Peace and tranquillity on a tastefully restored heritage property

Chambal Safari Lodge

Chambal Safari Lodge

Near 

National Chambal Sanctuary
, Uttar Pradesh
, India

Combining the Rajput style of the olden days and the comforts of modern living, it has a range of bedroom suites and cottages with courtyards, verandas and even a library. You come together over food in the stable’s dining room or under the stars in a courtyard setting within the original homestead. It’s very much ‘your home away from home’. Mela Kothi offers opportunities for nature walks, river safaris, camel safaris, and jeep safaris, as well as culture trips to the nearby Bateshwar temple and Rapri village.

Our Rating: Premium
Property Type: Boutique

Destination

The Chambal Valley is an unexplored, unspoilt and unforgettable land. A mere 65km from the World Heritage sites of Agra, the Chambal Valley is a microcosm of the rural Indian heartland.

The National Chambal Sanctuary is a 400 km stretch of the river Chambal and a 1 to 6 km wide swathe of the ravines on both sides of the river, covering an area of 1235 sq. km.

The ancient settlement of Bateshwar is situated just 20 minutes from Mela Kothi. More than 40 temples dedicated to Shiva glisten pearly white along the ghats of the river. The temples are an interesting hybrid of styles with ghats and walkways along the riverfront. The Maha Aarti on the temple ghats every full moon is a divine spectacle reverberating with the sights & sounds of an age-old tradition that visitors may enjoy with the faithful on the ghats, or on boats facing the temples.

The region offers several off the beaten track locations to enjoy the rich cultural heritage and natural beauty of this relatively undiscovered region.

Accommodation

Mela Kothi has on offer 14 rooms, one large heritage room in the main house, two suites in Imli Sarai, a suite and a twin-bedroom in the Bougan Serai, and eight cottages in the grounds surrounding the main house. Rooms have private sit-outs overlooking the reclaimed woodlands and fields. The lodge has been built using locally-sourced material with lots of trees, grasses and plants to allow for natural cooling of the rooms. All of the accommodation units bring together the stately grace of erstwhile times, the warmth of local homes and the comforts of modern living.

Great care has been taken to create environmentally friendly and aesthetically pleasing accommodation that is also authentic to the area. The furniture and furnishings have been procured locally as far as possible.

Dining

The lodge’s 18th century stables and greenery lend the picture postcard-perfect setting for your mealtimes. The kitchens serve authentic home cooked meals with fresh, mainly organically grown ingredients. Most of the produce is from their own farms or procured directly from the local farmers. Recipes include local specialties that have been fine-tuned over generations, as well as contemporary Indian & Continental dishes.

Meals are served in the garden or the dining rooms in the restored stable block. Relax in the evening with beer or a glass of wine as you enjoy the campfire and the starlit skies. The evening campfires provide a good opportunity to interact with other guests or simply sit back and do a spot of star-gazing.

Tea and coffee is available in the main garden throughout the day and guests are welcome to make their own cuppa as often as they wish.

Experiences

With a team of trained naturalist guides, the lodge is able to offer several excursions designed to best discover the natural, cultural and historical attractions of the Chambal valley. Take a boat safari in the river to catch a glimpse of muggers, gharials and turtles. Ride a camel along the forgotten paths leading to the citadel of Ater. You can also go on the Saurus crane trail in a jeep or catch excellent sightings of blackbuck. The lodge offers excursions to nearby temples, villages and also to the site of an ancient cattle and horse fair that is larger in size than the Pushkar fair.

Why we love this place

Mela Kothi and its stables were established as a field camp in the late 1890s by the great grandfather of the current owner, who was the feudal chief of Jarar. Nestling in the midst of over 120 acres of woodland and pasture and surrounded by farmland, the Mela Kothi was ideally located to serve as a camp office for the family’s bi-annual cattle fair (Mela). The clockwork precision, guarantee of safety, amenities, entertainment, talent shows, shops, and the revenue generated were a source of great pride and prestige for the family. However, by the 1990s the fair had become unviable and the property had fallen into total disrepair and was on the verge of being condemned.

With little more than a dream and boundless optimism Ram Pratap and his wife Anu decided to give up their professional careers and return to Jarar. In 2001 after decades of neglect, the Mela Kothi was meticulously restored and rechristened Mela Kothi – Chambal Safari Lodge.

The Lodge is located within a 35-acre plantation of the original woodland, with many old growth trees surrounded by extensive farmland. Large numbers of indigenous trees and shrubs are planted every year to supplement the existing growth and to create a nature reserve that is being progressively allowed to regenerate itself without human interference, providing home to numerous birds and small mammals.

Its superb location, charming hosts and warm ambiance invite guests to stay for a few days and undertake several unique safaris and excursions that showcase the natural and cultural splendours of the Chambal valley.

About your host

Ram Pratap Singh and his wife Anu have turned their run-down inheritance, Mela Kothi, into a lovingly restored homely lodge nestled in 35 sprawling acres of scenic woodlands. Originally built as a mela or cattle fair camp in the late 1890s, the house and its stables now welcome you in style and comfort to the little known wilderness and cultural heart of the Chambal region.

The couple are proud to have placed the hitherto unknown Chambal Valley on to the international Responsible Tourism map; sharing its wonders with the world and guaranteeing its continued protection.

We have attempted to create a warm, welcoming and comfortable environment in an eco-friendly, self-sustaining manner. We hope to showcase the unique biodiversity and distinctive cultural heritage of the Chambal Valley. ” Ram Pratap Singh and Anu Dhillon

Responsible/Sustainable Tourism

Your hosts endeavour to ensure all activity is eco-friendly and sustainable as far as possible. Most of the produce used in the kitchens is from their own farms or procured directly from the local farmers. They also undertake a number of conservation and awareness campaigns as well as supporting and coordinating with numerous schools, organisations and agencies.

Our Recommendation

The sprawling grounds of the Lodge are home to numerous birds and small mammals, and the Lodge area has a checklist of 198 species. Resident naturalists are available to guide morning and evening rambles through the lodge grounds and surrounding countryside. Evening Nature Walks around the Lodge, with our resident naturalists, are the best time to go looking for Palm Civet Cats, Jungle Cats, Foxes, Jungle Hares, Fruit Bats, Hedgehogs and the Indian Striped Hyenas.

Can’t find a suitable itinerary that features a destination, experience or accommodation you fancy? All our group tours and holiday ideas can be personalised, or we can create a tailor made itinerary for you.

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