Get Up Close with the Wild at Vanghat Jungle Lodge

Tripoto
Photo of Vanghat Lodge, Deema Range, Uttarakhand, India by Divya Nambiar

When I first heard about Vanghat Jungle Lodge, said to be one of the remotest wildlife lodges in the country and located on the fringes of Jim Corbett National Park, I was intrigued and excited. However, the moment I got out of our vehicle near the Baluli suspension bridge and started the cross-country walk towards the lodge, I began wondering, “Where exactly are we going?” Accompanied by staff from the place, I made the 2 km-long hike, panting and struggling to keep up before we reached the gushing Ramganga river. A makeshift bamboo raft ferried us across to the lodge, the mere sight of it making the whole ‘ordeal’ worth it!

Photo of Get Up Close with the Wild at Vanghat Jungle Lodge by Divya Nambiar

Conceptualised by Sumantha Ghosh, a renowned naturalist, Vanghat offers two kinds of cottages – Stone Cottages and Mud Cottages. In fact, the lodge, led by concepts of conservation and maintaining harmony with the surroundings, is considered a pioneer in eco-friendly and sustainable tourism in the region. Constructed with locally-sourced clay and thatched roof, and inspired by the Van Gujjar tribal style, the Mud Cottage is where I settled in after an interesting chat with Sumantha.

Photo of Get Up Close with the Wild at Vanghat Jungle Lodge by Divya Nambiar

Being in the buffer zone of the National Park, Vanghat is known for the walking safaris and trails they offer for guests. With varying difficulty levels, these walks are conducted every morning and evening. Guests can even opt to have a personal guide/tracker if they wish to explore the forest by themselves. I ventured into the jungle with a local who is also a well-versed naturalist. The next few hours were spent wandering through the wild, squinting at the birds he pointed out, ranging from the Mountain Hawk Eagle and the Tawny Fish Owl to the Great Hornbill and the vibrant Long-Tailed Broadbill.

Photo of Get Up Close with the Wild at Vanghat Jungle Lodge by Divya Nambiar

The expert guide also pointed out the Golden Mahseer, a rather common fish seen in the Ramganga river which flows next to the lodge. While we didn’t manage to spot any animals, we did come across pug marks from the night before and signs of an elephant’s trampling. I was excited enough by those, I must say!

Photo of Get Up Close with the Wild at Vanghat Jungle Lodge by Divya Nambiar

After a whole day in the wild, birdwatching and taking in all the interesting facts, a meal of homemade dishes and pickles, made with locally-sourced and organic ingredients, awaited me when I got back to the lodge. What’s more, the good folks at the lodge even whipped up a personalised meal when I told them about my allergic reaction to certain ingredients. Evenings here typically end with everyone gathering around a campfire, swapping stories and enjoying the eerie silence of the jungle all around.

Photo of Get Up Close with the Wild at Vanghat Jungle Lodge by Divya Nambiar
Photo of Get Up Close with the Wild at Vanghat Jungle Lodge by Divya Nambiar

It takes at least two days to completely experience and appreciate what the place and the forest around has to offer. Staying in the middle of a jungle is an experience that takes quite a bit of getting used to. But once I got past the initial distress of being cut off from the rest of the world – you get cell reception only near the river – I began enjoying the silence of the wild and the peace that comes with being in the midst of nature. While I was glad to come back to civilization, ask me if I would head there again, and my response will be a resounding YES!

Be the first one to comment