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April 6th 2009
Published: April 6th 2009
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Jim Corbett's Bungalow in KaladhungiJim Corbett's Bungalow in KaladhungiJim Corbett's Bungalow in Kaladhungi

This was the winter home for Corbetts
21st. March, 2009 : I had not visited Jim Corbett's winter home in Kaladhungi on my previous two visits. So, this morning, I, Oliver departed by car carrying packed lunch, thoughtfully provided courtesy Mr. Ghosh. Kaladhungi is 34 Km from Garjia where Tiger Camp is located. We arrived at around 10 AM. Corbett's winter home is a modest size colonial bungalow. There were not many items left by Jim and his sister Maggie when he emigrated to Kenya in 1947. Obviously, he must have taken most of them. To me, the most interesting item was "Machaan" which is a comfortable chair to tie up in a tree and sit on when shooting a tiger. It was very comfortable and even had a hood to protect from rain and dew in the night. There were family photographs, memorabilia and teapot, cup, saucer and dinner plates, writing desk, a "Charpoy" and few chairs. Couple of letters written by Jim from Kenya were framed and displayed on the wall. Apparently, he had sold the bungalow to a local Indian. He wanted to buy it back and give it to village of Kaladhungi to be used as Panchayat (Village council) hall.

Later, I and Oliver were met by a man working in a local charity who wanted us to go for nature walk along the canal built by Sir Henry Ramsay in 1860s. This was to cool iron extracted from the black stones found in abundance in the locality. In fact the name Kaladhungi means "Black Stone" ( Kala - Black ; Dhungi - stone). Guide told us that it was first iron foundry in India. The river that runs through Kaladhungi is called Boar River. A dam was built and a five feet wide canal was constructed. The canal has many sluice gates and mechanism to increase the force of current flowing through it. Even by today's standard, it is a marvel of engineering. First, we walked in the river bed for a kilometre and half watching bird life, then climbed onto the bank near where the canal begins. Then we walked along the canal for two about kilometers. On the way we were shown where Jim's sister Maggie and other girls used to take bath while Jim kept a watch for older boys ! Finally, we came to the furnace, five in number. We were told how iron was extracted. I picked up a "Black stone" and for comparison, an ordinary stone. Black stone was lot heavier than the ordinary one due to its iron content. By then it was mid day and temperature was soaring up, making me very uncomfortable and hot. So, we returned to Corbett's bungalow, hungry, tired and thirsty. We did full justice to our packed lunch, sitting in Jim Corbett's front compound and blessing Mr. Ghosh for delicious lunch. We returned to Tiger Lodge, Garjia in the mid afternoon.

In the evening, we had a farewell party. Mr Ghosh, Oliver, Keith Water and a French girl who was starting a 5 months stint turned up at 8 PM and we drank and chatted and chatted and drank. I went to bed early for I was to be driven to Delhi on the morrow for overnight stay at the Imperial Hotel, Jan path. My flight back home was at 7 AM on 23rd. March. Room service brought rice, lamb and chicken curry. Too drunk to remember how much I ate, I hit the pillow and was soon fast asleep.

Additional photos below
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A contraption built to force water and increase its flow

Oliver taking the walk

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