Kings Lodge, Bandhavgarh was to be the earliest established of the Pugdundee Safaris properties we were visiting on our itinerary through the National Parks of Madhya Pradesh, India. Naturally, we expected it to be the most hospitable, luxurious and well-run hotel.
From the get- go, it didn’t disappoint. Stumbling out of our vehicles, sore backs and bottoms (the 8 hour drive from Denwa Backwater Escape in Satpura) we were greeted with welcoming smiles and earthen tumblers of chilled coconut water.
The property itself played a strange game of hide and seek with nature. One couldn’t really tell where man made structures ended and where nature’s wilderness began. It was all so beautifully interwoven. An open verandah with the most unique sets of lounge tables and chairs, reminiscent of the cross section of gigantic logs lay scattered about. Perfect for long afternoon chats with the in- house naturalists. Beyond this main building lay a magical bamboo forest. One with winding paths cleared through.
At the end of each of these winding paths sat a villa on stilts. With interesting organic textured walls, a beautiful deck these villas felt like luxurious tree-houses without any creepy-crawlies. Sitting out here on the deck, I could hear the cacophony of birds all around me, as I tried hard to spot them through the dense foliage. Piped hotel music, step aside, this is the real deal. Even nature was treating us to the whole shebang, putting on quite the show every single day. Inside, the rooms were furnished in big bold wood structures, a beautiful window seat taking up prime position. The bathroom however was the show stopper. Gnarly wood beams criss crossing around, creating pillars, shelves, separating the bath from the shower oh it was the most charming ode to nature at the property.
Opposite the open courtyard was the dining room. This stately, old world wood shed was like an opulent green house with windows letting in bright sunshine all along either wall. A long table allowed guests to mingle and converse, while being looked after by the very observant wait staff. The food was excellent, and I never left a meal without overeating. On our first night, we were treated to an outdoor celebration of sorts. One that began with a steady supply of alcohol fuelled by campfire seating and the subsequent conversation that followed. Since we were to wake up super early the next morning, we had an early dinner from the outdoor buffet, complete with a tandoor and elegant table setting.
Pool and Spa
Languid afternoons lying on a deck chair, listening to the birds overhead, watching the sun reflect in the water. That’s what the poolside at Kings Lodge Bandhavgarh is made for. Between that and the spa I was torn. But the past few days of being thrown about in a safari jeep and the long drive from Satpura had my sore body aching for a little TLC. I decided to give in to a 90 minute Abhyanga massage at the Spa. Situated at the very end of the property, it was quiet and secluded, and the spa did indeed feel like it was in the middle of the jungle. The therapist worked her way through all the knots in my body, and i drifted into a light sleep only to wake up feeling wonderfully pampered (and ready for the next safari).
Bandhavgarh National Park, Safaris, Game Drives and Wildlife
Now that I’m done waxing eloquent about our wonderfully luxurious stay, let me get to the real reason we were there. The Bandhavgarh National Park and the safaris on which we were to discover the local wildlife. The first evening that we checked in, we were invited to the library. Here, in a rather appropriate environment, surrounded by books about wildlife and nature, we were treated to a presentation by the very enthusiastic naturalists who proceeded to describe the flora and fauna of the region and their various encounters with them. Lots of curious questions and passionately detailed answers ensued. So the next day, when we set out on our 10 minute drive to the Tala Gate of the Bandhavgarh National Park, I sat in the jeep feeling rather confident of my animal spotting (and identifying) abilities.
“Nature can be rather unpredictable”, was the opening line of the presentation, and true to form, our discoveries weren’t all that we expected. The tiger remained elusive and Bandhavgarh remained in her shell, revealing very little of herself to us those next couple of days. Making her even more mystical and enticing, ensuring we resolve to return. So until next time Bandhavgarh, but thank you for treating us so beautifully, Kings Lodge Bandhavgarh.
This post was made possible by Pugdundee Safaris. Opinions as always, are our own.