Traveling is a great way of releasing your natural senses of curiosity and seeking stories. Sometimes it can be as simple as sampling new food or hearing a local tale. Every trip, every travel gives you atleast one memorable story but there are some places which give you much more. They leave you engaged and amused everyday. My personal favorite are those places which give me human stories and make me fall in love with the local surroundings. Simply put, my recent trip to Kohka Wilderness camp in Pench was one such experience and it overwhelmed me with box-full of stories.
Picture courtesy : @Asoulwindow
Wildlife experience with a difference!
When I say wilderness, I am sure it conjures up images of jungle, safari, big cat and more. But whenever I am off to the jungles, what matters most to me is the bliss of living away from the chaos and humdrum of urban life. With a huge number of resorts and hotels springing up near the fringes of the forests, the authentic feel is gradually dying down but I am glad some brands are bent upon being different from the league. Situated in the periphery of Pench Tiger Reserve, everything in this camp takes you closer to nature. The differently designed beds, bamboo light fixtures, creative hand-made shower, locally made toiletries, use of local art to beautify the campus added to its high quality of hospitality. Not to forget, I liked the idea of desi massage over the regular spa parlors. Last but not the least, you got to chase the butterflies in the whole campus and not return without making friends with their pet Dee.
Just the way it happened!!
I traveled to Kohka with three other friends from the blogging world. Being wildlife fans, we were really excited for this one. A quick and comfortable flight took us to Nagpur from Delhi and soon we were on our way to Kohka (2.5 hours away). A driver had been arranged by the resort and he was a good chap who entertained all our requests to take breaks in between. After a long day, we reached at 8 in the evening and were delighted to find a quiet and cozy den in the middle of the jungle. What caught my immediate attention was the use of local art to add to the aesthetics of the place. One of the owners, Mr. Shaurabh Ghosh greeted us and made us feel at home almost instantly. In no time, we had freshened up and were sharing stories with him over bonfire. There was no hurry because with nature one must learn to surrender, explore, rejoice and have fun in the wilderness. The dinner that followed was heavenly. By this time we retired (though we dint want to), we were sure that we were going to have a gala time in this part of Madhaya Pradesh.
I am sure we all fell asleep quickly because we couldn’t wait for the bird watching tour planned for the morning. Also, I was looking forward to exploring the property. Our guide Mr. Anil met us in time at 6 in the morning. He was a very learned man and his conversations kept us engaged all through the walk. He helped us spot almost 20 kinds of birds until we reached one of the most peaceful and picturesque lake of the area – The Kohka lake. It was a cloudy day so we missed on the sunrise but otherwise everything about the surrounding was refreshing. I love water bodies and was thrilled to see this one too. The morning walk turned all the more adventurous when we heard a tiger’s growl while walking through the buffer area, spotted an owls family on a huge tree and met the local kids of the nearby villages. We returned to a lavish home-made and healthy breakfast. In the day, some of us relaxed in the pool while others chose to go for a desi massage. Later in the day, we chose to connect with nature in our own different ways until we were told that evening tea was planned around the Kohka lake. We were all up and ready to march.
How about turning the pages of ‘The Jungle Book’?
The first day was spent in absolutely no hurry and we soaked in the sun and the ambiance of Kohka. For the next two days, the resort helped us plan two Safaris at different gates, a visit to the pottery market in the nearby village and a quick art session with the local artist. In the mornings, the anticipation to see the big cat and other animals kept us high on energy and in the evenings, we lazed around, ran after the butterflies, indulged in local food and played carrom-board in the activity room.
This was my first time in Pench and I found it a very charming forest. Lush with green teak/sal trees,marshlands, savanna type vegetation, lakes, deep jungles, hilly terrain and what not, Mowgli land was impressive.
Pench is a very interesting forest reserve because it spreads over two Indian states, Madhya Pradesh and Maharastra. There are 5 gates in MP and 6 in Maharatra. On the MP side, we have Touria, Karmajhiri, Jhamtara, Rukhad, the Night Safari gate and on the Maharastra side there is silari, chorbahuli, Khursapur, Kolitmaara, Khubada (Saleghat), Surewani (Nagalwadi). The resort helps you to book the safaris from whichever gate you want.
On the first day, we entered the jungles through Touria gate while on the second, we chose Khursapur. Both the forests were uniquely different from each other. There was a stark difference in the landscape. While the first one in M.P. was plain, more spread over, the Khursapur was on a hilly terrain. It had narrow paths within and seemed more closed and dense.
Unfortunately, we did not get lucky with a big cat sighting but we were happy with jackals, spotted dears, Indian bison and various kinds of birds. The thrill of the jungle is not just about big cats but about experiencing and indulging in a unique ecosystem, so different from the human world.
Count the spotted deers!
After the safari, we used one of the evenings to visit a pottery market in a nearby village. In fact I also learned to make a few. This was my second attempt and I did well. On the third evening, I met a local artist and took some notes around Warli painting.
The camp is unique for reasons more than one!
1. I loved the fact that there is no pomp and show about the property or the rooms.
2. The earthy feel about the rooms does the magic on you the moment you enter it.
3. It offers all the facilities in an eco-friendly manner
4. It has a play area as well as swimming pool, thus very good for families and kids
5. It includes all meals in your package
6. It is a paradise for bird lovers and bird photographers
7. You will not miss on the home-made pickles, papad and chutneys rather get them packed from here
8. One can be at peace with nature
9. The property has a kitchen garden and thus everything that you eat is organic and healthy.
10. There is a reading room, activity room and a pet to keep you entertained.
If you have the passion to chase your dreams, don’t stop….
Mr. Shourabh Ghosh left his high paying, comfortable job in Ireland to build his castle of dreams at Kohka. This story can literally give you goosebumps.
Mr. Sanjay Nagar left his cushy banking job to take up many causes for the society. Through Kohka foundation, he tries to impart education to kids of the area. He is trying to empower men and women by providing them computer education and better job opportunities. Several health and education related camps are organized by him all year round.
Kohka will always be a memorable trip with friends. What fun it was to wake up to the whistling of the birds and sleep to the rustling of the woods only after our hearty late night conversations. And the warmth that oozes out from the premises of Kohka wilderness camp, the management and hospitality staff is endearing.
Read about my latest post – Nagpur