Guleria Kothi, Varanasi

It is night and the mighty river Ganga has finally fallen silent. The ghats are hushed without the characteristic intense hustle and bustle of the daytime.

The sounds may have quietened but the lights stay on and the illuminated ancient structures on the river bank, keep the show going all night, bathed in the glow of bright hues.

The only noise is that of my motor boat as it slices purposefully through the dark waters. I am the only passenger and my boatman has picked me up from Raj ghat where my taxi deposited me from the airport.

The December night is very cold and the sides of the boat are open. I am glad for the coat that was easily accessible in my baggage and is now hugging me in a valiant attempt to keep me from freezing. As I breathe in the chill air, warm memories rise up within me and a wave of nostalgia washes over my being. I am back in Varanasi after many many years, a place where I had spent 2 memorable years of my childhood.

We sail upstream for 20 minutes before my stream of thought is interrupted, as the boat glides up to the pier and docks at the ghat leading to the Guleria Kothi hotel. This is going to be my home for the next 2 days and I feel a deep thrill as I disembark and gaze at the steps leading to the imposing building which is all aglitter, as if waiting to welcome me in its dazzling embrace.

Come, step back into time with me and enter the portals of the very ancient mansion turned hotel … the Guleria Kothi, in the city of Varanasi, which is located in the district of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, one of the largest states of India.

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Waghoba Eco Lodge – Experiences

So why does one go on a Safari in tiger land? Umm well … to see various birds, to spot hordes and herds of spotted deer, to gaze at bewildered looking Sambhar deer, to watch the antics of langurs and monkeys or maybe to spot a few small mammals too, right? Yeah right 😎

The various superstitions that are followed by the guides and guests, include not mentioning the name of the You Know What because some believe that talking about it or openly craving to see it, could result in failure to sight the star of the show which is the magnificent Tiger, also known as Wagh in the local language.

So if you can put on a really nonchalant swag while internally desperately praying to spot one, then you are said to have a better chance of seeing the sWagh of the Wagh as she/he does the catWagh for you right in front of your jeep.

So did we succeed in fooling fate into thinking we did not care? Shall we read till the end to find out?

But no, I am too excited to delay this and I must say, for me the good fortune that Pugdundee Safaris always bestows, came to my rescue yet again and my camera did manage to trap one beautiful specimen called Roma as she languorously lifted her 3 year old frame out from the thicket and performed a short, stylish parade in front of several waiting jeeps with their gasping passengers.

But don’t go away, now that the climax is revealed. Stay and browse through because there is much more that you need to know about what you can do, with the professional guidance of the excellent team at the Waghoba Eco Lodge.

A 3 part series featuring my experience at Waghoba Eco Lodge by Pugdundee Safaris, Chandrapur district, Maharashtra, India and covering The Overview, The Cuisine and The Activities.

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Waghoba Eco Lodge – Cuisine

Wearing Warli while wholeheartedly wolfing a wonderful Waradhi thali at the Waghoba Eco Lodge.

I am sure you will excuse this wild effort at alliteration (and also the use of W instead of V for Varadhi 😉), after you see the spread that I have presented below for you, courtesy the innovative Chef Ark and his enthusiastic team at the Waghoba Eco Lodge.

Also, I specifically took the trouble of carrying a Warli art printed kurta because that was the only pattern that I possessed which was ‘Maharashtrian’, even though Warli prints belong to another region of Maharashtra and not the Vidharba region where we were😏

So let us explore the food at Waghoba Eco Lodge, which is served in the cutest ever tiger themed plates that I have ever seen. In fact I must say, they are just paw’some. Want to know why? Well then, simply read on 😋

A 3 part series featuring my experience at Waghoba Eco Lodge by Pugdundee Safaris, Chandrapur district, Maharashtra, India and covering The Overview, The Cuisine and The Activities.

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Waghoba Eco Lodge – Overview

The car turns off the highway and gets onto the village road. In a while I can see a stretch of low lying, domed structures in the distance. The seemingly sedate construction in light colored brick, is set in a flat expanse of land and appears unlike any other jungle lodge that I have seen before. I am soon to find out that the laid back exterior is merely a veneer for the charm and potential that lies within. And we get a glimpse of the upcoming excitement soon enough, as we are blown away by the large picture window that greets us at first sight, when we step into the entrance of the lobby. The window that frames the hills of the not so distant core zone of the Tadoba National Park whose live treasures we are here to explore with the premium safari brand Pugdundee Safaris, whose hospitality we are about to experience at their newest lodge, the Waghoba Eco Lodge.

Lying conveniently in the buffer zone of the Tadoba National Park, this resort is situated in the Bhadravathi tehsil of the Chandrapur district of Maharashtra, India, a region which bears rich forests that are abundant with wildlife and also said to be teeming with tigers.

So did we spot any? Now now, wait patiently because we first have to enter the portals of the hottest destination (pun intended only in summer 😎) of the year and explore the eco friendly and endearing environs of the lodge. I will then take you on the safari, I promise.

A 3 part series featuring my experience at Waghoba Eco Lodge by Pugdundee Safaris, covering The Overview, The Cuisine and The Activities.

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Pench Tree Lodge by Pugdundee Safaris-Part 2

Deja Mow … that familiar feeling of having posed with the same Mowgli before 😊

Little did I know three years ago in February 2020, that the world was going to abruptly be halted by a deadly virus which would likewise put a pause on all travel and life as we knew it. I had been fortunate to just about visit Pench Tree Lodge by Pugdundee Safaris, Seoni, Madhya Pradesh, India and to experience my very first and fruitful tiger safari in the Pench National Park.

Known as Mowgli land after Mowgli from the The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, the Pench forest has installed a figure of the little man-cub in the rest area. This of course is a big attraction for children and adults who queue up to pose with him and preserve their rendezvous on the camera lens, mainly to show off on Show’cial Media I suppose 😉

My two years of covid imposed stagnation were made easier to bear with help from the memories of the tigresses I sighted, namely (the late) Collarwali and Paddev, my ‘meeting’ with Mowgli and of course the warm and excellent hospitality of the Pench Tree Lodge.

Hence you can imagine my elation when I was scheduled to travel to this luxurious resort again, after the ‘end’ of covid (or so we hope). While I usually do not repeat places because there are so many new destinations to travel to in this world, in the jungle, no two experiences are the same and every time it is like visiting a new location. Besides, the lodge also promised a bit of novelty this time, with a hidden surprise that it had … or should I say Hide’Den. Well for the revelation of that secret, you will just have to read further.

So let us go on a second round of Pench Tree Lodge and be as charmed as we were the first time.

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