It gives many, pleasure & peace to be with nature, add to it the thrill of being close to wildlife, scenic concoction of lush mountainous vegetation with a river visibly flowing in the valley. That is what this heavenly abode “Vanvasa” had to offer.
The place in question was our destination post the polluting Diwali night on 12th Nov’15. The selection of the destination was due to chance research on google while looking for a getaway from the poisonous air of Delhi post Diwali for a few days. The description of this place was quite mesmerizing …though much wasn’t available as this resort is currently not available commercially and is about to launch in few days.
My interest in the place was followed by a fortunate turn of events leading to a conversation with Mr. Satendra Rawat who was gracious enough to offer a complimentary stay to me and my family for the selected days. The touch of love affection & detail with which he has been working for past 7-8 years to make this place a reality later made me realize as to why-him being a true nature lover offered us to be a part of his journey of past many years.
We started at 6.00 AM on 12th and swooshed past (on my lovable Quanto) the concretes of Delhi as roads were are traffic free due to post Diwali hangover. We travelled to Meerut in a record 2hrs. I wished if the NH 24 can be as clear…always. We then travelled through the greens of UP crossing Bijnore, Kiratpur , Najibabad and reached Kotdwar the entrance to the land of Gods Uttarakhand. Refreshed with a quick home made breakfast and tea at a local Dhabha we again started for or destination at 10.15 AM.
The Journey itself was now breathtaking as we crisscrossed on the path to Duggada( 2 ways) the point where the road breaks into two ways…one leading to Lansdowne and other towards our destination which then onward goes to Ramnagar.
The fresh smell of lush green vegetation was now filling our nostrils with joy, as we moved towards our destination through the dense forest road passing through the Kalagarh tiger reserve and other similar forest ranges. The sight of road crossing over mountain river, elephant corridors and range officers bunglow surrounded by electrified fences pumped enough adrenaline in our blood. We also crossed 2-3 entry gates to the reserve( the northern or other side of Jim Corbett reserve) and occasional small villages like Sendhikhal, Dauntiyaal and Rathuadab.
After around about 2 hrs travelling on this dense forest road kids were little restless to reach our destination.
I finally took a slight left lower road 7-8Kms after Ratuadab and moved towards Gadiopul… the road which onward goes to Tarkeshwar Mahadev Mandir and then again circles around to Lansdowne. Around 2 -3Kms before Gadiopul we took a off road towards Juee . This Kutcha road was a typical off road with steep climb at few places and one needs to be little careful. 4 kms on this road after confirming twice with the property caretaker we reached our Destination Vanvasa at 12.45 in the afternoon. A good 2 hrs before our planned time.
The sight as we entered the resort was mesmerizing. The careful blending of modern amenities with nature undisturbed was a classic plus point of this place.
Whatever little I could read on the property…it was much more and beyond expectations. The cottage boasted of nice big rooms with breathtaking views ( large glass panels)of the valley, vegetation and Son- Nadi( River). The provision for a fire place in each room added to the classical value of the rooms. The location of all the cottages was also very carefully chosen to provide for scenic views. But the block where we stayed… the view was simply awesome.
We refreshed ourselves and went walking through the beautiful property towards the Restaurant. The refreshing air and sweet mountain water added to our appetite as we filled ourselves with Dal Chawal and green Sabzi. The caretaker and other helpers were very courteous all through our stay and made simple food to order considering the semi functional state of the resort. In fact me & my wife were allowed to cook few things to our taste every now & then, which added to our holiday fun.
After our food we moved through the property as we were still left with few hours of daylight. The walk was simply amazing as we saw a blend of natural vegetation with various varieties of Bamboos, Pine, Chikoo & Mango trees. One could spend hours and hours of time just appreciating the green cover in and around the property. The various variety of wild and ornamental flowers added colour to the green-yellow shades all around.
As we moved further we were awestruck by the beautiful location of the swimming & kids pools. The outdoors around here was decorated with lots of Palm trees again carefully blend with the local vegetation. After a lot of photography rounds we moved forward though other similarly exciting location like Persian water wheel, the ethnically designed eating area and restaurant.
We were simply in love with the place…..
We then rested for a early night after a session of music and reading.. gearing up for an early morning walk.
The morning views(6.00AM) were again some golden moments. As the valley was filled with dense fog hovering over the flowing Son-Nadi. The wide variety of beautiful birds- Mainas, Kuckoo’s, Parrots etc. added to the heavenly beauty. The sound of different birds refreshed one to the core.
The next 2 days were spent with lots of morning, afternoon, evening walks, Bird watching and picnicking around. Kids and all of us including my parents also enjoyed our time around the Persian water well. We did some off track walks and could see an wide area over the cliff, what we later came to know was being developed as a Helipad.
My son was busy looking for wildlife… he could see a wild hare & a langoor( I didn’t believe him then). The helper( Gudda) was adding to the thrill by telling kids about incidents of a tiger & leopard sighting some distance from the property some time back. And stories of porcupine and Antelopes roaming around. In fact he also described how he managed to drive away the porcupine from the property keeping in mind the safety of people and plants. We could visibly see lot of hedges all around the boundary of property spread some 30 acres, supposedly to keep wild life. Though he (Gudda) mentioned that Antelopes( Barasinghas) still manage to enter the property in midnight and spoil the tree bark sometimes.
The time between 7-9 PM was spent in light bon-fire on two nights ( the caretakers were careful to take precautions to avoid any forest fire) and little bit of barbecuing on the last night at the resort.Gudda took us to a spot that night where we could see a group of wild hare at some distance with the help of a flash light and I believed my son now.
The last night was well spent by my son watching for wildlife outside the large panoramic glass panel of the room. We did manage to see a group of 7-8 wild hares eating & playing outside very close to the glass panel. It again added to the delight. Though we did not visibly see any other form of wildlife in the night.
We got up refreshed in the last morning of this vacation ready for our morning walks and trying to hold as much beauty to our eyes as we were about to move towards the hustle – bustle of Delhi.
After having our breakfast and tea we with heavy hearts stated our journey back at 10 AM. (We moved away from the table in the eating area outside that day for some time for our last photography session and as we came back, to our surprise, could notice hare paws all over the table. It seems they were always watching over us!!!)
My mother was very keen to stay back for ever in this heaven and was cajoling me find a way to stay back. She being a great cook was jokingly offering to be a food Manager for the property.
The way back again thrilled us as we were fresh now to appreciate the raw beauty of the forest road, meandering Pandaal river( hope I got the river name right- this flows on the side opposite the son-nadi side of the property and is visible as you get down from the kutcha road). We could also enjoy few small natural water falls, a fishery and a group of wild cocks and hens on the way back. Still left with some holidaying mood we stopped by the river and filled some fresh river water in our bottles. I can’t describe how clear & pristine the water was!!! We also stopped by Vatanwasa, the entry gate to reserve to enquire about the access. The gatekeeper told us that the entry for the season opened that day only(15th Nov) and would require min. 4 hrs for the jeep trek inside the reserve. He told my son that only 5 mins back a herd of spotted dears crossed the road.
Not having enough time we decided to postpone the safari to next time and re-started our journey back. The road past Dugadda was totally opposite the journey while coming as the Diwali hangover was over and people from Lansdowne and other areas were all rushing back towards the plains. The memories of this wonderful vacation could help me drive back on the crowded roads right after Kotdwar and proved how right we were to drop the jeep Safari as we managed to get back to Faridabad only past 10.30PM, ready for our life routines from Monday onwards.
I and my Family once again thank Mr. Satendra Rawat for this gracious opportunity on his private property. I have travelled across India in various forest locations but this experience was incomparable.
We wish him all the success for the commercial launch of this property from Dec’15 onwards.
This experience has motivated me to start this blog Forest diaries and I intend to share my other experiences on Tryst with nature and wildlife very soon.