Cover Story

Glamping in the woods

A jungle lodge nestled deep in the marshy plains of the Terai in Uttar Pradesh offers understated luxury in the heart of wilderness. Jaagir Lodge, Dudhwa, the first permanent luxury product of The Ultimate Travelling Camp (TUTC) is for the discerning traveller who wants the best of comfort and adventure

Around five hours by road from Lucknow, The Ultimate Travelling Camp (TUTC), the glamping (glamorous camping) brand has added to its diverse portfolio, a hunting lodge that offers the ultimate luxury in the lap of nature.

Originally named Bikramban Farm, Jaagir Lodge, Dudhwa sits on the edge of the Dudhwa National Park and Tiger Reserve, one of Uttar Pradesh’s lesser known national parks. TUTC’s site is also a gateway to three other distinct forests reserves –  Katarniaghat, Kishanpur and Pilibhit. So the lodge offers easy access to three bio-diverse and unique habitats of the Bengal tiger, the rare swamp deer, the elusive barasinghka with their magnificent 12-pointed antlers and the gharial.

TUTC is a super-luxury glamping brand that introduces the discerning traveller to different adventures in exceptional locations within India. The brand already has four camping sites, two in Ladakh (Thiksey and Diskit with 14 tents and 8 tents each) and one in Kohima, Nagaland which remains open for 10 days and has 10 to 14 tents. Jaagir Lodge, Dudhwa is TUTC’s first permanent site. The colonial structure was built in the late 1940s by Kewal Singh. After his death in 2012, it was converted into a hotel. Because of its location in the flood plains of the Terai, Jaagir Lodge is only open from December to June.

Bespoke luxury

201806etw69En route to Jaagir Lodge, one can see fields and fields of sugarcane, which are supplied to sugar factories in Palia Kalan, the closest town. The white facade of Jaagir Lodge has a rustic charm to it with the front porch having a long verandah typical of the colonial period and a courtyard surrounded by bougainvilla and frangipani trees. The trees around the property are home to many owls and other birds so the tryst with wildlife starts right here. The property has seven rooms – three luxury and four suites with six more units set to be operational soon.  The rooms are bespoke luxury, four poster beds, antique furniture and modern amenities with an interesting twist. Some of the suite rooms even have old Singer sewing machines and old drums that have been used as side tables. Each of these rooms also have a different eclectic design and fresco wallpapers that give them a distinct quaint ambience. Every room  has its own butler and guests can get used to being waited upon. Jaagir Lodge also has its own naturalists who escort guests on safaris. Whether atop an elephant for sighting rhinos in Dudhwa or in an open jeep for a rare sighting of Kaankati, the one-eared tigress in Kishanpur, with their valuable insights naturalists make safaris unforgettable experiences. “For the next season, Jaagir Lodge is building four Luxury Huts with a common sitting area and two Luxury Villas with the original domes. There will also be a Safari Club – a community recreational area with indoor games, a bar and a cinema to watch documentaries,” says Rajnish Sabharwal, COO, TUTC.

Interestingly, the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve’s tiger conservation programme,‘Project Tiger’ was championed by well-known conservationist, ‘Billy’ Arjan Singh who lived a few kms from the lodge. Which is why one of the luxury huts is named Billy’s Hut after him. Jaagir Lodge has many books on him – recommended reading for guests who want to learn more about the man who pioneered wildlife conservation in Dudhwa. While Dudhwa has its own one-horned rhino rehabilitation programme, Katarniaghat is famous for its Ganges river dolphins and the gharial. Boat rides here can get you up close to watching them in their natural habitats. Sloth bears, fishing cats and the paradise flycatcher are some of the rare species one may chance upon while on a safari.

The team at Jaagir Lodge, Dudhwa with Rajnish Sabharwal, COO, TUTC (third from left)

Jaagir Lodge has its own vegetable garden for the cuisines at Pavilion Restaurant. From the camp manager to the chef to the butler and naturalist, the team at Jaagir Lodge contribute to making the wilderness experience as bespoke as TUTC.

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