They initially built a modest two-bedroom apartment to stay in while they designed their home. The plan was to use it as a guest wing for when their family would visit. Soon, their neighbours persuaded them to turn the guest wing into a larger four-bedroom paying guest accommodation. “There are almost no other comparably located riverside homes between Kullu and Manali,” Shalini tells me. Their current home is separated from the guest house by a garden, allowing guests enough privacy when they visit.
Now, the two are spending their 50s running their own communication design firm from the hills while also managing the homestay, interacting with guests and bottling home-made jams, chutneys and fruit juices. The couple live with their two cats named Baarish and Bijlee who don’t always take kindly to furry interlopers, so make sure to check with the hosts in advance if you plan on bringing pets along.
Each of the two floors has a pantry with tea, coffee, a microwave and refrigerator, cutlery and crockery but meals are cooked in a separate guest kitchen. Unless it’s raining or snowing, all meals are served alfresco, under an apricot tree. Though there is an in-house cook, Nitin enjoys cooking family favourites for guests. Breakfast specials include a reimagined Railway omelette that he would eat as a child at the Kalka railway station, Sindhi toast, balsamic glazed mushroom omelette and green chilli and basil scrambled eggs. Don’t miss out on the range of dals the hosts cook—dal Moradabadi, Punjabi dhaba dal with buttermilk, Lakhnavi arhar dal and bhuni moong with panch phoran, among others. For meals, you can enjoy regional chicken curries, a family recipe of Pahadi-style mountain goat meat-chawal, as well as Southeast Asian dishes like Thai curries, Korean bibimbap and Khow Suey. And, of course, homemade jams, chutneys, pickles and juices made with fruits grown on the property orchard are served with all meals. The couple will soon begin work on a new kitchen that guests can use on request and a larger indoor dining space to accommodate all guests when the weather isn’t suited for outdoor dining.