Looking to have a tiger tale of your own to recount around a campfire? If you think the idea of spotting one of these magnificent big cats from the back of an elephant is an experience lost to another century or existing only in a Rudyard Kipling yarn, think again.
The recent opening of Taj Safaris’ fourth jungle lodge, Banjaar Tola, managed in conjunction with andBeyond, the owner and operator of 46 luxury camps and lodges in Africa and India, marks the completion of India’s first tiger circuit. Situated in India’s heartland in the central state of Madhya Pradesh on the edge of the Banjaar River, Banjaar Tola is a collection of two camps overlooking Kanha National Park designed to combine a light environmental footprint with the comforts of a luxury safari lodge.
Each camp features nine tented suites, spacious guest areas, swimming pool, comprehensive library, and areas for al fresco dining. Locally crafted furniture and textiles in tones of saffron and muted green, designed with rich block-printed local cottons and silks, adorn guest areas. Suites have a contemporary feel, with sweeping canvas roof and walls, pressed bamboo floors, and glass doors leading out onto a veranda overlooking the river.
Daily safari excursions include interpretive morning and evening drives in the jungle with expert naturalists and tiger viewing by elephant. The park itself is one of India’s largest, covering 750 square miles in the Maikal Hills of the Satpura Hill range in the southeastern part of Madhya Pradesh. An important footnote is when Project Tiger was launched in 1973 to help save the endangered Bengal tiger, whose numbers had fallen dramatically due to poaching and habitat loss, Kanha was one of nine reserves selected for the project. This makes Kanha prime tiger-viewing country and is the project’s star success story.
Within its borders, approximately 22 animal species are regularly spotted, including rarer sightings, such as the common langur, jackal, black buck, leopard, and the ant-eating pangolin. The park also boasts over 70 different types of trees and is a birdwatcher’s paradise, featuring over 200 recorded bird species.
The full circuit of lodges located at parks known for their populations of tigers includes Mahua Kothi (Bandhavgarh National Park), Baghvan (Pench National Park), Pashan Garh (Panna National Park) and Banjaar Tola (Kanha National Park). andBeyond can arrange programs that include just one park, or integrate all four.