The last time I was in Bandhavgarh National Park, B2 was one of the dominant male tigers, a fading shadow of once powerful feline. A lot has changed over the last two years. New players are ruling the jungle now. But something that hasn’t changed over the years is our choice of the resort we check-in: Tree House Hideaway in Bandhavgarh.
A two-hour drive from Katni in central Madhya Pradesh—the nearest railhead to the national park—took us to the resort that comprises five tree houses. Each one is named after the living tree that they are built on. I was betting on getting a Mahua tree this time. I lost the bet but was happy nonetheless. After settling our luggage in a ‘Banyan’ tree house, we strolled towards the dining hall. We were elated to see the tree still standing right in the centre of the hall, happily balancing a patio that doubles up as a lounge named ‘Watering Hole’. “It’s the same 100-year old Mahua tree you saw last time,” Vinod, one of the naturalists from the resort said. Interestingly, they haven’t cut a single tree in and around the property. Everything has been built around the trees and not the other way round.
We ordered our vegetarian lunch and decided to indulge in bird-watching as we knew the food would take a while. Not because of a sluggish service but because everything is freshly cooked using farm fresh vegetables, locally bred chicken, indigenous cereals and spices. The simple lunch that included both Indian and continental cuisines, was served with much fanfare, as the waiters‑—mostly local men—know their job well. We have earlier enjoyed our lunch out in the open when we visited last winter.