New Delhi, India
October 11, 2003
KMVN, or to give it its full form, Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam, is the main body in charge of promoting tourism in Kumaon. KMVN has its headquarters in Nainital, and a veritable horde of Tourist Resthouses--they call them TRHs--all across Kumaon, even in places you wouldn’t think any tourist would ever stop at. What makes them a good bet is the fact that they’re invariably clean and comfortable, always inexpensive, and there’s bound to be one literally wherever you might want to go.
We stayed at TRHs in Nainital (TRH Mount View; Nainital has a TRH Snow View too); Mukteshwar, Almora, Binsar, Ranikhet, and Bhowali. In all cases, the TRH was at a prime location--just on the outskirts of town, so there was none of the crowd and pollution you’d expect; perched on a hilltop, amidst woods, and delightfully tranquil. (The TRH Binsar commands such a gorgeous view that people staying at nearby resorts come here just to take photos!)
Anyway, down to the basics. Everywhere, we got a double room, with clean linen, two bedside tables, chairs, a dresser, wardrobe, attached bathroom with running hot and cold water (except in Mukteshwar and Binsar--they don’t have running water, but will supply you bucketfuls), and even a tiny 14" colour television--the last not in Mukteshwar and Binsar (Binsar doesn’t have electricity--but they give you loads of candles, and anyway the place is so utterly lovely we actually didn’t mind).
All the TRHs had dining halls plus room service (watch out: in some of them, room service tariffs are 25% higher than the dining hall tariffs!), with a fairly wide range of largely Indian grub on offer. The only problem was that this being more or less the off-season, we were in many cases the only residents--which meant that we actually couldn’t order just what we wanted. The staff was usually very sweet about it, but what we invariably ended up having was rice or rotis, dal (lentils), and vegetables. Usually well-cooked, but a bit boring.
For complete information on each of the KMVN TRHs across the region, check out www.kmvn.org. It lists all the details--down to number of deluxe and single rooms, facilities, and tariffs, both off-season and peak season. What makes life easier is that you can make reservations by sending an email to email@example.com. They’ll make the necessary bookings for you in whichever TRH you want for whenever, and you’ll have to send them a payment in advance. Once they’ve received that, they’ll send you the vouchers (we got ours well before we were to leave, which was a real relief!). All in all, a fairly efficient bunch to deal with--and the TRHs are, though not luxurious, worth every rupee you spend.
From journal Kumaon: A Slice of Heaven