PashanGarh, Panna National Park

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PashanGarh, Panna National Park
Conceived as part of Taj Safari’s “Tiger Circuit` in India, Pashan Garh, located adjacent to the Panna National Park, has been conceived as an eclectic jungle lodge, showing off the raw sandstone architecture of the area, while retaining the “camp` like feeling of a tiger safari. A natural depression has been revitalized to form a lake that acts as a watering hole and attracts a variety of wildlife. This lake forms the backdrop for the twelve guest cottages and is also visible from the multiple decks of the guest common areas. The staff accommodation and service areas have been dealt as simple village huts with brick walls rendered a mud color and sandstone shingled roofs. The guest areas have been detailed to take strong stylistic cues from the temples and havelis (noblemen’s villas) native to this part of Central India. The Guest Cottages The rooms are spread more or less along the contours above the lake. Dry packed stone is the principal motif. Deliberately, the entrance elevation contains the most stone, the rooms appearing on first encounter to be rather severe, almost temple like. But as one reaches the first steps, large stone flagstones set into the forest floor the jali screen surrounding the entrance door and the large jali screen on one side that forms one side of the bathroom indicate that this is something lighter and more airy. Rather than a temple it is a pavilion. With complete simplicity, two squares intersect on the corner. Once within it is apparent that the stone walls are reduced to buttresses at the corner – all else being glass, jali lattice or mosquito screen and sliding doors. Rather than in front the deck is placed to the side of the bedroom – linking bathroom and bedroom with an outdoor space. At the far corner of the deck a third roof completes the pavilion. In stark contrast to the rugged, bare and masculine exteriors, the interior scheme lends warmth and luxury to the Cottages. Opulent leather and rich fabrics in dark yet muted colors characterize the interior. Certain elements like the rough stone masonry and slate are the unifying factors. The bathroom makes one spectacular statement: The shower comprises nothing other than two massive slabs of stone – one floating horizontally above the floor, one standing vertical. Around the one under foot a stone channel removes water. Space for a large luggage rack includes suspended “pigeonhole` shelves and a hanging rail for clothes. Vanities get their “sexy` factor from the symmetrical arrangement of mirror and basins, and plenty of natural light. The Guest Common Areas Drawn from the local historical precedent, the main buildings are planned as a quadrangular arrangement of the principal spaces. This form is obvious in both the peasant farming communities throughout the region as well as in the Panna Haveli that stands on the outskirts of the town. The site chosen for the Guest Areas focuses around a plateau-like clearing of high ground with a southeast orientation. In particular there are two large trees around which the guest areas are set. The site is well wooded and most of the trees are preserved around the buildings. Guests arrive at a drop off zone set a little back from the building so that their walking up a short path winding through the trees is a passage of discovery – rather as one might in earlier times stumble on the ruins of a forgotten temple. A cylindrical tower, which contains the dayroom, looms up in the trees and announces the discovery of something remarkable. The buttressed walls are constructed of the locally predominant dry packed sandstone masonry and enclose a wooded courtyard which provides a wonderful sense of sanctuary and coolness in the middle of hot dry days. The lounge and dining room are simple spaces, rectangular in proportion to make the best of the views by allowing as much of the seating as possible to experience them. The walls are stone, the rafters of the roofs exposed with country tiled roofs. Structurally the walls are formed from a series of stone piers sloped on the outside but vertical within. Both the Lounge and the Dining open out onto cantilevered decks with fabulous views from above the treetops. An interesting feature at the far end of the lounge to the outside is a circular stair formed from stone (similar to the one in the corner of the Panna Haveli) which leads up to the upper level of the dayroom for an elevated massage deck which doubles up a stargazing platform. At the far end of the dining is an interactive kitchen axially arranged for a spectacular focal point. The kitchen forms the fourth wall of the courtyard. Three relatively small fixed glass panes give onto the courtyard – giving guests passing through the courtyard a tantalizing glimpse of the culinary magic taking place within. All the buildings have timber and glass folding doors can close out the weather if necessary. The walls between the stone piers are low, and have deep sills with jali screened windows above.

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