And in the midst of this, sits Paatlidun – an immaculate blend of Kumaoni tradition and urban opulence.
Paatlidun Safari Lodge is the perfect hideaway for newly-weds looking for an offbeat honeymoon retreat. In 2016, at Outlook Traveller's Boutique Hotel Awards, the lodge was bestowed with the 'Best Hotel for Honeymooners'. Couples can either have a complete staycation here, or use the lodge as a base to explore Corbett and its cornucopia of secret trails and jungles.
Fanned over by the Shivalik range, the lodge is quietly tucked away in Uttarakhand's Bhakrakot village. The region is teeming with trees we bet you didn't know even existed (such as the kinds of Rohini and Kamini) and somewhere nearby, swatches of lush grasslands spill into the startlingly clear Kosi river. Spread out over an expanse of 13 acres, the lodge is home to 12 en-suite cottages.
Keeping true to their Kumaoni roots, the lodge is steeped in traditional motifs, woodwork and stone masonry. The verandahs come with a tulsi chabootara (platform) and a one-of-a-kind red-oxide cemented flooring. All the cottages have monikers derived from months of the Hindu lunar calendar and local Uttarakhand rivers.
The rooms are decked with antique furniture, private pools, snug sit-outs and sunlit verandahs. The focal point of the luxurious cottages is its windows. Every room boasts of large French-style windows, heady with romantic notions, there's a 'Star Window' placed strategically above the master beds, so you and your partner can fall asleep to star-strewn skies. Guaranteeing absolute privacy and discretion, there's also a 'Butler Window', through which all your meals can be delivered. A sheer delight for the senses, the verandahs open directly out to the woods and the alfresco showers promise uninterrupted quietude.
Almost every fruit and vegetable used to cook meals is grown in Paatlidun's farms. Practicing organic farming methods employed by the locals, their gardens are lined with rows of papaya and mango trees, lettuce patches, tomato creepers and spinach and lemongrass shrubs.
The lodge's in-house chef can whip you up platefuls of any cuisine you desire. We would recommend trying the authentic Kumaoni fare featured on their menu.
Luxury Cottage: ₹10,750 and upwards
Luxury Premium Cottage: ₹12,433 and upwards
The tariff includes daily breakfasts.
For further details, visit their website.
October through January are the months when Corbett is at its most beautiful. The sporadic rains withdraw by October, making way for chilly nights, and winters are welcomed to the town by mid-November. If you are lucky, you might even catch a snowfall or two while at the hilly town. Regardless, every cottage at Paatlidun will show you the most spectacular panoramas all-year round.
As Paatlidun is situated on the outskirts of Corbett, the lodge can arrange safaris according to your convenience. Accommodating around six people, the rent for one jeep is around ₹3,000, which includes taxes and entry fee to the park. The timings for the safari is from 6am to 10am in the mornings, and 2pm to 6pm in the evening.
The park has a massive variety of bird species – close to 580 in total. A short walk away from the lodge and into the sal thickets, will take you to the birds' favourite haunts. Your appointed naturalist from Paatlidun will lead you to the favourite haunts of the black-necked storks, grey herons, parakeets and grayla geese.
Three-hour long walks with the lodge's experienced naturalists will take you through the forest, past brooks and waterfalls, rocky outcrops of the Shivalik mountains and the plethora of biodiversity sustained by them.
The safari lodge boasts of its very own tea shop. Managed by locals, they sell the sweetest of teas and delish Kumaoni snacks. Paatlidun also supports local cottage industries and inside their souvenir shop, you can find organic infusions, spices and honey.
Paatlidun Safari Lodge is located in the village of Bhakrakot, in the district of Nainital.
By air: The nearest airport to the property is located in Phoolbagh, Pantnagar, a little over 50 kilometres away. Accessible by taxis, it takes two and a half hours to reach the safari lodge.
By rail: The railway station nearest to Paatlidun is 12 kilometres away, at Ramnagar, connecting all major Indian cities such as Kolkata, Delhi, Guwahati, Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore, Bhubaneswar and Cochin. Plenty of local taxis and shared jeeps ply from Ramnagar to the lodge, with the drive lasting for about 40 minutes.