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Vannraj resort at Pench makes you feel like the king of jungle!

When Rudyard Kipling’s book – ‘The Jungle Book’ – was published in 1894, he never would have thought that the present area of Pench Tiger Reserve which was the setting of his book, more than 120 years later, would be such a buzzing wildlife destination. Located around 70 kms from Nagpur, Pench National Park is a wildlife enthusiast’s paradise with its rich flora and fauna. Over the years, to cater to these wildlife enthusiasts, many resorts have been established at Pench. While many resorts are budget resorts meant for the hardcore wildlife lovers who like to visit the jungle very often, there are a very select few resorts which offer luxury and peace right in the middle of the jungle. One such resort at Pench is the luxury safari lodge – Vannraj – which literally means the ‘The king of the forest.’ Nation Next takes you on a pictorial tour of the beautiful, royal and luxurious Vannraj resort, where a stay with your loved ones will definitely be memorable!

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Vannraj is a luxury safari lodge situated at the border of Pench National Park and is spread across 20 acres of land.

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The resort is owned by Ramprasad and Kshitiz Agrawal, who are the directors of Pench Tiger Retreat Private Limited.

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The specialty of Vannraj is that it is located within a dense forest. At Vannraj there are around 15,000 trees. In addition to that, bamboo plantations have also been done.

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While Vannraj literally means ‘the king of forest,’ the architecture and interiors of the resort are a mix of royal and new age designs.

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The complete resort has been designed by ace Nagpur architect Ritu Chanekar.

Nation Next takes you on a pictorial tour of the royal and luxurious Vannraj resort, where a stay with your loved ones will definitely be memorable!

People who visit Vannraj can enjoy staying in three types of accommodations: Traditional Cottages, The Machan Suites and The Vannraj Villa.

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The traditional cottages at Vannraj are inspired by native architecture and have high pitched sloping roofs with Mangalorean tiles. The open verandah at the cottage will give you a feeling that you’re in a village.

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The machan suites are standalone cottages which offer luxury, privacy and comfort all at the same time.

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The large sunken bathtubs and the panoramic forest view at a machan suite is sure to make your stay special.

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What’s more is that these suites give the guests an opportunity to spend the night under the stars!

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If that’s not enough, a private butler will be at your service always to make to truly feel like a king!

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Vannraj has one of the biggest swimming pools among all the resorts prevailing in Pench. The deck by the swimming pool can accommodate around 80-100 people at a time.

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Those who don’t like taking a dip in the water can also relax at the traditional ‘Khatiyas’ beside the pool.

The restaurant at Vannraj can cater to 100-150 people at a time. The sumptuous spread which is prepared from chemical free products sourced from Vannraj’s large organic farm will be served to you on the table.

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The dining venues apart from the restaurant also includes a pool deck and a wooden deck suspended over a lake.

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The lobby at the resort is spacious and also consists of a library. The conference hall at Vannraj, which is meticulously designed can accommodate 50-60 people at a time.

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To enable access to the entire resort, eco-friendly e-rickshaws are available for tourists visiting Vannraj.

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Apart from a big swimming pool, there’s a billiard table, a table tennis table, a badminton court, fuss ball table, etc. So, there’s something for everybody at Vannraj!

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Life & Style

With 7000 luxury cars, gold fitted private jets, Sultan of Brunei has everything money can buy

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Radhika Dhawad | Brunei
The Sultan of Brunei (Photo source: EPA)

With a personal wealth of £15 billion (approx rupees one lakh crore) Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah (76) has been the king for over 54 years now. Sultans huge fortune is said to increase by £80 (₹7000) per second from just oil assets that he possesses. The Sultan is the second wealthiest monarch in the world after the King of Thailand

 Flew his hairdresser via private jet for a £19,000 haircut!

Such has been the Sultans lifestyle that he once flew his barber in his private jet for a single haircut, which cost him a total of £19,000 (approx ₹16.5 lakh) Not just this but hes also known to have his polo shoes flown by his helicopter for a match.

Once court papers in 2012 revealed that he paid £1.26 million (approx. ₹10.92 crore) to his badminton coach, £1.25million (approx. ₹10 crore) for acupuncture, massage and spent £50,000 (approx. ₹ 43 lakh) on guards for his exotic birds.

The Sultan, who spends around £17million (approx. ₹147 crore) on just jewellery as presents for his family members, paid two of his housekeepers £7million (approx. ₹60 crore) each! Once, the Royal Family spent so much at London jewellers Asprey that, in 1995, he decided to buy the entire company at a cost of £320million (approx. ₹2700 crore)!

Sultan Hassanal Bolkia and second wife Queen Hajah Mariam sit on the throne during an investiture ceremony for the Sultan’s 50th birthday celebrations (Photo source: AFP)

Multiple marriages, divorces

In 1965, the Sultan married his cousin Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha, with whom he has six children, including Crown Prince Al-Muhtadee. 

The Sultan remarried, but Raja still remains his wife and the Queen Consort. He married Hajah Mariam in 1982 a year before first wife Queen Saleha gave birth to their sixth child. He met her while she was working as an airhostess on a national airline.

He divorced Hajah (who was the mother of four children) in 2003 and stripped her off her royal titles. He then married TV presenter Azrinaz Mazhar, with whom he had two children before they divorced in 2010.

Micheal Jackson performed for Sultan’s 6000 subjects on his birthday

Father of 12, Sultan celebrated the weddings of his five children for a week by spending millions on each wedding. When Sultans eldest son Crown Prince, married a teenager Sarah Salleh (17), she wore jewel-encrusted Christian Louboutin heels and pure gold anklet. His daughter, Princess Azemah, 38, married her first cousin in week-long wedding on January 25, 2023. 

For his oldest daughter’s wedding, Princess Rashidah, American singer Whitney Houston was flown in to sing at the reception and the Sultan paid her £5.5million (approx. ₹47 crore).

Sultans 50th birthday in 1996 was celebrated for over 15 days that cost him over £20 million (₹173 crore). The extravagant celebrations comprised a polo match, gala dinner for 3,000 at the opulent Palace where caviar from the endangered beluga was served.

Apart from this, the guests enjoyed free-flow of champagne. Not just this, the Sultan paid Micheal Jackson £14 million (approx ₹120 crore), for which the pop singer performed at three concerts – one for Sultans 6000 subjects and two for his private guests. The Sultan as a token presented every guest of his a solid gold medal!

Sultan’s Palace with 1788 rooms 

1788 rooms, 257 bathrooms, air-conditioned stable for ponies

The Sultan resides at the Instana Nurul Iman Palace, which is the largest Royal residence in the world. The residence that was built over two years costs over £1billion (approx. ₹8600 crore) that includes 1788 rooms and 257 bathrooms.

With a personal wealth of £15 billion, Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah has been king for over 50 years now. Check out his crazy lifestyle!
One of the five pools inside the Brunei Palace (Photo source: The Sun)

Inside Brunei Palace (Photo source: The Sun)

With gold and diamond all over, the residence has five huge swimming pools, a banquet hall that can accommodate over 5000 guests and a mosque with a capacity of 1500 people. Apart from all this, there’s also a fully air-conditioned stable for Sultans 200 polo ponies (small horses)!

Inside Sultan’s Palace

Most expensive private house in UK

The Sultan owns a lavish house in Londons most expensive area Regent Park, St Johns Lodge that consists of three linked properties. The same property in London was bought for £40million in 1994 (estimated to be worth £110 million [approx. ₹953 crore]) by making it the most expensive private house in the United Kingdom!

St John’s House in Regent’s Park is the most expensive private house in the UK (Photo source: Alamy)

Known for being generous in gifting huge properties to his family members, the Sultan also owns plush properties on the Gold Coast of Australia, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, to name a few.

The Sultan in 1997 gifted his playboy brother Prince Jefri a mansion worth £45 million (approx. ₹390 crore) in Las Vegas that has 92 rooms, 29 bedrooms, 42 bathrooms, a tennis court, three swimming pools and a huge garage that houses 11 cars.

 7000 cars worth £5billion

With almost 7000 cars, the Sultan possess the world’s largest car collection that include over 600 Rolls Royce, 500 Mercedes, 450 Ferraris, 380 Bentleys, over 100 Koenigsegg, 21 Lamborghinis, 11 Aston Martins, 179 Jaguars and 209 BMWs. His £5billion (approx ₹43000 crore) collection also includes a 24-carat gold-plated silver Spur Limo used for Royal weddings.

Sultan’s fleet of cars
With a personal wealth of £15 billion, Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah has been king for over 50 years now. Check out his crazy lifestyle!
The Prince with a custom-built six door Rolls in 1984 (Photo source: Rex Features)

The custom-built Rolls Royce is gold-plated and is used for Royal weddings (Photo source: Rex Features)


Sultan’s car


Private jets decorated in gold

Not just cars, the Sultan is the proud owner of the £233 million (approx. ₹2000 crore) customised Boeing 747, with a living room and bedroom decorated in gold and crystals and washbasins of solid gold.

Inside Sultan’s private jet

With a personal wealth of £15 billion, Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah has been king for over 50 years now. Check out his crazy lifestyle!
Inside Sultan’s private jet

Apart from this, he also owns a customised Airbus worth £75m (approx. ₹649 crore) and a Boeing 767 worth £136m (approx. ₹1200 crore).

Sultan’s private jet

(PS: The figures are an approximate value calculated as per the current market price, which have been sourced from The Sun)

Also read: Salim Khan was one of those few friends who encouraged me to become a screenwriter: Javed Akhtar

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Technology

In November, 6.5 lakh Nagpur citizens pay online electricity bill of ₹133 crore

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Avani Arya | Nagpur

Mahavitaran app

One crore 11 lakh 53 thousand 703 low pressure consumers in the domestic, industrial and commercial categories in Maharashtra availed the facility of online payment of their electricity bill in the month of November. Over ₹2230 crores was paid by the above mentioned consumers as their electricity bill on the Mahavitaran App.

Every customer gets a discount of 0.25 percent on online payment, so there is an increasing tendency of customers to pay electricity bills online. In Nagpur circle, over 6.69 lakh customers paid a total of ₹133 crores as electricity bill in the month of November.

While customers of Konkan regional division in the state were leading in online electricity bill payment as over 49.21 lakh (approx.) consumers paid over ₹1001 crore, over 33.75 lakh customers of Pune regional office paid over ₹751 crore and over 85.19 lakh customers of Nagpur regional office paid over ₹299 crore. Apart from this, over 9.23 lakh customers in Aurangabad also paid over ₹177 crore online.

Electricity consumers can pay their electricity bills with the help of a computer or mobile app of MAHAVITARAN. Customers can view their current or outstanding payments on Mahavitran’s mobile app or website. Also, there is a facility to pay electricity bills through debit card, credit card or net banking. Upon payment, customers also receive a computerised receipt of their electricity bill.Moreover, the app is also available in Marathi and English languages and the  service is available 24 hours a day. Hence the government has appealed to the consumers  to take maximum advantage of this facility and pay their bills online

Also Read: DPS MIHAN takes on ‘journey towards light of self discovery’ during annual function in Nagpur

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Life & Style

Crackers and Deepawali – the Indic connection

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Nation Next Newsroom | Mumbai
Here’s a little sneak peek into the Hindu tradition that – yes – actually does mention the ritual of bursting firecrackers during Deepawali.

Here’s a little sneak peek into the Hindu tradition that – yes – actually does mention the ritual of bursting firecrackers during Deepawali.

Deepawali is a festival of light and not sound, so why burst crackers is often a topic of debate. With some states banning sale of crackers or limiting the time to burst crackers, here’s a little sneak peek into the Hindu tradition that – yes – actually does mention the ritual of bursting firecrackers during Deepawali.

(In Marathi Deep – light and awli – row – so a row of lights is Deepawali). While there can be debate on air quality, restricted timings for crackers and the like, many of our ancient texts point to the fact that crackers were indeed part of the Deepawali ritual and what we do on certain days of this festival is proof of that.

While in this festival people look to welcome Goddess Lakshmi into their homes, many say the overarching reason is that crackers are lit to show her the path to our homes. It is also the day Rama returned to Ayodhya along with Sita and Lakshman after his 14-year long exile by killing Ravana and the delighted subjects of Ayodhya decorated the city by lighting lamps. This has been alluded to in the Ananda Ramayana which mentions crackers that burst and shine in the sky – described as gaganantarvirajitan. However, just as Hindu texts are many, so are the many reasons to light lamps and burst crackers. Another such mention of sparklers finds mention in the Vaiṣṇava-khaṇḍa of Skanda Purāṇa.

The story that has come down as oral knowledge from generations is that just before Diwali, we worship our ancestors (pitr) in the Shraadh period. Once the Shraadh month is over, it is now time for them to go back to their abode. So, we the living beings on earth show them the way as we light up the sky with crackers like (Ulka Danam – which finds a mention in the scripture Kartika Mahatyma)and use Akash Deepams/Divas (Sky Lanterns) in this entire period.

Another story on the same lines is that on Dhana Trayodashi or Dhanteras, our ancestors are worshipped in order to help them reach the Goddess of wealth and they come down to Earth for this purpose. It is for this reason that on this day, a lamp is lit in the southern direction, since they are departed souls, and a lantern is lit in the southern part of the house to show the way to the Goddess.

While there have been several mentions of how we developed fireworks and gunpowder in various old texts, a poem RUKMINI-SWAYAMVARA by Marathi Poet Ekanatha, which was completed in 1570A.D. gives a detailed display of fireworks in marriage procession of Rukmini and Krishna. Deepawali is upon us and the perfect time to get up close with our rituals too. Happy Deepawali!

Also read: Nagpur’s Amol Kale is new Mumbai Cricket Association President

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