Ok, it’s a little pricey. But then again, they can charge the price with some justification. Because a lot goes into setting up and running a place like the Baghvan by Taj Safaris in Pench National Park. It is owned by the Taj group of hotels.
Baghvan is a jungle lodge you want to check in to but not check out of. Everything about the place is so right: the greenery, the birds and small animals playing hide and seek in it, the rooms, the décor, the service, the food, and the staff. It may be tough to fault Baghvan except on one small count mentioned later.
The Rooms: The rooms are quite an elaborate set up. Each are actually a standalone cottage. You step into a semi covered corridor with a small courtyard – this is where you can take an open-to-the-sky shower. Yes you can. One door leads into a cosy and luxurious bedroom, with a balcony overlooking a stream (which has water only after the rainy season). Another door leads into a walk-in closet and dresser with separate shower and WC chambers. The dresser has two ‘his and her’ washbasins. Between the dresser and the bedroom are a short flight of steps going up to a square sit-out covered from the top and open from the sides. With very comfortable low cushioned seating and tables. Overlooking the greens with birds who never stop chattering. It was raining when I was there and there were quite a few bugs around – not uncommon in tropical wet seasons. Hence I could not sit around leisurely in this sit-out or in the balcony – but that is what I will do the next time I check in at Baghvan.
Housekeeping: We are talking Taj Hotels at its best. Known for some of the finest hotels in the country, they have spared no effort here. The linen and fittings are of the highest quality, and maintained like they should do. After all, Baghvan has been classified by Taj as a luxury brand within the group.
Food: Meals and snacks are almost like works of art here. Their chefs deserve full marks for the quality, taste and creativity in their offerings. They put together delicious starters and snacks at their live counters – and that is just a curtain raiser for more to follow from the kitchen. Many a dish are those you would have at Baghvan only. You can have your meals in the big dining cum lounge area – or on the deck overlooking a stream.
Safaris: We all go to Pench National Park with jungle safaris as our primary agenda. Taj Safaris have a team of well informed and experienced naturalists to guide you. They take you into the parks in their own vehicles – these are refurbished SUVs made by Tata Motors (Taj Hotels is also a Tata company). These are bigger than the usual Maruti Gypsy vehicles used by others. The seating is very comfortable, and well stocked with snacks and drinking water. The part I don’t like so much: These vehicles seem a little too big and feel a little unwieldy in the narrow, winding tracks of the jungle. And photographers like me are usually sitting at the far end of the vehicle – it is not easy to communicate with the driver when you want to stop to take a picture, or ask for any information. But overall, one has a good experience in the safaris.
Staff: Taj Hotels has been known for their staff and their service, and they are at their best at Baghvan. Very courteous, and always available to cater to your needs.
Verdict: Pench National Park has built a sort of an unsavoury reputation with lodges catering to the party crowds from nearby Nagpur. Most lodges are more interested in attracting weekend and holiday crowds who are often loud with their drinking, music and dancing. The lodges and their guests do not seem to care much for the environment – and it shows in the shoddy state of these lodges. Baghvan shines out amongst all these and is probably the place to stay in Pench if you can afford it. Having said that, Baghvan could be a lodge of choice anywhere in the world – they need no comparisons.
Baghvan by Taj Safaris
Madhya Pradesh, India
Tel: +91.7695.232829 / 232846 / 232847