My jaw hit the hideously over-patterned carpet. There he stood, microphone in hand bleating out something entirely unrecognisable, both for his apparent ability to change key four times in three notes, and the fact that the volume was set so high as to distort anything that was forced, hurricane like, out of the speakers, the size of which I have only ever seen at Glastonbury. I could only imagine that being the first on the scene at a murder only to find the perpetrator still on site, grinning inanely and clearly proud of his work felt just like this.
I put my hands up in the universal gesture for surrender, though in this case as a plea for him to please, please stop. Thankfully, he did, though unphased and still grinning asked, ‘’Great, no? It is the best Karaoke bar in the region.’
I didn’t trust myself to speak, though I knew that my face, which always manages to say what I am thinking, it even got me fired once, would be transmitting my thoughts quite accurately. I should have left after he showed me the conference facilities which could cater for over 400 guests. It was only my polite British demeanour which had stopped me running for the foothills at that point, but this was a step too far. I attempted to compose myself,
‘Karaoke?’ It came out as an incredulous squeak.
‘Yes,’ he continued to beam inanely.
‘You are aware that this is a National Park?’
‘Yes, yes madam,’ he looked a little confused, ‘Jim Corbett National Park, you have forgotten where you are?’
‘No,’ I looked at him squarely in the eye as drops slowly started to ooze from my bleeding heart, ‘but I think you have.’
‘No, no madam, here, you try it, you will see,’ and as he attempted to hand me the microphone, I turned my back and made my way to the heavily concreted exit. Is this is what Corbett Tiger Reserve, the first National Park founded in Asia, had become?
I am not going to name this resort because, to be honest, there are all too many resorts in Jim Corbett National Park which this could be, nor am I going to go into the politics behind it nor, will I bleat about respecting the sanctity of what a national park should be. What I am going to do though, is tell you about three truly wonderful places to head to if, like me, you appreciate nature, the local population and preserving your sanity, or what it left of it.
Tapasya by The Hideout
Brought to you by the Madhouse to Mudhouse and the Goat Village gang, Chidiya Gaon (The Bird Village) is located in Kupi in Marchula, and as they proudly say, ‘It is everything a typical hilly tourist spot is not.’ It is far away from the main hub of hotels in Corbett National Park, has a tributary of the Ramganga River passing right through it, and is the perfect place to lose yourself in nature. Sustainability is their key driving force, and they have tried to keep the place as minimalistic and rustic as possible.
While ‘reverse migration of humans’ was their social responsibility plank at The Goat Villages, the ‘reverse migration of wild creatures’ is their cause here. Instead of focussing on the big mammals that most go in search of, Their ‘Walk the Talk’ dissuades guests from doing stereotypical jeep safaris, and is an interpretive, infotainment experience with a blend of humour, environmental education, flora, fauna, local cuisine and culture.
They will be training girls from Kupi and the neighbourhood villages for this, to create the first ever female guided village tour experience in Jim Corbett Tiger Reserve, divising unique walking tours for visitors and lessening the burden on traditional wildlife safari experiences.
Accommodation is in just eight simple cottages and two dormitory stays, ingredients for meals are all sourced from a 5 mile radius and they also encourage long stays.
+91 7042722202, +91 6395270035,
Forktail Jungalow (Formerly the excellent Camp Forktail Creek)
A reemergence, a new avatar, about blumin’ time!
Minakshi and Ritesh are back! Not that they ever left their beloved Corbett but they have now started offering accommodation again in their own inimitable style.
Forktail Jungalow located between the Shivalik Hills and the Outer Himalayas is a forest home over four acres of land with only six well-spaced out mud huts, surrounded by dense Sal forests and moist jungles and the only ‘jungle’ home of its kind on the periphery of Corbett Tiger Reserve. Over the last 20 years, Ritesh and Meenakshi have been working incredibly hard and have now managed to create a forest on the barren fields their land once was on, leading to there now being an abundance of birds and wildlife within their land itself.
As Meenakshi says, ‘’This is a spot for wildlife lovers and nature enthusiasts and not for people spooked or scared by the wonderful natural wonders that surround us. We do not have a boundary wall or a swimming pool or televisions in the room. Phone signal and wifi are present, though regularly irregular. Most of our entertainment is through live streaming that is on 24×7, different seasons offering different episodes of our natural heritage. The sky after dark is littered with a million stars waiting to be explored… Our forte is conservation of our natural spaces and its beings and to live sustainably. We hope you feel the same way too!!’’
Now that sounds just perfect to me!
Mobile/ Whatsapp: 91-8650350756/ 8954942516
On a secluded bank of the Western Ramganga River lies Vanghat, one of most remote wildlife lodges in northern India and a very special place to visit. Take my advice, as I didn’t take Sumantha’s when organising my trip. You see, I had planned to arrive at night, Sumantha had called to suggest I should arrive during in the daytime. It turns out there was a very valid reason for this. Vanghat is only accessible by a 2 km cross-country walk and raft across the river waters. This is what makes it a wilderness paradise unlike anything else to be found around Corbett National Park, just don’t turn up at night with friends who, only when you are about to cross the river, mention to you that they can’t swim.
‘Vanghat’ translates from Hindi to mean ‘Forest on the River’, and the lodge, with just eight eco cottages, is surrounded by the Kalagarh Tiger Reserve, part of the larger Corbett Tiger Reserve, situated on an important wildlife corridor host to all manner of wonderful iconic and rare species. Vanghat, as well as being focused on conservation and having a minimized environmental footprint is also famed for its warm hospitality as they proudly say, “It is a a lodge run by naturalists for naturalists’ and their team of expert local guides are immensely proud to show you around.
Once we had arrived and I had appeased my friends, we had a wonderful stay, embarking on walking safaris, birding and mahseer fishing, even wild swimming! It may have been Diwali but we didn’t hear a single cracker, just the sounds of the jungle and a few squeals when, on our forest walk, we came across some very fresh elephant dung, with a tiger pugmark imprint. Now you don’t get that in an underground karaoke bar!
+91 97611 66777
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