The thing about big cities is that however much we may love them; there are still moments when the heart yearns for solitude and a quieter place. It wants the din of the city to be drowned out by the quiet hum of nature. Cities vibrate at a frenetic pace, don’t they? But nature, nature vibrates at a melodious resonance. Together both may create our world but when the hectic vibrations of the city start to grate at ones nerves; it’s time for a break. Wouldn’t you agree?
It is at times such as these that weekend getaways beckon. They promise a short break away from the reality of daily life, work and chores. Sometimes, that’s all that one needs, isn’t it?
My yearning for such a break took me to ‘The Wilderness Retreat’ in Gandipet, Hyderabad. The brief staycation was just what I needed! But, it wasn’t without some misgivings that I approached the idea. How can there be wilderness in the city? I mean, I stay literally twenty minutes away from the location and there is no natural wilderness around apart from the Botanical Gardens. So, what kind of wilderness were these people offering?
But, I was pleasantly surprised. The resort, the first of its kind in Hyderabad, turned out to be an immersive experience into nature. The entrance gate to the property is small and easy to miss unless you have your GPS on and are tracking the location. A rutted mud path, wide enough for two vehicles side-by-side, leads to the reception area which is about half a kilometer from the main gate. The reception overlooks a large verdant lawn and is flanked by the on-site restaurant.
The best part is that as soon as the main gate closes behind you, you feel as if you have been transported to some nature reserve. There is lush foliage, shrubbery, trees and natural vegetation all around and you can hear the chirping of a multitude of birds.
Here is what I liked about the property.
- Pet friendly – The resort allows you to bring your pets with you and allows them free movement within the property. That’s a blessing! The pets are also allowed on the lawns (this is something that other resorts frown upon) and in fact, the staff encourage you to play with your pets on the lawn. My Shih-Tzu had an amazing time.
- Cabins – The property offers a variety of cabins to suit all pockets. The smallest starts at around ₹ 4500/- and the largest is a bungalow with its own swimming pool and grounds that you can rent at ₹ 40,000/-. However, the rates differ based on the season and the rush at the property. Each cabin is set apart from the others and offers complete privacy. The cabins have been constructed out of refurbished and modified shipping containers and are named after some of the famous national parks in India – Gir, Tadoba, Pench, Bandhavgarh, Corbett, Sunderban, etc.
We stayed at Sunderbans which had an area of approx a 350 sq ft room
It had a large Bali-themed, open bathroom.
A large, square-shaped wooden deck extended out in front over a small natural pond (hence the name) and there was dense foliage and trees all around.
I must have seen nothing less than thirty species of birds during my short stay including Saras Canes that flew overhead at sunrise, possibly on their way to the Gandipet Lake (that is a short distance away).
Our cabin was surrounded by flowering trees and we were thrilled to see Hummingbirds sucking nectar out of the flowers as we sat sipping our morning tea. The sunrise was spectacular.
However, the sighting of the birds during the day times was nothing compared to what we experienced after the sun went down. I kid you not when I say that as soon as it grew dark, our surroundings erupted in a resonance that I have not heard in the city for ages. Frogs started to croak in the pond, crickets trilled and from the deck we saw fireflies light up the banks of the pond and the trees. The scene was as surreal as it was magical. My husband managed to cup a firefly in the palm of his hands to show to my daughter. Being a city girl, the sight of the fly lighting up my husband’s palm was quite exciting for her.
The cabin came with all basic amenities – running water supply, flat screen TV, AC, a mini fridge, geyser, Electric kettle, Wi-Fi and, a huge and super comfy bed with soft mattresses and pillows that one could sink their heads into (so important).
Another striking feature about the cabins is that whilst some are structured like normal cabins with flat roofs, there are others which are more like luxurious machans. These are made completely out of wood.
They are situated on raised stilt like pillars and one has to climb a step ladder to reach the room. The en-suite toilets for these are on the ground level and one has to climb down another step ladder at the back to use the facilities. But, these cabins are rustic not just in their visual appeal but also in the charming manner in which they merge into their surroundings. Their triangular, pyramid-shaped roofs made from dried straw and bamboos are reminiscent of tribal huts. The resort has taken care to use eco-friendly material in the construction of its cabins.
- Food – The food was the surprising part for us because it was genuinely very good. The resort offers room service free (the response time is also good) of charge or you can opt to eat at the restaurant. They do not serve alcohol but, they allow you to bring your own alcohol. However, outside food is a strict no-no. They offer complimentary breakfast but unlike other resorts the selection is not a buffet. The delightful part is that you can select any breakfast item from their menu and they have some exotic items like Turkish Egg, etc, and they serve you a-la-carte. The restaurant offers a delightful selection of tandoori non-veg items which one simply must try. The tandoori chicken tikka and the tandoori aloo are to die for! The chefs roast the meat to a nice crisp state which is irresistibly good. We ended up ordering twice!
- Staff – The resort has an all male staff. Since the cabins are located amid natural vegetation so it is only natural that you get your fair share of mosquitoes and creepy- crawlies. However, the staffs come by in the evening with fragrant, burning incense and fumigate the room. Tip – The machan cabins (since they are made completely out of wood) tend to attract more insects so it’s probably a good idea to carry your own insect repellent sprays. The resort also provides mosquito coils and electric mosquito repellents. The staffs at the site are courteous and friendly and they take care to maintain the cleanliness of the rooms. I had no complaints there and the lord knows that I can make for one hell of a finicky guest when it comes to cleanliness.
- Activities – The resort offers free bicycles which can be picked up from the reception. Should you opt out of walking, these bicycles come in handy or you can simply take your vehicle and drive through the property. There is a Go-Karting arena that abuts the resort and guests can enjoy it. However, unlike the bicycles, this is a paid activity.
The resort offers open spaces for Yoga and meditation and also has a silence zone which boasts of one of India’s seven floatation experiences. However, the hour long session at the tanks needs to be booked in advance and costs approx ₹ 3800/- for a person/couple in which Epsom salts are used to float people in seven feet long bathtubs filled to the brim with briny water. The idea is to mimic the Dead Sea floatation experience to give people a healing experience. There is no massage involved. It’s a strictly touch free experience.
Although, my family and I genuinely enjoyed our time at the resort there are definitely some things that they can do better.
- Construction debris – Ambling through the property, I noticed a lot of construction debris strewn around. It is not in the line of direct sight but you can see it occupy the areas behind the cabins. For me, that was quite an eye-sore. So, even though the cabins are clean and tidy, the staffs definitely can improve the cleanliness around the property.
- Activities – I felt that for a property this size, the number of activities that they offer could be increased. The resort can offer sports such as archery, guided treks (in the day time and also at night), bird-watching tours, horse riding, botanical tours, Yoga or meditation classes, an on-site spa (offering various kinds of massages), etc.
- Dog training center – An area towards the end of the property is devoted to a large canine boarding and training center – progressive Canines.
- For personal visits the center is open from 8 am to 1 pm. And although the facilities offered for the dogs there are top-notch, the incessant barking from the area can be quite a downer especially in the early morning or late evening hours. Our cabin was quite far from the center but we could still hear the dogs. So, if peace and quiet is what you desire then it’s probably a good idea to not to opt for cabins that are located en-route or nearer to the center like – Gir, Madhumalai, Dandeli, etc.
How to reach the property
Address – Sy No. 42 & 43, Kokapet village, Gandipet, Hyderabad 500075
Phone – +91 88861 85577
Email – [email protected]
Website – https://thewildernessretreat.in/