The Birdcage, Mukteshwar
I fell in love with Nishant many years ago, when I read about him in Outlook traveler, as this enfante terrible of the ad world, who quit his job in Vodafone, his cushy life in Mumbai and headed to the mountains to make a life for himself there. He started Drifters’ Inn & Cafe in old Manali, a go-to B&B for the backpacker looking to spend a few days/weeks in the quaint old Manali lanes. I looked at the article wide-eyed, brimming with inspiration ad that stayed on with somewhere. A year later I quit my corporate job and chose a life of travel.
That season in 2009 I was visiting Ladakh with a few friends and we stopped at Old Manali for a few nights, due to a landslide. There was no availability at Drifters’, a very common phenomenon and we went there to eat at the bar and to a live music night. I met Nishant once then, this shy, smart boy with bright eyes and a shiny smile and ready for a chat to those suffering from Fernweh! The next year I co-Founded The Blueberry Trails with my business partner Vishal and every year when I headed to the mountain for a recce or a group trip, we always found time for a chat over coffee and they were good good times.
Drifters’ was also my go-to place to spend my days idling away in Old Manali. The rooms were good, clean, affordable, had big common balconies, to sit out and gaze at the mountains. Spending my days gazing and dazing, catching up on reading, or walking over to the many cafes that line the old Manali street. The Drifters’ Inn & Cafehad a life of its own, served a mean Eggs Benedict, one of the best I have eaten ever and they also hosted beautiful live music nights. It was my home in the mountains!
When I visited Drifters’ in 2015, outside Nishant’s office was this big board and it had the picture of the blue mountains. I knew there was something looming! And on asking him he told me about his plans for The Birdcage in Mukteshwar. I was pleasantly surprised and excited for his new venture, but a hint of sadness remained, because it meant no more Drifters’, as I knew it.
And as he had planned, he starts off with The Birdcage on the 26th of May. He announced the date a year back, and one would think that setting up an entire boutique homestay, will see a few delays. But No, Not with Nishant. He is a man who keeps his word!
So here is his labour of love! The Birdcage Mukhteshwar, is a cosy boutique homestay at 2300m above sea level. The exteriors are inspired by mountain country homes and interiors are themed on minimal rustic designs. Himalayan peaks of Nandakot (6861m) & Panchchuli (6904m) can be seen from the property on clear winter days. It’s a dog-friendly property and has a Restaurant on site with an organic kitchen garden where they grow their own herbs & veggies & they irrigate this garden with harvested rainwater.
One can reach Mukteshwar by road from Delhi, it is 340kms from the city with an average drive time of 7.5hours on the road. Alternatively, you can take a train to Kathgodam and it will be a 70kms with 2 hours on the mountain road.
I trust Nishant to be breaking moulds wherever he goes, be a trend spotter and a high-quality guy, and from my experience, I can tell that it will only surpass expectations! So next time you hear the mountains’ call, think fondly of Mukteshwar, pack your bags and say hi to Nishant! It will be calming and cosy, your time at The Birdcage.
The birdcage opens its doors on the 26th of May. Located in Leti Bunga, Village Shashbani
PO Bhatelia, District Nainital
Uttarakhand. PIN: 263132
Here are their coordinates:
AUTHOR: Sudeepta Sanyal
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