Barefoot Bungalow is set in the comely hills of Burans Khanda village, Uttarakhand. The village derives its name from a ruby-red flower, an equivalent of the Himachali Rhododendron, as its namesake. On your way to this homestay-style retreat, you will spot many red flowers dangling off the high trees.
Located a few kilometres from Mussoorie, the drive to the bungalow is easy. The ascent is not too sharp, and roads, while not too broad, are easy to navigate. In spring, you will spot local children selling big bouquets of wild daisies and burans. Rows of Kaleen sellers also add to the scenery&rsquos colour.
I reached Barefoot on a pleasant April afternoon. As the wind ruffled the juniper trees in the yard, the staff passed around locally-source fresh-pressed juice. A Garhwali topi was also presented to mark our welcome. Inside, old tunes from a caravan radio punctuated the serene silence of the property. Despite a stunning panoramic view of the Himadri range, the interiors will draw you in. With warm lights and premium wooden flooring, the property appeared to be a cosy cross between a luxury space and a homely interior. It currently consists of three large rooms and an ambient living space.
The rooms are spacious and well-heated. Harpal Singh, the property owner, actively prioritizes warm interiors. &ldquoA friend of mine suggested infra-red heating for the washrooms,&rdquo remarked Singh, maintaining that Barefoot remains hospitable despite snow showers. Inside the rooms, the décor is tasteful and littered with photographs of Mussoorie hills amidst clouds. &ldquoWe plan to work on the attic as another living space. The views would be glorious,&rdquo added Singh.
Taste of Garhwal
The former Hyatt chef, Arjun Adhikari, leads barefoot&rsquos kitchen. While other cuisines are also available, the traditional Garhwal thali is a must-try. &ldquoWe prepare this book for all our guests in Garhwal,&rdquo said Chef Adhikari, who is originally from Dehradun.
The thali consisted of Naal Badi (seasoned with Jakhiya instead of jeera), Bakra Siri (local mutton prepared without colours or preservatives), Saag Ghota (a mixture of seasonal plants such as sarson and rai) and Pahadi Daal (a mixture of rajma and toor among other dals). These were served alongside local salads&mdashAalu Jakhiya (potato sprinkled with Jakhiya) and Kachmoli (seasoned Malta). &ldquoKachmoli is a staple for village women, who sit in the afternoon hours to talk and mingle over this spicy-sour mix,&rdquo mentioned Chef Adhikari.
In breads, Mandwa roti, made of mandwa seeds (similar to black gehu), was served. A special hemp chutney, which has many health benefits, boasts Chef Adhikari, was also presented.
For me, Naal Badi and Kachmoli were favourites. Naal Badi, whose Rajasthani variant is Aloo Vadi, had the right flavour consistency and balance. Kachmoli, on the other hand, with the pop of Malta, complimented the otherwise simple Garhwali palate.
Barefoot is set in a relatively remote hillside area. While locals can guide you to specific forest trails, a morning walk on an otherwise traffic-free road is also a good alternative. On these walks, you&rsquoll hear the song of the blue whistling thrush echoing amidst oak woods. The sounds of cowbells from the terrace-farmed valleys are also music to the ears.
You can head to Landour&rsquos Lal Tibba circuit for longer walks, which is only an hour away from Barefoot. If you grow hungry post walking, try the famous Bakehouse&mdashtheir potpie is a must-try for a chilly, cloudy day. For shopping, you can head to Mussoorie&rsquos Mall Road, roughly 40 minutes away.
Best Time To Visit
Barefoot is a stay for all seasons. However, if you are planning a cosy snow retreat, December to February is the best time.
How To Reach
Barefoot is roughly a three to three-and-a-half-hour drive from the Dehradun airport (depending on the traffic). It is six to seven hours away from Delhi by road, making it a great weekend retreat.
Barefoot encourages bookings in groups. As a luxury stay, the price for six adults is Rs 60,000 a night. The price is inclusive of all meals.
Address Barefoot bungalow MUSSORIEE, Chamba - Mussoorie Rd, Burans Khanda, Dehradun, Uttarakhand 249180
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