“To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug.” ~ Helen Keller
So many of us, lost in the cacophony of our urban lives, have perhaps forgotten what it feels like to lead a truly peaceful one – peaceful not only on the inside, but on the outside as well! Mark, who calls the rolling hills of McLeodganj his home, lives in this beautiful home with his girlfriend, in a constant state of contentment.
Our Houses of India journey takes us to some amazing places, and we’d love to take you along. Welcome, to Pine Cottage.
Pine Cottage stands out like an oasis of warmth and comfort in the hills of McLeodganj, the seat of HH The Dalai Lama. Built in the 70s, on land that once belonged to a Christian mission, the cottage has stayed in the same family for last last few decades. Now the home belongs to Mark. Hot tea, the smell of pine, and uninterrupted peace are part of his daily routine.
At an elevation of 7,000 feet, it is a typical house made for the mountains – made of cut stone and wood, materials that provide warmth and shelter from the sometimes harsh weather. Like a house straight out of a fairytale, getting to Pine Cottage isn’t all that easy. It is secluded in its own patch of the hills, and is a 15-minute forest trail away to the nearest road.
Barring a few friendly neighbours who are long-standing residents of the hill, there are absolutely no shops, restaurants or houses within miles of Pine Cottage. The house is charmingly furnished and includes a sprawling backyard where horses and fluffy mountain dogs visit often.
Breakfast is usually fresh produce and hot tea, with a side of sunshine from the skylight above the dining area.
Pine Cottage is not only a haven for the weary body, but is a sanctuary for the curious mind as well. Apart from a cozy fireplace, antique furniture and heritage curios, the cottage also includes original artwork by noted English artist Alfred Hallet – Mark’s friend and neighbour, who lived his last years on this very hill.
Pine Cottage has stayed in Mark’s family for a few decades now. He currently lives here in permanent solitude with his girlfriend!
Occasionally Mark opens up his home to travellers, as a bed and breakfast. Find him on a quiet evening sitting next to the fireplace, and he will happily regale you with stories of how he used to often spot The Dalai Lama walk by near his house. Lately, he has been plagued by repeated requests from local authorities to give up the land Pine Cottage is built on, but he has no plans of letting go of his home.
‘Houses of India’ is our weekly photo-story project, where we discover one home, and its story. Follow us on Instagram @housingindia, and join us on this beautiful journey across the country.