Club Mahindra at Corbett National Park

Club Mahindra at Corbett National Park

Club Mahindra at Corbett National Park

The Club Mahindra at Corbett National Park must surely rank as one of the worst designed properties that the Club Mahindra guys own.

If you’ve been to any of the Club Mahindra properties across India, especially the ones that they own, you will find that they are extremely well – planned with pleasing shades that gel with the local colours and culture. Not the Corbett property. Though it is spread over a plot that is well over 5 acres overlooking the beautiful Kosi river, the approach to the HU (Hotel Unit) rooms reminded me of the corridors in my college hostel. Drab, boring and downright depressing. The rooms themselves were pretty basic too, doing nothing to improve first impressions. But, more about that later – let’s get to Corbett first.

Getting from Agra to Corbett


Club Mahindra Corbett National Park is 320KMS from the Holiday Inn Agra, a distance that Google claims one should manage to cover in seven and a half hours. Now, on both our previous legs, which is from Udaipur to Ranthambore and then again from Ranthambore to Agra, we reached our destination post 1430HRS and had a late lunch. This was a situation unacceptable to Sanju. His refrain was that if we’re on holiday, why eschew a good timely meal to get to your destination in a hurry? After all, the journey should be as enjoyable, if not more, than the destination itself. We couldn’t agree more. After thanking him for reminding us why we started off on these roadtrips in the first place, off we were by 0730HRS from Agra on 26 December, 2019.

Thankfully, at that early hour on a cold winter morning the morons that reside in Agra (I don’t mean all Agra – ites; only those that behave like their father – in – law bequeathed the roads to them just because they could cobble together enough money to purchase or inherit a vehicle) were yet to venture out and the going was pretty good. A right turn at MG road, followed by a left after a few kilometers brought us on to NH509, which crosses Hathras, Aligarh, Moradabad and Rampur before getting into Uttarakhand and Ramnagar, the gateway to Corbett National Park.

The day was gloomy and cold, just as we love it. The absence of fog meant we could do a decent 115 – 120KMPH for most part of the journey. Our friends Shradha, Aditya and their 8 year old, Shaurya were joining us for this leg of the trip. They were to land at Delhi airport around 0900HRS this morning and meet us at Corbett. We were hoping to meet up with them around lunchtime, since both our roads would converge Moradabad onwards.

Carrying from Agra, along the way somewhere between Aligarh and Moradabad, the road turned into a double lane strip going through tall mustard fields on either side. This was a beautiful stretch to drive on. Amazingly, we hardly passed a vehicle on either side of the road. The sight was simply gorgeous, what with the mustard flowers in full bloom and we simply had to stop to wander through the fields.

Mustard fields between Agra and Ramnagar
Our DDLJ moment in the mustard fields


Pulling over to one side, we all promptly got off and ventured into the mustard fields. The cold morning air bit through our nostrils, cleaner and more refreshing than anything we’d breathed before. Though Simran and Sanju’s car was nowhere to be seen, we’d used the Live – location feature on google and had a fair idea of where each of us were. Seeing that they were around 20 minutes behind us, we spent the time walking through the mustard fields, taking pictures and laughing ourselves silly. Finally, we left only once the other car had caught up with us.

We got to Moradabad around 1100HRS, from where Google maps asked us to turn left and connect with NH309. We were suddenly driving on a superbly made elevated expressway. In a few kilometers this led to a turn – off. The moment we took the turn, the landscape transformed from the modern concrete expressway to a narrow black tar road passing through lush green forests on either side! By the time we took the turnoff and were traversing through the forests, it was 1230HRS. Since Sanju had deemed 1330HRS to be the appropriate time for lunch, we immediately started looking for places to eat. By now, we’d again left Simran about 15 minutes behind. Good enough time for us to look for a place and order lunch for everyone.

In 20 minutes we came across the Sri Sai Vaishno Dhaba on the right side of the road. The place had a huge open courtyard and looked quite promising. We drove right in and sent our location to the other cars. By the time we ordered tandoori parathas with dhabe wali dal, gobi mutter and paneer pasanda (or some local variation of it), the other two cars too had arrived.

This Vaishno dhaba on the Agra - ramnagar highway serves freshly picked vegetables cooked in the local spices. A must visit if you happen to be driving by this way
The Vaishno dhaba served up delectably fresh vegetables cooked to a perfection


The food was absolutely outstanding. Rotis were crisp with butter melting on them. The dal was thick and spiced just right with the tempering. Cauliflowers in the aloo - gobi were so fresh, they may just as well have been plucked from a vegetable garden a few minutes back. Which they actually were, as we later found out! Apparently the local villagers grew all their vegetables in the fields behind the dhaba. We made a hearty meal, 8 adults and 4 kids stuffing themselves to the gills, all for the princely sum of six hundred and odd rupees.

Sanju had the right idea – usually, we’d found energy levels dipping around this time, and everyone getting a little edgy, wanting to get to our destination. The last hour or so invariably would be a race against time to get wherever it was we were driving to, so everyone could use the facilities and get a bite to eat. After changing our pattern and stopping for lunch, everyone was at peace.

The kids both immediately got down to the favourite car – ride pastime. Aditya stuck his head in the gap between the driver’s seat and front window to get a bird’s eye view of the road ahead. Avantika curled up in her seat for a nap. The road continued through the forest, the landscape giving way to villages and small towns. By now traffic had increased a tad, but was not bad. We soon crossed Ramnagar, and in another 10KMS, got to the Club Mahindra Corbett resort.

Club Mahindra Corbett Resort

The Club Mahindra Corbett resort is on the same road that host other properties worth their name in Corbett National Park. One side of the road has the buffer zone of the Corbett National Park. The other side hosts all the resorts. These are all arranged one beside the other. The upside of this arrangement is that each property has the Kosi river flowing behind it, making it quite picturesque.

The Club Mahindra Corbett is no exception and is spread over 5 to 8 acres. The river – front is around 500 feet long, and quite beautiful. Leading up to the Kosi are lush green lawns with a smattering of trees, each hosting their family of resident monkeys. All in all, it feels like you are in the midst of nature and is quite appealing. 

The Kosi gushes past behind the Club Mahindra Corbett resort
The Kosi is a welcome sight as she tinkles past behind the Club Mahindra Corbett resort


However, none of these things strike you as you enter the property. Driving in off the road, your heart skips a beat. Not in a good way mind you, as you come face to face with the building complex housing the HU’s. The entire complex is painted in depressing shades of steel and dark greys. Who in their right minds would do that? I have been to the RIL refinery in Jamnagar. Even the chimneys out there are painted in more cheerful colours!

The properties on either side of the Club Mahindra Corbett resort are painted in pleasing earthy shades. Invariably, they complement the local colours. The Mahindra property is the only exception to this, and quite an unseemly one at that. If it is an attempt at standing out by their architects, it certainly works. Except, it makes the place stand out like a sore thumb. Or actually more like a rotten turnip! If you do happen to get over this unseemly colur scheme (which you likely won’t), the next thing that strikes you is how ugly the buildings look. Looks like the result of a committee that couldn’t agree on anything. So they compromised on the worst possible design. It truly is grotesque looking, not unlike low income public housing in a despotic banana republic. 

Once you get over the initial shock of what they’ve gone and done and manage to come to terms with your disappointment of having to spend the next 3 nights in this pathetically designed place, you’re kind of alright. The rooms are decently appointed, though they aren’t as luxurious as other Mahindra properties are. The bathrooms are way too basic and the furniture in the rooms is rudimentary at best. Certainly not at par with the quality one has come to associate with Club Mahindra properties.

The restaurants are a striking contrast to the rooms. Airy, well – lit, nice layouts and as always, excellent food coupled with outstanding service. The one upside of the rooms was the heating. When we got to Corbett, the day temperature was around 12 degrees, dipping to 3 or 4 by evening. Each room is equipped with a centrally operated AHU which functioned commendably. Never once through our stay did we have any cause for complaint!

Club Mahindra Corbett resort offers a plethora of activities for kids, at an exorbitant price though


So, should you stay at the Club Mahindra Corbett resort? Actually, give it a shot. Like I said, once you get over the initial shock of what it looks like (ugly), it has everything that makes Club Mahindra the success that it is. Loads of things for the kids to do, good service, lovely greenery and easy access to the Kosi river. Only downside is the pricing of the holiday activities, which now border on the exorbitant.

I’d like to point one strange anomaly on the service though. On both mornings we returned from the safari by 1115HRS. The Bijrani gate being about 40 minutes from the resort, it took us that long to get back. On both occasions they were clearing the buffet by the time we reached for breakfast. We requested them to hold on for a few minutes. However, the restaurant manager was curt enough in informing us that the restaurant timing was till 1100HRS.

I tried explaining to the dolt, very slowly and in four different languages, that they’re running a safari property. Naturally, that means that people visiting their resort are doing so to enjoy the safaris. An obvious fallout of this would be that they’d invariably return only once the safari was done. Effectively, it meant that the resort management needed to adjust their restaurant timing to accommodate for this. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t listen to reason. So we did the next best tried and tested thing. We ignored him and proceeded to feed ourselves. Thankfully the chef wasn’t as pig – headed, far from it in fact. He was happy to provide eggs and dosas to all of us.

Corbett National Park – Safaris and more

This time around we had got the resort chaps to book our safari. The rates offered by Club Mahindra for a safari in the Corbett National Park were pretty competitive. It was just a couple of hundred rupees more than what the official government website was quoting per head. The upside was that we wouldn’t have to go anywhere to get our vehicles assigned, like in Ranthambore.

Overall, we got two morning safaris, both in the Bijrani Zone. Ingress for this zone is from the Bijrani gate, which is around 18KMS from the resort. On both days our jeeps were ready and waiting for us at 0545HRS sharp. We spent 6 blissful hours driving through the jungles in the gypsy’s over two days. Unfortunately, save for a couple of stray deer, we saw no other animal during our sojourns, which was rather disappointing. The jungle rides were fun though.

Break as you enter the Bijrani gate for your safari
All jeeps gather at this forest resthouse for a short break of expensive watered down tea, before commencing on the safari


Thankfully, the resort straddles the Kosi on one side and the buffer zone on the other. Every afternoon, post lunch, Shradha, Ritika and I would venture off on foot, walking along the banks of the Kosi or cutting across the road and wandering into the buffer zone. Each day, we’d spend three to four hours trekking through the wilderness, clocking 11 to 12KMS on our sojourns into the wilderness. Getting off the roads, the walks were a delight. On our return, walking along the banks of the Kosi we’d see the lights of the various resorts twinkling in the distance, carrying the promise of a warm hearth and spirited beverage awaiting our return. On the other hand, the merry tinkling of the river, which flows gently in this leg of her journey, provided a constant accompaniment to our happy chatter as we made our way along her banks.

A bridge across the Kosi in Corbett
The girls posing on this bridge that spans the Kosi


The river – bank was squeaky clean and it was evident the effort the various resort management's and staff had put in to ensure it stayed so. It was quite gratifying to see this display of environmental consciousness. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the buffer zone. The part immediately adjoining the road is strewn with empty food and beverage packets, plastic bottles and other garbage. Undoubtedly thrown by unscrupulous tourists as they drive by. Perhaps education at the kindergarten level coupled with capital punishment for offenders is the only way to get people to stop littering!

Sadhu and the wanderer
The sadhu and the wanderer!

Nevertheless, we had a splendid time at Corbett, gearing up for colder climes and higher altitudes, which is what the next leg of our expedition would bring for us!

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