When people say, ‘I have always dreamt of doing this’, it makes me a little retrospective. There are parts of my dreams or sometimes an entire aspiration that I tend to miss until it comes alive.

More recently when I was travelling across two of Madhya Pradesh’s most popular national parks—Bandhavgarh and Kanha, it occurred to me that, in fact, I was living a dream.

A few years ago, I came across Kanha Earth Lodge online. Engulfed by the sheer beauty of the property, I wondered when would I visit it. Luxury and comfort are the first two vibes I got of the place, but it seemed to have an uncanny wilderness charm which only few of the other jungle lodges possess.

First views of Kanha National Park.
First views of Kanha National Park.

After an exhausting six hour journey from Bandhavgarh, we reached Kanha Earth Lodge to be greeted by the very warm staffers. Quick refreshments were served and I longed to go to my room and rest up. However, once I entered my cottage, my feelings were quite the opposite.

Enamoured by the wood decor, the saturated hues and the silence of the jungle, I was in awe of this beauty! I walked relentlessly around the cottage in absolute joy. The balcony opened up to acres of forest and the cottage was fully equipped with all amenities. It was then that I realised that my long-drawn exhaustion had suddenly escaped me.

Exploring the common areas housing the reading and the living spaces with the bar, which further extends to the grand dining table with vintage candlestick; I had started regretting my limited time here even before I lived it all.

Kana Earth Lodge's magnificent dining space. Photo courtesy: Pugdundee Safaris.
Kanha Earth Lodge’s magnificent dining space. Photo courtesy: Pugdundee Safaris.

This property’s ability to maintain its rustic charm while paying attention to detail, caught my eye. The common spaces are filled with artwork from Odisha and home state Madhya Pradesh. The structure is held together by the dry pack construction, where the large stones have been cut and set together with little use of concrete.

The polite staffers of this lodge also have an eye for details. The morning of my departure, Vijay Negi, who hails from Uttarakhand, enquired if I wanted my chai with my breakfast, as I had requested for the previous days. I am amazed to know how everyone here goes out of their way to make the stay more memorable.

After four back-to-back safaris, the fifth one came with its exhaustion and reluctance. Driving through the meadows of Kanha Tiger Reserve, a sunset-lit evening, set the pace to explore the Kisli zone. I was enjoying the first sights of the Barasingha (swamp deer) and the white-rumped Shama, when a crowd of jeeps indicated the presence of the majestic Royal Bengal Tiger.

The nonchalant Munna.
The nonchalant Munna.

The dominant, Munna, is about 10-12 years of age and appears to be comfortable with people around. He walks around with the usual coolness of the Big Cat and marks his territory. In the chaotic line-up of jeeps around the tiger, suddenly ours gets the edge and I froze in a 10-second locking gaze with him. At that moment, he was only eight feet away from me. I had seemingly lost any idea of physical space and time.

I was spellbound at his first sight. I had always hoped to see the Royal Bengal Tiger up-close to see the paws and the ears. Have you noticed their ears? I could never fathom how creative nature is to make something as intricately designed as the Big Cat, amongst the other marvellous creatures we see around us every day.

Driving back to the earthy lodge, my thoughts were transcending the ordinary. I felt like I was unprepared for the actualisation of my dreams and I wish I had spent more time accessing my reactions to it. But that would take the magic out from the moment, don’t you think?

And so it is with dreams. When the universe conspires to make our dreams come true, the least we can do is believe in them.

I was invited by Pugdundee Safaris and that did not influence my review of the experience.

Want to know more? Read what Revati of Different Doors and Sid the Wanderer have to share.

Amrita Das

I have been a travel and culture independent journalist. My bylines have appeared in many publications worldwide including National Geographic Traveller India, Lonely Planet Magazine India, The Indian Express and World Travel Magazine. A fellow of Media Ambassadors India-Germany 2019 program by Robert Bosch Stiftung and Centre for Media Competence, University of Tübingen. Currently, I am the photo editor for RoundGlass Sustain, a wildlife and conservation e-publication. I live in India.

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10 thoughts on “Realising Tiger Dreams”

  1. Very interesting. I myself long to visit Kanha some day.

    Rajaji National Park at Haridwar is now renamed as Rajaji Tiger Reserve. There used to be an Elephant Safari and a Jeep Safari. But 2 years back the female elephant used for safaris expired and now only Open Jeep Safari is held. Its a 16 km long pucca trek which has now been enriched by adding 9 km of absolutely wild zig-zag, up-down virgin trek which is the real thrill. It is a 4 hour safari and the best time to start is at 4 or 4.30pm so that tigers and leopards can be seen best at dusk. It is a treat to watch the majestic 500 years old Banyan Tree which is also a hunting spot for tigers and leopards, and you can see skulls and bones of hunted animals lying all around under the tree.
    May be, it is worthwhile to explore sometime. May be, you can recapture the aspiration.

    1. I visited Rajaji five years ago and loved it. For me, the national park was more about the birds. :)

  2. When I read few senior travel writers, I say to self – so much yet to see.
    Thanks for writing and yes, lodge is good – wooden interiors my favorite.

    1. There is so much to see–how true. And so less time. Time to pack now? ;)

  3. Beautifully put. That spellbound moment where we locked eyes with the tiger, where time almost froze in the midst of all that chaos of multiple jeeps, it was magical. Fleeting yes, but intense. And thank you for linking back to my article!

  4. Oh I totally understand the exhilarating feeling when seeing a tiger because I felt the same when I saw the tiger in Ranthambhore! I would love to go to Kanha some day…I love the first pic, the green forest.

    1. Kanha is beautiful. I haven’t been to Ranthambore though the Bengal Tiger is a gem!

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