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Stay: Photo Essay

By Christine Pemberton

Sitting high up in the Kumaon Hills, surrounded by mountains and forests, one is almost tempted to murmur, “There is some corner of a foreign field…”. Because here, at almost 8000 feet, far away from any city, is the Mary Budden Estate, carrying the name and carrying on the legacy of a 19th century British woman who lived on in this tiny corner of paradise.

Mary Budden Estate Image

Mary was the daughter of the Reverend John Henry Budden who, in 1850, was appointed by the British colonial government to run a charitable mission in the Kumaon Hills in India.

Mary Budden Estate Image

Like her father, Mary dedicated herself to charitable works - a plaque in her memory still stands in the Budden Memorial Church in Almora. In July 1899 she bought some land up in the hills, in the Binsar forest. Today, the 47 sq km Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary preserves this legacy.

Mary Budden Estate Image

Mary is the last known 19th century inhabitant of the property, and nearly 100 years later Ashwani & Serena Chopra bought the 5 acre estate and set about restoring it. In the process, they not only created a beautiful homestay, but also brought back to life the memory of a 19th century woman who set up a school for girls, a refuge for homeless women, and orphanages.

Mary Budden Estate Image

In essence, the views and the joys of the Kumaon hills have hardly changed over the centuries. Hills as far as the eye can see, trees, clean open skies, complemented by a good book and a warming cuppa…

Mary Budden Estate Image

At night, the sit out becomes a magical place to enjoy dinner and conversation and marvel at the silence of the hills. Time slows down when you are here.

Mary Budden Estate Image

When the Chopras bought the estate, they also inherited some of Mary’s books, an old armchair - and an enamel jug, of all things.

Mary Budden Estate Image

The Mary Budden Estate, in its lovingly-coaxed-back-to-life avatar is a homestay with a difference, consisting of several buildings scattered on the property. Rhododendron Cottage is a modern addition to the Mary Budden Estate, but built in loving harmony with its older colonial sister.

Mary Budden Estate Image

A recent addition to the accommodation of the Mary Budden Estate is the delightful Dalar village homestay, named after the village, one of only 5 tucked away inside the wildlife sanctuary. There are only 11 homes in Dalar village, so you are automatically part of the community.

Mary Budden Estate Image

A sense of tranquility is assured on the estate. You are surrounded by nature, far away from the noise of any city. Trees, wildlife, stars, an over-arching sky - and all of this while you enjoy 21st century luxury.

Mary Budden Estate Image

The Mary Budden Estate restores one’s sense of peace and equilibrium. With a view that stretches for ever, a warming fire, good conversation and such blessed peace, it is as though time has stopped still. You feel that Mary, whose books were left behind, would approve.

Want to visit the Mary Budden Estate?

Get in touch with paul@bringhomestories.com for more information!





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