Monday, June 14

The Hive

Dr. Ranjit Bhargava's “The Hive” our 7th Mahindra Homestay destination, is a very nice heritage cottage on the Ayarpatta slopes that used to Christopher Corbett's house - father of the world renowned Jim Corbett, hunter, conservationist and naturalist, famous for slaying a large number of man-eating tigers and leopards in India.

Getting here is pretty simple actually, mainly because they have 'one-way-ed' most of the roads in Nainital. Follow the mall road upto Jama Masjid, then ask someone for Mannu Maharani hotel and follow the signs to The Hive (or Silent Trail Luxury Villa) from there.

Our room was on the first floor right next to Shruti and Rajit Bhargava's room from where we got a good view of the Nainital hillside. A short walk from the cottage and we got a birds eye view of the Naini-lake...

Dr. Bhargava is a noted environmentalist who has been very active in lake conservation activity. He was awarded the Padma Shri recently for his activities and we got to see the private side of this public icon.

Though we did not get much time to interact and chat with him on the environmental impact of all the tourist activity in Uttarakhand we saw him walking around the gardens putting bird-feed out for all the pigeons and sparrows. All that free bird-feed was good for us, we go to take pictures of the birds.

Shruti, who was very busy with her son's music  class and her INTACH (The Indian National Trust For Art and Cultural Heritage) work was keen to point out that only in the last few years they have been spotting sparrows in Nainital. “this is all a result of climate change... it's getting hotter every year”, she said.

All the deforestation was evident right from our room... making way for modern concrete hotels. We hope that Bhargava and his friends are able to stop this irresponsible growth in the region.

There were over a dozen staff members catering to these guests and close to a dozen cars parked in the driveway... really the busiest homestay we had been to till now. 

Though the first floor feels like a home-stay the ground floor rooms and lobby feel more like a hotel. There were atleast 30 walk-in customers every day asking for rooms. Going to show how busy the place was... but apparently in Nainital “every rooms sells” according to Radhika, who “manages the hotel part of the homestay”. 

The rooms were very comfortable, with TV, DTH, a modern heater and multi functional shower - the kind of stuff you see in the Kohler ads. 

We had WiFi in the lobby area and between bird-watching the pigeons, man-watching the other guests and reading books on Jim Corbett, we caught up on email over cups and cups of nice hot tea while we 'chilled out' for 2 days.

We were ready to go from Corbett’s father’s house to Corbett’s house at Kaladhungi (aka Choti Haldwani) to stay at our 8th Mahindra Homestay, Suman and Ome Anand’s Camp Corbett.


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