This is a Guest post by- Arunima Sinha
So let me start with a very simple question, nothing out of the ordinary- Do you have a pet (s)? That would be simple enough to answer and most of the time the response would either be a dog or a cat. Let’s talk about averages here and it would zero down to a dog(s).
Let’s now come to a little more complex question – Have you ever gone on a holiday with your pet?
Now, this question has been met with various expressions from people, ranging from genuine want to total incredulity. I have seen some pet parents go into a wishful mode where they would want to answer with a “yes” but have no idea how to. And then there are some who are yet to come to terms with fact that pets can actually go on holiday with their owners!
Let’s focus on the former population since the solution for them is easier to work out. After all, it’s a case of awareness Vs intention, to put it simply!
Ladies and gentlemen, please make space for the answer to your musings- Emerald Trail, nestled in Jungaliyagaon which is about 20-30 minutes uphill from Bhimtal Lake in Uttarakhand! A gem of a place which I’m so glad I chanced upon for our pets- A zen-like Lab (10 years) and a frisky German Shepherd (6 years).
Now that the drumrolls are over, let’s understand what Emerald Trail is all about. It’s a homestay which was conceptualised back in 2010 by Sumith Dutta and his wife with inputs from their 4 in-house dogs- after all, if they were to make it pet-friendly, the pooches had better be in agreement! They open their doors to pets along with owners and interesting to know that maximum occupancy is taken up by the likes of such people. The place is very accessible, whatever your mode of transport.
Taking the dogs out on a holiday had long been a part of Pravin’s (my husband) bucket list and we decided to just plunge ahead. Yes, the weather and the time of the year were an ally to our plan so it seemed like the perfect opportunity. It had to be a road trip and we had to make sure the dogs were comfortable enough. My Brio got converted into a 2-seater to make more space at the back. Packing had to be minimal but that has never been a problem with us luckily. We timed the journey keeping in mind that there had to be at least 4 breaks in between for the 2 of them to get some relief. They are both big dogs and it would be cruel to let them be cooped up for long hours.
Emerald Trail is approximately 329 KMS from Gurgaon so we estimated about 9 hours including breaks. This was on a Friday early morning when traffic would not have started piling up. As the journey progressed, we could not help being pleasantly surprised by the condition of NH24. The roads are an absolute delight to travel on and they aid in the drive becoming very hassle-free. The highway is dotted with eateries and there are some secluded places which we used for walking the dogs. Must say, we attracted a lot of attention on the way! It’s not every day that you see 2 big dogs lounging at the back of a Brio, going on a holiday!
Emerald Trail is pretty easy to locate from Bhimtal. Sumith sends detailed information via email on how to get there. On that note, he is very prompt on emails. Which also meant that my decision to reserve a place there was made and sealed quickly. It takes another 30 minutes of uphill driving from Bhimtal Lake to reach the homestay. Lalit Mohan, the manager of the place was very helpful in directing us there and ensured he stationed a person at the main gate to keep a lookout for our car.
Emerald Trail as of now, has 7 functional cottages and the 8th one is under construction. The cottages are spread across the huge property which means you have enough privacy but at the same time can allow the dogs to socialise under supervision. We had the whole place to ourselves since there were no other guests. Also meant that both our dogs could roam around, claiming the place as their own! Which they did and how! The weather was delightful with just the right amount of nip in the air- bright sunshine and a swing in the garden outside our cottage completed the pretty picture. Lalit had arranged our lunch on arrival which we were more than relieved to devour. The food is fresh and very well cooked. The dogs had their own feast laid out for them which is inclusive in the room tariff.
Sumith is a dog lover and believes in constant learning. Each new guest pet teaches him something new which he then incorporates to make Emerald Trail even better for the next one. The people working there respect your privacy and are not “in your face” with their conversation or day-to-day work. Though there are some interesting treks to explore around ET, we preferred staying back and chilling in the place and not moving an inch. Well, you really don’t need to! There is enough and more space for the dogs to play and roam around- the gardens are perfect to lie and sun yourself- The silence at night is just perfect to sit and say nothing at all.
The rooms are very spacious, clean and comfortable. They have been done up simply but tastefully. Local power supply is erratic but they have their in-house generator to help guests charge phones (the basic necessity). Mobile network is not that good but believe me, it proved to be quite a blessing to me! There is a particular spot in the garden that receives good connectivity and I imagine I must have made a funny sight waving my phone around in their air, trying to check if I could manage to get some network!
Food is a divine affair there. Since we were the only guests, we had our say in what we wanted to eat else it’s mostly as per the manager’s decision- makes for easy management in my opinion. Let me tell you, either ways the fare is pretty mouth-watering!
Check in and check out is flawless and quick. The payment is made up- front and all correspondence happens via email and phone (if required). Never once did I have a nagging afterthought about booking the place. It met our expectations and our pets had a gala time during the stay- Awareness and intention, both satisfied!
Would I recommend Emerald Trail to other pet owners wanting to take a holiday with their pets? Of course I would! The warmth and hospitality is enough to make you want to extend your stay. Enough said, I would now want you all to try it out for yourself! Go ahead, book a place and let Emerald Trail do the rest for you!
Distance from Delhi: 320 kms
Nearest Railway station to Bhimtal is Kathgodam – It’s 30 kms away
Arunima Sinha, an HR professional, fitness enthu and wandress at heart, often packs her bag and goes out saying “Hello world” the moment she feels the corporate chair is disturbing her posture.