The ceaseless whispering of a forest in a breeze. The g entle sway of Sal and Teak trees. The dis tant roar of the royal tiger. And the muted luxury of the Taj Safaris.
Stay at some of India ’s most breathtaking jungle lodges at Panna, Bandhavgarh, Pench and Kanha, on the verdant borders of national parks. Dine on local specialties. Go on jungle safaris and game drives with skilled nat uralists. Dine in the cool shade cas t by the Mahua tree. And know that this rustic luxury is the only way to experience the Indian jungle.
Few locations can boast celebrity residents like those seen in this rather obscure Madhya Pradesh district. Umaria’s Bandhavgarh National Park has been home to some of the most photographed Bengal tigers. And it is here that Mahua Kothi is located. A respectful distance from the woods, yet steeped in its history.LOCATION
Named after the mahua plant, Mahua Kothi is located 20 minutes from the famed 448 sq. km. Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh.FEATURES
Apart from a game drive with highly trained naturalists, guests might find entertainment in the form of traditional Indian games, swimming or yoga. Those seeking to relax may opt for a spa therapy, or a leisurely browse through the safari shop or the library. It might be too much to claim that the dining experience is just as adventurous as a safari. But it comes close. The day begins with breakfast laid out on a bullock cart or, if you prefer it, a picnic in the woods. Lunch is a picnic under the mahua tree by the watering hole and at night, head to the terrace for cocktails made from the sap of the mahua tree, spit-roasted meat and a folk dance performance. The less adventurous make take their victuals at the lounge or in their private courtyardACCOMMODATION
Unlike the extensively refurbished but fairly old kothi (homestead), the 12 jungle village huts (kutiyas) that make up the guest accommodation are brand new. Built on the 40- acre grounds of the renowned tented camp — Churhat Kothi, the 12 suites are each accessed through mud-floored private courtyards. They are done up with wooden shutters, katni stone floors, roughly hewn wooden beams and other delightfully rustic touches affectionately known as MP chic
The second lodge by Taj Safaris — Baghvan (forest of the tiger) lies on the outskirts of the forest that is said to have inspired Kipling’s The Jungle Book. Over a hundred years have passed since then, but the dramatic allure of the woods hasn’t waned.LOCATION
Situated in the Seoni district, the lodge is located by the Madhya Pradesh end of the Pench National Park (a small part of the park lies in Maharashtra).FEATURES
Trained naturalists will guide you through the reserve, describing its diverse flora and fauna and tracking fresh tiger prints. For those who’d rather stay back at the lodge, there’s the library, a swimming pool, a safari shop, cooking lessons, a variety spa treatments and some very memorable dining experiences. Breakfast is served on your private verandah, lunch on a shaded pool-side deck and dinner on an elevated machan (jungle platform). Cocktails are served every evening under a large banyan tree frequented by a giant flying squirrel.ACCOMMODATION
The guest accommodation facilities comprise 12 stand-alone suites made up of two interlinked buildings, each with lofty ceilings and done up with woven hyacinth furniture, handmade Parsi tiles and ebony closets. The result is contemporary, but with a touch of the 50s; plush yet natural. A covered inter-leading link takes guests to generously proportioned bathrooms with outdoor showers. The bedroom is a covered rooftop platform complete with hookah pipes and all the comfort one could wish for.
Each mile of Kanha National park resembles a spread in a book of rare fauna. Here you will find barasingha (literally, with twelve horns), blackbuck, Royal Bengal Tigers and the Indian pangolin amongst others. And it is by the core of this forest that you will find the luxurious yet unobtrusive Bajaar Tola lodge.LOCATION
The lodge is situated by the Banjaar River that flows through Madhya Pradesh, overlooking the core area of Kanha National Park on the opposite bank.FEATURES
Kanha boasts a great variety of fauna, and the lodge provides the best ways to study it. Go on game drives with trained naturalists, view over 300 species of birds at the birdwatchers’ paradise, and catch a glimpse of a Bengal tiger as you ride an elephant. At the lounge, you may visit the library, the Safari shop or enjoy a leisurely swim. Despite its luxurious trappings, the lodge that comprises the guest areas is steeped in local culture and nature. This is more than evident with every meal. Fresh local ingredients are used to make delicacies that have a comfortably homemade feel. Breakfast in your tented suite or in the woods, lunch at the lounge deck and in the evening, sip cocktails as the choicest cuts of meat roast on the spit.ACCOMMODATION
The lodge boasts two camps with nine tented suites each, each set on raised platforms by the banks of the river. The suites are decorated with pressed bamboo panels, Bastar bell metal figurines and locally crafted furniture, keeping both the forest’s environment and the area’s culture in mind.
Home to the tropical forest of Panna National Park with its deep ravines and cascading waterfalls, and the temples of Khajuraho; Panna has the air of some ethereal ancient city hidden in the wilderness. And notwithstanding all their contemporary indulgences, the stone houses of Pashan Garh do little to dispel the illusion.LOCATION
Located in Madhya Pradesh, in the Vindhya Hills along the Ken River. The Lodge is 12 km from the park’s entrance and 50 km from Khajuraho, a World Heritage Site renowned for its sandstone temples that are over a thousand years old.FEATURES
Safaris to the reserve are conducted twice daily by naturalists trained in animal behaviour. The park houses Bengal tigers, nilgai (blue bulls), chital, and wild boars wild boars. Its avian inhabitants include everything from head fish eagles to paradise flycatchers. Recreation areas at the lodge include a library, a safari shop and a spectacular infinity pool nestled between rocky outcrops. The service is attentive yet discreet, and food is delivered to the cottages using butler hatches. But for a true safari-like experience, breakfast deep in the woods, enjoy lunch amidst the beauty of a quaint Indian village and opt for one of the unique dining experiences on offer — on a lantern lit deck, under the mahua tree, by the pool or in your private sala.ACCOMMODATION
The twelve stone cottages draw inspiration from its surroundings, the stonework of the Khajuraho temples, the crocodiles that inhabit the Ken River, and the park’s awe-inspiring landscape. The interiors are fashioned in a style that’s sleek, avant-garde and yet endearingly rustic.