Ever thought of learning how to blend modernity with nature? Find it at this eco-friendly resort in the famous Corbett Tiger Reserve.

Chipkali or lizard creeper on the main building, Aahana The Corbett Wilderness, Ramnagar, Uttarakhand, India
Chipkali or lizard creeper on the main building, Aahana The Corbett Wilderness, Ramnagar, Uttarakhand, India

Words & Photographs: Ambica Gulati

 “My father believes that if you take care of nature, it will take care of you,” smiles 23-year-old Ayu Tripathi who helps her father, Kamal Tripathi, run the resort. With roots embedded in the region, the Tripathis believe in integrating the best of indigenous practices with modern requirements. “As the top layer was sandy soil, nothing would grow in this land and the villagers thought it was a cursed land. But my father bought it in 2003 and after a few feet, we found fertile soil. So, the first thing we did was plant trees at the boundary.” Now, a healthy dose of green welcomes the holidaymaker. Since then, trees have been planted across and signboards acknowledging the planter show that actor Irrfan Khan was one of these.

Naturalist Ramesh Barlow explains about the sewage treatment plant, Aahana The Corbett Wilderness, Ramnagar, Uttarakhand, India
Naturalist Ramesh Barlow explains about the sewage treatment plant, Aahana The Corbett Wilderness, Ramnagar, Uttarakhand, India. Certain plants are grown above this as they absorb nutrients from the waste and the water is recycled for gardening.

With 45-rooms which include single rooms, villas, suites, family suites, the 14-acres have an organic garden, herbs, fruit trees, flowers, butterflies, birds, cows, a bio-gas plant, compost pits and an indigenous sewage treatment plant in which no chemical is used.

With most of the staff being locals, the flavours here are restful and easy. The food is fresh and the boundaries touch the Bijrani zone of the national park. You can walk around outside but ‘it is tiger country and best to be within the premises before sunset’, says the in-house naturalist Ramesh Barlow.

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The facilities include recreation for all-a badminton court, children’s play zone, football area, sitting area with books and even a naturopathy centre where Dr Braj Bhushan can ‘assist your body to heal itself’, as that’s what a naturopath’s role is in his own words. The people in the spa have been trained by him and there are a range of therapies available, from Ayurveda to western to mud and more. “A 10-day retreat with various methods for treatment can surely help people change their lifestyle to a healthier one. Then disease and its cure just become easy,” says the doctor. There is more to naturopathy than detoxification and weight loss, you will come to know should you decide to have a longer chat with him on alternative therapies. You can begin this with a yoga session at 5.30am.

 Though Ayu did her graduation from Delhi University, she always knew that she would be living in Corbett. She works with the local schools on cleanliness and other vocational skills. “It was a slow process gaining their trust. Initially, I started a cleanliness drive for the village and only a handful would come. Then I began to offer gifts to the best one and the popularity of the drive increased. Three years down, the villagers are becoming more and more welcoming.”

The resort also organises many activities such as painting classes, nature walks, village walks, how to milk a cow for they have their own gaushala and more. There is a sound-proof conference hall as loudspeakers are not allowed in the reserve zone. The latest addition is eco-friendly weddings. “We have done six or seven with mandap by the swimming pool, jaimala near the small waterfall and kumaoni music accompanying the ceremony,” smiles Ayu.

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The resort has facilities for senior citizens, the LGBT community and the differently abled. There are a gym and a souvenir shop too. Yes, there is a bar too and you might like to enjoy your meal sitting by the window at Dhikala restaurant, watching the swaying trees and do see the table that you eat on is made of driftwood.

While the safari is a must, one can see over 100 species of birds in the resort. In fact, the resort has citronella and lemongrass plants all around to keep the mosquitoes out of range. Cow urine is mingled with neem and used as a natural pesticide. Grass is not mown for it breeds insects which are food for the birds. Trees are planted regularly and the pavement is porous which means rainwater keeps going back to the ground. There are holes in the pavement through which snakes can pass and not come crawling on your feet. Leopards and other animals have been sighted in the area, hence a large gate separates the reception from the main resort. It is closed most of the time unless needed. “The little passageway in used by villagers and the ramp can be used by the guests at any time.”

Evenings at Aahana The Corbett Wilderness, Ramnagar, Corbett Tiger Reserve, Uttarakhand, India
Evenings at Aahana The Corbett Wilderness, Ramnagar, Corbett Tiger Reserve, Uttarakhand, India

Each room has windows which give a view of the greens. I even chased the butterflies for some pictures and stood under the trees before sunset to listen to the birds gossiping before going to sleep. Be sure to walk amid the balmy fragrance of greens to find your balance with nature. If you don’t feel like doing it yourself, go with the young naturalist, Balwant Singh Negi, who can introduce you to many birds and show you some amazing pictures he has taken.

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