The monsoons had just set in and the weather forecast predicted cloudy rainy days with occasional thundershowers over the weekend that we were at Carbery Acres, a beautiful resort spread over five acres of dense mango and guava groves, owned and run by Anglo Indians. The land where the resort stood and several acres around it were gifted to the Carbery family by the British. The rainy weather added to the atmosphere and we had a wonderful time during our stay.
Getting to Carbery Acres wasn’t too much of a problem as the resort web site mentioned the GPS coordinates and Google Maps on our Android phone guided us to the location with minor hiccups. Carbery Acres is approximately 40 kilometers away from Dehradun and is best approached from Delhi by road via Karnal, Yamunanagar and Pontasahib. We drove down in a little over six hours to a warm welcome from Pat Kerr whose presence at the resort all through our stay and his fund of exciting stories and anecdotes were a treat.
Pat is passionately engaged with the development, management and popularity of the resort. He has retained the natural settings of the forest resort and built a variety of dwelling units from Swiss tents, Mud houses and a Tree House. A couple of machans nested in sprawling mango trees offers quiet and unobtrusive observation of the myriad birds that can be heard all through the day. Birds calling out, “Brain fever, brain fever,” which are reputed to have driven the British crazy and the bird that calls out, “Fell asleep, fell asleep” are some you can hear. Around the later call, is a story that a king had asked a sepoy to guard his precious daughter but the guard fell asleep and allowed thieves to kidnap her. In anger the king cursed the sepoy and cast a spell converting him into a bird. In penance the bird has ever since been informing the world at large “fell asleep, fell asleep.”
Not far from the Tree house is a clearing surrounded by five trees, apparently the ideal place for meditation. A rekhi practioner has helped create a spiritual zone or an energized Scared Space with a circle of stones, the northern point having a red coloured stone and the southern point a white coloured one. The rest of the stones are arranged at every point of the hour. At the centre is a little platform for the spiritual guide. This is a popular retreat for quite a few visitors and the spiritually inclined groups to the resort.
Popular for the corporate off site and team building meetings is an amphitheatre for motivational talks or cultural programmes. Built around a tree is an artistically designed bar not far from the structure that doubles up as the dining area or the dance floor or even a meeting room depending on what the visitors make of it . Bonfires and barbecues are also arranged when needed around this area.
The resort attracts schools from neighbouring areas of Uttarakhand for day picnics. Pat is in his elements when he takes charge of the children as he arranges activities and games for them. There are rope and obstacle courses, a climbing wall, sketching and painting classes, and a splash pool for just a bit of fun. For all visitors to the resort there are several activities that Pat arranges to suit varied interests. These include catch and release angling, nature trail walks and the soon to be introduced shooting range where the visitors get a chance to fire a variety of firearms.
The mud huts we stayed in where comfortable and the food simple but more than adequate. The rains made sure that we had a steady clatter of rain drops on the roof of our “huts” and at times the thud of a mango falling on the roof. It didn’t bother us too much besides a deep sleep after a long day ensured that we hardly noticed it. A posse of friendly dogs, a petting zone with rabbits and guinea pigs and ponies add a rural touch to the surroundings.
Pat graciously took us to the adjoining farm house were Jennifer Mann nee Carbery, now in her mid seventies , the heir to the Carbery Estate, lives. Jenny was the pradhan of the surrounding village for several years. Her son Greg runs the school, Carman School and is the President of the Committee that manages the affairs of the local church. He is also on the Board of several schools in Uttarakhand. The farm house was earlier a hunting lodge during the days of the British and is over a hundred years old. The character of the house has been retained and has the features of many Anglo Indian homes with its laced curtains, dining table where the family generally dines together, copious family photos on the walls and images of Jesus Christ.
In the evening and into the late night we sat around trading stories and getting acquainted as the men, Pat and I, sipped whiskey while the ladies, Saraswati and Deepa nursed a glass of wine each. Old familiar music of the eighties played in the background as we spent a relaxed evening together. Pat was the co-leader of a group of motor cyclists who rode over four of the highest passes in the world, namely Marsimik La, Khardung La, Tanglang La and Chang La in under 24 hours . Their feat has been recognised as a world record in the Limca book of records. He was also adjudged the best boxer, in the light weight category, in the state of Haryana in his heydays.
As we drove back to Delhi post lunch we were unanimous in our opinion that his was a lovely weekend getaway and a place we must come back too in the not too distant future..