The Himalayan Kothi for Traditional Pahari Architecture


Welcome to the Himalayan Kothi, which is a wonderful example of Katkhuni, traditional Pahari architecture, unique in that it uses no vertical supports. Constructed by building a mesh of thick cedar rafters, later stacked with stone, this earthquake-resistant style is a fast disappearing sight in Himalayan architectural vocabulary. Still, it is heart-warming that Shalini and Rajeev Khimta, proud owners of this five bedroom house chose to showcase this style when they decided to build in their orchard near the Kais Sanctuary in the Kullu Valley.

While Rajeev shuttles between Shimla and Kullu, Shalini oversees the operations, the kitchen, and warmly looks after her guests. Her food is to die-for and she needs no persuasion whatsoever to conjure up local delicacies ever so often in case you show the slightest inclination. Do request her for the traditional dham (a multi-dish meal) if you are on an extended stay at the Himalayan Kothi, the sweet rice as dessert is truly manna.

The Khimta’s have taken every comfort into consideration while building the house; complementing the two-storey structural design are plush interiors and modern plumbing. In deed Shalini laughingly shows you around her stylish bathrooms. The best feature, were you to ask, is the open to elements veranda running the entire length of the upper level – offering the most magnificent panorama of the Kullu valley spread-eagled below. It is entirely possible that the Roerich duo saw and painted the exact same vista from Naggar further up the same axis!



Puneet Sidhu
Puneetinder Kaur Sidhu, travel enthusiast and the author of Adrift: A junket junkie in Europe is the youngest of four siblings born into an aristocratic family of Punjab. Dogged in her resistance to conform, and with parental pressure easing sufficiently over the years, she had plenty of freedom of choice. And she chose travel.

She was born in Shimla, and spent her formative years at their home, Windsor Terrace, in Kasumpti while schooling at Convent of Jesus & Mary, Chelsea. The irrepressible wanderlust in her found her changing vocations midstream and she joined Singapore International Airlines to give wing to her passion. She has travelled extensively in Asia, North America, Australia, Europe, South Africa and SE Asia; simultaneously exploring the charms within India.

When she is not travelling, she is writing about it. Over the past decade or so, she has created an impressive writing repertoire for herself: as a columnist with Hindustan Times, as a book reviewer for The Tribune and as a contributor to travel magazines in India and overseas. Her work-in-progress, the documenting of colonial heritage along the Old Hindustan-Tibet Road, is an outcome of her long-standing romance with the Himalayas.
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