Hotel Review: Jehan Numa Retreat, Bhopal in India
Words by Bindu Gopal Rao
How does it feel if your resort has a room that has a private sit out space that overlooks into an organic garden? Well, what could be more wonderful right? I was lucky to experience this first hand on a recent visit to the Jehan Numa Retreat, a beautiful resort located on the fringes of the city of Bhopal and yet one that is an idyllic expanse of space where none of the urban chaos enters the building. Well after all this is at a stone’s throw away from the Van Vihar National Park, the lung space of the city.
As I arrived in the middle of the night, I checked in to my room and took some rest. The next day morning was when I started knowing how green the property actually was. The 28 rooms here are set in six residential clusters with yellow ochre courtyards and private sit out decks. Interestingly, all the room blocks are named after birds found in this region and I was staying in the horn bill block (incidentally one of my most favourite birds). My cottage was straight out of a fairy tale with a beautiful jasmine tree flowering right outside the main door. The room itself was large and spacious with a living cum bedroom space that opened into an open balcony overlooking the garden. An attached dressing area that opened into the wash room with an open to the sky shower made this room as perfect as it could get. Done up in tones of beige, brown and cream, the room was equipped with all modern amenities and was practical and functional as it was aesthetically pleasing. The best part of the room was however the open area covered with a thatched roof with a stone bench and wooden table which is perfect to soak in the sights and sounds of nature. The best part is that the greenery attracts several species of birds and if you are an avian lover like me, you are bound to be in for a treat. And yes you can even spot them from your room too like I did!
The resort has a few great dining options and I was lucky to also sample food from the new menu that was being launched while I was here. Food here is all about seasonal, rustic comfort. The Coriander Leaf is a fine dining restaurant here with a bar and lounge that has large glass windows that reflect the outside greenery inside the restaurant. Breakfast is usually a buffet and you can also order for specialties like paratha (a wheat roti stuffed with vegetables) and eaten with curds and pickle. The menu has a great mix of Indian and Continental food and the Executive Chef Siddharth ensures that the food is presented so well that it looks as good as it tastes! The other restaurant here called ‘Under the Jamun Tree’ is actually under a Jamun tress, a local fruit that is known for its health benefits. The setting of this place is al fresco and in the midst of an open space and this is where you can tuck into delicious kebabs and curries. Or if you prefer a more informal setting, chill at the swimming pool with a drink and munchies.
There is much to do in the retreat and my top recommendation is to head to the Chakra Spa for a rejuvenating massage. The spa offers a variety of treatments including Balinese, Thai and Ayurvedic massages that are sure to ensure you are relaxed and feel refreshed as well. The spa therapists are experienced and it is really the space that lulls your mind into a state of deep relaxation. A swim in the pool is another way to spend time at the retreat. You can also take a walk inside the property where you will see a host of vegetables like cabbage, brinjal, pumpkin, chilies, kale, moringa and more growing. While I was here a red whiskered bulbul had decided to build a nest right in the reception and I was lucky to see four baby bulbuls perched on the shrub as well. Bird watchers can spot species like the purple sunbird, bulbul, myna, yellow sunbird and more. The Retreat also arranges for visits to the Van Vihar National Parkwhich is a zoological park that you can drive, cycle or walk through. The natural habitat of the animals is protected via trenches and walls that have been built to protect them. In fact it is not unusual to see a deer running next to you on your morning jog. The Park is a birdwatcher’s delight and has recorded a whopping 200 species of birds and the Upper Lake adjoining the Park also attracts thousands of migratory birds in winter. The resort also has a small farm store with a selection of handpicked organic products that make for excellent souvenirs to take back home.
While in Bhopal you must visit the Sanchi Stupas, located 50 Km away from the hotel. Dating back to the 3rd century BC, this ancient Buddhist monastery has a serene and calm feeling that is not to be missed. Another UNESCO protected heritage site, Bhimbetka caves also 50 Km away from the hotel has ancient cave paintings and magnificent rock formations in the midst of a forest range and again a place that you must not miss. The Bhopal Lake is a mere 2 Km from the hotel and this is where you can enjoy magnificent sunsets, romantic boat rides and leisurely walks. The Old City of Bhopal is just 3 Km from the hotel and a visit will make you relive the fascinating lives of the Begums of Bhopal. In fact the hotel arranges guided tours of the old city and in four hours you can visit all the monuments of the city too. And for a spot of shopping head to the Old City Chowk, 3 Km away from hotel an old market that has everything you need in its narrow alleys. Also check out the State Museum, Tribal Museum and Museum of Man that offer a wonderful insight into Central Indian culture. In all a visit to Jehan Numa Retreat is a sure way to recharge your mind and body, a must visit.
Address: Near Van Vihar, Dr. Salim Ali Road, Prempura, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh 462002, India
Phone: +91 755 660 6600