Tuesday, June 15

Camp Corbett

Driving to 8th Mahindra Homestay destination Camp Corbett at Kaladhungi from Nainital was a mistake... after enjoying the cool weather at an elevation of 2000+ mts... we drove down the hills to Kaladhungi (at just over 400+ mts)... the heat was unbearable. In a way the mistake was from our part... we should not have been there during the hot summer days.

The drive itself was great. These Sivalik Hills are the southernmost mountain chain of the Himalayan System... and probably the youngest. We stopped for some tender 'butta' (corn-on-the-cob) on the way and enjoyed the drive along the ‘long and winding roads’ in the hills passing the many lakes that dot the hills... this one called Khurpa taal really looked like a big emerald!

Ome and Suman's Camp Corbett is located right on the mail road... can’t miss it... there is a nice small board that points to the place. Suman had told us that she would be busy “doing our bit for the community”, by organising a free medical camp for the local villagers at the Corbett museum... so after a quick wash we went to see what that was all about.

At the Corbett Museum, we got a quick history lesson in the man the world knows as the greatest British-Indian hunter, conservationist and naturalist, famous for slaying a large number of man-eating tigers and leopards in India. Fresh from all our reading on Corbett at “The Hive”, we were able to identify the incidents referred to here. Like any good tourist we picked up a lot of Corbett souvenirs... and pickles by the locals.

The Neema doll - made from Saan fibre (a type of hemp) - is the result of a project by Frederike from France who is working with villagers from the nearby Ringora village. This project helps the locat villagers earn money and keeps them away from the forest thereby reducing the man-animal conflict.

The rooms at Camp Corbett are pretty comfortable. The cottages are like a resort... few and far apart giving us the privacy that we need but at the same time the dining area and kitchen are away from the rooms. “We already have so much wild life, we don't want pests to come here too... that is why we prefer not to offer room service”, says Suman.

All the rooms have air-coolers which kept the heat off marginally... but the whole place cooled down tremendously at night... got quiet chill actually. 

We spotted the beautiful Crimson Sunbird near the central lobby-hut and several other lovely birds... may the pictures speak for themselves. 

The next morning we were booked for a safari at the most famous tiger reserve in the country - Corbett. We spent 4 hours in the park but did not see any tigers - not that we were very disappointed... we got to see a lots of other wildlife - Lapwing, Scaly-bellied green woodpecker, white rumped shama,   and hoards of other wildlife... spotted deer, barking deer, sambar, wild boars and lots of monkeys . The highlight however was the beautiful Great Pied Hornbill and Indian Grey hornbill - and my guess was that we saw them because we were staying in the cottage (at Camp Corbett) called Hornbill!,

Back at Camp Corbett we had a full fledged Kumauni lunch with Churkani (a soup like preparation of bhatt pulses), Jambu gaderni mutton (mutton marinated with jambu and Arbi - seppankizhangu  in tamil), Alu Gutka (fried Potatoes), Kaapa (spinach leaves crushed into a paste and cooked with other condiments), Jholi (a curry seasoned with curd and curry leaves) and Bhang ki Chutney (roasted Bhang (Hemp) and cumin seeds (Sauf), mixed with Lemon juice).

After the heavy lunch we decided to bid adeiu to the wild life and venture into the Himalayas while we took the back-roads into Himachal to reach our 9th Mahindra Homestay, Krish Rauni at Matiana.


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