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Beautiful and atmospheric accommodation

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The Western Himalayas are generally recognised as the stretch of mountains from the western border of Nepal all the way to Kashmir. As you top the ridges of the middle hills the panorama of the Great Himalayas dominates the northern horizon from edge to edge. It is an absolutely breathtaking view – especially at sunrise and sunset. Imagine staying in beautiful and atmospheric lodges – some old heritage bungalows all polished wood and atmosphere, some spanking new with wrap around windows so you miss not an inch of the spectacle.

Leti 360 in the Kumaon Hills is a magnificent example of a modern lodge with views stretching from Nanda Devi in the West – the highest peak in India – to Panch Chuli in the East at the edge of Nepal. Kumaon is renowned for its champagne air and sparkling views.

Here in the forests of the Binsar Valley are a couple of lovingly restored colonial era bungalows with superb mountain views like the Mary Budden estate or the Nanda Devi estate in a region full of wildlife, charming and pretty hill villages and great atmosphere. Or you can indulge in some relaxed hill walking from village to village, staying in specially adapted village home-stays, simple but deliciously comfortable, enjoying the hospitality of your village hosts and connecting with a completely different and timeless culture.

For the more venturesome there is another kind of luxury – the luxury of remoteness and isolation in remote and wild mountain country. Asian Explorations has a special tour where, accompanied by your self-contained jeep-borne team you explore the remote and often most beautiful corners of Kumaon and Garhwal staying in isolated little forest rest-houses built for forest officials touring their remote districts.

You could always trust them to find the most beautiful spot for the rest-house! This, by the way, is the country made famous by Corbett in his Man-eaters of Kumaon. And then there is Shimla – summer capital of the Raj where Kitcheners’ palatial home has been converted into a superb hotel – Wildflower Hall. In the main town is another gem – Chapslee Hall with 11 rooms that dates back to the early 19th century and the First Afghan War.

Ladakh at the edge of Tibet – high, arid and magnificent – embellished with hill top Buddhist monasteries epitomises the romance of the mountains and High Asia. Villages cluster around river valleys lush with willow groves and apricot orchards and emerald fields of barley.

Here you can stay at the stunningly adapted village home-stays owned by Shakti again allowing you to interact with your hosts and locals while enjoying a simple but elegant luxury. Or you can stay at the heritage Stok Palace where the descendants of the Kings of Ladakh still live. And now there is an immensely luxurious and beautiful tented camp in the environs of the photogenic Thikse monastery.

The Vale of Kashmir with its cedar-wood houseboats amidst the lotuses of Dal and Nagin Lakes has always had a powerful hold on the imagination and now there is a houseboat that not only represents the best of this romantic accommodation but incorporates the most modern eco friendly practises to mitigate the pollution of the lakes – Sukoon it is called “Bliss” – and indeed it is. Kashmir is once again open for business. And if you would like a luxury camp to fish for the legendary Kashmiri trout then Asian Explorations have particular expertise in this.

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