Travelling is an exciting idea. The mere thought of exploring a new place always builds a sense of enthusiasm and makes one look forward to getting away from the familiar to discover some place new. Recently, I visited one of the most beautiful and oldest national parks in our country: Jim Corbett. My stay at the Patlidun Safari Lodge, a luxurious holiday relic in the midst of the dense wild habitat at Mohaan, at the heart of Corbett, was definitely a memorable one.
Arriving at Patlidun
The easiest way to reach Corbett is to drive down from Delhi. Whether you’re in an SUV or sedan, as soon as you reach Patlidun Safari Lodge’s entrance gate, located a few kilometers from the property, you will be helped by the staff who safely park your wagon. To climb further up, Patlidun’s 4×4 off-roader will be provided. This climb is an adventurous one, marked by topsy-turvy roads, but don’t get hassled.
At Patlidun Safari Lodge, the sight of a jungle-inspired theme stretching up to 14 acres and housing 12 cottages is truly welcoming. Post a usually fast check-in, you are guided to the rooftop above the main lobby area. This is where I met their head Naturalist, Mr. Kunwar Singh – an expert on Corbett and a veteran of wildlife tourism. He enthusiastically provided me wonderful insights about Patlidun – including the cottages, wildlife around etc.
Enveloped in Nature
Dense forests surround you from all directions and the sounds of the wild, chirping of birds and the clatter of crickets give the feel one expects from a national park. Sal trees and specially planted Sarkanda or Elephant Grass, a common sight here, add beauty to the mornings and a sparkle to the evenings.
The cottages are marked by a distinct Kumaoni-styled architecture. Spacious and neatly done, they are located at no more than 200 yards from each other. A comfortable wooden stable – an ideal spot to enjoy your morning tea, marks the entrance to each. The inside includes a living room with an attached toilet, a spacious bedroom that leads to a giant area designated for changing and includes an ethnically designed bathtub. A separate shower and spacious toilet add more meat to this space.
The presence of two separate lounging areas, one with a private pool and nature shower, a few inches from the plunge pool, and the other with a comfy bed and table lamp located next to the pool – add distinct charm and splendour.
A Different Idea of Luxury
The word ‘luxury’ is often wrapped around heaps of comfort catering to one’s satisfaction and happiness. But, it often misses out on an important constituent, much needed in today’s times: solitude. Conventional hotels and sprawling properties present us all conveniences as a buffet; you pick and choose whatever pleases you.
But, when you have to switch off from regular luxurious indulgences such as high-speed internet connectivity in all corners of your spacious room, or that television or phone right next to your bathtub – which one is likely to find in an expensive posh property, what is it that you can do?
At Patlidun, I learnt that a whole new way of soaking in luxury is to be amidst the bounty of nature. The absence of television or radio in the cottage, paved way for casual banter, friendly talks and funny arguments with my partner, which I otherwise miss out on in the busy city life. Since I am a nature lover, I found it difficult to resist the idea of sitting outside the cottage on the wooden fence to enjoy several cups of tea. I would take a dip whilst reading a book and grabbing a beer in the plunge pool, under the brightly shining sun.
The absence of conventional media like TV and radio meant that while my wife read her favourite novel amidst the wonderful jungle setting, set alight by sounds from the wild in the evenings, I sketched and photographed out in the wide open stretches of Patlidun to make the most of my two-day break. I’m sure it would be difficult to get a chance like this in a conventional property elsewhere.
Getting Used to the Wild
The Patlidun Safari Lodge at Mohaan District’s forest terrain has plenty of spots to capture selfies and record beautiful memories, but it takes time to get used to the jungle environment. Here you also get the rare opportunity to observe, think, talk and just simply be. An interesting trek arranged by Patlidun allows you to explore and connect with nature.
Guest Privacy and More
Great care is taken to ensure privacy. The presence of a window annex, a few inches from the cozy and soft bed, designed to receive food, allows one the luxury to not get out of bed and still collect an order. There is also an opportunity for star gazing present in the form of a window located right above the bed. Overcast conditions during my visit didn’t give me an opportunity but I am told winters would offer a great view from here.
An open area adjacent to the bedroom, separated by an elegant glass door, can be used to laze around on a khaat-styled bed. You can literally observe and feel the jungle around you, while sitting here.
Where’s the Food, Dude?
An interesting feature of any travel escapade is the food. At Patlidun, they have a nice restaurant called Risya. Don’t get confused with the local pronunciation ‘Russia’. This restaurant is meant for all three meals and you will find a cute-looking bird water pond right at the back of the seating area, where birds are seen drinking water whilst welcoming guests.
The food leaves hardly any scope for complaint. Chef Manish, a cheerful Delhiite has done a great job. I recommend the Chinese and North Indian cuisine – dimsums, soup and mushroom curry. Risya’s interiors are spacious enough to hold multiple guests and the ambience is relaxed.
Right next to Risya is the chakh, the seating area. This large hall has plenty of space and furniture to accommodate guests. I was glad to see a large TV screen here, although I spent more time browsing the coffee table books on wildlife. If you are not much of a TV person, then sitting by yourself and reading a book is the best way to enjoy the chakh.
Perhaps, it would help to have internet connectivity here just to add to the fun as you relax.
Visit to River Kosi and Further Up
Patlidun also arranges to take you further up to Pataodia and Bhaunkal Road, an hour’s drive up north. The beautiful sights here at the hills, give guests a picture perfect view of Corbett and its wilderness.
As you drive past the Durga Devi Gate, the view of the hills is captivating. It helps one connect with nature. As I relaxed here for a while, I reflected on how we hardly get such quality time in our busy lives.
Mr. Singh – who had accompanied me here, insisted on having cake and coffee at the famous river Kosi, and who would deny this generosity?
We both sat down for a casual chat at around 1 P.M. and while I was taking some pictures, he pointed out a tiger’s footprints (pug marks). Later, upon returning to the Safari Lodge, I slept for nearly half the day. It will happen to you too, as the drive to Kosi is quite eventful, with plenty of fun and excitement. A dip in the plunge pool at the cottage is a great way to rejuvenate.
Shop If You Must
We have a special love for shopping, don’t we? Before leaving, I made sure to visit a shop they have at the lobby area and bought quite a few tiger print t-shirts, mugs and some wildlife books. These neat buys were light on the pocket.
Ode to Our Jungles and a Habitat Nearly Forgotten
Patlidun at Jim Corbett isn’t a place you get to visit every day. I would recommend forthcoming visitors to make great use of the rooftop situated right above the lobby/reception area where you can indulge in multiple cups of tea and coffee.
Where else can you enjoy treks into the wild accompanied by an expert on not just Corbett but of little intricacies our natural habitat holds – that have more power to attract us than overpowering ideas of cosmetic luxury, such as the ones we seek in expensive city-based properties?
On this trail of wilderness, I discovered that there is a road that goes even further. It takes you to a destination called solitude, but not before it makes you exchange pleasantries with the amazing beauty of India’s wild forests.