I had been to all properties of Banjara Camps over the last three years – except the one at Thanedar. I had passed it close many times already on the way to or from Sangla, but always skipped it. And when I finally visited it recently, it left me ruing all the missed opportunities.
Along with Shoja and Sangla, Thanedar forms what you would call the Himalayan Golden Triangle (using the phrase Banjara themselves use – the other famous Golden Triangle is Delhi, Jaipur and Agra). And like the other two, it is a gem where you need not even step out of the property to have a good time.
Its location looks down into the valley and the high peaks around seem at eye level. But it is the apple orchards that are its best charm. When I went, autumn had shorn them of all leaves too. But from the photographs I saw, they are full of the rosy fruit around August – September. Go in March to see India’s own apple and cherry blossoms. But the changing climatic patterns means the dates for the flowers and fruits are no longer predictable and there can be a variation of a few weeks.
* Service: Whatever you want, whenever you want – to the extent of what is possible in the mountains.
* Rooms: Nothing fancy with basic but functional furniture. Importantly, the bedsheets, blankets and pillows are very clean. Mattresses are suited to your back. You get hot water bottles on request to keep your feet warm in the bed. Windows with full glass offer great views of the landscape and allow enough light and warmth to come in. There are ample power points to charge devices and the room is well lit. Bathrooms have electric geysers for hot water and the shower works well; if there is no power, you can get hot water in a bucket from the kitchen.
* Electricity: Did not look like there was a problem. It is still advisable to keep your gadgets charged and water in the bathroom geyser warm should the power go off at the wrong time.
* Location: Hard to beat!
* Food: Trademark Banjara. Does not get better – in any property I have stayed in India including luxury chains. Amazing how they keep stocks of almost all that is needed for the season – and every meal comes out fresh, hot, lip smacking and elaborate – without feeling too heavy in the stomach.
* Connectivity: Most mobile networks and data cards work – the towers are just a few hundred metres away. The downside? These towers are an eyesore in the Himalayas.
* Tariffs: Rs. 4,400 (double), Rs. 3,400 (single), Rs. 7,200 (suite for two), Children between 5-12: Rs. 1,200; Extra Adult: Rs. 1,800 – including all meals and taxes.
Banjara Orchard Retreat,
P. O. Thanedar, Dist. Shimla,
Himachal Pradesh, 172 030