I am a fan of Taj Safaris ever since my first trip to Banjar Tola in 2009. I have visited their Baghvan and Mahua Kothi Lodges too. And I can happily recommend them all if you are looking for luxury. But this post is specifically about Mahua Kothi at Bandhavgarh National Park.
The Mahua Kothi Lodge has just 12 suites and one main building which serves as the dining area and lounge. Then there is jungle literally at your footsteps. Each room is decorated with the local theme. The huts are designed such that you have complete privacy. The bath amenities are Forest Essentials. There is a bath tub in the bathroom in the middle of the jungle.
There is a small swimming pool within the property under huge banyan trees. I spotted a paradise flycatcher right by the pool. Indeed a lot of bird watching happens within the property premises itself.
The food is good at the lodge; the chefs can cook a delightful even in that remote jungle. I enjoyed both the Indian and Chinese food for lunch and dinner. However, I love their breakfast spread which they serve in the middle of the morning safari. I doubly love their surprise high tea in middle of nowhere!
Being in a jungle means early mornings. Getting at 4.30 am becomes a little more bearable because of the Masala Chai that comes with the wake up call!
Their bush dinner arrangements are a sight to behold! It is just so damn difficult to photograph in the low light though!
For me, what sets Taj Safaris apart is their dedicated team of naturalists. They happily engage with you, irrespective of your level of knowledge about the forest and all the things that live within. These young men and women are at home in jungle away from a decent restaurant (other than their own hotel’s food) or a movie theater. And this is the life they chose out of their own free will! When we press them they say they know no other life, cities bore them after a few days!
At Mahua Kothi they talked a lot about successful Gaur migration from Kanha to Bandhavgarh during my stay. But it was only when I watched the documentary that the enormity of the task dawned on me!
Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh
The park yielded a few tiger sightings to me the second trip! On my first trip in 2013 it refused to give me even a glimpse of the tail of that elusive cat!
On our very first morning safari, we had a partial glimpse of a cub sitting in a nala. We all were waiting that he may decide to get out of his sleepy mood and move! While we were waiting, suddenly the mother decided to make an appearance and went out for a walk. She must have been around all the time and yet before she decided to reveal herself no one managed to get a glimpse, such are they at camouflage!
As much as I enjoy watching tigers, I do like the small things of the mighty jungle, a bird here, a reptile there with wild boars, deer and dogs, all moving along, going about their business. I enjoy the jungle more because I don’t have a tiger fixation.
Within the Bandhavgarh National Park there is an ancient water tank and statue of Shesh Shaiya. It is a must visit place after your safari.
Taj Safaris is one place that I can afford only as a blogger. However if you are looking for understated luxury you need to look no further.
PS. If you are going on your first Tiger Safaris you may like to read this.
PPS. I was invited by Taj Safaris on this trip!
In spite of saying again and again that I am not a dance person I end up posting more and more dance videos! I guess it is fair to conclude that I do enjoy watching dances. On my trip to Bandhavgarh with Pugdundee Safaris I saw folk dances from MP. This was at their Kings Lodge at Bandhavgarh. They had arranged for the evening drinks outside along with the dances by the local.
When I am on my solo trips on invitation it is a struggle for the lodge to keep me company. They cannot leave me alone and then the manager can spend only so much time with me. I am actually fine by myself. But I can’t say this as well. So after spending a lot of time with me Varun left me in the company of a young naturalist. I asked him about the people doing the show. He said they were from the local village. The resort had an arrangement with them but they struggled when it came to time management. He said they were farmers and would come for such shows only after their day at the field was over. For them farming comes first, it was their livelihood.
Dances from MP
Of late, all the dance performances I have witnessed have been at a cultural show for tourists or at a resort. I would love to see some of these dances in their natural settings but I can’t see that happening anytime soon. In the meanwhile I wonder if the resorts are the new patrons of arts and traditional dances? Is there a downside to it? Is there an upside to it? What do you think?
PS. At night time my cell phone was useless for making the camera. I only had my 50 mm on my SLR so I took this video with that. On reflection my kit lens works better for videos. So next time I am going to carry it around as well.
I recently visited Panna and Bandhavgarh in MP India with Pugdundee Safari. For this sky watch I present sunsets from jungles in Mp, India.
At Panna I stayed at Ken River Lodge and at Bandhavgarh the King’s Lodge of Pugdundee Safari. The Ken River Lodge’s dining deck is right by the Ken River. When I got back from the evening safari it was dusk. If I would have gone to the room to fetch my tripod I knew even the last light would have faded. Thankfully the deck had a wide ledge on which I placed my camera to capture the fading light over the Ken River. It was a beautiful sunset that day but when it was actually happening I was inside the Panna National Park.
Sunset, Ken River Lodge, Panna, MP, India
Panna National Park as of now is not too commercialized. It is a beautiful park. As of now there are fewer vehicles so there is no zone system, you can go anywhere in the park. Whether you see the tigers or not is immaterial. If you like jungles I would say go to Panna National Park, before it becomes too commercialized.
Sunset, Bandhavgarh National Park, MP, India
The second national park I visited was the Bandhavgarh National Park. I had two safaris there one in the evening and the other in the morning in the Magadhi Zone. Bandhavgarh is known for its tiger sightings! But not one came out for me! It is very popular with tourists.
I got to hear a lot of stories about the Supreme Court rulings for the National parks in India. The park guide on the evening safari was of the view that there were too many jeeps in Bandhavgarh and the courts decision to reduce the numbers was a good one even though it impacted his earning potential.
Everyone was unanimous that the parks could be more tourist friendly. As of now the closing times are 5.30 even though the sunlight remains for about 45 minutes more. People felt that the evening safari timings could be increased so that the tourists got a better experience.
What do you think? Could Indian National parks be made more tourist friendly?
This post is part of Sky Watch Friday. Do check it out. It is addictive.
I recently visited Panna and Bandhavgarh in MP. These days as soon as I sit in a car I fall asleep. But the previous night I retired early (read no internet in the room) and I woke up quite fresh. Hence I was not falling asleep in the car. It was difficult to pass time, within 20 minutes I was wondering how to pass those long hours? But after a while we were we were mobbed by cows on the road. It happens sometimes in the city too but this was really a big herd.
It took us some time to get out of this cow jam. If the school bus would not have come, I think it would have taken us much longer to get out! The school bus driver and the helper were the pros, they must be doing it daily! They got out within no time leaving the cow herd behind!
After 25 minutes I asked the diver if he had music. That is the song you here while we were trying to clear the cow obstacle. When we reached the driver thanked me for letting him play music! I was surprised as I had equally enjoyed it!
Mobbed by the Cows in MP, India
We were actually stuck in this jam for much longer than what you see in the video. It was after a minute or two that it dawned on me to make a video of being stuck with the cows. It is so much fun when you are on a vacation.
Panna to Bandhavgarh is about five and a half hours drive. It is a single lane road with traffic coming from both sides. My diver was a careful one and I was very thankful for it. At no point he indulged in rash driving. In the end it was fun being mobbed by the cows.