Being a mountain lover, for me Nepal always meant 8000 plus meters high Himalayan peaks. But then a mountain region always has a dense forest cover that has a lot of wildlife in it. For my recent trip, I decided not to think about mountains and instead concentrate a bit on the culture and wildlife and headed straight to the jungles of Chitwan National Park, an ecosystem which is the last surviving pristine example of Terai region. Chitwan, in fact is one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1984. It is house to about 600 wild One-Horned Rhinos out of some 3000 left in the world. (Feature on Chitwan coming up soon)
So I was at Meghauli in late afternoon after a strenuous road journey of over 7 hours from Kathmandu to spend a few days at one of the best eco friendly and environment conscious property, Barahi Jungle Lodge in Meghauli village located on the banks of river Rapti.
The last 30 km of our drive were on bumpy roads and my bones were badly shaken, but as I entered the property, I was instantly relaxed. We were welcomed by none other than the team of the four elephants that the property owns. Also Varun, the vastly experienced hotel manager and his staff were at the entrance to welcome us with a smile on their face, holy grass, a refreshing lemongrass drink and cold towels to refresh.
The lodge is spread over twelve hectares and has 34 deluxe cottages and one luxury suite villa with a private swimming pool. I stayed in cottage no 10, one of their best. The rooms were a mix of tradition and modern day amenities. It was a perfect example of maintaining ecology without compromising on luxury. Influenced by the Tharu culture and having an eco-friendly focus to them, the rooms had thatched roofs and rustic wooden furniture, local artwork, private balconies and luxurious bed linens and modern amenities such as wifi, air-conditioning and flat-screen televisions.
The room had stones everywhere; floorings, walls were all full of stones. Furniture was a blend of contemporary and traditional Nepali furnishings by using indigenous elements such as used wood, bamboo, elephant grass and animal arts and crafts.
As I stepped out in my private balcony of the cottage, I saw the sandyu bank of a quietly flowing river, on which I assume that crocodiles and gharials come to rest during summers. Standing on the balcony I admired the green canopies of Chitwan and waters of Rapti and played with the wind chime made out of bamboo sticks.
After freshening up, I enjoyed an Electric buggy ride on the graveled pathway through trees and elephant grasses to Turtle Deck, the Dining area where I sipped a hot cup of fresh lemongrass tea during the briefing about the program for the next days. It turned out to be just the way I had thought and I just sat back outside the dining area overlooking the beautiful pool situated next to the Rapti River. The program included, River Safari, Walking safari, Jeep safari and local folk dances, Tour of a Tharu community village and much more to keep me busy over the next two days.
Varun also told us in brief about the property, amenities and introduced us to the naturalists, Saket, Karan, Anuja and others. He told us that the lodge is the first eco lodge in the Chitwan area and everything in the building construction is sourced locally and the majority of the staff is from the communities around the lodge. Varun went on to add that they don’t use plastic bottles for serving drinking water, and as a measure to increase the tree cover in the area have planted 5,500 indigenous plants, including seasonal fruits like mangoes, litchis, guavas etc.
While at Barahi, we loved indulging into the culinary delights and also the local Nepalese Thali on a brass plate at Turtle Deck and sipping delectable liqueurs served at Tiger’s Den bar near the river facing pool and deck. The kitchen mostly uses organically grown healthy products and the chef creates culinary wonders with organic vegetable and fruits along with assorted grains from home-grown fields and home-made pickles. Nepalese cuisine was the highlight of the menu, but Thai, continental, Chinese and Indian were also on offer.
I was mostly seen at the Tiger’s Den when I was not in the jungles, or not dining. The den was designed to mix with the ecology of the area and I never missed the nature while sipping my favourite drinks there. It’s a very well equipped bar that serves a selection of spirits- aperitif, wines and liqueurs.
Every trip comes to an end. And I was getting emotional as the time of our departure arrived. It was hard to goodbye to the resort. The Barahi Jungle Lodge made the saying “Atithi Devo Bhava” true and they truly showed us that great hospitality is possible anywhere by making their guests feels like a god.
Well, I have been into travel blogger/writer for quite some time now and I’ve stayed in plenty of super luxurious properties but Barahi was different, and I will have to rate it as NO. 1 and am sure it will be there for a long time.
I am now penning down my experiences inside the Chitwan jungles, and hope that you are already planning your trip to Nepal, and Barahi Jungle Lodge, Chitwan is on your list.
Andrauli, Meghauli-1, West Chitwan, Nepal
P.S. – You can also connect with me if you want me to arrange a booking with Barahi Jungle Lodge at special rates.