Finding ‘pet-friendly’ properties in India is a little akin to pricking your finger on the proverbial needle in a haystack, only tougher, with fewer needles. Thankfully, The Den, stationed high up in Jungle Jim’s Corbett National Park, has a very soft spot for a great many of our four-legged friends. In fact, judging from the abundance of wildlife that hovers, climbs, crawls and clambers around this haven, manager Mansi and her team seem to have a penchant for any number of legs, beaks, talons, claws or paws. But then The Den is situated deeper in the depths of the park than most of the ‘chain’ competition, closer to the soothing sound of the bustling Kosi river and not even an arm’s length from a brush with nature.
There are tales of leopards skulking across the lawns at night, pugmarks in the tended flowerbeds, but for our time wedged into this cliff-side forest resort, a pack of smart rhesus monkeys are our diminutive canine’s main rivals
When we can pull him away from chasing primates across the vast lawn that separates the cottages from one another (great for privacy and keeping dogs out of too much trouble), there are some fabulous walks on offer. Walks that cater for all levels of adventure and ambition. We decide to follow the sound of the river and try to find the valley floor, so traipse a winding track that cuts deep across the hillside. The dog’s captivated by a Bengal lizard, I’m in slight trepidation about leopards, but keep schtum for the sake of my wife and my machismo. It passes and a few strides farther we reach the serenity of the valley floor and excited water rushing over endless moraine and rock.
We wade through the cleanest water, soak in soft mountain sunlight and drink in geography barely touched for millennia. Back in the security of our cosy cottage and splayed on the plank verandah, we graze on the kitchen’s succulent kebabs, gaze up at the stars, contemplate tomorrow’s tiger safari and wonder who can really lay claim to God’s Own Country because The Den is a heaven to behold.