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.
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.
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 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.