It called loud and clear. The musical notes sounded as if the mates were being asked to return back to the fold at dusk. The peacock perched on the arched gate majestically turning around showed off the magnificent colorful feathers of its tail. Almost each call the male made, was returned by yet another one in the vicinity as females flew in one after the other. The family was returning back home after wandering in the fields in the day. They will soon gather under the bushes for the night in The Bagh, a resort which has often attracted me for its thick foliage of trees and shrubs.
This was not my first visit to The Bagh in Bharatpur, the town better known for its Keoladeo National Park better known as the Bharatpur bird sanctuary. True to its name, the Bagh is a garden where the guest rooms are scattered amidst the foliage; every room with a different shape and size, yet large and spacious. Mornings and evenings at The Bagh have often had a mesmerizing effect on me with Nature spread all around. Shrubs, trees and birds bring about a soothing feeling.
Tiny lamps on either side of the pathway lit up as I walked to my room. The birds were already quiet and the shrubs stood in silence. The verandah, which covered a row of rooms, was lit up as darkness descended. Outside the room, it was an ideal place for an evening tea, except for the mosquitoes which had to be kept at bay by lighting up repellent coils. Darkness and silence engulfed the garden. At the other end of the verandah, a couple was enjoying the evening chatting in low tones. Sitting inside the room was not an attraction for me at this hour when I could enjoy the evening without any jarring disturbances. All that could be heard was some folk music being played by villagers some distance away. The music seemed to be coming from a different world. Rooms at The Bagh do not have a television set, except for the one kept in a lounge away from the residential block. Most of those staying at The Bagh are Nature lovers and have little interest in getting glued to the idiot box in the evening. Foreign tourists staying here enjoy the peaceful evenings. Those looking to quench their thirst can walk to the bar in the garden. The restaurant is yet some distance away from the bar. One enjoys walking through the shrubs on the stony pathway.
Food at The Bagh has been of my liking. Though my recent visit to The Bagh was almost after three years, the taste of food had remained unchanged. The restaurant serves Indian and continental for which it has a battery of chefs. ‘Laal Maas,’ a spicy mutton preparation peculiar to Rajasthan, has been my favourite for ages. Crispy ‘tandoori roti’ with the mutton was my dinner.
I have often enjoyed this mutton recipe by royal chefs in Jaipur and Jodhpur.
To wake up in the morning at The Bagh, one need not set an alarm or ask for a wake-up call, there are many natural wake-up calls from the garden outside the rooms which wake you up even before the first ray of the sun reaches the earth. Peacocks, lapwings, bul buls, hordes of parrots sing in harmony to create a natural wake-up call at dawn. Not far away from my room, a horde of peacocks had gathered around the swimming pool, as if for a dip in the cold water, but they stayed away from the water. The gang was preparing for its day’s itinerary to the adjoining fields. The entire garden, which seemed to have covered itself with a blanket of darkness at night, was throbbing with life. The trees looked green, weighed down with fruits; oranges and lime hanging heavily on each branch. Parrots were busy enjoying their meal at day break. A couple of lapwings that had made shrill noises last night had taken off for water bodies in the nearby fields.
The breakfast offered a fresh glass of orange juice, direct from the garden. Though the restaurant is well lit with sun coming through the large windows that overlook the garden outside, I preferred to sit at a table in the verandah outside where a gentle breeze made me feel fresher than ever. Away from dusty city, noisy roads and blaring horns of the traffic, I enjoyed The Bagh.
In the past three years, The Bagh has expanded – a large piece of land which has cultivation of wheat crop and vegetables has a new block of cottages that have come up. These cottages are now ready for guests, in fact, some have insisted on staying there though the boundary wall is still being worked upon. The cottages are about 200 metres away from the restaurant and the bar in The Bagh, but they are placed amidst large tracts of cultivated land extending to the horizon in the backdrop. A restaurant is also coming up in the proximity of the new block which will cater to the guests staying here. The surrounding area may remain cultivated with crops and vegetables and new trees will be planted, some are already there to turn it into a large garden.
The new cottages have similar architecture as that of the old ones, the exterior has been done with pink Kotah stone, carved pillars holding the structures, but the rooms with large glass windows have been furnished tastefully with furniture replicated from the royal abodes of Rajasthan. The verandah outside each cottage block is ideal for relaxing in the evening.
In fact, the cottages are already being used for small groups. Once the boundary wall is lifted to the desired level, this part of The Bagh will be fully functional. I hope the next time I visit The Bagh, I will get a chance to enjoy my stay at one of these cottages.
Not to forget the vintage Ford that is parked at the gate of The Bagh. It can be hired for a safari to the bird sanctuary. It is a royal feeling when you travel through the small town in the vintage car.
The Bagh has maintained its standards of food and service and I am sure the tradition will continue. Peacocks will dance during the monsoon when the area assumes the look of small forest, yet safe and comfortable for a stay when one visits the bird sanctuary in Bharatpur. Tourists coming to visit Agra can also make The Bagh at Bharatpur their base for seeing the monuments in the vicinity and, of course, within Bharatpur which very few have heard of like the mud fort which I noticed for the first time. Not much is publicized about the heritage structures in Bharatpur.