A couple of months ago, while celebrating an anniversary of a decade of being in a relationship with my now husband, we had the opportunity to spend a night at Pugdundee Safari‘s Denwa Backwater Escape in Madhai, near Bhopal. It was an experience we talk about and have referred to practically all people who love the jungles. Do you want to know more about the property? You can have a read here, before you go on with this post where I tell you about the lovely, romantic surprise dinner we had there!
Sun sets earlier in the jungle or so it seems because of tall trees all around. So we were back in our cottage pretty soon. Dinner was to be around 8 pm and remembering the lunch we’d had earlier in the day, we were hungry and READY, oh yeah!
As we approached the dining hall, Nipun, the estate manager came out of his office which was in the ground floor of the building.
“Hi, you’re here! Come, we’ll go from this side,” he said with a smile and turned towards his right. Turning to look at us, standing frozen with our mouths wide open, he smiled and said, “Arey aaiye, khana khane hi jaayenge..” We were standing there because it was pitch dark where he was pointing and there was no path towards the dining hall, from what we knew. We hesitated and followed him nevertheless. I’d be lying if I say I wasn’t unsure and a bit scared.
We followed him to the back of the building and saw some light. There were old-style lamps set up a little further from each other, forming a path for us to walk by. With a torch in his hand, Nipun led the way and behind us, one of his staff followed with another torch. It was so dark around us that while walking through the shrubs and on the uneven path, it felt like we were about to embark on an adventure.
I looked up for a second and it was pitch dark everywhere, except for a few stars twinkling up in the sky and faint light from the moon, hidden by the clouds. Soon, Nipun took a turn a climb his way up a few steps. We followed suit, even more confused and unsure now. My husband was in front of me and I heard him gasp, “Oh wow!”
I smiled, thinking Nipun has brought us to some point from where we can see a breathtaking view of the forest. That there was no moonlight, didn’t strike in those few seconds. When I reached at the top of the temporary staircase, I gasped too.
A table was set. For two.
A candle lit dinner was arranged for us. This was definitely the most special thing anyone had done for us, as a couple and we were honestly speechless. It was dark, and we had left our camera in our cottage, after all we knew we were going just to the dining hall for dinner. We had our phones and we tried to click the ambience but believe me when I say this, no pictures could have done justice to the setup, the atmosphere and the experience!
Firstly, there was CAKE! A cake in the middle of the forest! 😀
We cut the cake while Nipun and his staff clapped and wished for us. We were both overwhelmed by now and let me be honest, the gesture until now would have been enough too. But, no! Nipun told us that we’ll be having our dinner there and the special meal will be served to us, course by course, right there. How sweet! We were left alone to our romantic time, while a server stayed nearby in case we needed anything.
Also read: 5-day Island Hopping Guide Around Phuket
After a while, the first course came in. The soup! As I said, the pictures don’t do justice to what our eyes saw and tongues tasted, and we are not being partial because we were already overwhelmed. The kitchen at this resort fed us some of the best food we have ever tasted and this soup was just the beginning.
Earlier that day, after lunch, someone from the kitchen had asked us if we are okay with Continental for dinner, since all guests apart from us were foreigners, or would we want Indian food? We had of course, given our consent to Continental. Mainly because after the amazing lunch, we were curious about how much more five-star cooking shall we be witness to, that too in a forest area. We were not disappointed at all. I will do a separate food post, so keep watching! The meals here have set menu and no buffet, which I found excellent. So much food gets wasted at buffets, I hate them, even for breakfast.
The moon and the clouds were playing hide and seek above us, giving us some natural light from time to time. There was a bon fire right next to us and so many tiny tea lights and lamps. Time had stopped still and everything was perfect in that hour.
The main course was a plate of pasta with grilled fish on top and orange sauce around it. Pity, I couldn’t ask the chef for the recipe but the flavours of that sauce still linger inside my mouth. Pardon the picture quality, we had clicked them in the darkness!
Another thing that we loved during our meals was how perfect the portions served were. Just perfect, the right quantity to be filled but not be full. Sankalp and I both almost said yes when we were asked if we wanted another helping, but declined because we knew that dessert would be something great too! And, we were not disappointed yet again!
By the end of the meal, we were pampered and pleased. Overwhelmed and touched, we still talk of the team and how nicely they’d arranged the dinner in the shrubs for us. Hope we can be back at the same place, after another decade!