As one leaves Kaladhungi to take the climb up towards Nainital, a charming sign board with tiger paw marks meets you right at the bend. The first homestay to aid visitors venture into the national park is spread over 4 acres of thick vegetation. The morning sun filtered by the abundant growth of trees falls on eight cottages named after the local birds of the area. A pioneer in conservation of wildlife and the history of Jim Corbett, Anand and his wife Suman are veterans of the area and instrumental in bringing back the glory of Jim Corbett to the area. He undertook the mammoth task of making Corbetts erstwhile house, a quaint but delightful museum for visitors. Surely, no one else would know more about the life of the illustrious wildlife hunter than Anand who has worked tirelessly to re-establish the legendary man who emancipated the villagers from the terror of the man-eating tigers of Kumaon. No wonder that many wildlife enthusiasts swarm this homestay for the company of Anand and Suman.
The brown and olive green exquisite cottages blend in perfectly with the surroundings which are spacious and aesthetically brilliant with usage of lanterns as lamps. Upturned earthen pots used as lamp shades line the gravel path between the cottages. The aptly named common area Jungle Babblers, is perfect to share the experiences of the wild with other visitors around the Bukhara (fireplace). Intended to maintain the eco-friendly nature of the place the walls are mud & cow-dung plastered to ward off insects and maintain insulation to beat the cold. Local artisans have been patronised to build and maintain the area. Organic food especially wheat is served to the guests. Ground in the local grinder, pan-chakki, the wheat is cooling for the metabolic system. Suman ensures that one meal is made in the local Kumaoni style for guests to imbibe the local-ness of the place. A resident naturalist Mrs. Ghosh often takes long walks with guests to get them acquainted to the natural herbs and medicinal plants in the vicinity. Narsinghji, who has grown up with the family is the perfect guide to the mysterious bore river which plays hide and seek in its subterranean game of surfacing and concealing below the property. It has been declared as a heritage site by the Government. Ever active in engaging with the guests, Suman pleasantly jokes about their life revolving around the most pertinent news of spotting tigers, barking deer and other animals on a daily basis, rather than whats happening around the world.
Located very remotely, you need 45 minutes to get to the entrance of the park to see tigers which means getting up at 4.30am. Good chef, but one or two of the staff have very bad customer manners. The place is run like a hotel and is not really a homestay at all. Wild animals mean an escort from your room to the dinner table! Internet never worked and was never repaired.
CheersBye © 2016