If ecotourism is on your mind and you’re obsessed with all things luxe, then a trip to Bandhavgarh–Kanha National Parks is the one for you. The two best-selling national parks of Madhya Pradesh not only offer ample wildlife sightings, but also comfortable stays at India’s finest eco-resorts. By Jyoti Verma
If there’s something that makes Bandhavgarh National Park an outstanding nature retreat, it is the package of attractions it has in store—wildlife, vegetation, temples, shrines and caves, and rocky hills and valleys. A respected place among conservation lovers, the park with its impressive tiger population, mammals like leopard, wild boar, fox and antelope, and scores of exotic bird species is something that can keep you busy for long. A way to cover all is an open-jeep safari that runs twice a day with a limited number of registered cars allowed into each zone of the park. There’s a ban on radios and phones to ensure that you focus more on the surroundings. An amusement, though, are the interesting narratives of the guides. Don’t miss any hoot or call while you are in the thick of the action. The best time to be in Bandhavgarh is the period after monsoon, when this bio-diverse park is lush and weather is good.
Stay at Samode Safari Lodge for a memorable experience, scrummy food, therapeutic spa treatments, and specially designed safari tours. Tree House Hideaway, adjacent to Bandhavgarh National Park, has luxurious and tasteful rooms built on poles on five different trees. Now what could be better than sleeping in a tree house and waking up to the noises of the jungle?
A five-hour drive southwest of Bandhavgarh is Madhya Pradesh’s largest reserve, Kanha. The verdant habitat of wild animals, this national park is known for frequent tiger sightings and the hard-ground swamp deer, barasingha, a feature exclusive to Kanha. Blessed with breathtaking natural beauty, stunning sunsets, sal trees, crystal-clear streams and grassy meadows, this jungle is picture perfect. Go on a guided wildlife safari, spot tigers and nilgai, try birdwatching, enjoy the colourful sunset at Bamni Dadar, or shop at the nearby local market for a variety of handicrafts. If you still have time at hand, check out the Kanha Museum near Kisli Gate entrance or the Tribal Museum near Mukki Gate.
The eco-resort, Singinawa Jungle Lodge also has Kanha Museum of Life and Art, displaying the brilliant artworks of indigenous Gond and Baiga artisans on display. Kanha Earth Lodge conducts birding walks, nature trails and cycling on request. Guests can visit several small lakes, the Banjaar river and Gond tribal homes during these excursions. Taj Resorts and Hotels’ Banjaar Tola, with tented suites, is a perfect accommodation for those looking for adventure and luxury.