Who is not fascinated by living in a house that is built on a tree? When you look at their pictures surrounded by tall trees with birds flying around, you are bound to go into a dream state. My dream to stay in one such house came true when Pugdundee Safaris invited me to experience them at their luxury resort – Pench Tree Lodge on the edge of Pench National Park. Yes, it is the land of Mowgli and the Jungle Book. It can not get better than this to experience treehouse living.
History of Treehouses
While I was enjoying my stay at Sarrahirri with Pugdundee Safaris, I wondered who would have first invented houses on the trees. Did our houses evolve from some primitive ones like that? Or, the other way round, were such houses born from a fantasy to live among the trees? Well, the answer is really a combination of both. The man has lived in treehouses for ages – when he shared the forests with the animals and needed basic protection from them. A raised platform for the house is the first form of protection.
They were also used by hunters who would perch themselves on top to keep an eye on the animal movements in the forest. During the hunting expeditions, they lived in such elevated accommodations.
Leisure destination – the modern-day version of the treehouse is a 19-20th CE creation. It started in Europe, difficult to pinpoint where, when the rich and famous started commissioning them for leisure. Today, there are professional companies who specialize in building them and such resorts. You can differentiate between various types of them by the way they are built, how you climb them etc.
There are primarily two types of them – one sitting on high stilts around a tree and the other built around the tree trunk. The former is obviously more popular and reliable.
Pench Tree Lodge – Living in a Luxury Treehouse
We reached The Pench Tree Lodge – the resort of Pugdundee safaris quite late at night. We were welcomed with a fair bit of instructions like no food in the room, and no stepping out alone after sunset. As the staff guided us to our treehouse through a path surrounded by grasslands, we could hear the jungle all around. We climbed almost two floors on the wooden staircase to reach our room. This being a luxurious one had everything we would need. At night jungle could be felt only through the sounds mostly of crickets.
Luxury Treehouse at Pench Tree Lodge by Pugdundee Safaris
Luxury rooms are spacious. Each one overlooks the jungles. No two such accommodations were in direct line of sight. Yes, that means you can do whatever with blinds open, only birds and animals would be the witness.
A large bathroom comes with a comfortable chair to sit and admire the surroundings. A large balcony with unbelievably comfortable chairs overlooks the jungle. A Mahua tree was home to many birds. I would remember the golden orioles the most, though. They teased me throughout my stay at the treehouse. My favorite corner in this cozy treehouse would be the French balcony kind of sit-out – jetting out in a corner. Colorful cushions added color to the primarily dry green exteriors.
We could see a small stream with a small bridge over it. It was lovely to sit here and soak in a book or chat with my treehouse mate with some nice tea for company.
If you want to build your own treehouse check out this Guide to planning treehouse
The food at Pench Tree Lodge
Food is served in their dining area. This is the biggest building on campus. On the ground floor are lovely dining rooms with pictures of flora and fauna all over. On the first floor are lounges with earthy yet colorful décor. An old tree trunk becomes the central table, a room divider serves as a library and the outside seating takes you back to the jungle. What I liked most about this building was that wherever you sit, your eyes are always looking at the greenery outside. Birds are never out of your view.
The kitchen team at Pugdundee Safaris churns out lovely food that completes your experience. They are good at both Indian and International cuisine. You should ask them for a bush dinner, which they usually serve in an adjoining bush with lanterns lighting the area. The dim twinkling lights create a very romantic atmosphere, though the mosquitoes can play spoilsport. However, my favorite food part of Pugdundee Safaris is the breakfast they serve on Jeep tops inside the jungle. Mid-way through the safari, it is such a welcome and much-needed food break.
Birding at Pench Tree Lodge
There were so many birds fluttering around that they were giving tough competition to the trees around. Two days in a row, I went for an early morning birding walk around the lodge. We passed by the streams and ponds, all of which were dry at the moment. Birds perched themselves on distant trees. It was difficult for the cameras to shoot them, however, eyes could easily enjoy them.
One evening we went outside to explore the villages around us. It is lovely to walk amidst fields, with farmers doing their work. In the evening you can see them returning home. A small conversation tells me how far our worlds are despite the basic food connecting us.
On another evening we visited Sukhtara Village Haat. Most of it was the usual village market selling vegetables, fruits, and daily needs items. However, two small silver jewelry shops caught our attention. In turquoise blue trunks and cupboards, the heavy silver jewelry sparkled. Women flocked to these shops as we clicked some pictures of the heavy ethnic designs.
There were, of course, the usual glass bangles. After ages, I saw bangle sellers putting bangles on the hands of the women – a practice I thought was long dead.
There were colorful sweet shops with inviting jalebis and fresh pakoras. You consume at your own risk of course.
Things to know when you choose to stay in Treehouse
- You are in the midst of a jungle surrounded by trees. Be prepared to be in the company of monkeys, birds, reptiles & rodents.
- The ones standing on fragile stilts sway when you move or when the wind is in its element. It feels like being on a slow-moving train.
- Keeping food within these premises is an open invitation to the inhabitants of the jungle.
- Seal the doors as well as possible.
- Keep your luggage packed and locked – Though the rodents can open zips and take out what they need. Well trained they are and I am talking from personal experience.
Thank you Pugdundee Safaris for a lovely experience. This being my almost first such luxury experience in a national park, it would always be special to me.
Recommend you to read the following travel blogs on Indian National Parks.