A luxurious stay in the midst of wilderness; that’s what the three-day trip to The Serai Bandipur turned out to be.
It was to be a break from the daily routine, a short stay in the midst of nature we thought. But what we were treated to, was something way better. It was a rejuvenating experience as much as it was a totally relaxing stress-free holiday. We left feeling rested, re-energised and inspired. The abode was The Serai Resorts, Bandipur and it was just what we needed – a place to totally relax with the added advantage of the in-house spa and access to the treks and safaris of the adjacent Bandipur National Park.
Located along the Mysuru-Ooty highway, the Bandipur National Park in Karnataka, stretches over an area of over 870sq km and beckons visitors for a different kind of holiday. Enjoying a special place when it comes to eco-conservation, this park is home to many wild beasts, including the endangered tigers. With verdant greenery that seems to stretch across endless miles, this national park along with the Mudumalai sanctuary of Tamil Nadu and Wayanad in Kerala and Nagarhole, also creates India’s largest biosphere reserve. With the height of mountain peaks going up to 1400 meters, the area also has the two rivers of Kabini and Moyar flowing through it. Along with tigers and majestic elephants striding along with their herd, over 200 species of birds and many other endangered species of animals and plants have made this their home. The reserve also has animals like bulls, sambhar, chital, antelopes, wild dogs, jackals and porcupines.
At just 7 Kms away, The Serai Bandipur almost borders the National Park, in fact the rooms overlook the breathtakingly beautiful expanse of green. Built seamlessly into the forests around, a substantial portion of the resort is actually ‘for the wild’. Along the drive towards the entrance, you can actually spot a few deer and peacocks. The resort itself is an oasis of calmness. The rooms are comfortable and spacious, with an attached expansive sit-out with rocking chairs. And considering the wilderness all around, the food spread and choice of drinks are surprisingly good. Evenings by the bonfire, cycling, hammocks, indoor games like caroms for hot afternoons, live music, body scrubs and Oma Signature massage at the spa; the hours melt away into nothingness in that pampered ambience. We did book a safari, and spotted deer, various birds, monkeys, lagoons, and even a baby elephant bathing. Desperate to sight a tiger, we were terribly excited when the guide announced ‘look, there you can see…’ before he could finish his sentence we rushed to his side, to be shown a clump; ‘tiger excreta’ he finishes – explaining that it indicated that a tiger had just passed by. And that was the closest we got to a tiger sighting.
How to reach
The closest railway station is Mysuru and buses ply from there. But the five-hour drive from Bangalore is a breeze. Stop for a hearty breakfast at Ananda Bhavan and relish lunch at Empire. The roads are clearly marked. However, keep in mind that certain areas of the road are cordoned off from 6PM to 6AM so ensure you reach your destination before that. And yes, when you’re headed to The Serai Bandipur, don’t forget your camera.
Best time to visit
September to February when the temperatures are pleasant.