It was the month of December when me, along with my friends planned a weekend
getaway to the Jim Corbett and the Sitabani National Reserve. It was one of those bucket lists which we had stored since our college days and was yet to be explored. 3 years after the college we were like, “Let’s plan something?” One of our friends was the photography guy so he said that let’s head to the jungles. We scouted for the national reserves and as we were from Delhi the first thing which came on our google search results page was “JIM CORBETT NATIONAL PARK” We were like oh yeah that’s the place we need to explore and as it is the winters we will make the most of the climate and along with that we can also see some of the wild animals as they will come for a sunbath on a bright sunny day.
The next 2-3 days went into planning and searching for the best hotel. But we skipped the idea as we wanted to be in the raw jungle so we opted for a resort. During our search, I came towards a Facebook Ad about a resort in the Sitabani Jungle named, Sitabani Jungle and SPA Resort which was as new as one can be and the pictures of the resort were just awesome.
After calling for the bookings and reservations we booked 2 wooden cottages (As I mentioned we wanted to live the raw Jungle life.) Despite several calls and emails to the manager of the resort, there was a bit of anxiety as of how the resort would be? How would the cottages be? Are they overcharging us?
All our questions were answered when we reached there.
It was a 5-6 hours journey from Delhi to Uttarakhand in one of our friend’s car. As we reached there the view was the first thing that attracted our eyes and yes enroute the resort we also said hello to a herd of spotted deer. We reached the jungle after the entering our details in the forest department check post. As we headed deeper into the forest we saw the tall dense trees becoming denser. The road had a bit of pothole but that didn’t matter as we were at a very low speed for two reasons; One respect the jungle laws as honking and overspeeding is not allowed and second clicking photos of the beauty and looking for a Tiger, Leopard or an Elephant. We didn’t see any but we caught the sight of the deer and migratory birds which is a common sight if you are planning a trip here every winter.
Day 1 – Evening
A green paradise!
It grew dark as we reached there. We had a plan to stay there for 2 nights and 2 days. Long story short the resort was awesome, the amenities were top-notch and the accommodation was more than what we expected.
In the front of our cottage was a private lawn, a small porch, with the resort view at the front and the whole forest view from the balcony at the back. There was a mini-bar, a bathroom which had 24 hours hot-cold water (we preferred the hot water as it was the winters.) As it was the wooden cottage, the roof and floors were all wooden and every tap of our feet made a sound like; “TUCK, TUCK, TUCK.”
After changing and inspecting the cottage we headed towards the games room and there were indoor games like Billiards, Table Tennis, Foosball, Carrom and a GYM. As usually we skipped the gym but tried our hands on the games as it was dark we didn’t played badminton but I would recommend you to play it as the pure air needs to purify your lungs.
We ordered some snacks while we were sitting near the bonfire. While popping our snacks we heard one of the officials asking us to have dinner and as we saw the time it was close to 9:30 we headed to the restaurant and had our lunch as our stomachs were full with the heavy snacks we had a little dinner.
Day 2 – Morning
Into the woods!
The next day sun rise earlier than usual you know why? Because the sky was clear and our cottages had an east facing door so it was 6 or 6:15 and we were in our lawns shivering yet enjoying the rising sun sight. The electric kettle helped us make our own tea / coffee by ourselves. We headed towards the pool area with the tea in our hand and enjoyed the view as well as the tea. It was around 9 when one of the officials called up for the breakfast and man the breakfast was one of the best thing as it had the mixture of American, Indian as well as European inputs. I being a true Indian foodie headed for the Chole-Bhature and Idli-Sambhar while my other mates tried their hands on the sprouts, juices, boiled eggs and cereals.
Then the time came for us to visit the jungle and off we went in our SUV’s to the nearby villages. We skipped the safari part as we didn’t book the packages for it (To book a jungle safari you need to book it prior 1 week before your trip) Still we didn’t regretted that as the excursions near the resort were a different world of its own. First we headed to the Chopta Village where we found an British-Era Pawan Chakki which to our surprise was still functioning and that too without electricity (Ironically, the Chopta Village hasn’t seen electricity since independence.) The village also had the ruins of the Pandavas temple from the Mahabharath-Era.
The best part was this
After Chopta Village we headed to Okhal Dunga which was 12 kms away from the resort and was a treat to watch. I will let the images do the talking about this place;
It was evening and we were on our way back to the resort as we reached it was dark and the temperature reduced to give us a more chilling experience that was when the bonfire along with the special chicken soup came to our rescue at the resort. After the soup and a bit of warm from the bonfire we headed to the gaming centre. The best part about the dark was the voice of the deers, jackals, sambars which were said to be some kind of CALLING. The locals said that when a predator (Tiger or Leopard) moves around the forest the monkeys or the other animals act as a vigilant and pass a kind of code language to other animals so they can save themselves from the upcoming danger. It was a fascinating yet a very adventurous thing to know. During our stay the only regret we had was to not spot the striped beast for which this place is famous for.
Anyways our last night was the best one as we got to challenge our taste buds in the form of some lip-smacking delicacies served by the chefs there which had the likes of veg & non-veg both.
Day 3 – Morning
Meeting the King!
The next morning was as usual early as compared to the metropolitan city which we are habitual of. I made my tea along with packing my belongings as we were leaving this gem of a place to resume our daily work, to complete our half done tasks and as everything comes with an expiry date our trip also came to a halt. But the couple of hours which we had I wanted to feel the environment there and live the pureness of the place. I started walking on the grass wet with the dew fallen over last night barefoot and to my surprise it was a feeling which was activating my senses I don’t know if it was real or I was just thinking the same but that feeling cannot be described in words. Just imagine the situation; A cup of tea in your hands, a pleasant & cool whether, the rising sun, the mountains in the background and just greenery around you sometimes you need all this. This single moment was the summary of our whole journey.
We packed our bags, kept all the belongings in the trunk of the car and bid a final bye this beautiful place. We had the regret of not seeing the Tiger but didn’t lose hope as we were again in the jungles on our way back to Ramnagar. We saw few wild boars, deers, sambars and as we were taking a steep turn we saw what we didn’t expected; A TIGER.
The beast crossed the road just in front of our car and we didn’t bothered to take out our phones or cameras as some moments are made only to cherish. The Tiger was young, huge and a beauty. One of our friends caught a video of the beast climbing the mountain and vanishing from our sight but that moment, I repeat that moment will never leave our minds.
Our trip was fulfilled.