Why Did Varun Dhawan, Anushka Sharma, Aamir Khan Head To Bhopal?

Bhopal has be­come ‘a luxe oasis’ for stars to head to. With a won­der­ful in­fra­struc­ture, great ho­tels - Je­han Numa Palace and Je­han Numa Re­treat are a de­light - and stun­ning lo­cales like Reni Pani Jun­gle Lodge in Sat­pura, this city of lakes has be­come a ch

Stardust (English) - - COVER STORY -

Just re­cently Varun Dhawan and Anushka Sharma were spot­ted at the Je­han Numa Palace Hotel in Bhopal. They were there for their film Sui Dhaga. Like­wise, many stars have sup­pos­edly been fre­quent­ing this lovely city of lakes. In fact, Prakash Jha had shot many scenes of his film Raa­jneeti in Bhopal and Ka­t­rina Kaif and Ran­bir Kapoor sup­pos­edly wowed the lo­cales there. For the San­jay Dutt biopic star­ring Ran­bir Kapoor, the jail se­quence too was shot here. In­deed, it is a fact that more and more pro­duc­ers are head­ing to this lovely city to tap its un­ex­plored beau­ti­ful ter­rain. So what is so great about Bhopal, we won­dered? And the best way to find out was to visit the place. Bhopal did seem rather dis­tant to us at first but sur­pris­ingly, it was ap­prox­i­mately an hour’s flight from Mum­bai. And the place was ab­so­lutely de­light­ful. Clean, with ab­so­lutely no traf­fic and lots of green­ery, Bhopal is one city that is sur­pris­ingly, amaz­ingly well-planned. So many stars have headed to the luxe Je­han Numa Palace Hotel, an ac­tual 19th cen­tury palace that has been con­verted into a hotel. But we were whisked off to Je­han Numa Re­treat near Van Vi­har Na­tional Park at the out­skirts of the city. A very serene beau­ti­ful place with lush green sur­round­ings, for us city slick­ers, it was an op­por­tu­nity to chill and be spell-bound at na­ture’s beauty. This hotel, by the way be­lieves in the or­ganic ‘farm to fork’ way as they grow their own crops in the vast area sur­round­ing them. Din­ner and break­fast was Un­der The Ja­mun Tree, an ac­tual mas­sive ja­mun tree and it was in­deed a yummy ex­pe­ri­ence by it­self. We woke up to the sweet call of birds and ex­plored the vast sur­round­ings in­clud­ing the abun­dant veg­gies be­ing grown in the huge sur­round­ings – we spot­ted rocket let­tuces, toma­toes, kale and giant cab­bages. You can do that or just re­lax at the spa or race around on a cy­cle... life sure is fun far away from the mad­den­ing crowd. Je­han Numa Palace was our next stop. And this breath-tak­ing luxe 19th cen­tury palace hotel sent us back to the days of yore with its el­e­gance and colo­nial charm – they ac­tu­ally have through-bred horses march­ing around in the morn­ing on a re­stricted hotel path. A touch of royal liv­ing, eh? The staff es­pe­cially their dy­namic GM, Gau­rav Rege were su­per friendly and hos­pitable. Most stars who come to Bhopal are put up here and we now know why, as we can vouch for its com­fort and el­e­gance. A must visit is def­i­nitely the el­e­gant Shah­nama, a multi-cui­sine restau­rant which has a de­li­cious spread ac­com­pa­nied by mel­liflu­ous live singing in the even­ings. But the most de­light­ful part of our visit was the ex­quis­ite Reni Pani jun­gle lodge, a three hour drive away from Bhopal in­side the Sat­pura Na­tional Park and Tiger Re­serve. 12 luxe cot­tages – we stayed close to the meet­ing place Gol Ghar and the gor­geous jun­gle

pool - dot the vast lodge built in the mid­dle of the wilder­ness. Reni Pani is truly com­mit­ted to con­ser­va­tion and fo­cussed on pre­serv­ing the wildlife. In fact, we at­tended a won­der­ful pre­sen­ta­tion by one of the naturalists Sid­dharth Bin­ni­wale on the sloth bear at the li­brary. An early morn­ing open jeep sa­fari into the Park yielded rich re­wards – we spot­ted a leop­ard, In­dian hares, Sam­bar deer, gaurs and so many ex­quis­ite birds in­clud­ing the elu­sive horn­bill. A pic­nic break­fast near an ele­phant camp was truly amaz­ing. Er­wine D’Rose, our nat­u­ral­ist, was a trea­sure trove of in­for­ma­tion – truly in­cred­i­ble. Aly Rashid who has been run­ning the Reni Pani lodge is ab­so­lutely com­mit­ted to wildlife con­ser­va­tion. When asked if he is open to film crews stay­ing at the Lodge, He says, “Pro­vided they book the en­tire lodge and not dis­turb the an­i­mals.” In­ci­den­tally, we spot­ted the very tal­ented She­fali Al­vares, Bol­ly­wood singer who has belted out chart­busters like Subha Hone Na De, Bad­tameez Dil, Beech Beech Mein amongst oth­ers, there. She is mar­ried to the dash­ing Aly Rashid, and she was there with her cute daugh­ter, dad Joe Al­vares - the tru-blue rock­star of the ‘70s and her sis­ter Nafisa. Bhopal is mag­i­cal and has lots to of­fer. The very hos­pitable Faiz Rashid, the di­rec­tor of the Je­han Numa Palace hotel, avers, “Yes, there have been quite a few Bol­ly­wood stars fre­quent­ing our Palace Hotel. But we want more peo­ple to be aware of how beau­ti­ful Bhopal re­ally is. ” So, go ahead, like the stars, head for Bhopal and ex­pe­ri­ence its amaz­ing vibe. Oh but don’t for­get to have a won­der­ful stay at Je­han Numa Palace Hotel and Je­han Numa Re­treat, the best ho­tels in Bhopal, and of course, check out the re­fresh­ingly amaz­ing Reni Pani Jun­gle Lodge. It’s def­i­nitely worth it!

Glimpses of Je­han Numa Palace

Anushka tweets pic­ture of the Palace sta­ble

Varun Dhawan be­ing wel­comed at the Palace

Jackie Shroff

Anupam Kher and Mad­hur Bhan­darkar

Cy­cling the Milind So­man way

Un­der the Ja­mun Tree

Glimpses of Reni Pani Jun­gle Lodge

Je­han Numa Re­treat

Aamir Khan

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