Resort Review: Stay at Denwa Backwater Escape Pugdundee Safaris
The driver who picked us from Itarsi railway station was calling the resort to confirm that he has picked us up. I could overhear him, “OK, so I will call you once I reach the Big Banyan Tree”
In the remote hamlet, the Big Banyan tree turned out as the largest landmark before you reach the last stretch of the dirt track on the way to Denwa Backwater Resort. Now if you are like our neighbors ( who are pretty nice people actually), you too may ask “ Denwa Backwaters? , where is that ?” Fikar not dear reader we will slowly unfold our family trip to the little secret that is full of surprises that I discovered after I got lucky and won a wildlife photography competition from Pugdundee Safaris. Like Dharam Paajee said in Sholay, “Is ishtory main drama hai, suspense hai, khana hai,
peena hai ( sorry no peena ), wildlife hai or luxury bhee hai”.
So like I said yours truly won a Wildlife photography competition from Pugdundee Safaris and got a voucher for 3 nights 4 day stay in any of their resorts. More than me the Missus and Kids were happy as it was summer vacation time and we could all spend some time together. Though we all live in the same home, but for some reason, vacations are a special time for families. The voucher mentioned Kanha, Bandhavgarh and Panna properties. I have been to Panna when Pugdundee was one property company with Missus in tow on our first marriage anniversary trip to Madhya Pradesh. We could not get any bookings for Kanha and Bandhavgarh by train, but on checking Pugdundee Safari website I found that they also have a new property in Denwa Backwaters. I checked with them and they immediately booked me in Denwa Backwater resort, next to Satpura National Park, on the backwaters of Tawa Dam. The drama started with trying to book train tickets, due to summer holidays I could not get confirmed bookings for return but we decided to still go ahead and book return train tickets by tatkal when the time came, and just to take chances, we also booked in WL for the return journey. So the drama for ticket continued almost until the end.
Here a bit of prologue (or is it epilogue? I think we should be OK as long as it is a travelogue!) about Satpura will not be out of place. Unlike its more famous siblings Bandhavgarh, Kanha and Pench, Satpura is relatively less frequented wildlife park though it has a healthy population of Tigers, Sloth Bears, Leopards and some very distinct flora and fauna that only Satpura has in central India like the Malabar giant squirrel that we spotted.
Anyways long story short once we reached the resort from Itarsi it was around 8 am and the villas and tree house were glowing in the morning sun. Our private villa had a huge bed and a sofa was converted to an extra bed for the elder daughter. Though she refused to sleep on it as this was her chance to bundle up with her mom, so yours truly spent the next three nights on it; the little joys of being a father 🙂 On my part, I sided with the younger one during the pillow wars.
The furniture and decor in the villa are designed to take you back to the rugged time of forest rest houses where Sahib log stayed during inspections. I liked the bathroom the most, as it was almost as big as the room itself with distinct dry and wet areas, Raj style cupboards and trunks to keep stuff. Each villa comes with a platform to sit in the backyard and a rooftop sitting area complete with garden furniture where you can enjoy your meal if you don’t want to go to the tastefully done dining area of the resort. We actually quite liked the dining area as it has huge glass windows and a powerful telescope that our daughter used to keep an eye on the backwaters of Denwa, and she did spotted birds and some cattle grazing on flood plains reach the boundary of the resort during monsoon. As we were there in hot season water has receded but was still visible as we stood on the balcony.
The food served in the resort is simple yet delicious, with using local fresh ingredients every day, as that is the beauty of simple food it never loses its charm or taste. While the meals were simple it was the bowl of desserts that bowled me over.
My favorite was this special dessert made from a sweet jelly with Sabu dana in its belly, covered by local mangoes, and a sweet halwa kind of thing made from Mahua flowers (Madhuca longifolia). It was a beautiful blend of tastes, textures, colors and flavors all presented in a simple cup. I think I must have liked it a lot for I had two cups, not counting the one cup that the staff gave me on their own. (Simple rule of calorie counting: If you did not ask for it the calories don’t count, they will not affect you in any way. These complimentary calories are added in the calorie count of the chef and the guy serving you.)
While we spent most of the mornings and evenings in safaris, the hot afternoons were spent in the pool just counting the birds singing in the nearby trees.
Oh, the birds bring me to the pond in the property. This little pond with a bridge on it is buzzing with activity of birds like kingfishers, wire-tailed swallow, green bee-eaters, nesting Indian Grey Hornbill, Purple sunbirds, mynahs, water hen, and the pride of the property Asian Paradise flycatcher. Actually, we saw many more birds but if I write about all of them here then what will I write in the next post about Wildlife in Satpura? Can you believe I clicked this small Kingfisher ( Alcedo atthis) sitting on the bank of a pond while I was sipping my morning tea?
This is what I call true luxury, you have your morning tea and you click a Kingfisher while he is hunting for his morning fish. As I mentioned in my post about the papa hornbill, the property is designed around the existing trees, and water body with extra care taken to not destroy the natural flora and fauna in and around the resort.
The staff at the property is a mix of locals trained by Pugdundee and some seasoned hospitality professionals who are also avid naturalists and photographers themselves. The resident naturalist Yogesh is one of the youngest and highly knowledgeable naturalists I have met.
We had 3 wonderful days at Denwa Backwater Escape resort and I would recommend it to anybody who is looking for luxury surrounded by wilderness where cell phones at times go silent due to lack of network or better yourself switch them off to focus on bird songs.
How to reach Denwa Backwater Resort: The nearest big railway stations are Itarsi and Hoshangabad both 70 KM and around 1.5 hours away. The nearest airport is Bhopal (140 KM 3.5 hrs). It is a good idea to book a taxi before hand, as Itarsi station is not very well-known for taxi services. The resort will arrange pickup for an additional charge, (3500 INR one way for a large car) the roads were good most of the way, except for some dirt track as you near the resort. Click this link for more details and a map on how to reach Satpura National Park and Denwa Backwaters resort. Here is the exact location of the resort on Google Maps if you want to save it, otherwise once you reach this large Banyan Tree you will know you are close by.
For Bookings etc. you can get in touch with these numbers: Information/Reservation: Ph – +91 – 124 – 4222657, 4222658, 4222659 Mob. No- +91-9810024719, +91-9718637711
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org. For latest tariffs check their website: Denwa Backwater Escape and Pugdundee Safaris
OK if you are wondering which picture I won the award then it is here, clicked in Tal Chapar in Rajasthan using a Nikon D7000 body with Nikkor 55-300, 4.5-5.6 VR Lens. Wait for more posts about Denwa and Satpura here on desi Traveler
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