All kids and adults in India have grown up watching The Jungle Book when it was aired many years ago on Doordarshan. In the recent lockdown, we were all taken on a nostalgic trip when the episodes were re-telecast on television. Mowgli and his adventures were probably our very first virtual experience of what life in the jungle is like. Well, with the fantasy part apart, we all have, at some point in our lives, dreamt of escaping the hustle and bustle of the cities only to spend some time amidst the woods, listening to the chirping of the birds and the gushing river. A stay at one of the forest lodges in India definitely makes for an opportunity to taste all the delights the jungle has to offer. On March 21st, as we celebrate the International Day of Forests, let’s have a look at some of the forest lodges in India that are sure to transport you to a place and setting you have always dreamt of being in at some point in your life.
1. Singinawa Jungle Lodge, Kanha, Madhya Pradesh:
How can a jungle story ever be complete without the mention of the tribal groups inhabiting it? The tribes, or Adivasis, are the original inhabitants of the forest, and they call it their home in the true sense. How about getting up close and personal with the tribes during your stay in the jungle? Your stay at Singinawa Jungle Lodge in Kanha National Park lets you do so. Located on 110 acres of jungle, Singinawa Jungle Lodge has its own Museum of Life and Art, dedicated to tribal artisans on the property. The lodge undertakes many conservation initiatives and not only offers jungle safaris but also village experiences so that guests can connect with the local tribesmen and learn about their life. What’s more, you can also take Gond tribal art lessons here. At Singinawa Jungle Lodge, you have the option of staying in a rustic stone and slate cottage or a jungle bungalow.
2. Chitvan Jungle Lodge, Kanha, Madhya Pradesh:
If you have been seeking some retreat from worldly life and want to tame your mind, head to this magnificent 14-acre property, oh-so-close to the Mukki Gate of the Kanha National Park. It’s farmland converted into a mini-forest with over 100 species of birds and butterflies. Started with the motto of ‘Conservation through Tourism’, this jungle lodge focuses on making tourism an alternate economy for the local community. There are numerous reasons to visit Chitvan Jungle Lodge and spend some time there. From luxurious cottage accommodations named after the elements of nature to open showers, private sit-outs, organic meals, jeep safaris, nature walks, tribal dances, and more, you will be simply spoilt for choice.
3. Samode Safari Lodge, Bandhavgarh, Madhya Pradesh:
As the name suggests, Samode Safari Lodge is part of the Samode Hotels portfolio, a renowned luxury heritage hotel group from Rajasthan. It’s owned by the descendants of the royal family, and in fact, their trip to Africa prompted them to create the lodge. The architecture of the lodge is inspired by the colourful villages around it and houses some gorgeously furnished cottages. What sets this jungle lodge apart is its food. At Samode Safari Lodge, guests are treated to different dishes daily for lunch and dinner so that they can experience a range of cuisines with rotational dining locations. The lodge also offers some of the best safaris and has a fleet of its own jeeps and a team of expert naturalists. Samode Safari Lodge is truly promoting responsible tourism and taking wildlife conservation quite seriously. At the lodge, you are also shown a thought-provoking documentary about tigers and the problems they face in India.
4. Mahua Kothi, Bandhavgarh, Madhya Pradesh:
Your search for a rustic luxury experience ends here. Mahua Kothi is a Taj property and derives its name from Mahua, or butter tree. The lodge is located on a whopping 40 acres of land and is around 20 minutes from the park’s entrance. The accommodation at Mahua Kothi has two parts: the original Kothi, or homestead, that’s been beautifully renovated, and the newly constructed guest huts built in the central Indian village style. Mahua Kothi has a wonderfully recreated village experience on offer, which includes, traditional mud floors, an open kitchen, breakfast displayed on a bullock cart, traditional Indian games, kettles of boiling water on charcoal burners, etc. In addition to morning and afternoon jeep safaris, nature walks, village and school visits, and stargazing, you can also try the special mahua martinis, which are made from the tree’s flowers and served in the evenings.
5. Forsyth Lodge, Satpura, Madhya Pradesh:
Satpura National Park is a lesser-known place but is an excellent one to spend some quality time amidst nature. Set in 44 acres of the reclaimed jungle at the edge of the park, the lodge houses some 12 independent guest cottages. This lodge, made out of rammed earth, also houses a well-appointed library devoted to Indian wildlife, a lounge, several fireplaces, telescopes for star-gazing, and an eco-friendly, chlorine-free swimming pool. Apart from the usual jeep safaris, Forsyth Lodge also offers activities like elephant safaris, canoe safaris, and walking safaris. Moreover, there are a whole lot of other interesting activities on offer, like, an expedition to the Pachmarhi plateau, a two-day hike to or from the plateau on the Forsyth Trail, and even a three-day introductory course into jungle craft and understanding the wilderness.
6. The Blackbuck Lodge, Velavdar National Park, Gujarat:
This unique lodge enjoys a fabulously secluded position along the Velvadar Blackbuck National Park, which is located near the Gulf of Cambay on Gujarat’s west coast. Formerly, the private grassland and hunting ground of the Maharaja of Bhavnagar, today, this park is a protected area for blackbucks to inhabit. Your stay at the lodge allows you to enjoy the luxury of watching the blackbucks from the privacy of the veranda at the back of your room. Spread over 70 acres of untamed land, the Blackbuck Lodge houses 14 luxury villas for guests, with chic interiors and stylish architecture. Also on offer are safaris into the park and excursions to surrounding tourist destinations.
7. Asiatic Lion Lodge, Gir, Gujarat:
Located in the lap of nature, near the village of Haripur, around six kilometers from Sasan Gir village, Asiatic Lion Lodge offers eco-friendly accommodations in the form of guest cottages, near the very famous Gir National Park, home to the Asiatic lions. The lodge’s in-house restaurant serves North Indian and regional Kathiawadi delicacies of Gujarat, cooked with organic ingredients. You can relax at the Forest Café, which is situated adjacent to a seasonal natural water pond and has a library with a wide variety of books on wildlife. Wildlife films are screened at the lodge every evening, and, of course, there are other must-do jungle activities like nature walks and bird-watching walks, along with safaris into the national park to experience and enjoy.
8. Diphlu River Lodge, Kaziranga, Assam:
This amazing forest lodge is located on the edge of the Kaziranga National Park, on the banks of the Diphlu River, and almost seamlessly merges into the surrounding jungles. You can stay at one of the slit-cottages built from locally sourced bamboo, wood, and thatched in the traditional style of the Mishing tribe of Assam. Did you know, when their Highnesses Prince William and Catherine Middleton visited Assam in 2016, they stayed at this very lodge? With Diphlu River Lodge, you get to stay at the heart of the jungle – watching birds and animals having a drink of water from the river while you relish a delicious Assamese lunch, on the deck of the ‘Machan’ restaurant. The wetlands offer a rich habitat for hundreds of species of birds, mammals, and reptiles, and with the national park being located right at the lodge’s doorsteps, your stay here definitely makes for an unforgettable wildlife experience.
9. Svasara Jungle Lodge, Tadoba, Maharashtra:
The story of the making of Svasara Jungle Lodge is quite an inspiring one. Literally, meaning ‘nest’ in Sanskrit, Svasara is a conservation-focused lodge exclusively offering 12 luxurious rooms spread over an area of 10-acres of land near the Kolara Gate of the famous Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve. The owners of the lodge had taken land devastated by intensive farming, overgrazing, and mining and turned it into a sanctuary of indigenous jungle trees and plants. Over the last few years, they have planted thousands of new plants. At Svasara, you can indulge in many nature-focused activities like jungle-safaris and nature walks with a focus on birding and butterfly observations.
10. Evolve Back Kuruba Safari Lodge, Kabini, Karnataka:
Located right on the banks of the Kabini River, the Kuruba Safari Lodge offers some breathtaking vistas of the river and the surrounding forests. At the lodge, you get to stay in thatched-roof cottages. While they resemble local tribal village homes, they are quite luxurious. What’s really special about this jungle lodge is the fact that all rooms, including the bathrooms, have large windows, which makes it possible for you to take in and enjoy all the mesmerising views without even having to step out of your cottage. The forest and the river are right on the resort’s doorstep, which makes it possible for you to pick and choose from a variety of wildlife-focused activities, which range from boat safaris to nature walks, and more.
So these are just a few jungle lodges in India. There are many more, spread out across the many national parks in our country. The ethereal experience of staying at a forest lodge cannot be put into words; one has to experience it himself/herself to understand it first-hand. Forest lodges have come to evolve as a great way of blending tourism with conservation and also helping support the jungle economy grow while still being in harmony with nature.
Have you stayed in any of the forest lodges ever? Do let us know in the comments section. If such an exciting adventure is on your mind, talk to Veena World Customized Holidays today and leave the rest to us. On the occasion of this International Day of Forests, let’s plan a trip to our roots… Let’s plan a holiday in a forest…
Chalo, Bag Bharo, Nikal Pado!