Finding ourselves amidst a serene forest in the foothills of the Shivaliks

At one point of this ‘endless’ journey we almost begin to think that The Kikar Lodge is an illusion. A
nature resort of the name does not exist. Why else would it prove so elusive? The winding dirt tracks go on and on and every time you ask a passer-by, he offers a fuzzy reply about a big hotel that is still far, far away. Our tummies are rumbling, our heads throbbing (we’ve been negotiating the Punjab countryside for over half a day now), the mercury is steadily dipping, Ropar is getting darker by the minute and our driver is losing his cool at the drop of a hat suddenly.
Well, he’s been cantankerous since we started from the Capital. Every second minute he has needlessly stopped the car to ask which way Punjab was. This, even after entering the Land of Five Rivers. Yes, he has been trying our patience for long. But on that, some other day...
So, what was all that we had heard about this private forest reserve at the foot of the Shivaliks? A blissful and luxurious nature resort that will rejuvenate your senses. Not that we doubt its therapeutic quality, but for that we’ve to locate it first. And The Kikar Lodge at this point seems a distant dream.
And then suddenly, the entrance to The Kikar Lodge emerges from nowhere, a unique resort carved out of the lush green forests of Ropar in Punjab. It is cold, but a certain serenity about the place is instantly inviting. We offload ourselves from the crammed quarters of the car to take a look around before checking into our cosy huts, quaint quarters in tones of beige and red.
Spread across 1,800 acres Kikar Lodge is supposedly the biggest private forest reserve in the country,
boasting of not just a well landscaped set up but also the beauty of the little hills and mountains surrounding it. Inspired by the Kikar tree atop one of the hills on which the entire place nests, the resort is a verdant treat for the our tired eyes. Says Amarinder Singh Chopra, the CEO, “We allowed the natural foliage to stay for the natural feel. The cottages and huts are surrounded by a variety of trees and shrubs. One part of the place overlooks the serene lake and the other part the wild forests.”
Soon, the moon light washes the property with a silvery haze, quiet with an eerie calm, broken intermittently, by the cheerful exchanges of the visiting youngsters from Ludhiana. They are gearing up for the night safari, an exciting tour of the forests on a jeep. They have been promised sights of
deers, Nilgais, Barasinghas and a melange of birds. And if really lucky, a pair of leopards! They are thrilled to bits, while we decide to trudge towards out nests for the night, wishing them luck as they disappear into the darkness.
Enroute our lodging, we meander towards the lake, now an inky blue blanket, dotted with the reflecting stars as well as the bright moon. The tranquil air is cut into by the faint chant of a rustic Punjabi song. Perhaps it’s from the villagers who are enjoying over food, music and drinks.
They have company. A pair of owls who match each other’s call with gusto. They shriek to increase the numbness of the night, telling us that it’s late enough...
We retreat into our huts, each one named after flowers. You can live in one named after Jacaranda or Hibiscus. Or maybe, Champa and Chinar. The interiors are bright yet cosy, with plush seating
arrangements, wooden flooring and plenty of leg space. Atop the hills, the huts overlook the forests and the lake and are well done up to suit the tastes of the discerning guests.
Morning unfolds with a different kind of beauty—all misty yet golden. As the sun kisses the verdant hills, we set out once more and meet a young couple, who are off for a series of adventure sports that the authorities organise for guests. There is rappelling, quadbiking and a host of other activities for charged youngsters. But those with a penchant for peace, follow our example. Just explore the scenic splendour of the place. Climb the hills to reach the meditation hut and sit down for a while. Calm your nerves frayed by the din of the city. Breathe in the fresh and scintillating air that you don’t get anymore. Repair the harm caused by noxious fumes that you are forced to inhale every single day.
Till the quack of the ducks break your reverie, as they waddle happily on the lake. This is followed by greetings from a pair of turkeys and plenty of squirrels. It’s a miniature jungle out there, full of flowers, trees and animals.
The authorities inform that all animals here are protected from poachers and trees from woodcutters. This is a natural habitat. Even the spa uses natural herbs and oils for body treatments and massages. The nature resort sees heavy footfall from autumn to spring. Guests come here from all quarters of the globe, sometimes even from Turkey and Germany. “They love it because it is not very far from the city, yet it is completely remote and green,” says Chopra.
A serene getaway carved out of the lush green forests of Punjab in the foothills of the Shivaliks, The
Kikar Lodge turned out to be absolutely rejuvenating. A soothing effect it had on us city dwellers. Just like the baby monkey we saw extracting warmth and protection from his mother’s bosom, we felt alive again after feasting on the bounty of nature...


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