Jim Corbett National Park is the oldest national park in India and this is where Project Tiger was launched in 1973. It is a popular weekend getaway from Delhi
Ever thought of watching the stars lying on the forest ground? Step into lebua Corbett and watch the birds, tuskers, the moon, the star, and more. Unlike many resorts in the Corbett National Park zone, this one is located ‘somewhere in the middle of nowhere’. I mean it’s surrounded by forests and there are fewer people in this part. With 44 cottages and multi-cuisine dining, the resort offers a spectacular stay.
Stay & Dine: The resort has three types of rooms: villas, suites, and residencies. Azrak, the fine-dine multi-cuisine restaurant, has some yum buffets and a la carte meals. Saraca, the bar, is where you get to chill out with your poison.
The rooms have all that you need for a comfortable stay such as an LED TV, Wi-Fi, coffee maker, bathrobes, and all bathroom amenities. Laundry and other facilities are available on request. Each room comes with ample sunshine and space to enjoy the green environs. You can also lounge in the small bay area within the room. And maybe relishing a bite (or two) of bal mithai in the room will make it a sweeter visit. The focus is on healthy, fresh food. Everything that is available in the region will find its way into the dishes and even in the mocktails and cocktails.
Facilities: The resort is probably the only one in which the infinity pool’s bottom is painted white. With the trees forming the backdrop, the view at sunrise and sunset is a stunning one. Then there is the herb garden, lake with fishes, activity room for children, a gym, and a spa too. I loved getting up early in the morning and watching the birds flitting on the branches. Parrots, sunbirds, cuckoos, and the little mynas, they make the place so cheerful.
Explore: Right behind the resort is the little village of Bakrakot, where a small school is operational. A walk in this part is quite an eye-opener to the regional life and the medicinal plants. Should you like to walk further, a mango grove is a place to rest. Exotic birds and insects sing their songs of freedom here. But I would say beware of monkeys for they are always on the lookout for food.
Walk with the in-house naturalist and see some more species on another trail. I got to see the great monitor lizard rushing past on the dry river bed. The thickets on this trail are a treasured path for birders and nature lovers. There is, of course, the customary safari and silence is the keyword in the jungle should you like to see it in its full glory.
Safari: We had a field day seeing the white-tailed Asian Paradise Flycatcher throughout the safari, and then there were the peaceful Sambhar Deers. Since this is part of the elephant corridor, you might be lucky enough to see some crossing. I managed to see a family of four with a little baby. There are night trails and cycles too for guests. If you don’t feel like doing anything, watch the stars and the moon through the telescope, and read some books on the great man Jim Corbett or the fauna in India.
Where birds flit constantly, where the breeze talks to you, and calm is the norm—this is the world of Corbett Wild Iris Spa & Resort. Located in the quiet village of Kyari Kham in Ramnagar, famous for the Corbett Tiger Reserve, this boutique resort is an apt getaway for all tired city souls.
Greeted by trees and the tangy buransh aka rhododendron sherbet, this green paradise will make you forget the world in seconds. Home-cooked fresh food, thatched roofs, sweet smiles, and lots of sunshine, it’s THE place for a relaxing holiday. Pretty much in tune with its surroundings, the resort has ample trees which give shade as well as add an aesthetic touch to the place. The 42 rooms, or should I say cottages, have been carved around the many different species of trees. And there is a signboard giving the name of each tree. So guess what? I saw a litchi tree for the first time in my life.
Stay & Dine: The rooms are well-equipped with your everyday amenities. You can even call for hair dryers, iron, and laundry services on request. There are different kinds of rooms and suites available here. I stayed in the premium cottage which had a nice seating area and loft for kids, which I thought was pretty cool, and my room had a heater too. The open-air Orchard Grill is where you can enjoy your drinks along with some fresh snacks. There is a swimming pool and a spa which offers a facial along with massages. I quite like the way the spa has been built around trees—it’s quite nice to see life in sync with nature. While the restaurant does serve all kinds of cuisine, I particularly enjoyed the fresh Indian meal.
I recommend you try the poha, sewayian, upma, masala black chana for breakfast. The main course has some yum paneer dishes and the Kumaoni thaali is a must eat. The dal, veggies, and rice are light and easy to eat. There is ragi roti too. Oh, and don’t forget to try the dessert comprising bal mithai. The resort offers a deal in which meals are included and that can work well for holidaymakers. There is a souvenir shop too, in case you want to carry a bit of Corbett back with you – tees, coffee mugs, bird nests, stuffed tigers, fridge magnets, hats, and lots more.
Facilities: With ample parking space within its boundaries, the resort offers MICE facilities and outdoor activities including nature walks, body surfing, cycling. There is free 24*7 Wi-Fi.
Explore: As most of the staff belongs to the village, they’ll even tell you some local stories. We enjoyed the way women celebrate Holi here–sitting in a circle in the afternoon, singing traditional songs, and dancing away.
A walk around the area is interesting; you can enjoy some tea at the nearby shops along with momos and Maggi. The villagers are friendly and welcoming and the area is a paradise for bird lovers. The resort facilitates bookings for a safari to the Corbett Tiger Reserve, arranges tours to the nearby Pawalgarh forest rest house, Kaladungi museum which was actually the winter home of the iconic Jim Corbett, and Girija Devi temple housed on a small mud hill. There is a facility for carrom, chess, and a small library lies in the reception area. Cultural evenings highlight the Kumaoni way of life and a short documentary on Jim Corbett is all the knowledge you will need to appreciate the natural beauty all around.
An interesting tour to the village of Choti Haldwani which has a homestay, IttuSa restaurant offering the traditional meals, the old wall which kept the animals at bay, houses the home of Trilok Singh, the guardian to a precious gun—the one that Jim Corbett used to shoot man-eaters. This was gifted to his father and now you can take some snapshots as souvenirs.
You might also like to take a complete and wholesome organic meal at the home of Savitri Devi who runs the Durga farming school nearby. She offers training classes and has become iconic with healthy food, she even exports rice to Switzerland.
There are elephant rides too in the buffer zone. I didn’t do that but I did enjoy feeding them some jaggery.
What I do recommend is an early morning walk to watch the sunrise along the dry river bed with monkeys sitting high on the trees, busy eating, and the birds flitting from branch to branch. A getaway to this place is exactly what an exhausted city soul needs. It’s best not to walk outside the boundaries after sunset as sometimes animals do tend to come close to the village.
Close to the Jhirna and Dhela gates of the Corbett National Park, this is a resort for families run by a family. The young directors, Anirudh and Kriti Lakhotia, make it a family-friendly place. The beautiful golden logo has been designed by Anirudh’s mother. His father started the resort but the vision comes from the late grandfather. Anirudh takes care of the operations while Kriti handles the digital strategies.
Activities: There are swings, a basketball court, adventure activities such as flying fox, rappelling, spider climbing, ladder climbing, wall climbing. It offers pebble painting classes and cooking classes for children too where the chef teaches them simple stuff like how to make a sandwich. So that makes hi-tea a fun affair. This is usually out in the lawns and I did enjoy the cutting chai. For indoor activities, there’s table tennis, pool table, chess and books.
Did I mention that you could hit the gym or relax at the spa if you don’t feel like doing anything?
Stay & Dine: With two swimming pools and many options for accommodation, the resort is quite a hub. There are luxury tents, a tiger suite, villa grande, villas, pool facing rooms and more. The rooms have all the amenities such as an electric kettle, a minibar, soaps, towels. The décor being light and easy, and the landscape a delight, it’s quite a place to chill out.
The resort also has a room where you can refresh if you arrive before check-in time or departure is hours after official check-out time.
The buffet here is quite a big affair with all kinds of cuisine, right from salads, snacks, chutneys, pickles, to a wide range of veggies and desserts. I quite liked the Kumaoni raita comprising turmeric, cucumber and mustard. Carrot cake was among my favourite desserts as were the little éclairs. The restaurant has kid-friendly chairs which makes feeding the young ones an easy task. There is a special menu for kids too.
Maybe enjoy some drinks at the Gin Tree bar before dinner.
Explore: But it’s the lush trees and flowery blooms that add to the ambience. There is the national tree of South America, the kachnars were blooming, and shaving brush-shaped flowers also rose high on the branches of another tree. Besides the flora, there are birds. But for that, you have to wake up early or hear their loud chirps/gossip in the evening before they go off to sleep. It’s interesting to take a walk in the village or go for a drive in the area as deers are aplenty. The resort celebrates nature.
4. Aahana—The Corbett Wilderness
“My father believes that if you take care of nature, it will take care of you,” says Ayu Tripathi who helps her father, Kamal Tripathi, run the resort. With roots embedded in the region, the Tripathis believe in integrating the best of indigenous practices with modern requirements. “As the top layer was sandy soil, nothing would grow in this land and the villagers thought it was a cursed land. But my father bought it in 2003 and after a few feet, we found fertile soil. So, the first thing we did was plant trees at the boundary.” Now, a healthy dose of green welcomes the holidaymaker. Since then, trees have been planted across and signboards acknowledging the planter show that actor Irrfan Khan was one of these.
The 14-acres have an organic garden, herbs, fruit trees, flowers, butterflies, birds, cows, a bio-gas plant, compost pits and an indigenous sewage treatment plant in which no chemical is used. The boundaries touch the Bijrani zone of the national park. You can walk around outside but ‘it is tiger country and best to be within the premises before sunset’, says the in-house naturalist.
Stay & Dine: There are 45-rooms which include single rooms, villas, suites, family suites. Each room has windows which give a view of the greens.The resort has facilities for senior citizens, the LGBT community and the differently abled. There are a gym and a souvenir shop too. Yes, there is a bar too and you might like to enjoy your meal sitting by the window at Dhikala restaurant, watching the swaying trees and do see the table that you eat on is made of driftwood. With most of the staff being locals, the food is fresh. The resort has hosted eco-friendly weddings with mandap by the swimming pool, jaimala near the small waterfall and kumaoni music accompanying the ceremony.
Explore: The facilities include recreation for all-a badminton court, children’s play zone, football area, sitting area with books and even a naturopathy centre where the doctor can ‘assist your body to heal itself’, as that’s what a naturopath’s role is in his own words. The people in the spa have been trained by him and there are a range of therapies available, from Ayurveda to western to mud and more. A 10-day retreat with various methods for treatment can surely help people change their lifestyle to a healthier one. Then disease and its cure just become easy.There is more to naturopathy than detoxification and weight loss, you will come to know should you decide to have a longer chat with him on alternative therapies. You can begin this with a yoga session at 5.30am.
The resort also organises many activities such as painting classes, nature walks, village walks, how to milk a cow for they have their own gaushala and more. There is a sound-proof conference hall as loudspeakers are not allowed in the reserve zone.
While the safari is a must, one can see over 100 species of birds in the resort. In fact, the resort has citronella and lemongrass plants all around to keep the mosquitoes out of range. Cow urine is mingled with neem and used as a natural pesticide. Grass is not mown for it breeds insects which are food for the birds. Trees are planted regularly and the pavement is porous which means rainwater keeps going back to the ground. There are holes in the pavement through which snakes can pass and not come crawling on your feet. Leopards and other animals have been sighted in the area, hence a large gate separates the reception from the main resort. It is closed most of the time unless needed.
I even chased the butterflies for some pictures and stood under the trees before sunset to listen to the birds gossiping before going to sleep. Be sure to walk amid the balmy fragrance of greens to find your balance with nature. If you don’t feel like doing it yourself, go with the naturalist.
How to reach
Corbett National Park is located at a distance of 260km from Delhi. Ramnagar, around 15km from the national park, is connected by road and rail network with major cities such as Delhi, Moradabad, Nainital and Bareilly.
By Road: The state government of Uttarakhand plies direct buses from Delhi, Moradabad, Haldawani and Nainital.
By Rail: A direct train to Ramnagar runs from Delhi. You can check Ranikhet Express, Corbett Link Express and Kathgodam Express.