Jungle House lies on Jakhu Hill in an ancient forest. In winter, you can lie in a hot bath and watch snowflakes drift past the window…
Stay among the forested hills of Shimla in a fairytale cottage steeped in history. Jungle House has been in my family since 1941, when my grandmother the HH Princess Kusum of Bharatpur returned from England at the outbreak of WWII with her son and his nanny. She spent some time in Shimla at her father’s summer home and while on a picnic with her cousins – you can only call it serendipity – she saw Jungle House and fell in love with it. The sweet part of the story is that the previous owner married the nanny, so they all lived happily ever after.
Set at 7,700 feet on Jakhu Hill, Shimla’s highest point, the property dates back to the 19th century, which is when it first appeared on vintage maps as a shepherd’s home that was later bought by an English settler. I was born here in the 60s and have fond memories of growing up in this magical place, believing there were fairies and elves in the garden. The ancient woods are protected by the government and filled with deodar trees; it’s a completely untouched area save for the nearby Jakhu Temple, a holy pilgrimage site for Hindus. We get Himalayan pheasants on the lawn in the mornings, leopards come to visit and, in the winter, it’s covered in snow.
I wanted people to come and experience Shimla as I know it, so we set up two guest suites, Holly and Chelsea, in an English cottage on the grounds. The building is made from stone with a wood-panelled roof and large bay windows my grandmother put in to showcase the Himalayan peaks and wildflower meadows. It’s been meticulously renovated to preserve the original features but we’ve added modern luxuries like sumptuous furniture and bathtubs with a view – in the winter you can lie in a hot bath and watch the snowflakes drift past the window.
Guests love the heritage of Jungle House and the privacy and peace. There’s a firepit in the garden where you can have sundowners and sit under the stars; you can enjoy a game of croquet on the lawn or just snuggle up in your suite under a handwoven throw after hiking around Shimla. Meals are prepared by our chef, who’s been with us for 30 years, and cooks up family recipes using local ingredients. The afternoon tea is a favourite, with freshly-baked scones, sandwiches, Indian savouries and a selection of teas and coffee.