By Nikita Baheti & Kavit Nehra
We spent a weekend at the 22-acre Skyview World by Empyrean, an adventure and vacation resort in the Himalayas. The 10-key hotel sits in the heart of Sanget Valley, and wraps you in a cocoon of serenity from the moment you arrive.
Despite being away from it all, we had no reason to miss the creature comforts we are accustomed to. The wood-panelled log-cabin style rooms at Skyview are beautifully appointed, with 24-hour room service, cable TV, coffee maker, mini bar and a private patio for you to enjoy a quiet cup of tea. The suites contain a separate living area and bedroom, a kitchenette, and a large bathroom, while the Mountain View Premium Rooms have comfortable queen size mattresses and walk-in closets.
We started our 2.5 kilometre hike before the first rays of the sun lit the Patnitop Hills. The resort’s in-house certified mountaineer, Abhishek, handed us our kits which included trail mix, water, juice and a hiking stick. The cool mountain air and bright sunshine made it the perfect start to the day.
After returning from the hike, we enjoyed a scrumptious breakfast at the resort’s multi-cuisine restaurant, Banana Leaf.
A short interlude of relaxation, and we were ready for our next set of adventures, which began with a ride on the Magic Carpet. Truly magical, the moving strip takes you to the hilltop while treating you to exquisite views of the valley.
Next, we did the tubing sledge. This is India’s first dry tubing sledge, wherein you are made to sit in a lubricated tube, and hold it tight as you shimmy downhill. Pure adrenaline rush!
Being adventure lovers, we couldn’t wait to try the Zig Zag Ziplining- Skyview has Asia’s longest, covering 9 poles and 10 wires. You get professional guidance on how to go about it, so no scare there.
The sun was overhead by now, and hunger pangs were rising. So off we went to a local village restaurant, where they served us mouth-watering Jammu rajma-chawal with lots of desi ghee and anardana chutney. Post lunch we went back into our rooms and enjoyed some quiet time. Dinner was under the stars and by a bonfire at the SkyView Café. Hot sizzlers, gajar halwa, bliss!
After a sumptuous breakfast, we visited the resort’s in-house store, beautifully named “House of Gold.” The store has woollen kurtas, shawls, boots, varieties of honey, cold pressed oil and Himalayan saffron. The property also has a Club House with snooker table, foosball, air hockey, and a refreshment counter.
It was time to experience most anticipated feature of the resort—the gondola ride. It is a gateway to Patnitop, located at the foothills of the Himalayas at Sanget Valley. The 2.8km thrilling ride takes 10-13 minutes. Built with the latest technology, Skyview Gondola is one of the highest (in terms of ground clearance) gondolas in Asia.
The CEN (European) standard gondola features one of the longest spans between its towers. These spacious avant-garde gondolas are custom-crafted for an all-year-round experience. Soaring over treetops, the ride left us in awe of the enthralling landscape. And we were even more impressed to learn that not even a single tree was cut down in the construction of the gondola.
Once we reached Patnitop, we went to Nathatop Viewpoint which took us one hour. The journey was full of picturesque views, and we couldn’t stop clicking. Soon, we were at Sanasar Lake, enjoying a lovely picnic under the winter sun. Sitting there, it felt as if the stresses of the everyday world had ceased to exist. Just nature and us; nothing in between.
Upon return, a wonderful Kashmiri and Dogri dinner of khatta meat, pulao, phirni, and Kashmiri aloo dum awaited us at Banana Leaf. If you’d prefer to remain in, you may take advantage of the property’s 24-hour in-room dining service. Sated and exhilarated, we went off to sleep in our cosy rooms.
We were particularly appreciative of the resort’s efforts to preserve the ecosystem and promote the local economy. They source their organic produce from local merchants and have hired 200+ staff members, most of them from Jammu & Kashmir. Skyview also works with the district administration to carry out community welfare programs like cleaning campaigns and health awareness campaigns. We learnt that they collaborating with regional radio stations to advance tourism, good health, and artistic expression among students.
It was time to say goodbye to the hills, and we took our flight back to Delhi with a heart full of memories and a freshness of spirit. Skyview by Empyrean is a rejuvenating mini vacation—one of those rare places where you’ll have a great time solo, with a companion or with the entire family!
How to Reach:
Skyview by Empyrean is a pleasant two-hour drive from Jammu airport. It is just 48 km from Katra, so you can relax here after a pilgrimage to Vaishno Devi. The nearest Railway Station is Udhampur, at a distance of 30kms.
Best Time to Visit:
The best time to visit is December to March, when the snowy peaks and the weather are at their most glorious!