Exploring Kalpa with The Grand Shamba La


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“Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam

Be it ever so humble there is no place like home”

 

 

Of all the umpteen things travel teaches you, making you value home is one priceless learning.

But ironically travel also redefines the meaning of ‘home’.

On the road you realise that the concept of home need not just be the comfort of the bed you snuggle in or the familiarity of your own pad. It might just be the inexplicable familiarity of a stranger’s voice, or the uncanny resemblance of the dhaaba wala’s tea to the one you have at home, or the feeling of déjà vu when you enter the corridor of a temple you have never visited in your life.

And it may also be that warm, cosy feeling of being absolutely welcome in a place thousands of kms away from home.

The Grand Shamba La at Kalpa, Himachal Pradesh was one such place.

Where I could walk groggy eyed at 5.30 in the morning in my pjs, rubbing my eyes as I make my way to the attic to see the glorious sunrise over the Kinner Kailash range.

Or where I could sit in the lobby till midnight only to be pampered by the staff to an extra helping of the dessert at 11 pm.

Starry nights at The Grand Shamba La PC : PrithviRaj Negi

Or where I could plonk myself on the couch and grab a quick 10 minute nap in the lobby because I was too lazy to climb to the first floor!

Besides the spectacular views of the Kinner Kailash, Hotel The Grand Shamba La, nestled in apple orchards, boasts of unmatched hospitality in this Kinnauri town of Kalpa.

While my first memory of the hotel is being welcomed with greetings of Tashi Delek and white silken scarves, I vividly remember my jaw dropping in awe walking along apple trees. So when Prithvi, the owner of the hotel greeted me with a beaming smile, the kid in me blurted out in excitement, “Can I pluck apples in your orchard?”

And he was gracious enough to arrange an apple plucking visit for us with an apple plucking tutorial!

Over my three days stay at the Grand Shamba La, I absolutely cannot choose what stayed with me the most.

The heart warming hospitality of Prithvi,  the bright smiles of the ever helpful Ankit, Yashpal and the other staff, the serenity and calm of the mediation centre, enveloped in tranquility, the cosy library, set up by Indrajit Laurence Punjabi or the therapeutic views of Kinner Kailash from my room.

Or maybe it is the delightful food whipped up by the chefs from Rampur or the generous servings of fresh apple juice. Or the magical experience of Spotting Om over the Kinner Kailash range! 

But I know for a fact that it is also in the experiences that the hotel weaves around Kalpa, which make The Grand Shamba La synonymous for Kalpa and vice versa.

They arrange for day treks, visits to the local jewellers, weavers and also to the local juice factory. Here are my experiences:

Exploring Kinnauri jewellery: One afternoon, we decided to explore the local jewellers of Kalpa. Ankit, our tour guide led the way and we crossed tiny cobbled pathways with houses made of wood.

In one such house, two young lads carved silver strips into intricate jewellery.

Strips of silver

 

The young silversmith

The designs were fabulous. Bracelets for men and a long head gear for Kinnauri brides.

A walk further into the main town and we came across several local jewellers. Each had designs to die for. But none could be purchased over the counter. These are all made to order and you can actually see them making these masterpieces as their shops double up as workshops.

A wonderful piece of Kinnauri jewellery. This is worn on the back of the head.

Apple picking:

Prithvi arranged an Apple picking tour for us and like an excited kid I sprinted into the orchard, while a very amused Ankit laughed at all the excitement.

Apples and more apples hung from every tree in sight. Once I learned how to pluck them without disturbing the branch, it was just me and the apples.

Apples and me!

Nothing, I repeat nothing can be more therapeutic than this for a city dweller.

P.s: This is another reason, you must visit Kinnaur in the end of September.

Visit to the Kinnauri shawl weavers:

If there is one thing I regret not buying in my Kalpa trip, it has to be a handwoven Kinnauri Shawl.

The gorgeous black and white checks are embellished with colourful embroidery by these skilled weavers.

The price can go from 2500 Rs. to even 16000 Rs, depending on the intricacy of the work.

Visit to the HIMCU Juice factory: 

One of the highlights of my trip was the Visit to the Himcu juice factory.

Mr. Panjabi took us to this local factory which  produces organic juices.

They took us around the factory showing us the entire process, giving us an opportunity to meet the local ladies who work at the factory. They loved posing and I loved clicking them, promising them the prints of their photographs. (I did courier them later!)

The apple juice they produced was sugar free and certainly the best I have ever had.

Kalpa may seem a sleepy town to many, but there is SO much to experience in this tiny town. From brilliant temples with Kinnauri architecture, to the mystical sacred grove. From the idyllic Roghi village to visits to the local school.

Not to forget Van Vihar and the Monastery. But that is for another post.

For now, I leave you with some serene views from The Grand Shamba La.

Shamba La means a mystical abode and it truly lives upto its name. The hotel has a wonderful library on the 5th floor with an attic where you can sit for hours looking at the Kinner Kailash range. (Trust me, the views are beyond beautiful!)

The library at Grand Shamba La

 

They also have a Meditation centre : Yeti, of which I have very fond memories. Of learning Yoga and Tai chi with placid views of orchards and peaks. And for those who wish to dine with a view, there is Cafe Little Tibet, offering Tibetan snacks, organic juices and herbal teas.

If this isn’t a mystical abode, I wonder what else is. A combination of the pleasures of modern luxuries and the hospitality of a home stay.

I was absolutely touched to see their concern for my allergy to cabbage and how thoughtful they were to provide alternatives.

I dream of going back to Kalpa and waking up to magnificent views, go apple picking again and sit in the library with a glass of fresh apple juice for a long long time.

And did I mention?

They have wifi! ( You wouldn’t bother to log in, take my word!)

P.S: This isn’t a sponsored post 🙂

51 thoughts on “Exploring Kalpa with The Grand Shamba La

  1. Reminds me of some time i spent in Manali and a few other places in Himachal (never been to the famous Shimla though).

    You experience speaks volumes about their hospitality. I would have jumped at the apple plucking too, guess we all are childish at times 🙂

    Btw, did you tip the local ladies? 🙂

    1. Shimla I would never recommend. The places around Shimla are quieter and much less touristy 🙂 chail and the likes! The local ladies got a unique gift: I took prints of their pictures and couriered them the hard copies 🙂

  2. That hotel is so pretty! Reminded me of my time in Nainitaal though Nainitaal is so commercialized and this place looks so close to its roots still. Lovely post Divsi 🙂

  3. Beautifully expressed Divyakshi. The Grand Shamba La is a hotel which has to be experienced again and again, not just for the views and Kalpa but for the warm hearted people like Prithvi and his staff who make all the difference to your stay. God bless the Grand Shamba La and may it continue to give happiness to many. I have been experienced its hospitality 4 times and feel so blessed

  4. Thanks Divya, for transporting us back to that wonderful unforgettable Kinnaur holiday, you captured all the highlights of our trip and the Grand Shamba La ( along with Kinner camps and Tulsi ) was the icing on the cake.Felt like yesterday once more !

  5. I would have done the same (plucking of apples). 😊 That library and pathway to the hotel and all other panoramic pictures describes one thing for sure, that it’s a must visit place and should spend good no. of days there to experience the best of everything. I sometimes feel like having a home in the midst of mountains and a personal orchard. 😊 Well, great to read this piece with such fab pictures and lovely write-up, Divyakshi! 😊

  6. Wow..! What a beautiful Place..! My friend named Rudra Charan living in Himachal Pradesh. She had once came to tourism in Kerala and impressed by our team service and in return she invited me for a travel in Himachal Pradesh and I am planning to go there too..!

  7. Loved reading your travelogue and the pictures adds up all the charm and we would picture ourself sipping tea in one of those balconies with the majestic view! The local handicrafts are so beautiful. 🙂

  8. Such an inspiring article. The pictures are absolutely amazing, and we just love the silver work by the local artists. It would be amazing to have that mountain range as a backdrop. Thanks for sharing.

  9. I’ve been to a few places that felt like home and it’s such a wonderful feeling! Looks like you had a great time and the view from your room is amazing!

  10. I remember you telling me about this…and now i know how amazing this experience was for you. Those apples are so tempting. The silver is so gorgeous too….lovely pics as usual 😀

  11. Prithvi arranged an Apple picking tour for us and like an excited kid I sprinted into the orchard, while a very amused Ankit laughed at all the excitement.It will be rally amazing experience

  12. I completely agree with the line at the top which says that travels redefine “home”. I love the room with view, I think I couldn’t stop myself to admire the landscapes

  13. Awesome pictures and post. Kalpa is an heavenly abode. I have been there twice but never stayed at Grand Shamba La. This property seems awesome and next time for sure I am going to stay here.

  14. I loved your reflection about the meaning of home. Himachal Pradesh looks incredible, those views of the mountains are just stunning! Can’t wait to make it there someday

  15. Grand Shamba La sounds perfect for me as well. While I enjoy the joys of traveling, sometimes one needs a serene place where one can recharge. And this place would be it for me. I’d love to try everything and see everything this place to offer as well.

  16. The Himachal apple juices are so famous here in Chennai!!! Every local railway station has a counter!!! I love them so much!!!
    That hotel looks spectacular. Esp the wooden interiors look fab! If that’s the view I’d sit there too till midnight and an extra serving of dessert would be perfect.

  17. What a memorable stay you have had! The apples, jewelry, shawls… wonderful photo opportunities and also good chance to meet locals.
    Who need Wifi actually!!!

  18. Himalayas has always remained my first love. I remember my solo bike ride to Spiti Valley, while camping. The idea of riding for hours without having to see a soul — that’s a different experince. Have you been to Spiti yet? Try it solo sometimes if you haven’t!
    PS: would you believe if I told you that my spiti bike expedition was covered under 5000 rupees including food, fuel and accommodation? This was for 9 days. 😀

  19. One of my dreams is to sit facing a window that overlooks the HImalayas. Exactly like the picture you shared. Blissful and something that I can give up everything for. It’s just magical and I am so glad you had a chance. Gorgeous picture!

    P.S. Do you have an Assistant position open? I can send my resume 😉

  20. The Grand Shamba La looks like an amazing hotel to stay. The view is breathtaking and the decor is beautiful. It looks perfect for a getaway in a paradise!

  21. I so want to go there now !! How I missed this post? Loved those lovely silver jewelry, and shawls. But my favourite is apple picking session. I have never ever seen apples with tree attached to them. 😛
    Looks like a grand place with a great heart. The place has warmth in it and has hospitality as well.

    How to go there from Mumbai?

    I’ll ask another question but pls don’t kill me. Was it a FAM? 😛

    1. Hahahaha not a fam 🙂 the disclaimer says it’s not a sponsored post :p
      The place is sheer love with very helpful staff and a superb location. Mumbai to Chandigarh and then by road to kalpa via Shimla.
      Apple plucking session was one of the most memorable experiences:)

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