Corbett The Baagh, in purlieu of the Patkot village of Uttarakhand and on the fringes of the wilderness of Sitabani Wildlife Reserve, is a resort with difference. Unlike their adversaries, here efforts are concerted towards developing a holistic holiday experience. They curate an ethereal combination of Jungle Safari, Village visit or interaction and local festivity celebration to deepen our affiliation with nature and the locals.
The resort is frequented by a naturalist, who owns a ranch nearby and has worked with the Forest Department formerly. We had Mr. Imran Khan on board, to guide us through our ventures, whose knack to transmute his escapades into enthralling anecdotes were the highlight of the trip. During a bonfire, organised within the resort, Mr. Khan and Mr.Bhatt ingeniously demonstrated the alarm calls of various animals when they sense a predator. Through them, we realised that Tigers should not be the epicentre of our attention while visiting Corbett. Our imagination ran wild whilst he narrated other beautiful aspects of the flora and fauna.
The Resort has tied up with the Patkot locals to bring the community life in the wild closer to their guests. Thus, we were taken on a visit to the village to see for ourselves the symbiotic relationship shared by the mankind and the jungle. I witnessed the truth in the adage, ‘Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication’. The villagers welcomed us warmly and a one-on-one interaction with the locals made me realise, how they have escaped the complexities of life in the Metropolitan cities. They shared anecdotes of their encounters with Tigers and other wild animals. Despite the simplicity, they face hardships – like staying up all night to keep away animals from their crop fields. In the same pursuit we learnt about a new word, ‘Hakahak’, a local Kumaoni term, is the hooting sound made by a group of people to scare the animals away.
We also went on a ‘Jungle Safari’ in open jeeps and I had my own ‘wind in my hair’ moments. Sadly enough, the odds were not in our favour because, the pride of Corbett, the Tiger refused to show up. However, we managed to see Deer varieties like Sambhar deer, Spotted deer and Barking Deer. We also spotted different kinds of migratory birds and learned the nuances involved for the same. We visited the local ‘Haat’ or the village market and I must say the Jalebis (an Indian dessert), Aloo Tikki and Momos that we had there were more appetising than any Delhi eatery can offer! The momos were a bit different as it consisted of soya bits, garlic and chilly.
Fortunately we visited the land of Gods during the ‘Makar Sankranti’ festival or locally named as ‘Ghugutiya’. It’s celebrated with great enthusiasm by the locals and we were a witness to it. We visited a local household to join them for the celebration. There was this one indigenous sweet made of jaggery and wheat flour which tasted as if it had captured the freshness of the hills and the warmth of the countryside all at once.
In this part of the world, one can experience severe network issues and feel cut-off form the world they come from. However, it is this disconnection that lets us form a more meaningful connection, of our mind, body and soul, with nature. In today’s time and age it’s imperative to consume food grown without heavy use of pesticides, insecticides or synthetic fertilisers. The resort gave us a glimpse of their Organic farms and how it creates a healthy lifestyle and also prevents harmful effects of regular farming techniques.
This getaway from the humdrum of suburban life gave me lifestyle goals. It would be a fantastic idea to own a ranch or two and live this close to our roots! After all, we originate from nature’s womb and its our duty to honour and appreciate its other creations once in a while. It’s like coming home.