This was Kipling country. And back at the lodge, I sat in the lounge, almost hearing his voice, narrating Mowgli’s escapades in my ears…
Kanha Earth Lodge. Stepping into the main building of this property, I had to remind myself I was in Kanha, India and not Africa. Looking around, the lounge and dining room had a very hunting lodge-esque charm. Stone tiled walls, wide french windows, upholstery in warm hues, ethnic artwork on the walls; it was all so inviting. My eyes zeroed in on a Mancala set lying on a table between two chairs. Mancala is an ancient African sowing game played with seeds and an opponent (one that I played often as a child). Just beyond lay a sunken pit with laid-back seating around a fireplace. After a quick round of teatime snacks (oh, how I love the old world luxury of safari lodges) all of the guests began dispersing to our respective rooms. This was the last stop on our long list of safaris in Madhya Pradesh with Pugdundee Safaris. Having spent the morning driving in from Bandhavgarh, I was definitely looking forward to a long nap.
Our villa was one of a short line of them, almost hidden from view, nestled in all the natural vegetation that abounds across the property. Stepping into a foyer that separated the bedroom from the bath, I gasped at what I saw opposite the bed. Gorgeous sliding glass doors (with beautiful antler style handles) that opened onto a private deck. With its laid back sunchairs, and the carpet of green that extended into the distance, I could see myself spending long afternoons here. Or at the love seat by the window. Or at the desk. Or even in bed, from where I had an uninterrupted view of this deck. Crossing over to the bath, separate his and hers sinks, a small wardrobe, two toilets and a shower occupied the other half of the villa. I tend to get rather carried away by all things old world, so the whole two sinks bit had me rather pleased. Exploring and enjoying every nook and cranny of the villa took a while, and before long it was time for drinks and dinner back at the lounge.
Sipping on a chilled white, I set my glass down to read about the Hard Ground Swamp Deer (The Barasingha, a species endemic purely to this region) when the lights were dimmed, and one of the naturalists gave us a presentation on Kanha National Park, the various tourist zones and the flora and fauna we were to discover on subsequent drives. The game drives did not disappoint. Over the next couple of days, we discovered a magical forest, and several of its secrets. These secrets included spotting my first tiger, marvelling at his sheer power as he weaved through our safari convoy, spraying trees and marking his territory. (More on that in the upcoming post) But tigers weren’t all we were wanting to see. The dense, lush lands of Kanha are home to several creatures and we spotted many of them – Jackals, Hard Ground Swamp Deer, Gaur (Bison), Langurs, Spotted Deer, Sambar, Ducks, Ibis, Kites, Jungle Fowl, Kingfisher, Storks, Pythons and Rat Snakes, Black Naped Monarch, Common Coucal, Peacocks, Shikra, Serpent Eagle etc. This was Kipling country. And back at the lodge, I sat in the lounge, almost hearing his voice, narrating Mowgli’s escapades in my ears, as my mind ruminated upon the famous Banyan Trees, the Bandar-log chattering in the trees, the sounds of the forest coming alive as we had wound our way through the beaten path, albeit one that was brand new for me.
I’d also heard a bit about the local Baiga tribes (among India’s oldest and most fascinating) and they’ve definitely come a long way, going by the wonderful song and dance performance they put up for us. They were still rather shy though, only the older among them willing to pose for the camera.
The beauty of Kanha Earth Lodge is one that is indeed difficult to narrate. Just like Denwa Backwater Escape in Satpura and most Pugdundee Safari properties, it possesses a visceral charm, one that I’m in no danger of forgetting anytime soon.
This post was made possible by Pugdundee Safaris. Opinions, as always are our own.