Once upon a time this part of the mountains in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand was covered in impenetrable forests. The vegetation was so lush that people here did not walk on the ground. The villagers had commuted from tree to tree to go places, making those who watched them do so call their home Jungalia Gaon.

This is a legend told by Krishna. Not the flute player and the charioteer of Arjun from the Mahabharata but Krishna, the best cook and caretaker in the world at Juniper, Jungalia's seven star homestay.

Another fireside story about Jungalia came from a colourful Pandit who invited himself to breakfast one sunny morning. An Englishman was so appalled by the behaviour of a local lad, said the pandit that he nicknamed him Jungali and the entire village Jungalia. This is when the British were all over the region in the mid 19th century trying to sow seeds of civilisation amidst us all.

Whatever may have led the village to be called Jungalia, it is no longer a thick forest and scanty rainfall has sprinkled the once luxurious landscape with quite a few brown patches. Yet enough emerald green terraced fields still remain to feed the eyes of the beholder if no longer the family of local farmers.

The pandit's ancestors had once owned vast stretches of land in this fertile lap of the Himalayas but he does not farm any more. His children have scattered to different parts of the country in search of work while he spends most of his time singing shlokas and repeating stories from the puranas for anyone who bothers to listen to him. Today he wonders what he can do except to look at people come here to buy land as an escape from life in the city. Yet rapid construction on the farmland by city dwellers has introduced all the troubles faced in cities into the countryside as well, like unstable internet connection, power fluctuation and water scarcity.

Then the change in agricultural activities amongst farmers is such a complex matter. There is the impact of modernisation on farming practices. A disastrous fallout has been the loss of a variety of crops. A decline in traditional knowledge about the monsoons, soil, seeds and manure has led to people choosing other professions over agriculture. While in Jungalia it is difficult not to notice that many farmers have moved away from their fields in the mountains to be replaced by professionals in the hospitality business. To be fair, present day entrepreneurs have also provided employment to those who continue to live in villages here.

Krishna is an example. At least he has a regular salary now at Juniper Bed and Breakfast.

After Nainital and Bhimtal, Jungalia Gaon has become a favourite resort of those lucky enough to find it nestled deep into the lap of the Himalayas some 7000 feet above sea level. Nainital the most happening holiday resort in the vicinity is just an hour drive away. Jungalia is nine km from the famous but now over crowded Bhimtal lake. It is a 20 minute drive down to the pretty Naukuchiatal lake with nine corners that routinely retires each day under a quilt of stars and enjoys the moon as pillow.

The drive from Kathgodam, the nearest railway station to Jungalia however is disturbing around some bends as many a majestic mountain is seen clad in tattered vegetation. It is also sad to see the trunk and roots of once mighty trees mutilated and hanging out of dangerously loose earth dripping down the wall of many a mountain range. But to finally find Jungalia is to spy the slopes of mountains here still wrapped in a variety of wild flowers and adorned by orchards. This remains the home of birds of the most exotic kind. And a few days in Jungalia are best enjoyed at Juniper, a magnificent modern home away from home where Krishna is king of the kitchen.

Krishna shops at Bhimtal's bustling markets and prepares pancakes to pullao on order at Juniper. Here a table is invariably laid indoors, or outdoors on any one of the little terraces or a verandah of your choice. In between meals and plenty of drinks, Krishna may regale with a local folktale or two, but only if someone offers to lend him a ear.

Otherwise it is very possible to enjoy many hours of silence while at Jungalia broken only by the chirping of birds, an occasional burst of thunder or a brilliant roar from the fireplace found in Juniper's elegant living room. Here the glass walls and wide windows seem to bring all the magic of the mountains outside, to lay it at one's feet.

With so much joy found in mountains so close to heaven, the chances are that this is perhaps the most OMG experience that is ever possible to have in life.

Go for it like I did!