I had stayed at Baikunth Kasauli on an earlier visit to Himachal Pradesh and my stay was fabulous with every tiny detail taken care off. So this time when I visited Manali, opting for Baikunth Magnolia was a natural choice. On the way to Manali, we saw Sundarnagar Lake, Pandoh Dam and took darshan at Hanogi Mata Temple and Vaishno Devi Temple in Kullu.
Baikunth Magnolia is named after the vibrant magnolia flowering tree which is prominent in the garden. There are just 2-3 properties in Manali which have magnolia trees on their premises. Parking is not a problem at the hotel as there is ample space allotted for it. Check in was smooth and I got a lovely garden facing room with a wooden balcony. In the evenings it was heavenly to sit in the balcony sipping hot tea or coffee and gazing at the deodar forests around as sudden whiffs of deodar wafted towards me.
The property has 10 premium rooms including an interconnected room which is ideal for larger families or groups. Apart from the quaint charm of Baikunth, what I observed was the excellent standard of hygiene and cleanliness down to good quality new towels and spotless linen.
I found the setting of meals fairytale like. Seated on wooden benches surrounded by magnolia, hazelnut and plum trees and bright flowers guests savour Himalayan trout which is either pan fried, steamed or cooked tandoori style, chicken lakhnavi or paneer pasanda and listen to birds chirping. Can this open air dining experience get more magical than this? Add to that an honest, helpful and hard working staff.
Honeymooners and couples celebrating their anniversaries can enjoy a candlelit lavish three course dinner with wine or cocktails either in the romantic garden or in the privacy of their balcony. I relished my Manali style prepared rajma chawal in an onion tomato gravy, kadi pakoda and rice kheer which is served both hot and cold depending on the season. There is Himachali mutton curry which has a yoghurt based gravy and is relatively spicy, Himachali chicken cooked in a cashew and magaj gravy and Himachali pudina chutney.
Indian, Chinese and continental cuisines are also served with chicken curry, kadhai paneer, dal makhni, chilli chicken, chilli paneer, fried rice, manchurian, grilled, fried and fish fingers made from soul fish being delicious. Baikunth is the only hotel in Manali exclusively offering soul fish which is got from Amritsar. All meals are prepared fresh after the order is taken.
As I see parents lazing on hammocks in the garden while cheering their kids who are playing badminton or modified cricket with a tennis ball, I smile as family bonding takes precedence over being glued to mobile phones. While Wi Fi works in the reception, in the pipeline are more premium rooms, a spa, steam rooms and Jacuzzi.
The travel desk in charge at Baikunth prepared my itinerary based on my interests. I got darshan at Vashisht Temple, Hidimba Mata Temple, Ghatotkacha Tree Temple, Manu Temple, shopped on Mall Road, visited the Museum of Himachal Culture & Folk Art, Van Vihar and the Von Mgari Monastery. Bijli Mahadev makes for a good trek cum religious trip.
Manali can be the base for treks, paragliding and rafting. Day trips to Rohtang Pass depending on the season, Solang Valley, Naggar, Manikaran and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Great Himalayan National Park can be arranged. Solang Valley with its cable car is popular for snow and adventure activities. Naggar has a 1460 A.D. castle made of stone and wood and the Nicholas Roerich art gallery.
Manikaran has a Gurudwara and hot sulphur baths.
Baikunth Magnolia, Manali
Circuit House Road
The Mall, Manali
Mobile-9816792888 and 9459494161
Ph: 01902 – 250118 & 250149