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
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
Anupam Kher and Madhur Bhandarkar
Cycling the Milind Soman way
Under the Jamun Tree
Glimpses of Reni Pani Jungle Lodge
Jehan Numa Retreat