Seek our Shere Khan with a luxury tiger safari through the jungle land of Madhya Pradesh.
As dawn breaks in central India, a rust-colored Shere Khan yawns and turns his golden eyes to the visitors who silently spy through bamboo branches. This scene, quite literally, is like a page out of a Kipling creation, as the celebrated writer drew his inspiration from these beloved jungles. From the bustling city to the enchanting wilderness, Ker & Downey’s Wonders of India journey is a luxury tiger safari that meanders south-to-north through famed national parks, bookended by Mumbai and Delhi. The lush parks of India, teeming with wildlife both seen and unseen, are the highlight of this adventure, complete with accommodations in the supreme comfort of Taj Safari properties.
Intersected by the Pench River from which it takes its name, Pench National Park covers 281 square miles, all teeming with carnivores, herbivores and over 285 species of bird. Pench’s denizens slink through thick stands of teak and bamboo, the jade palette occasionally interrupted by the startling white bark of the kullu tree. Just five minutes from Pench, the Baghvan Jungle Lodge’s standalone tents with high ceilings, cement floors, overhead fans and huge windows form the frame for a canvas of handmade Parsi tiles and woven hyacinth furniture. Rediscover romance and stay overnight on a private machan, or jungle platform, protected with a mosquito net, refreshed with an overhead fan and accessorized with a hookah.
Sal forests, grassy meadows and ravines define Kanha National Park, simultaneously sheltering a significant population of tiger, leopard, sloth bear, barasingha and wild dog. The vast Kanha meadow has been suitably referred to as “the Ngorongoro of India”, the spectacle of hundreds of chital grazing on a carpet of green grass against the backdrop of the majestic forest conjuring images of Tanzania’s famous crater. Enjoy sweeping vistas of the entire park from Bamhni Dadar plateau, also known as Sunset Point for the spectacular views of the day fading over the dense wood.
Just across the Banjaar River, the southwestern border of Kanha, Banjaar Tola Kanha Tented Camp comprises two splendid areas of tented suites, each thoughtfully punctuated with traditional local crafts and artwork. Woven textiles and decadent earth tones are found throughout, with bamboo floors and canvas walls mingling to envelop guests in the sublime tented experience.
Bandhavgarh National Park, while best known for its tigers, boasts 37 species of mammals, more than 250 types of birds and 70 different butterflies. Bandhavgarh’s diversity is also evident in its varying geography. Jungles of sal cover most of the park, with vast grasslands and bamboo forests surrounded by cliffs and wooded mountains in the northern areas.
The plains are divided by streams, creating swampy meadows known as bohera, and massive rocky hills rise from the lowest of lumbering valleys. Mahua Kothi Jungle Lodge, an award-winning Condé Nast pick, delivers Bandhavgarh in absolute luxury and natural beauty. The lodge sprawls over the 40-acre grounds with 12 Kutiyas, or cottage suites, modeled after the indigenous style of the region, with roughly-hewn beams, handmade tiles and bright textiles the key features of the chic décor.
Panna National Park’s thick forests cover this smaller reserve, peppered with open grasslands and woodlands in the hills of the Vindhya Range. Following the monsoon season, glittering waterfalls decorate the park’s deep crags. Panna hosts more than 200 bird species, with the jeweled feathers of the peacock often gracing the grounds.
Pashan Garh Panna Wilderness Lodge showcases local architecture with 12 stone cottages, slate roofs and dry-packed stone walls. Sharp stone is balanced by rich earth-toned interiors that lead to private verandas, overlooking the lush wood. While at Panna, Ker & Downey guests will also have the ability to visit the nearby city of Khajuraho for an excursion to the unique temples, said to have been built in the mid-9th century.
Each new destination on your luxury tiger safari delivers an identical level of comfort that seasoned luxury travelers expect from the Taj family, all amidst a rustic, intimate jungle locale. Guests can tour the lodge’s open kitchen where spices, are prepared by hand. Spa treatments at the Taj Safari lodges are exceptional, featuring the renowned array of handmade Taj spa products – a divine sensory addition to already beautiful surroundings. Intriguing natural beauty and wildlife abound in India, inviting you to pen your own Jungle Book of tales as you explore.