King’s Lodge in Bandhavgarh: Living with the wild

I looked out of my room and saw forests, and more forests. It was early afternoon and Madhya Pradesh was hot even after the some initial showers in June. Monsoons had just arrived a few days back though rains were still elusive at Bandhavgarh. Soon the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve would be shut for this season and I was glad to have come here just in time. I lazed around a little bit more near the window, wrote the start of a story from a far away land, and sipped black coffee.
The day at Pugdundee's King's Lodge had been perfect so far, despite sleeping at midnight the previous night after a 30 hours train journey and getting up at 4am for the forest safari. Maybe I was a little tired, but didn't feel tired at all. I was far far away from my city Pune and wanted to use every waking moment to soak up the environment.

At my makeshift office :)

A few of my friends were in the pristine blue pool, but I wanted to walk around alone, get the feel of the place. There was a hill close by which looked rather tempting, but I was already drained by the sun, so climbed up the highest point at the property to get a bird’s eye view. It was eerily silent at first on top, but as I closed my eyes, my ears opened up and I could hear sounds; lots of it. I am terrible with recognising sounds of birds, but I love them. The breeze was warm, but devoid of all toxicity.
Oh and how did the lodge looked from top? Well, surprisingly I could barely see any lodge, what I saw was a large and dense bamboo forests with a hut of two peeping through.

The view from top...

About Pugdundee’s Kings Lodge

Located in the buffer zone of Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, Pugdundee’s Kings Lodge has done well with retaining the feel of the forest at their property. My cottage was the last at the resort, and walking back to my room every night, I always half expected to see a leopard getting ready to pounce on me. I never saw a leopard (at the Jungle resort or the forest), but somehow the memory survived. The nights were my favourite at the the lodge.

Walk to my cottage - it was a lot of fun in the night :)
Easy to fall in love with the luxurious, yet earthy, room

With just 18 cottages located in an area of 32 acres, the resort gives an excellent vibe and makes you feel like you are living in a forest itself. If you plan to stay at the Lodge, you will obviously be going for the safaris. I will write a detailed guide on the the Safaris in a few days, but they are absolutely worth every penny spent.

However, there are a few more things that you do in and around the resort itself which are quite interesting:

  • Spend some time at the library - its full of books on the region, both forest, animals and the people who live here. Whenever I had free time, I spent it reading about the tribals in the region and their arts. If you new to animals or birds, do ask someone for help to recommend you a book.
  • Visit a local tribal village close by - there is one called Ranchha which is just walking distance from the resort. Request the hotel staff to help you work this out and this could become the highlight of your trip. Do visit homes and do take pictures, but please be respectful. Take off your shoes and show some interest in them and their lives. If all you want to do is click pictures, I would rather request you not to do this. Responsible tourism is essential when you visit homes in a village.
My new friends :)
  • Become friends with one of the ‘naturalists’ at the property and take awl around the property or outside with them (depends on how much time they have). Naturalists are basically experts in both the local flora and fauna as well as on the ways on forests. They can significantly increase your empathy both for the animals as well as the the tribals who live here. Saket, a naturalist, became my friend and it was an absolute pleasure learning from him. Another naturalist-in-the-making, Ankita, was at the property and I also interviewed her for my ‘Tell me your Dream’ project

 

Ah! The pool :)
The dining room will take your breath away...

Practical details

To reach: Best way to reach is by train till Katni or Jabalpur and then a drive in a cab to Bandhavgarh. Alternatively, you can fly to Jabalpur or Khajuraho and then come by cab.

Cost of stay: Check out this link for more details on the costs. Currently, Pugdundee is offering special fares for the next season (which opens from October), and if you have made plans for travel already, do avail this special offer - Buy 2N/3Days Package or 2 Nights on Jungle Plan and get the third Night complimentary including meals & taxes. This offer open till 31st July 2015 for bookings between 1st October - 30th April 2016.



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