Paatlidun Safari Lodge | Jungle life!

Spotted Dear - Jim Corbett National Park - Paatlidun Safari Lodge
Spotted Dear – Jim Corbett National Park – Paatlidun Safari Lodge

My maiden trip to Jim Corbett and the story of my stay at a Wildlife Luxury resort in the forest, that changed me.

Jungle is not a place to visit, it’s truly a home. That’s what I learnt from my experience at Paatlidun Safari Lodge located at the edge of Corbett Tiger Reserve in Uttarakhand. It’s strange how sometimes in mere 3 days, your perspective towards life changes and you discover a new you.

Although, it’s amidst the wilderness of a vibrant jungle, the Lodge is everything luxury and elegance, with wild spaces for nature enthusiasts. I mean, I literally slept under the stars on a rooftop canopy bed and woke up to the sight of farmers working in the fields. However, as I came down from the stairs, I had my own private pool to jump into.

That’s Paatlidun. It has all ‘modern amenities’ – plush rooms built in 2200 sq ft area with a private pool in the courtyard attached to your bedroom, a verandah, a rooftop canopy bed and a supremely luxurious bathroom. There’s even a multi cuisine restaurant Risya, a Spa and a Gaming room. However, besides these standard luxury indulgences, there are unrivalled activities like picnic by the beautiful Kosi river, a thrilling mountain ride, swing under a tree and the sounds of crickets and birds chirping in the bushes, that make it such a special affair.

I normally focus on food when I travel to any destination, however this time around, I was totally mesmerised by the enchanting surroundings of this jungle resort. Every time we would venture out of the resort in an open Safari Jeep, we would wade through a thrilling path lined up with pebbles and lush green jungles on the sides. Believe me, sighting Spotted Deer kind of became ‘normal’. Ganesh, our naturalist guide on tour and also a friend now, would stop over at places to show us beautiful birds, yellow-throated marten and even a wild elephant. I had heard ‘Be kind to everything that lives’. I witnessed Ganesh living that saying.

It’s where I also experienced the unpretentious Kumaoni hospitality. Every staff member (mostly locals) never failed to smile at me. They were as disappointed as Gurjas and I, when we came back from Jim Corbett National Park without spotting a tiger. To help us extinguish the disappointment, with much love and more, they served us splendid delicious authentic Kumaoni food.

The lavish Kumaoni lunch spread had Aloo Moli Ka Thechwani, Kumaoni Raita, Kumaoni Chicken Curry, Bhatt Ki Daal, Aloo ke Gutke, Mandua Roti, Taro Ki Sabji, Bhangeri Chatni, Kumaoni Loon, Bedu, Palak (locally grown) with Paneer and steamed rice. For dessert they served warm Lauki Ki kheer (Bottle Gourd) and warm saffron flavoured soft and succulent Gulab Jamun, which Gurjas could not keep his hands off.

As for me, I loved the earthy, simple and subtle flavour of the vegetables. Locally grown, they tasted much flavoursome than the ones we get back home. It would be an understatement to state that both Gurjas and I loved the Kumaoni Loon, a chutney, which had a strong flavour of coriander, lime, mint, garlic and local salt. One bite of that with Mandua Roti (Madua, a local grain from the region) and we were in heaven.

And much to my surprise I loved the Mooli Aloo Ka Thechwani, which was made with crushed Radish and Potatoes. The vegetables are crushed hence, it’s called thechwani in the local language. I had it with ghee laden Lesu, flatbread made with Mandua flour and wheat flour mixed together. At the expense of sounding cheesy, it was love at first bite. With a thick curry made from juices of the vegetables and tempered with tomatoes and onions, it was thankfully not heavily spiced up.

Taro ki Sabji, in simple words Arbi ki Sabji was simple yet delightful. A dry preparation, the Arbi was cut into thin chips, shallow fried in turmeric, cumin and tomatoes. Garnished with fresh coriander on top, I had it with Mandua Roti and Bhangeri chutney, which locals swear by.

Another favourite from the spread was Palak Paneer (locally grown spinach with cottage cheese). I don’t remember ever having spinach that felt so fresh and tasty and quite a lot nutritious as well. The deep flavour of spinach was so pronounced that I could have had it without the Paneer.

And no Kumaoni spread can be complete without the mention of Kumaoni Raita and Aloo ke Gutke. Curd tempered with turmeric powder, crushed garlic and mustard seeds, mixed with freshly grated cucumber, chilli powder, garam masala, salt and fresh coriander, this was a superstar version of the humble raita we make at home. This went so well with Aloo ke Gutke – potatoes cut into cubes, par boiled, flavoured in a mix of red chilli powder, coriander powder, salt, turmeric, cumin seeds, Asafoetida (heeng) and cooked in mustard oil.

We also had Kuamoni Chicken Curry and Bhatt Ki Daal, which tasted somewhat like what my Mom makes at home. It was tasty but not quite as exquisite as other dishes in the spread.

Apart from this meal, I loved having the sandwiches, in-house Jim Jam cookies, paranthas and fresh fruit juices. I also really enjoyed having Aloo Ka Jhol with Poori for breakfast. The spicy tomato and onion gravy cooked over slow fire, with soft potato cubes was an absolute favourite of mine and paired so well with those steaming hot pooris.

I had always dreamt of picnicking at riverside. So, when we actually dined literally in the Kosi river, I was utterly thrilled! The aroma of the Mutton Biryani was too enticing and believe me one bite of the rice from the biryani was just too delicious, however the Mutton was undercooked and I could barely eat it. The Salan and Raita were delicious though. The food notwithstanding, honestly, this would go down as one of my most cherished meals of all times. Playing in the water in solitude, hearing the sounds of nature and just embracing the surroundings made it a really special deal.

Once we got back to the resort, just before going to bed, I looked at the stars and thanked them for the day I had. It was my last night in the wilderness.

When I had left Delhi and the tangle of work behind, I didn’t have any set expectations. I was just thrilled about the idea of leaving the sooty air of the Capital behind. However, when I came back, I brought back with me, the sounds of birds, warning call of monkeys to deers about an approaching tiger, an elephant guzzling down the bushes. You know, that feeling of flowing hair, being so close to nature… happy, wild and untamed. It was truly a trip that changed me to be more compassionate towards my surroundings.


In a nutshell:

Location: Jim Corbett National Park, District Nainital, Mohan, Uttarakhand.

Closest Railway Station – Ramnagar (14 KMS away from Jim Corbett National Park)

Closest Airport – Phoolbagh, Pantnagar (72 KMS away from Ramnagar)

Atmosphere: Nestled in the wilderness, the luxury resort is a fine mix of rustic jungle and ultimate comfort. Enjoy the sounds of nature, the thrill of a national park and nature in its truest form.

Service: Impeccable service by the most friendly staff. Ganesh, the naturalist will be the nicest guy you’ll meet on your trip.

Food: Risya, the restaurant at the Lodge offers variety of cuisines and the food is good. However, to enjoy the local flavour of the Kumaoni Region, opt for local delicacies, which they prepare with home grown fresh produce.

Must HavesMooli Aloo Thetchwani, Aloo-Puri, Kumaoni Loon, Aloo Ke Gutke with Kumaoni Raita, Bhangeri Chutney, Mandua Roti and Jim Jam Cookies.

WATCH OUR VIDEO ABOUT PAATLIDUN SAFARI LODGE HERE:

 

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