I went for a five-day Miniature Painting Workshop organized by Dr. Jyotsna Singh in Srinagar from 21st to 25th May 2016. It was a great experience staying and learning at the same time in such lush green surroundings and views to die for. During our stay, the weather was warm for the first two days and then decided to let us enjoy the cool temperatures of the hills. So we had rain and thunder and the ever-changing view of Dal Lake and the hills surrounding us. Almond Villa in Srinagar is a quaint property with an old-world charm. There is also a cottage nearby with three rooms and a fully equipped kitchen if you want to cater for yourself. The Villa’s spacious rooms, wooden floors, and traditional wooden ceilings add to the atmosphere. A two-storied structure, surrounded by apple and peach orchards, is situated in the shadow of the Shankaracharya Temple and overlooks the Dal Lake. Entering the Villa you have a feeling of calm as it is away from the tourist hustle bustle but still close enough to walk to Nehru Park on the Lake and teeming humanity.
Owned by Dr. Jyotsna Singh the Villa was being used by the National Cadet Corps. When she inherited it, she says it was in a dilapidated state with no plumbing. Today it is a homestay with a beautiful garden, a variety of colourful flowers, and a place for solitary walks. The flowers, birds, and wildlife give you a complete experience of staying in the wilderness. There is a cozy and warm reading room, a well-run kitchen, and helpful staff. The garden has a weeping willow tree straight out of an Enid Blyton book. In fact, it had a treehouse a long time back. If you sit under the tree, it gives you a feeling of privacy. We were served lunch under a huge Chinar tree in the garden and in the beautiful dining room when it rained.
Recently they have discovered a basement which again is out of an adventure story for kids. The whole space is divided with walls and arches. Originally a wine cellar it has a mud floor and stone walls. The cellar/ basement is as big as the house in the area, as well as, roof height. This was full of mud which has been now cleared out and the walls were black with bat poo. Dr. Jyotsna Singh did mention that locally it was referred to as Sharabkhana. Almond Villa has a lot to offer if you are looking for a place to unwind and commune with nature. You could be lucky to meet the brown bears or a cheetah. We did spot a huge snake, which we could not identify, in the strawberry patch.