Kumaon: mountain retreat at the end of the rainbow

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The retreats in Chile, the US, and Oman that we were talking about in 2018 were pretty amazing. But you have seen nothing yet if you have not seen The Kumaon.

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This minimalist, private mountain retreat that is only accessible on foot, well the last 250 meters until you get to the door, is located in the Nanda Devi mountain ranges in the Indian Himalayas.

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The Kumaon perched above the village of Almora is a great place to leave the busy everyday life behind for a few days and contemplate the far away mountain ranges, the surrounding nature and get lost in rainbows and clouds.

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Zowa Architects Pradeep Kodikara and Jineshi Samaraweera designed a recluse from the world with tropical modernism in mind. The ten luxury suites, a library, sun lounge, and gourmet restaurant are almost entirely locally sourced and built.

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The buildings fit nearly seamlessly into nature and the natural surroundings. With large windows, guests have a chance to observe the hills, mountains, and forest from the comfort of self-designed rooms.

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The atmosphere surrounding The Kumaon and the area is spiritual and sacred. The region is dotted with stone temples that are dedicated to Uma and Shiva. The quiet village trails at 1,600 meters above sea level invite for walks and strolls to recharge one’s batteries.

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The architects collaborated with local artisans and craftsmen to integrate as much of the local materials as possible. The villagers made copper and stone accessories for the rooms. These are chalet type rooms paired and stacked on top of each other to reduce the overall footprint and the bulk of the buildings.

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The lower structures are stone from the area and the upper rooms are built with fly ash brick that is clad with bamboo sticks for added lightness. As much as possible The Kumaon was built on site including the furniture.

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The simplicity and rustic feel is extended on the kota-granite terrace where guests can enjoy outdoor dining or yoga sessions breathing in the crisp mountain air.

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The 1,160 square meter property with uninterrupted views of the valleys and nature has just been named one of the 50 Best Places to Travel to in 2019 by Travel + Leisure. The Kumaon is not only commanded for its use of local materials such as stone, bamboo, wood, pinewood, textiles, and fabrics, but for its efforts to become eco-friendly and sustainable.

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All buildings have rain water harvesting options and draining systems. The water is collected in a holding tank and will be reused for watering local produce and plants. The seasonal harvest will then be creatively integrated in the kitchen.

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Artists and creative thinkers of the past had it already figured out that muse may strike in the surroundings of Almora in the Indian mountains. Now, modern-day travelers can experience it again at this quiet, peaceful retreat.

More news from the Indian subcontinent: KOHLER Bold Design Awards Mumbai, Conrad Maldives Rangali, Indian interior design trends from Heimtextil and Ambiente.

Source: photos are courtesy of Kumaon website and FB, design-milk, dezeeen. Photographs are by Akshay Sharma

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