At Kikar Lodge bang in the middle of an 1800 acre private forest in Punjab
It was all of 9am and there I was, zipping all over a dirt track on a quadbike. As I went round and round the track, climbing small speedbreakers and zooming past shrubs and plants, it was exhilarating. Not being an early morning person at all, I was actually feeling energised, surprising even to me. I was about 300km away from Delhi, in a resort set up amidst 1,800 acres of private forest in Punjab's Ropar district.
The property has 30-odd AC rooms which are not very luxurious but are quite comfortable. If you are not an adventure-sport buff, it gives you the option to laze on the jhoolas, swim or borrow books from the decently-stocked library, or simply, head to the spa.
I had started out the previous night and reached Anantpur Sahib in the wee hours of the morning. The resort was still some distance away and as we drove through small villages and towns, the scenery around us began to change. Trucks vroomed past us in the narrow road which had thin forests on both sides. I had less than two days in hand in which I was to try my hand at zipping, rappelling, paintball and quadbiking. Now here's a confession, though I like a bit of adrenaline rush, holidays for me are essentially time when I laze around, take short walks or just shop or read. But this one, it seemed, was not meant for such lazy luxury. Instead, it was quite adrenaline pumping.
And strangely, I didn't mind it one bit. It took the group about an hour to freshen up after which we headed straight for a heavy breakfast. Meals in this resort, as I figured out during my stay, are nothing fancy but are cooked in a tasty and healthy way. Then it was time to grab the quad bike and go racing, with a careful instructor leading us all the time. The adventure didn't end there. After a brief rest with cool drinks by the poolside, we headed into the forest for rappelling. The hill looked impossible to climb up with the help of a rope (I decided to walk up instead), and even more forbidding when I looked down from the top. However, the fear lasted only a few minutes. Carefully strapped with safety equipment, I made my way down, one step after another.
The sun was blazing and it was time for lunch. But not before a crazy game of water polo in front of the cutesy swimming pool in front of my cottage. I hit the bed as soon as I came back for lunch, only to wake up after much prodding to watch the sunset from the top of the hill. However, by the time I managed to huff and puff my way up the hill, the sun had already bid goodbye for the day. It was peaceful all around, with birds (real ones for a change) tweeting. As I sipped tea sitting on top of the hill, I felt relaxed. It was time to head to the spa for a relaxing massage.
But the relaxation didn't last for long. It was time to rush again, this time for a night safari in the jungle. Animal spotting, I have always believed, is a matter of luck. And though I was told of people spotting a leopard, I was just fortunate enough to spot a couple of deers who posed for me.
By the time I returned, I was exhausted. I curled up in my bed with a book and promptly fell asleep. Next day was when I was leaving, but not before zipping. This five-line course is an experience in itself. We did a short demonstration and then climbed up the hill for the first zip. Initially, it seems extremely scary (especially if you look down while being suspended in a line above about 180 ft), but once you overcome the initial fear, it can be quite thrilling. And there, before I even realized it, the trip was over. But not before turning me into an adventure-sports buff.
How to go: By road (approx 300 km); by train (get off at Chandigarh)
Where to stay: Kikar Lodge, Nature Retreat & Spa, Village Kangar, Nurpur Bedi, Ropar
To book, call: 24337476
Cost: Rs 14,000 onwards per couple for 2 nights & 3 days