With the festive season around the corner, being rushed off our feet with work on most days is only normal. Having hardly any scope for taking a break, weekend getaways are a saviour to rejuvenate the body and mind. To keep our minds off the festive hurly-burly, on a recent weekend, we hopped on to a train from Howrah to Asansol for a two-and-a-half hours relaxed journey, followed by a three-and-a-half hour scenic car ride to catch some fresh air at Kushal Palli Resort on Ayodhya Hills.
Starting early in the afternoon, we made a stop at Raghunathpur in the evening for some piping hot samosa and chai before meandering up the rain-drenched hills. By late evening, we arrived at the hotel and were welcomed by a beautiful Santhal dance performance by locals and offered leaf garlands made by local children. Electric buggies took us to our rooms at the resort’s luxury rooms at The Village. Resort manager Sudipto Kumar accompanied us for dinner on our first night and made it a memorable experience at the 40-seater Mohul Lounge with stories of the past related to the resort, including visits by elephant herds from the wilderness. Achari Soup on the dinner menu got our spirits high followed by a serving of multi-cuisine dishes and resort specialities. The lounge also has an in-built music system, a DJ, dance floor and a resort bar serving a wide range of drink options.
The 130 rooms in the property are divided into various categories with different views and include suite rooms, family suites, cottage rooms, bungalow rooms, deluxe rooms and private pool villas.Pabitra Das
The spacious suite for our stay added to the comforts of a luxury stay. Retiring early on the first night allowed us to start the next day on an adventurous note with an early morning trek to the jungles. Rugged dunes, flowing streams and the narrow jungle road covered in dense foliage made the walk with trekking gears into the wild a refreshing experience to begin the day. A poolside outdoor breakfast at the 100-seater Antara restaurant made the morning chill scene perfect for relaxing with a soothing view after the trek.
The 40,000sq ft lawn is divided into three sections where customised outdoor wedding parties and corporate parties are arranged. Indoor venues are also available with all kinds of amenities and meal packages. Destination weddings in the property are done with special teams of chefs.Pabitra Das
The resort not only allows the visitor to experience a luxury stay in terms of service but also offers a fulfilling nature experience. A walk on the undulated lanes around the vast property gave us a glimpse of the various activities inside the resort premises, starting from cricket and mini golf to go-karting, boating and several other indoor and outdoor games for children. Enjoying evening pool parties and fun water games are also unmissable experiences during the stay. A play area with different games is also there to keep the kids engaged.
Food and beverages can be enjoyed at The Village, serving local vegetarian and nonvegetarian delicacies; Antara, the multicuisine restaurant; Aqua Grill, the poolside bar; beach lagoon for outdoor dinner experiences and Mohul Lounge for breakfast by the poolside.Pabitra Das
After a stroll around the property to spend some time amidst nature, it was time to experience a lazy and relaxed afternoon in the resort spa that pampered us with massage therapies and salon services. The Village, the 40-seater Santhal and Bengali cuisine restaurant in the resort, was set up for our special lunch over completely Bengali and local cuisine and non-vegetarian delicacies of the Chota Nagpur Plateau region. It was interesting to try a wide variety of items for lunch and new dishes, specialities of the indigenous community’s cuisine.
The beach lagoon and three-level pool are hotspots of the resort during the summer months. The three-level pool is constructed considering all ages. It has a jacuzzi, a baby pool and an adult pool.Pabitra Das
Right after lunch, we set out to explore a few tourist spots in this scenic westernmost district of West Bengal. The topography mesmerised us with the variety it constitutes, and the beauty of nature was arresting. On the joy ride down its lush green mountain slope, we got a glimpse of the beautiful valley region. Our first stop was the Upper and Lower Dam to witness the best sunset views. Next on the way was the elegantly cascading Turga Falls and Bamni Falls, followed by a stop at the Marble Lake. A natural lake formed by the gradually collected rainwater over time is a sight to behold with its vibrant colour palette ranging from yellows and browns to greens and greys.
We relished the specialities included in the Santhal lunch, like Santhal Bati, an aromatic assorted vegetables and paneer dish slow-cooked overnight in an earthenware pot with mustard oil and whole masalas; and Handi Mutton, made by local villagers in the kitchen. It is slow-cooked for four hours in an earthenware pot with whole masalas and cooked on a wood fire.Pabitra Das
Nature’s paintbrush worked wonders on the rugged hill surface in this area forming a kaleidoscope of patterns. Our last stop for sightseeing was the Mukhosh Gram or Charida Village. It is a must-visit stop to witness how local artists down the generations are holding on to the traditional culture and art form of the land — the art of mask making. On our way back, we also stopped out of curiosity at a very old Durga Mandir, located at a 10-minute walking distance from the resort. It is a treasure trove of stories of the region, narrated by a priest residing inside its premises.
For guests planning to work during a staycation at the property, the library is the ideal place with a Wi-Fi connection.Pabitra Das
Spa and salon services are availablePabitra Das
Giving back to the local community is at the heart of the resort’s operations. Starting with the Santhal welcome experience to the local community performances and serving the Santhal-themed lunch on the local saal plates. It is also the resort’s efforts towards sustainability.Pabitra Das
Masks from the Mukhosh Gram are displayed for sale at the reception to support the local communityPabitra Das
Patta mala to welcome guestsPabitra Das
Chhau Dance at Kushal PalliPabitra Das
We spent the late evening in the resort enjoying a cultural performance at Aqua Grill, a poolside bar serving small bites. The region’s special Chhau dance, the origin of which traces back to the folk and martial traditions, was presented by local talents from the nearby villages. We tasted mocktails and cocktails along with an array of starters at Aqua Grill. Soon after, we headed for dinner to the private space of Mohul Lounge to experience their chefs rustling up Italian and Continental delicacies for us. Dinner was completed with sweet delicacies from Ayodha Patisserie, the bakery in the resort lobby serving fresh pastry, freshly brewed coffee and munchies.
Apart from indoor and outdoor games, fun weekends and daily events at the resort include musical chairs, pool parties and acoustic nights for socialising or just letting your hair down.Pabitra Das
The guided jungle or nature walk, with direct access from the resort, is an early-morning experience. If a guest gets lucky, they may spot elephant foot marks, along with many herbal, ayurvedic and ancient trees.Pabitra Das
Mukhosh GramPabitra Das
Next morning, we enjoyed our morning tea by the artificial sand beach or beach lagoon in the resort that is also set up for bonfires during the dry seasons and spent a moment of calm experiencing the morning aarti session in the resort’s Shiv Mandir.
Turga FallsPabitra Das
Marble LakePabitra Das
This family resort, an eco-tourism project by Pearl Tree Hotels, allowed us to experience nature, local culture, customs and traditions at its best within our short visit while enjoying the comforts of a relaxed luxury resort stay. Purulia is enjoyed round the year for its different nature experiences, but visiting the place during monsoon allowed us to experience its greenery at its best.