Jim Corbett- Tigers except when wounded or when man eaters are on the whole very good tempered….occasionally a tiger will object to too close an approach to its cubs or to a kill that it is guarding. The objection invariably takes the form of growling and if this does not prove effective it is followed by short rushes accompanied by terrifying roars. If these warnings are disregarded the blame for any injury inflicted rests entirely with the intruder.

My wife & I had last been on safari in the Bandhavgarh national park 10 years ago and recall seeing 10 Tigers on one given day hence when friends who had never been on safari earlier suggested spending 3-4 days on safari in Bandhavgarh in the third week of March’21 we jumped at the idea …the timing was right.. winter would give way to summer and the sightings would get better as the weather warmed up. Our preferred resort was the Taj Mahua Kothi… the name draws its inspiration from the beautiful tree, the Madhuca Indica or the Mahua- pronounced ‘ma-hoo-a’ as as it is commonly known or the butter tree. The white flowers of this tree are also used in rituals and festivals.

The Taj Lodge is located 20 minutes from the park’s Tala gate entrance, is spread over 40 acres and has recently been refurbished and upgraded. There are 12 elegant suites or Kutiyas ( jungle village huts) built in local style and each “Hut” has its own private courtyard with a mud floor and the colourful patio overlooks the wild grassland. The interiors include wooden shutters, mud coloured lime walls, handmade pottery and roof tiles while the floor has katni stone strips set in lime mortar.

Bandhavgarh National park– The 448 sq. km park has one of the highest densities of tigers on the Indian sub continent and is also home to leopards, spotted deer, sambar deer, sloth bear, wild boar, the rhesus macaque, jungle cat, langur, hyena, jackal, fox, porcupine and the wild dog. Located in the state of Madhya Pradesh amongst the pretty Vindhya and Satpura ranges it is one of India’s most beautiful parks with steep rocky hills, forests, woodlands, grasslands, an ancient 2000 year old fort and a landscape which is extraordinary and dramatic.

On day one we land in Jabalpur at around 9.30 am from Delhi and are met at the airport by our Driver and pre arranged transport. The 3.5 hours drive is interesting and at times picturesque since the Flame of the forest trees are in full bloom. We arrive at the Taj Mahua Kothi to a warm welcome and are met at the resort’s entrance by the friendly staff, the resort’s charming GM, Amit Singhvi and are introduced to Chef Ajit. Once the check in formalities are completed we are shown our “Huts” followed by a brief introduction of dos and dont’s since wildlife is known to use the Taj premises as a corridor to move to other zones in the park specially at night.

Lunch is served and the adrenaline rush pushes us to board our safari Jeep a large Tata Sumo modified to 3 rows of two bucket seats in each row, are introduced to our naturalist/driver Raj Kishore who has been at this resort since its inception. Over the next few days we realise we are indeed blessed to have Raj as our friend, philosopher and guide, his skills, instinct and amazing knowledge of flora & fauna apart from the predators and their behavioural patterns is the epitome of an  experienced naturalist which makes a world of a difference to safari enthusiasts who are always challenged for time.

At Bandhavgarh, the park authorities allow visitors to enter through three gates namely Tala, Magdhi and Khitauli:

Tala- It is believed to be the best zone for stellar tiger sightings in and around the Chasbadhara and Rajbhera meadows and while we did not see a Tiger on our first safari we were not disappointed when we returned on Day 3. The popular documentaries -The Hunt & Dynasties have been filmed around these meadows, hillocks, Sal forests and grasslands. Coincidentally, I met at the lodge Dhruv Singh, a well known film maker, nature conservationist, belongs to the Royal family of Rewa and the park was once his family’s fiefdom. He assisted in the filming of The Tiger for BBC Natural history unit in the popular documentary “The Dynasties” and David Attenborough was the narrator. Dhruv had many stories to share as he was an active participant in the production and says “Wildlife has to be taken to the people”.

Magdhi- has several natural and manmade water holes, grasslands, adequate forest cover and interestingly we had our best Tiger sightings in this zone. Raj told us breeding females lord over their respective territories and the water holes provide the requisite coolant which are cherished by the King of the Jungle.

Khitauli – is dry and dusty and unfortunately an accidental forest fire was raging whilst we were on safari hence didn’t see the predators. There is no doubt that they are around as we saw fresh pug marks and a dead Sambhar which Raj commented was the kill of a leopard possibly an hour or two prior to our arrival  and he was convinced the predator was hanging out not too far from us watching its kill.

In the recent past elephants have used an ancient corridor, moved from the neighbouring state of Chattisgarh to this region and have made this zone their home. We did encounter a herd of about 40 elephants at a blind bend on the road and took them by surprise leading to a mock charge by the two elders of the herd. Raj’s instinct & experience came in handy, he quickly  put on his thinking cap and like a skilled Formula one Driver reversed at break neck speed bringing us much thrill but also a few anxious moments!       

Dining Experiences- the venues are stunning and the options are: Chaupal, Mahua, Terrace Dinner under the stars, Banyan Tree, Bamboo Thicket and in the courtyard attached to your room.

An Ethiopian proverb- Do not blame God for having created the Tiger but thank him for not having given it wings


Getting there     

Spicejet operates daily return flights from Delhi & Mumbai to Jabalpur airport.

Jabalpur airport to Bandhavgarh Tala gate- 165 kms/100 miles  and 3.5 hours

Khajuraho airport to Bandhavgarh- 220 kms/130 miles and 5 hours

Kanha national park to Bandgavgarh- 235 kms/140 miles and 5.5 hours


Signature Dishes at Taj Mahua Kothi

Baghelkhandi Maas


Khad Murgh

Sikandari Raan

Hara Matar Ki Nimona

Mahua Ki Kheer

Website- www.tajhotels.


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