Travel opportunities during COVID have been sparse. Yet, thankfully, we are travelling again to explore offbeat things to do at Jim Corbett beyond safari. We are going to attend the Melange festival at Alaya Corbett, try Kumaoni cuisine, take walks in the picturesque Kyari village tucked inside the forest and make the most of this opportunity of slow travel in Uttarakhand.
Melange – Alaya Resort Corbett
Jim Corbett – We’re thrilled to end the year 2020 by travelling to one of our favourite places in Uttarakhand. But this trip is going to be a little different from our earlier trips to this immensely popular tourist destination. This trip to Jim Corbett is not just about jungle safari, but about a host of offbeat activities, one can do here.
We are going to attend Melange – A festival of nature, art, culture, and cuisine of the Kumaon region. The festival is hosted by Alaya Resort located in Kyari village, Jim Corbett and organised by Safar aur Nagme.
Here is a day-by-day detail of our activities.
Relax, Nature Talk And Live Music
Day 1 –We started early morning and reached Alaya Resort, Corbett by lunchtime. It was a little more than 5 hours drive with a halt for breakfast. We checked in to our super spacious comfortable rooms. Enjoyed the view of the village from the window, sipped our tea sitting in the balcony of the room overlooking the well-manicured lawns, and spent the rest of the day relaxing. In the evening we attended Nature’s Adda – an informal talk session with naturalist Mr Bhatt. He not only gave us some interesting facts about the jungle but also entertained the kids by making bird sounds from his mouth and hands. We ended the day listening to some live music over drinks around the bonfire followed by dinner.
Nature Walk, Interacting With The Locals And Music
Day 2 – We started our day relatively early. The guys at Alaya had arranged a nature walk with their in house naturalist Vinod Bhudani. We got ready at 8 but there weren’t too many attendees so we rode a jeep, went to the jungle and spent some time on the riverside. The naturalist spotted and showed us some kingfisher birds here. We trekked up a bit to reach a quaint temple amidst the wilderness. We have a thing for such temples in the middle of nowhere and the amazing positive vibes they emit. On our way back we crossed a small shack run by an elderly gentleman. We had chai and onion pakoras here. We learnt that the tea-stall owner plays the flute. Needless to mention, we requested and he gladly obliged. He played some pahadi (hill) folk tune with his flute using his mouth and another song with his nose. The rustic music had the freshness of mountains and the innocence of the era bygone.
We came back to our resort and had breakfast in the lawn soaking the sun. Fortunately, our second day in Jim Corbett was all about music. Musicians from Delhi, Rishi Grover and Lakshya Sachdeva made the breakfast melodious by crooning some of our favourite songs. They were a part of the Melange festival. This live jamming session with guitar and vocals is still lingering in our memories.
Kumauni Dinner In The Village
Our day 2 at Melange by Alaya ended on a unique note. While there was “Amma Ka Dhaba” pop up at the resort for the guests to try authentic Kumaoni food, we took it up one notch up by actually going to a local’s house. Guys at the resort and the travel group Safar Aur Nagme arranged our dinner at a house in the neighbouring village. This was a mud house amidst the thick jungle and when we reached the mitti ka chulha (clay oven) was all set and we could smell Kumaoni madua ki roti (finger millets bread) being roasted from a distance. We sat on the chatai (floor mats) set up around a bonfire. Our platter had madua ki roti, bhat ki churkani (black lentils cooked in an iron wok), pahadi arbi, rice, and salad. We polished off our plates in no time and wound up dinner with some gur (jaggery). The night was still young and we went to a dhaba at the riverside for a few drinks and chit chat.
The sound of the river, bonfire and stories of the jungle and the wild animals all together was a heady experience that we will remember for a long time.
Bird Watching And Local Theater
Day 3 – Once again we started our day with a nature walk at 8 in the morning. Wonder how we managed to wake up on time here while on a vacation when this looks so tough in Delhi! Guess it’s the impact of fresh air, natural surroundings, or simple plain wanderlust… to soak in Jim Corbett as much as we can. We ditched the jeep today, did the whole walk on foot. Crossed beautiful rivers, villages, jungles and once again stopped at the chai ki dukaan.
Once back at the resort, we had a wholesome breakfast on the lawn. We were about to return to our rooms when we were told there is a Nukkad Naatak (street play) being staged at Kyari Intercollege. This was organised by Alaya Resort and Safar Aur Nagme and the performers were from a local theatre group and students from the institute. Big suckers for all things Art, we were instantly interested in watching the play. With our DSLRs and Go-pros all charged, we left for the Kyari village.
The play was staged out in the lawns of the college with the audience from the school and the neighbourhood. The first play “Doobta Hua Aadmi” was based on Chekov’s work and was a tragic-comedy. The second piece addressed issues like elephant poaching, deforestation, along with other social causes. Both the plays had the freshness of the hills and innocence of the mountain people. Big thumbs up to initiatives like these that encourage local talent and create opportunities beyond safari, boozing, and partying in places like Jim Corbett.
Aipan Art From Kumaon
Day 3 – It’s our last day and last few hours at Jim Corbett. We had a glimpse of local food, live music, village life, and the natural beauty of the quaint Kyari village already. The next offering by Melange was the art and craft of Kumaon. We savoured some bit of that at the Craft Haat popup in the lush green lawns of the resort. They had some handmade and handcrafted items from the Kumaon region. There were plates, kettles, bottles, diyas and candles decorated in local Aipan art.
Aipan is a traditional folk art from Kumaon made on a brick red background with a white paste made out of rice flour. Customarily done on special occasions and ceremonies, it is believed to be auspicious and known to attract good fortune. Freestyle artist Kanika Negi from Uttarakhand explained more about Aipan art and its nuances.
Apart from appreciating and buying these Aipan items, guests could also try their hand at Aipan art at an in-house art workshop. It was an absolute fun-do activity that we couldn’t afford to miss. So we tried our hand at one of the plates and made our very own DelhiFunDos Aipan Artwork. We now have the perfect memorabilia to take home from this festival.
This was a befitting end to our 3 days long experience of the Melange By Alaya Festival at Alaya Resort. Packed with our stuff and a lot of good memories, we bid adieu to Jim Corbett and started for our trip back home.
Kyari Village, Jim Corbett
This post would remain incomplete without a few lines about the simple Kyari village. Kyari is a beautiful area and one of the few places that have still retained its rustic appeal even in the internet era. Tucked rather deep inside the forest, Kyari is more than your average village. It is a situation of man surviving with the wild, not on fancy TV shows, but in real!
Kyari is located adjacent to a meandering river complete with stones and boulders just as you would see in a travel channel poster. If you are in this region, take some time out and soak in this place. We had the surprise experience of having an authentic Kumaoni dinner experience at the home of a resident of Kyari. This was arranged for us by good folks at Alaya and the Organiser Safar aur Nagme. If you are at Alaya and are really keen, perhaps you can approach them for your village tourism story.
Alaya Resort, Jim Corbett
Alaya resort with Jim Corbett Tiger Reserve as its backdrop, provides a comfortable stay that vacillates between luxury and responsibility. Our room was super spacious and the view was beautiful from the window. The overall vibe of this resort was in sync with the laidback vacation we wanted. The resort looks breathtakingly beautiful at night with fairy lights all around. Delicious breakfast, jungle walks, late-night jeep rides to the local village, live performances, music, and bonfire at night, we ushered in the new year on a very positive note.
1. Make sure you have at least one Jio number with you to stay connected.
2. Preferably reach the resort in the day time.
3. Wifi connectivity keeps fluctuating.
The year 2020 has come to an end. Needless to say, like the rest of the world, we had our hits and many many misses. But all’s well that ends well they say, so no complaints. We are pleased that we are still typing-fit to share our stories with you.
We are glad to have shared glimpses from Melange by Alaya, Jim Corbett, on our platforms. Do keep visiting for more such charming stories.