to detail that makes all the difference here. As Gagandeep Singh, Cluster Manager – Operations says, “there are several once in a lifetime opportunities for you here that you must not miss. The location of this resort makes sure you can experience a holiday like no other.” Hard to disagree on that for sure!
Address: Kalka Shimla Highway, Shimla Hills, Dist Solan, Kandaghat, Himachal Pradesh 173215, India
Phone: +91 1860 210 1111