The Incomparable Papersali
We Were There
Leaving Haldwani after breakfast on 6 June 2017 we drove leisurely for about three hours, had lunch en route, and reached Papersali at 13-00. Beforehand we made arrangements with Gopal's Binsar Retreat. When the car stood before the Retreat, Gopal came out with his shy but welcoming smile which told us we made no mistake. And after alighting from the car when we stood for a while to look around the place where we would stay for the next three days, it was sheer joy.
Gopal's Binsar Retreat
Initially Gopal gave us
the option of staying either at his place or at any of the Cottages at Khim's Guest House, the latter needed a little down the hill walk. We opted
for the former. As seen in the left, it's a four-storied buliding kept immaculately clean. Guest rooms are in the third
and fourth floor overlooking either
the motorway or the hillside on the back. We took a backroom on the third floor. All the rooms
are clean and comfortable to ensure enjoyable stay. Dining spaces
are in both first and second floors, while the kitchen is in
the second. To while away time one may walk along the road either to Almora or Binsar; or walk
easily down the backside hill, or simply go to the roof and remain
there as long as mood permits. Rooms are all provided with long Verandahs to gaze unmindfully to the hills or horrizon and be lost in the abundant greenaries and croonings of birds.
Khim's Guest House
In early 1980s a Westerner living close to Almora advised Khim to build a
cottage within his vast land to allow a few visitors to live
amidst the salubrious climate of Almora and be lost in the solitude of the hills. Khim did exactly as he was told. In no time a small and
rustic cottage came up within the land he inherited from his
ancestors. As time went by guests
increasingly began to visit his place which today with more Cottages has become Khim's Guest House, moderately known within and
abroad India. Today his foreign guests outnumber the Indians, may be this has in its root what the former prefer while travelling to distant places.
This is the main house where Khim lives with his family. Gopal with his family lives
further down the hill. Food and other services to the
guests at the cottages go from here. Though many prefer
to visit this house and meet Khim while having their
teas and meals. The house has a beautiful Shiva Temple adding sanctity to this restful ambience. A few simple guest rooms as below are
also adjacent to the house.
The Story of A Library
At Khim's place a marvellous collection of books in three racks, well stacked and dust free, awaits the book-lovers. This had made me curious. I took one book by William Dalyrimple before coming out in the open terrace and asked Khim about the collection. His story follows. Once an American guest suggested Khim to keep books for his guests . Later the same American send some books to him to start with. This was the beginning. As the number of guests grew with time, so were the books. For the foreign guests seldom care to take their books with them when read. But gradually the volume and variety became unmanageable for Khim. Guests began rummaging for what might interest them leaving the rest in more disorder. Then came a Canadian couple to stay for a long sojourn. They were academics and hence not ready to allow such misfortune to the books. With their loving care the books were classified and orderly placed in the shelves as we found them now.
Who Host With Care
Khim Singh Bisht
He is mostly a silent man with a ready smile to please and serve his guests. He
is loved by the frequenters, mostly from the West, many of whom keep on coming
to Khim's and stay for more or less longer
periods. He started it in early 1980s and since then his Guest House has gained both in size and reputation.
And His Son
Gopal followed in his father's steps.
Alongside looking after his newly opened Retreat, he helps his father too in running the Khim's Guest House. Staying with Gopal never feels like one is away from home. For apart from his place or the simple food he serves - it is his attitude - he never believes that his guests are one-timers.
The Essential Trio
He is as nice as the food he cooks. His kitchen by all means keeps the guests pleased and happy.
Apart from serving food, teas and whatever you need, he is always there within seconds whenever you require.
He keeps the Guest House immaculately clean and the guests pleased with his silent presence..