With unparalleled views of the Himalayas and surrounded by verdant forest, the Kumaon is the minimalist jungle escape located in the Northern Indian province of Uttarakhand.
Nestled into a hidden jungle range of India’s sacred Nanda Devi, the Kumaon is a private jungle retreat situated in the heart of nature. The glass-fronted design of the residence and rustic simplicity bring stunning mountainside views of the nation’s second-highest peak, including immersive views of the Himalayas.
The area around the Kumaon is home to a unique sacred and natural heritage with ancient temple complexes dedicated to Uma and Shiva scattered throughout the valleys. The relatively unexplored and enchanting region has attracted artists, scholars, pilgrims and seekers alike for centuries, with the likes of Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens and the Beatles’ lead guitarist George Harrison famously connecting with the culture and spirituality of area during the height of the hippie movement in the 1960s.
“Kasar Devi, and indeed Crank’s Ridge continue to attract mystics and believers and even though there remains a mere shadow of what was once a pulsating eco-system of an alternative arts and culture scene,” general manager Pushkar Singh Negi explains. “A walk through the village and beyond still contains an aura that is unmatched and reminiscent of a bygone era.”
Designed by award-winning Sri Lankan architects Pradeep Kodikara and Jineshi Samaraweera of Zowa Architects, the Kumaon exudes an ethos of tropical modernism fused into a spectacular mountain design. The varying altitudes of the mountainous landscape support a wide range of flora and fauna, whereas the local village trails allow guests to experience these elements up-close.
From the main road, steep steps lead you down to the property that offers ten luxury suites, a library, a sun lounge and a gourmet restaurant–all at 1600 metres above sea level. There’s also a newly-built spa in the works.
“The lounge that is perfect for an evening drink or some reading by the fireplace and an exquisite gourmet restaurant that offers a glorious view of the Nanda Devi and gets pampered with warm sunlight for most of the day,” Singh Negi says. “The roof of the lounge makes for an incredible sun terrace that is ideal for al-fresco day dining, or even a romantic candlelit dinner, and could also be used to indulge in some yoga or meditation.”
With an abundance of windows, the series of buildings were all constructed and situated with sensitivity to the filling it with the abundance of stunning natural environment that surrounds it. The result allows guests to feel immersed in nature, even when they’re relaxing inside. Other highlights include rotating walls of glass which seek to frame unbeatable views of forests, terraces and mountain peaks. There is also the decision to leave the concrete unplastered and walls finished with just one coat of paint, what the architects call rustic simplicity.
“The object was to give rooms space from each other, so one felt alone in the landscape, but the land was too small to locate 10 rooms, as the gaps between the rooms would have been quite close,” architect Pradeep Kodikara says. “But by designing in pairs and one on top of the other, we could achieve a certain degree of expanse between them, also it reduced the footprint of the overall buildings, thereby reducing the environmental damage.”
Designed the residence with unique cultural and natural identity of the land and its people in mind, the Kumaon took it a step further and fused elements of local craftsmanship into the interior design. Using locally-sourced stone, bamboo, ash bricks, pinewood, while all furniture and copper goods were handcrafted on-site by local labourers.
Finish the day relaxing on the deck with unparalleled views of the Himalayas and verdant hill forests at sunset, where you might be lucky enough to spot the area’s thriving leopard population setting out for prey.
Words by Braeden Alexander – Book your stay at the Kumaon here.