I visited Bhaiya’s property at Raakh almost four years ago – when it was little more than a crusty log cabin surrounded by chil trees and a barely decipherable gravel-laden path leading up the hill. As I return to it now, the property is almost unrecognizable. Labourers and contractors mill about, crossing electricity generators, mounds of earth and water tanks – prospecting foundations, laying mortar to brick and checking wall lengths as the almost-finished cottages await their final coat of paint – on the verge of bringing semblance to the resort that will soon become the entrepot of this sleepy village and nearby environs.
The rustic surroundings bestow a pleasing contrast to the modernity that is the spas, conference rooms and adventure facilities that are currently taking shape in the resort. Numerous vantage points overlook schools and cottages with characteristic sloping roofs. Here and there is a temple, standing amid the terraced pastures as the lone sentinel of the god-fearing Pahadi. A slim bridge passes over the stream which creates a natural border between the village proper and the resort area. It appears to be a divide between the old ways and the new; comforting consistencies and bold visions. In the backdrop rise the sloping hills leading up the mighty Dhauladhars behind the resort – giving the air of a hermitically-sealed shell to the village and the unlikely resort that is taking stock at its top.
The feverish activity within the resort has an almost familial ethos to it. Fathers and uncles and brothers come to the aid of Bhaiya, at times supervising the tasks, but mostly getting in the way. The laborers all seem to know each other and the Rialch clan that keeps visiting frequently. Bhaiya has enlisted the help of two adventure buffs to act as de facto tour organizers. They’ve already come up with tentative hiking trails and cycling paths across the Gopalpur wildlife sanctuary and are now considering adding horse riding to the roster of activities. From rock and wall climbing to hikes, treks and mountain biking – Raakh Resorts is hell-bent on positioning itself as an adventurer’s paradise.
Raakh Resorts is a boutique resort with 17 cottages, all comfortably furnished. You wont find TVs here – the emphasis is to encourage guests to reconnect with family and friends, with the environment. Consider leaving your phones, tablets, laptops at home so you can really immerse yourself in the quiet that the resort offers, and the chance to explore by foot or bike the beautiful tea fields and pine forest trails, the peaceful temples and monasteries which are dotted along the hilltops.