There are times in life when you feel like closing your eyes and meditating away the stress built up over many many days… Then something happens and you feel a calm overwhelm your senses, wash the stress away, cool your head, make you smile… Shogi, hidden away in the serene hills of Himachal, just just this to our group.
The plan: After deliberating for about a week as to where we should take our weekend break, Bidisha – a dear friend whose family was joining us, came up with Shogi as a destination. Actually we had almost finalized for Barog, but her info on the place, coupled with the website http://www.park-woods.com/, we immediately set our hearts to going there.
Travel: there were 2 options before us. 1st – take the shatabdi to kalka and take a car from there. 2nd – take our own car from Delhi itself. We chose the latter, and it paid us well. An innova takes 8 adults quite comfortably, provided you have a carriage on top. An ice box filled with Breezers, music to boot, and our relentless kids passed the time quite beautifully.
There are 2 routes that one can take. One is the obvious, through the Ambala flyover and toll point. The other, that we took, was a divertion through Haryana. We took a right turn from Shahbad, and
passed beautiful farms, poultry factories and small villages before we touched Panchkula. From there on it was uphill towards Shimla.
To reach Park Wood, one has to look out for a small cut on the left while travelling towards Shimla. The cut come just before the main market of Shogi. This road that leads to the camp through the Shogi Industrial Zone, is surprisingly well made. After about 2 kms, there is a rough road to the left that steeps down into the hills. But even buses go there, so don’t worry about your car. At the end of the steep descent, there is the camp arrival point where a few cars can be parked. The rest have to be parked on the main road. Due to the sudden increase in vegetation the moment you take the rough road, the Arrival point comes as a surprise.
Once you’ve arrived, the friendly porters carry your luggage while you take the steep trek down to the actual camp. The brief walk is through the thick forestation, and really refreshing, though you dread walking back up!
The camp itself is made on a small plateau on the hill, though the overall property is spread over 20 lush acres. Consisting of both luxury tents and huts, the camp provides all the modern amenities that one might wish for. We took tents, as this enabled us to be in touch with nature. Our tents were perched on a very stable looking set of bamboo stilts, and had very nice loos, including gas-powered hot showers!
The food is very nice for a wildlife camp, and the service is unassuming and friendly. The evening campfire locations are exquisite. There are 3 of them, the best one being at the farthest corner of the camp, overlooking a beautiful valley.
The most quaint feature of this camp must be their dining machan, located just above the main dining hut. You are surrounded by nature, can pluck pretty pinecones off the branches of tall pine trees and look down into the valley surrounding the camp on 3 sides. We were a group of 6 adults + kids, and fitted beautifully into the machan for our breakfasts. The French toasts that were served with cold coffee were simply wonderful. As were the variety of veg/non veg kababs served to us in the evenings from the live bar-b-que.
A must-do is reading a book or listening to your I-pod while lazing around on their strong hammocks. Strong enough to take my 90 kgs! The camp has wrought-iron swings and furniture thrown about so that everyone can enjoy a nice cup of tea. Sipping my tea, with my Harry Potter in hand, lazing in the best-located hammock, at dusk watching the sun go down beyond the faraway hill, somehow wrenched any left-over tension that might have been, from inside me…
The camp owners have constructed a very nice boot-camp at the foot of the property, where one could satisfy their armyman instincts. A huge number of activities and obstacles, bunched together with a fantastic swing bridge, make you spend at least half a day there. If you are not into physical exertion, quite like me, you can see everyone making fools of themselves from the pakka watchout point at the top of the boot camp location…
Kufri, Shimla, Chail, etc. are all at arm’s reach, and you could spend a day going to all these places. Somehow, the bustle of Shimla was at stark contrast to the serenity of Shogi. A must-visit is Kufri Fun World, where you have India’s highest go-karting track, and lots of great rides for adults and kids alike. The food stalls are also awesome, and the star attraction is a Kashmir handicraft emporium (privately owned) that peddles the loveliest carpets and blankets. If you bear the really hazardous pony rides to the top of Kufri, these activities are worth the trouble.
I won’t talk much about shopping, as this was last in our agenda, but I guess you have a tremendous variety of goods to choose from at Shimla.
All of us went into a depression on the morning of departure. The friendly staff had served us well, and the normally stingy group gave generous tips. On our way back down the hills, we bought massive quantities of specialty wines from Sutters (a dependable and quality brand) to drown our sorrows.
Park woods is a place recommended for all of you, even the most fussy domesticated housewife. Go and unwind. Its worth much more than they charge you.
Costs: Rs. 2850 per night all meals inclusive for tents, Rs. 3500 per night all meals inclusive for huts.