No matter how many great hotels I have stayed in, there is always another one waiting to surprise and delight at the same time. The Meghauli Serai by Taj Safaris in Chitwan National Park in Nepal is one.
The property opened its doors to guests only recently, and I was one of the first to get a look-in. I chose to drive for two days from New Delhi to get there, and could not have asked for a better hotel to give my tired body a well needed rest. Why am I being so exuberant about the same? Let’s me take you for a walk around the property.
Meghauli Serai is located along the banks of the Rapti river, and you can see the reserve area of the forest beyond. The lodge itself is in the buffer zone of the forest, but the animals know no difference. Don’t be surprised – and it is not rare – to see and hear wild elephants and even tigers around. You only have to look out to see the blue waters meeting the green forest and all reaching out to the colourful skies above. Can you ask for more?
Works of art in themselves – literally. A local artist was engaged to treat the walls of each room as a canvas, with each boasting a unique creation. Add to that the layout and furnishings of the cottage I stayed in. You enter a passage with ample space for storage and to take your dirty footwear off. The bath gives you options to indulge in a tub, in a glass shower cabin, or under an open air shower. Two washbasins ensure a couple can freshen up simultaneously while rushing for a game drive – and to possibly avoid arguments over who splashed water all over. The furniture was exquisite to say the least. And the bedroom opened into a private pool further overlooking the river.
In the back of beyond, Taj has managed to put together a team of chefs offering popular as well as local cuisines. All presented in a style to match the rest of the lodge. Some meals are served on the deck overlooking the river – can you visualize a setting where the only light is from candles, enabling you to see the stars and moon reflecting in the river flowing by? With the silence broken every now and then by the sounds of animals, usually a wild elephant. On other occasions, you can be treated to a Nepali spread while the Tharus, the local community, put on an excellent show of songs and dances. Of course, you have the dining overlooking the infinity pool for a break from the extraordinary.
The common spaces are a collection of pieces of art handpicked from different places. You will want to pick up all for your own home, but I don’t think Taj will share their sources. You have to check into the hotel to enjoy these for yourself.
Does not get better. Everyone in the system is tuned to offer the best of services, and to go out of the way if needed. They are all a cheerful lot – a much needed sight for the soul. It was also one of those rare occasions when a hotel cleaned up my car without being prompted to.
No matter how good a jungle lodge, the experience is complete only when you spend time in the forest. And when you do, it is vital to be in good hands. Taj Safaris has a track record of developing cadres of some of the finest naturalists in the subcontinent, and it shows when you are out with them. Of course they also take along a yummy breakfast spread during morning drives to add to the charm of the excursion.
The fun does not end when the sun goes down. It actually brings along something new – the sundowner. Taj organizes a row boat to take you to a sand bank a few miles away from where you watch the skies in glorious hues as the sun go down. All this while you sip your favourite wine.
All this and more happens in a day’s work – at the Meghauli Serai in Chitwan.
For more, visit Meghauli Serai by Taj Safaris