Monday, 3 March 2014

The Blackbuck Lodge - Velavadar

I was so blown away by the accommodation we stayed in at Velavadar, that I thought it deserved a post all of its own....

On our trip to Velavadar National Park, we were being accompanied by friends who were keen for a break from Mumbai - so upon landing at Bhavnagar airport (a mere 40 minute flight from the big smog), I was nervous about what lay ahead. It's always a bit like that when you recommend something to others, especially if you have not been there first yourself.

The drive from the airport to our accommodation was dusty, arid and frankly uninspiring - with a monotonous flat landscape, little greenery and ugly industrial vistas. Not only that, but the straight road to Velavadar - although not particularly busy - was dotted with accidents and turned-over vehicles. With a lack of seat-belts in our car and our luggage strapped precariously to the roof, I was not feeling particularly at ease.  I wondered what our friends were thinking.

But that was all to change as soon as we entered through the gates of The Blackbuck Lodge, one hour later.


View of the pond from the reception verandah.  So peaceful and calming. The resort is spread around one small lake and two watering holes to the rear- making it easy to see wildlife which is attracted to the water.
Alighting from the car, we were led into a reception area lined with coffee table books and past editions of Vogue and comfy sofas upon which to read them.  We checked in without issue and drank our refreshing welcome drinks on the verandah overlooking the pond.  Everything was so beautiful and so peaceful that any worries I'd had, immediately disappeared. 

After this, our luggage having been taken ahead, we were accompanied up a winding path, past the restaurant building to our accommodation - one of 14 independent cottages nestling in grassy parkland. I couldn't believe my eyes as I stepped over the threshold into our cottage - every possible comfort had been taken care of - from the plump cushions on the bed and window seat, the large satellite TV, the marble floors adorned with rugs, the pencil drawings on the stone walls and the beautiful teak furniture - all giving the impression of a luxurious African safari lodge.  Upon speaking to the owner later, he confirmed that he had indeed taken inspiration from his wildlife travels in Africa.

African safari lodge inspired rooms. I've never slept so well!

The back door of the cottage led straight on to our very own terrace with cushioned teak chairs from which we could survey our own, slightly dried-out watering hole.  You could just sit there all day, waiting for blackbuck, nilgai and birdlife to turn up for a drink.  Which is what we did do a lot of the time!

The huge bathroom was something else - especially the marble lined bath the size of a swimming pool and two rainwater showers.  One inside and one outside!  All the finishes were perfect - no exposed wires, no mouldy walls, no dodgy smells.  The place was spotless and five-star.

Insane marble bath
Although Gujurat is a dry state, The Blackbuck Lodge has a permit to sell alcohol. It's expensive but it's there (and so nice to have a beer after a day of safari-ing).  On our second evening, they had prepared a bar for us in a secluded area near the rear waterhole - with candles hanging off the trees, classical Guju music, a brazier and just the stars for company.  Yes you could see the whole sky lit up with twinkling stars! Such a treat after being in a light-polluted city for so long.

The food choices were a bit limited (after all, there are only 14 rooms at the resort and you can't just walk in off the street), but it was beautifully prepared.  I loved every mouthful.  Each buffet lunch and dinner there were two veg choices (one dry, one in sauce), rice, dhal, and a meat dish for non-vedgers and breads. Both evenings we started off with soup and an appetiser and finish with dessert - such as cardamon scented rice pudding or the ubiquitous Gulab Jamon. Every meal time, the five of us sat indoors at a table laid with crisp white linen but you could also eat or drink at at one of the romantic, canopied tables on the terrace.

At breakfast, I was delighted that there was a) Marmite to have on my toast b) a Lavazza coffee machine and c) eggs made to order.  And there was always a cup of chai waiting when we returned from our safaris.  A pleasing attention to detail - which can be so often lacking in Indian hotels (I am sorry to say) - was to be found in everything at The Blackbuck Lodge.

Buffet in the dining area - service was really excellent
I really do recommend this place as a fantastic getaway from Mumbai - as I mentioned in my previous post, the flight is less than one hour from Mumbai and the drive to the resort a further one hour.  Even if you decide not to take a jeep safari into the park, you can while away hours sitting on your verandah with a book, waiting to see what wildlife will pitch up right in front of you.  Go with friends - as we did, and your evenings will be filled with laughter and stories.  We all came away feeling very relaxed at the end of our stay and ready to face the onslaught that is Mumbai.

And never before have I stayed anywhere in India where they've 'just got it right'.  I have to say very well done indeed to Micky Desai - this place is literally an oasis of good-taste.

More pics of course....

Everything in the cottage was so tasteful

Marble dispensers contain soap, shampoo etc and a mosquito spray is provided.
There are no plastic bags allowed on site - so the bin even contains a brown paper bag.

The outside shower!

The inside shower!

View through back door - leads straight on to parkland

Everything is branded with the Blackbuck logo - even the tea and coffee facilities.

Two comfy chairs on the verandah from which to do your birdwatching

One of the canopied dining tables outside the dining room - takes the heat of the midday sun off you.

Tented sun loungers by the watering hole.

Reception area has sofas and reading matter to suit every taste - including the latest editions of Vogue and GQ magazines.

The dining room.

View of parkland from the verandah of our cottage

Our friends' cottage next door - plenty of privacy and space in between the cottages.

The verandah overlooking the watering hole by reception

The lake at twilight

The owner's resident pug, Mogli, goes on safari

Such attention to detail - even the chambermaids carry wicker baskets in which to put their cleaning materials

The resident duck (one of three that is still alive after his brothers were eaten by local wildlife!)

The 'pop up' bar
The only thing missing at the resort (should you want it) is a swimming pool - but good news is that one is being built and should be ready later this year!

The Blackbuck Lodge
Velavadar National Park,
Dist. Bhavnagar, Bhal,
Saurashtra, Gujarat, India
Tel: 9978979728 / 9978979729 & 9979157058




  1. Wow... Awesome place.. Had heard a lot about it too .. Glad to see it lives up to the applause..

  2. Sounds great, except for the gulab jamon. No tigers then?

    1. Isn't it JAMUN? No tigers, we've seen them three times already so no point ;)

  3. The Blackbuck Lodge looks fabulous!! It's good to hear that they are building a swimming pool!



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