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The Serai Bandipur Resort, India
The Serai, Bandipur beckoned, as without a doubt, the Serai properties in South India are special , each one with its own trademark USP. So slinging really light clothes into an overnight case and making sure I took pastel shades, as we were headed for the jungle, we all met up at the ritzy coffee shop in Coffee Day Square, on Vittal Mallaya Road, at an early 8am.
The sun glistened on the new peepul leaves just outside the window of the square’s bistro, and I let my mind switch off the hurly burly of life, as I sipped my Latte which was just perfect. Soon we were bundled into the Innova and set off on our five hour drive to Bandipur. Probably the Latte just before the journey was a bad idea, but I felt travel sick all the way to the resort. So, a gentle suggestion, keep a strip of avomine in your bag, and pop one just half an hour before travel. I did not see any of the scenic Bangalore/Bandipur route, as I was so terribly nauseous and had the window down letting the breeze bathe my face, for the five hours we travelled to Bandipur.
To help me find my equilibrium quickly, I called the Oma Spa which appropriately means life giver and booked their Signature massage. So, right after our welcome to the Serai Bandipur in the lobby, and my case was trundled to my cottage, I checked if I could come in for a Spa, with coffee additives in the oil. Apparently the coffee/caffeine combination applied on the skin acts as an anti-oxidant, reduces cellulite and prevents wrinkles and dark circles around the eyes.
Like all the Serai properties a lot of effort had gone into the detail of the architecture of the cottages. Dean D’Cruz a Goan architect had been the master-mind behind the amazingly compact, yet delightfully spacious cottages. “ He has given them an ethnic feel and promotes cost effective design using traditional methods to build with local materials,” said Sanjeev Kumar the Operations Manager of the resort. And he was so right, everywhere across the property only local materials had been used and even the walls echoed the stacked stone effect, which we noticed as we drove past the little village into the property.
Pure white stucco walls enclosed tastefully private cottages, which provided every luxury at our fingertips. Sprawled over the walls were masses of red and hot pink bougainvillea which looked spectacular, against the pristine white walls.The spreading branches of the single Bangalore Cherry tree were loaded with ripe fruit, attracting hosts of Bulbuls and cooing Doves, at all hours of the day. At night large Flying foxes finished what was left of the cherries, swooping in, in wide arcs, feasting in absolute silence.
The Sanctuary had us headed to enjoy a wide variety of cuisine cooked up by chef Shiva Shanmugam the executive chef and his team, three times a day. With ten years handling the Taj properties in the Maldives, chef Shanmugam is an expert in western cuisine. So we looked out particularly for his Lobster Bisque, his delicious pastas and as a special he offered a delightful platter of quiche stuffed with mushroom, sweet corn and fish. For a fruit lover, it was a thrill to have one section devoted to a variety of cut fruit, including fresh mango and musk melon which was just coming into season.
Since the resort almost borders the Bandipur National park a jungle safari is a must, so just sign up for one. For an exhilarating two hours you get to visit the depths of the forest and if you are lucky, you might even get to view the majestic Tiger, which is on all everybody’s wish list. We were able to see a huge rat sanke, a mother sloth bear and her babies, several magnificently coloured jungle fowl, plenty of deer, a couple of mongoose up close and personal, and one solitary, female elephant. The jungle was very dry and leafless and most of the watering holes were dry and empty of wildlife. But what was very noticeable were the completely dry clumps of bamboo. Hundreds of full grown tokes were bone dry and dead and looked worrisome, as bamboo is known to be great elephant fodder.
In the evening we sat around the pool sipping invigorating cups of coffee and letting nature just take control of our beings. You can’t resist, because inspite of the invasive calls made on mobile phones, the panoramic view of the Nilgiris casts a spell on you.
Shrouded in mist on our first day, clear and sharply outlined in blue on our second and finally just a purple haze on our last evening, the view of the Nilgiris from the resort is something, you are not likely to forget.
For bookings contact: Sales Office: Coffee Day Resorts Pvt. Ltd., Coffee Day Square, Vittal Mallaya Road, Bangalore, Ph: + 91 80 4001 2345 or www.theserai.in
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