Located amidst solitude, perched upon a hill in the South Gola range of the Himalayas, lies Jilling Terraces. A few hours away from the chaos of touristy Nainital, Jilling Terraces is an oasis of verdant calm. The estate stands alone amidst 100 acres of forests.
One has to disembark from their car at Matial Village and take upon a steep 1.5 km climb to the property. There are guides and porters available to haul the luggage up. The realization that you’ve left the city behind truly will come a little way into that hike, when red-faced and short-breathed, you will look around and find thick oaks, large conifers and luscious rhododendrons. The hike is not an easy one, so be prepared to halt for a cup of tea or nimbu paani.
Once you finally hike up to the property, the first thing that greets you on a clear day is the majestic view of the Himalayas. The sweeping panorama of snow-clad peaks will take your breath away and leave you feeling enchanted. The 80 year old heritage home is nestled amidst mixed forests. The forests are home to various wildlife species like the barking deer, sambar deer, Himalayan palm civets, and even the occasional leopard or black bear, along with a variety of flora.
Jilling is owned by a dynamic couple – Sheela and Rajeev Lunkad, who are both architects. They have created a warm and inviting home out of Jilling and it is abundant with splashes of happiness and colour. “The idea was to create something rustic that would allow people to be in sync with nature and the locals,” as per Sheela. The rooms take inspiration from the surrounding Himalayan flora such as rhododendrons, cherry trees, bamboos etc. It only takes one look at the rooms to fall in love, and one is soon day dreaming of spending months here – where hot baths are available in the lap of nature.
There is a Danish word called ‘hygge’ which means ‘a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being’ and it forms an integral part of their lives. The same feeling of hygge pervades through every nook of Jilling – the interiors seem specially designed for the very purpose. It is also the seating in the open, the charming white swing that looks onto the horizon and the marvellous sunsets that Jilling is privy to, that further fuel this feeling. All one needs is a cosy blanket, a cup of chai and a book to experience bliss here.
But a place to stay remains a place until touched by people. And the people of Jilling Terraces are the most jovial bunch. Be it the cook who can’t stop humming along dishing out local delicacies or continental delights, or the caretaker with a wide smile. Paharis have a way of showing us that happiness is as commonplace an emotion as any.
The food is another highlight at Jilling, with everything coming from the farms to the table. The food cooked is mainly local, with the occasional pizza, pasta, momos etc cooked on request. Trying the simple local fare is a must, as it is tempered with equal parts hand-grown and crushed spices, and genuine smiles. If you have not tasted authentic Kumaoni fare yet, you have much to look forward to. The dishes may be simple and ordinary looking, but the freshness and quality of ingredients speak for themselves.
Spending days in Jilling is not a tough task. There are hikes to be explored and lakes to marvel over. There is the blanket of stars at night and the sun melting over peaks during sunset. There is morning coffee and evening pakoras. There is the common dining room and the solitude on the swing. Luxury may mean different things to different people, but it comes close to a universal definition at Jilling Terraces.
Thank you very much to you and your team for arranging this fantastic tour. One of the best pick from this tour was your meticulous planning and promptness of service. All arrangements were fantastic, be it a delivery of vehicle at Chandigarh airport, hotels particularly at Chandigarh, Leh, Nubra, Pangong. However the best was at Jispa, Kargil and Srinagar for different reasons. Jispa was simple but authentic with very tasty food.
Rajesh & Gauri Natu
Graphic Designer, Apple
Sunil, after I ran 21k Marathon I bragged about it for years. The same is being repeated again, with my ambition to drive across the Himalayas, which was almost faded with Srinagar under curfew. You and Chetan were the spark to our fire that we could do this drive and without a single trouble. Driving is a passion but driving thru places where there are no roads is trouble, but your breakup of program and awesome car condition helped us actually sail thru. Three cheers and five stars.
Absolute Networks, Mumbai
Wow. wow, wow. What a experience! We took the route of Delhi - Jammu - Srinagar - Leh - Sarchu - Manali - Delhi. Sunil Kapoor gave us excellent service which includes his next to new 4WD in immaculate condition and all hotels were top class. Coming from Australia, we were bit nervous in start but when we met Sunil, we had full trust and all went very positive. Sunil gave us perfect instructions and everything was according to plan. Thank you Sunil and your team for our one of the best experience in life you have provided us.
Director, Webential, Australia
Eight of us from Sri Lanka got Sunil to arrange a self driven tour to Leh and we are very happy with our decision. He was punctual, trustworthy and met our expectations. The service provided was very professional. As foreigners it’s hard to arrange such a tour by ourselves and Unwind outdoor filled in the gap perfectly. All places we stayed were nice and decent. Should specifically mention about the two Scorpios which we instantly fell in love with. They were very well maintained ...
Friends from SriLanka
After days of research, we finally came across a facebook page called ‘Unwind Outdoors’. It seemed like our dream was going to be finally true. Very reasonably priced and Sunil from Unwind was like a know-it-all person.
The itinerary was so crisp and so very well laid out that there was no reason for us to worry other than coping up with nature’s fury.
Clifford Chance, Delhi
We did a SUV self drive trip from Chandigarh to Ladakh and back organized by Unwind Outdoor.
Highly recommend Unwind Outdoor as Sunil and Manpreet took care of everything we needed (car, hotel bookings, sightseeing and food recommendations, permits) and everything was organized seamlessly. Sunil was very patient with all our queries, giving suggestions and options to suit our preferences.
Ashish & Neha Thadani
Great to see the know-how of the Unwind Outdoor team regarding every aspect of the Srinagar - Leh - Chandigarh self drive trip. From weather conditions, to road conditions, to health/clothing requirements, and also driving instructions - Sunil and Manpreet are warm, meticulous and knowledgable. Villa Himalaya in Sonamarg surpassed all our expectations and ensured that our expected standards for the rest of the trip were extremely high.
Symbiosis Law School, Mumbai
Thanks Sunil for arranging a wonderful trip. Everything went well and we were in good hands with friendly and competent drivers. Accommodation was good and tents were comfortable beyond our expectations. We didn't have problem with food choices. It was a totally rejuvenating vacation and experience for us. Thanks from us in Singapore!
We had an amazing 9-day from Manali to Leh. Serene, breathless and picturesque. High altitude sickness was a big issue for us but we were in good hands.
Unwind Outdoor was superb in arranging and coordinating the trip. Taking care of all arrangements and checking-in on us. Kudos to Sunil and his team.
Assistant Director, Jurong Town Corporation, Singapore
We travelled as a couple & completed a self drive trip from Delhi-Jammu-Srinagar-Kargil-Leh-Nubra-Pangong-Tso Moriri-Sarchu-Manali-Delhi. Itinerary was meticulously designed to be a mix of adventure and comfort. Hotel choices were best. Support was available at all points in case of emergency.Vehicle provided was top notch. Thanks to Mr. Sunil Kapoor for personally putting in efforts to maintain such high standards.
Nikhil & Neha Mazumdar
Manager L&T, Mumbai
Six of us (two families) travelled to Leh in Jul / Aug 2015 and we had an excellent experience with Unwind Outdoor. From the very beginning of our excited planning phase, Sunil has been willingly suggesting us options, number of days, places to visit etc. He has all the knowledge of the terrain, passionate about trekking and traveling himself, so he understands travel-crazy people such as me and my quirks.
We landed in Leh in time for cloudbursts and flashfloods and landslides (along with mud and rocks sliding too). Despite Nature's fury, Sunil and Skarma made sure we were utmost safe and comfortable. These guys are just not into travel business, they help people fulfil their travel dreams. Truly! Go guys!!
Barclays Bank, Bangalore