Week-end getaway in the Western Ghats
Tucked away in the hills of western India, inbetween Mumbai and Pune, lies one of the better value-for- money holiday places. This resort, called Durshet Lodge (ISO 9001), nestles in the foothills of the mountain range, near Khopoli. It’s cottages, dormitories and tents offer a wide variety of accommodation which is suitable for all pockets. For example a small cottage for two could cost Rs 2,500/- onwards per day/night inclusive of three meals plus tea. A tent is Rs 2000/- and dormitories are even cheaper.
The resort promises visitors a true nature experience and to a large extent the resort does live up to it’s promise. It is surrounded by a forest and there are a plenty of ‘nature’ activities lined up, for which you have to play about a thousand rupees extra. There are forest treks, valley crossing, rappelling and even wall climbing. However you may not get the silence that you might expect, considering that it is in the middle of a forest. After all, a place can only be as quiet as it’s guests. The resort is positioned as a family place, and the majority of the guests are large groups with children – at least on week-ends. Perhaps asking for a room a little away from the hustle and bustle would suit groups wanting their moments of privacy and peace. On week-days the place is popular with corporates for conducting outdoor training programmes.
One great thing about the resort is that the rooms and bathrooms are fairly clean. This is rare in a place where the charges are reasonable ( my experience tells me that bathrooms in cheaper hotels are filthy.) Here you may not get 5-star cleanliness, but it’s satisfactory. The service is helpful and friendly. Moquito protection is provided in the rooms (mats, liquid repellents) but a repellent cream is useful for the outdoors. The food is excellent, considering the cost . Some dishes are as good as one can get in any five-star hotel. All activities were well organised.
Rappelling (coming down a steep slope with the help of ropes).
A ‘haunted’ night walk through the forest.
Valley crossing (crossing a small valley with the aid of a rope)
the one hour night walk which we took through a dark forest armed with torches was great fun.
Swimming pool (a small pool, ideal for kids).
Close to Mumbai as well as Pune.
The road is good, except for the 12 kms stretch from the Mumbai-Pune Express Highway to the resort.
Value for money.
What some people might see as disadvantages:
No air-conditioning or television.
No signal for cell phones and their phone was not working when we were there.
Alcohol allowed only in the rooms and cannot be bought at the resort.
No room service but hot tea is kept outside your room in a thermos at 6:30 in the morning.
Men-only groups are not allowed.
A mix of Maharashtrian and North Indian cuisine. The quality of food is very good. It is not too spicy, nor too oily. There is usually quite a spread at the buffet. On special days (festivals, new year) food is even better and the charges slightly higher.
Tea is ready mixed and is a sweet milky brew. However special tea with sugar separate can be made if you make a request. This concept is however strange to them.
Friendly and helpful. A little laid-back though.
The cottages are set amongst trees and one can walk around the shady complex and also down the hill to the Amba river. The garden and the area is very neat and clean. Not a scrap of paper or plastic lying around inspite of the crowds. The forest is typically a western ghat forest – a lot dry brush and not very thick. During the rainy season however there is greenery and the river is full and flowing. By December the river is no more than a pond.
It depends on the kind of room you take, the rates varying according to the season. But overall it’s pretty economical. You can pay online if you wish. The charges are inclusive of morning tea, breakfast, lunch, dinner, evening tea and biscuits.
Take a look at their site (they have several resorts). Here you will be able to calculate the exact amount to pay. Online payment is possible.
(Photographs here are copyrighted.)