As a traveler, I have seen much. I have been to the foot of the highest mountain, the lap of stunning valleys, the thick of the greenest jungles and the heart of the wildest rivers. I have walked through the chill of the snow and tested myself in the scorching heat of the plains.
This episode here is of my wonderful familiarization trip to the Barahi Jungle Lodge (BJL), Meghauli and this is how it went.
31st May 2014, a cool Saturday morning with clouds all over the sky, I headed out of my house, with my other half who never leaves me, “my bag” and headed towards Lainchaur, the assembly point for all the travel agents invited by BJL. Everyone arrived pretty much on time and boarded the Mountain Overland Bus ride to Meghauli where the resort is located.
To me, I was destined to have the time of my lifetime for sure because it was my birthday that day and only few people knew about it. The moment we crossed “Nagdhunga” the exit/entry point of Kathmandu from the west side, free flow of drinks started. Thanks to the wise thinking of Nischal Dai and Pradeep Dai for bringing in the portable ice box along, that beer was too good to chill myself out.
The drive continued all the way to Riverside Spring Resort (RSR) for our Lunch with a couple of stopovers in between. I must say, RSR serves really good quality food as always and the ambiance is always happening with more people on the swimming pool than on the restaurants or garden. Again continued our journey and few friends started singing Folk melody with the sound of Madal (Traditional Nepalese Drum). Once we reached Narayanghat, I along with half the group went on a swimming costume shopping frenzy at the U.F.O clothing store. It was pretty quick and reached Bharatpur airport. Instead of going straight south once we crossed the airport, our driver took a right turn and continued driving east. Nischal dai had confirmed with the driver if he knew where we were going and the driver had said he did, right infront of my eyes, but after a 30 mins drive when we asked the driver where we were heading, he said he didn’t know. Crazy isn’t it?
Yet, it was a fun experience because then we took a totally dusty off road shortcut towards Meghauli through the plain farmlands and villages. Thanks to Sankar Dai and his Lichhi infested jokes that kept the moment going. We went deeper and deeper to the remote plains and at one moment when I felt that I was really far from my regular tech-controlled life full of noisy and pollution packed environment, There it was “Barahi Jungle Resort”
Everyone was in a hurry to jump out of the bus and see the resort. Welcomed by the warm hospitality of BJL it was quite surprising that Meghauli was not that hot as I had expected it to be. I felt really good when I saw a board as soon as we entered the resort which said, “It’s a Jungle out there and you’re going to have a wild time.”
We went in to the reception and took our keys, room no. 12 was the destiny and Binod Dai and I headed to find our room. To my surprise, although based on typical ethnical tharu house from outside, the interior of the room was spot on to the international standards, the private balcony watching over Chitwan National Park right across the Rapti river was quite some view you wouldn’t find every now and then. The whole room was themed to represent a “Typical Tharu Lifestyle” with the amenities that you find in any 4-5 star hotels globally.
It was almost 5 pm when we came to the restaurant and prepared for the “Boat Ride” at the Rapti River, the natural boundary of the Chitwan National Park.
The ride was quite good although we spotted only a glimpse of rhino and few species of birds like lesser adjutant stork to be specific and many other species of birds, because of the presence of Mr. Kedar and his poems that we were lucky to listen during this trip.
We then walked all the way to vehicle that drove us to the Narayani River Bank for a Sun Downer program to experience the sun set with a snacks and drinks.
I was pretty sweaty that time so wanted to cool myself down, so as soon as I went to the resort, took a quick shower and again we were invited to the BBQ program at the garden by the swimming pool where everyone got the opportunity to introduce oneself to everyone. The “Haas ko Choila” was mouth watering and so was the fish finger and Chicken BBQ. But my mind was somewhere else. That swimming pool was really tempting so I didn’t stop myself to take a plunge.
The water was so warm and kind to me. All the strain I had on my body after the long day was healed by the warmth of the water and a mug of beer. I kept swimming till almost 11 pm when most of the people were already asleep. When I came out, few of us went to the “Tiger’s Den” the in house bar by the pool side. We just chatted about many things and ended my day with a shot of Tequila, it was almost 1230 that time.
Day 2 started pretty early for me. We were supposed to get a wakeup call at 6 am in the morning but I woke up at 0430 when it was almost bright already. I could hear deer’s barking from the National Park and waves after waves of birds flying towards west, where I am sure was their natural breakfast waiting for them. At around 7 am, I and few other team members crossed the Rapti River to go for a Jeep Safari at the National Park. It started in a general manner where we drove through tall elephant grasses. Soon after we were inside the Jungle of the national park and about 5 mins in we were very lucky to spot a Monitor Lizard.
After few moments, we came to an army post that was stationed there to protect the national park animals from poachers. It was really nice to see them protect our national property and pride. We then headed towards the Tiger Tops Resort, a living museum which closed operation 2 years ago also considered as a landmark till today. We stopped at the resort and Binod Dai, former team member of Tiger Tops group of companies shared his good memories and took us on a short sightseeing trip of the resort.
We then headed further south west deep in to the jungle where we reached a water pool. Here we spotted a Rhino just across the pool and it was a huge one. It had one dysfunctional ear on the left and the right ear was also missing a chunk. I later found out after asking the guide that it was named “Kan Chiruwa” meaning “One with a sliced ears”. It had a reputation of charging river boats. Fortunately we were on land just across the pond.
After that we headed towards the resort and had our breakfast at about 10 am. It was really hot that day and as I didn’t have anything to do till 4 pm (Elephant Safari), I again went into the swimming pool to cool me down. The incredible feature of the pool is that it’s very cold during day and very warm at night. I felt quite relaxed even during the scorching heat of the mid day sun.
At 4 pm we again as always after lunch assembled to go for the elephant safari. I have had couple of elephant ride experience in the community forest before as well but this one was an exceptional. We spotted lots of deer and birds as we went on top of the forest. Then we entered into the high grasslands to see nothing. Soon after we spotted 2 rhinos on the river bank that followed. Very big males. The Mahut told us that these rhinos were territorial and didn’t allow any other rhinos to enter other than females.
The elephant drank water from the river and then we were heading back when our elephant caught smell of something. The elephant went of the odor and we found 2 carcasses of deers, 1 was all eaten and the other was a fresh kill. It was clearly a tiger kill for sure. If it was a leopard kill it would take the kill up to the trees to eat, but its tiger that hides its kill in the grasslands. All 4 elephants went after the search of tiger if it was still around but we could not find it. I felt so close to the tiger yet so far from this majestic creature. May be I will see one next time. We returned back to the Resort, but before it was time for a group photograph and everyone from our group assembled for it.
Once we were at resort at around 6 pm, I again wanted to swim. So I went to the changing room and when I came out it started to drizzle a little bit. I went into the pool and was joined by Rejina. We were competing who would reach the other side first, when all of a sudden there was a cloud burst that was followed by Lightening, Thunder and Storm. The rainfall was so heavy that when I tried to come out of the water, I could literally feel pain due to the water drops hitting me with quite some velocity. So me and Rejina decided to stay inside the pool and wait for the rain to pass by. Unfortunately, it was followed by a high speed wind which started creating waves in the pool itself. Then we decided to leave the pool and go the the shelter of the tiger’s den bar. After sometime it all stopped and we were invited to the presentation hall where a tharu cultural program was kept. The dance was based on the ethnic groups of Meghauli, “The Tharu”. The dance represented the daily life of the Tharu, their encounter with wild animals and how they defend themselves from these attacks with the help of sticks and the beating of drums.
Free flow of Liquors had got almost everyone in the mood and we decided to do a show of our own, where Kedar jee took the vocals and I took the percussion (Madal) and did a lok dohori show of our own. Most of the people danced and those who didn’t, participated by clapping their hands. The show was over soon after and it was time for dinner now. Me and Binod Dai, took the table and we were quick to finish when out of no where Nishal Dai came in to make an announcement with a cake in his hand. BJL had put a small program to celebrate my birthday. I was the star of the night. J It was very special to me as I was feeling low that I could not spend time with my family and close ones on my birthday but it all changed in minutes. I was smiling as if I had won a presidential election.
After the birthday ceremony, we again like the previous day went to the Tiger’s Den and started drinking all kind of liquids. It was already 2 am and we decided to end our drinking session and go to bed when I looked up to the sky and could see the whole universe. I could even see the Cosmo Cloud and the traces of the Milky Way. Went to the room and slept till 7am in the morning.
Day 3 started at 7 am for me and I was really feeling bad that it was time for me to leave. As per my experience, this trip is among the best I have experienced so far. I have to sincerely thank Nishal Dai for calling me into this trip and letting me experience this wonderful property of Barahi Jungle Lodge. I would also like to thank everyone participating on this trip for giving me such a great company and celebrating my birthday with me.
If I have to rate Barahi Jungle Lodge, It’s “*****” if I could add more stars then I probably would. I wonder how it will be after 2 years when the botanical garden will be ready along with other amenities like Sauna, Massage etc. I still would suggest to put in some more recreational activity like a pool board etc. on the bar and wished that the tigers den was a little bigger than what it is now.
My name is Apurwa Rayamajhi, and as a traveler, I have seen much of the new but its never enough. See you again.