Kanha National Park

An Experience of a Lifetime in Mowgli Land – Kanha Earth Lodge!

It is a known fact that Rudyard Kipling based his famous novel “The Jungle Book” on Kanha, a beautiful and diverse forested land in the heart of India. It is neither the biggest nor the scariest by any means, but it still is known for its vivacity and sheer beauty. Kanha Tiger Reserve is spread over an area of 1,949 sq km (940 sq km of core area and 1,009 sq km of buffer zone), making it one of the best habitats for tigers in India. The park is situated in the Central Indian Highlands, which are part of the extensive tableland that forms India’s main peninsula. The approaching road to the Kisli entrance gate is dotted with hotels and resorts which cater to guests from all over the world.

Situated some 15 kilometres from the main entrance gate of Kisli zone is the luxury wildlife retreat Kanha Earth Lodge.

Location of Kanha Earth Lodge:

Kanha Earth Lodge

Source: Ozzy

A narrow, unpaved and nearly un-marked road cuts off into the direction of Narna. The approach road passes through lush Sal forest which is part of the buffer zone. Since the lodge is off the main road, the last 15-20 minutes can get quite rickety and dusty which in itself made us feel like we were heading in the right direction.

As we were arriving right after our wonderful stay at Denwa Backwater Escape, the expectation levels were quite high and might I say that we were completely mesmerized.

The moment we reached the “welcome area” just after dark, I was stunned by the rustic beauty and location of the place.

Nestled in the midst of a beautiful forest in the buffer zone of Kanha National Park, the overall look of the lodge was quite spectacular.

The architecture of Kanha Earth Lodge:

Gond architecture

Source: Ozzy

The architecture of Kanha Earth Lodge deserves a special mention as the lodge has been constructed keeping the traditional tribal (Gond) works in its core. Built on 16 acres of forested land in the buffer zone, only 20% of the total area has been developed for the lodge. The remaining area has been left alone which essentially goes to show the intent of Pugdundee Safaris in terms of wildlife and nature conservation.

All construction work has been done using local stone and recycled wood. All it takes is one glimpse to understand why Kanha Earth Lodge has been voted as the Best Eco-Friendly Lodge as well as Most Inspirational Eco Lodge.

The main building built completely with locally sourced stones, logs and wood feel extremely charming and warm (thanks to the fireplace). The whole area is adorned with tribal, eclectic artefacts and the walls are a perfect showcase for some amazing wildlife paintings.

Although it has been built by stones and logs, the place is amazingly upscale and luxurious. It can be quite flabbergasting at times to receive such luxury in the wild.

Accommodation at Kanha Earth Lodge:

The luxury property includes 12 Gond architecture-inspired cottages set within 16 acres of wilderness. All cottages are inspired by traditional Gond architecture and use locally available materials such as stone, mud, recycled wood, timber from uprooted trees which helps them to blend in seamlessly with their surroundings.

Luxury cottages Kanha Earth Lodge

Source: Ozzy

The cottages are set quite apart from each other and are connected via trails which are dotted with lanterns in the evening.

The cottages at Kanha Earth Lodge have an earthy look due to the extensive use of stone and wood, most of which is sourced from abandoned structures. The cottages have been built around the trees to avoid any sort of negative impact on the surrounding vegetation. Each cottage has been built in such a way that it rests under a tree to bring much-needed respite from the soaring temperature during the day.

The bath area is big, spacious and features a wonderful looking shower along with two separate WCs and a massive closet for clothes.

The skylights and massive windows minimise the need for electric use and amalgamate into the wild ambience. The patio can be accessed by opening the huge glass doors in the bedroom and overlooks the forest. It is the best spot in the cottage to just sit back and relax.

Amenities at Kanha Earth Lodge:

All rooms are fitted with air-conditioning as summer temperatures can exceed a skin burning 44 degree Celsius. Since Pugdundee Safaris has a policy of not using plastic bottles, they provide guests with a recycled steel bottle at check-in that can be refilled from the water filter as and when required. They also keep a couple of jugs filled with water in the rooms every day to make sure that guests are adequately hydrated.

Cottages at Kanha Earth Lodge feature tea/coffee making facilities along with delightful cookies which are made in-house. The writing desk is fitted with a power source for guests to get some work done, alternately the coffee table is stacked with wildlife magazines befitting the surroundings.

Big spacious bathroom Kanha Earth Lodge

Source: Ozzy

Toiletries in the bathroom are sourced from Soultree who specialize in natural and herbal products. Hot water bottles in bed are quite a surprise the first time as we found out first-hand.

Dining at Kanha Earth Lodge:

Well, the dining hall is housed in the main building and consists of two massive tables made with recycled timbers and logs. Alternately, if you are longing for a quiet meal, there are other arrangements as well such as dinner by the pool, meal under a tree, tea on the terrace, etc.

Breakfast is usually a packed-affair as it coincides with the morning safari; however, we had a chance to enjoy a bountiful breakfast on our last day as we did not have a game drive. Packaged breakfast treat is quite a nice surprise as it is consumed inside the Kanha National Park during the morning safari.

Breakfast with Kanha Earth Lodge

Source: Ozzy

Lunch, just like the other Pugdundee Safaris’ lodges, is usually a no-fuss Indian thali that includes some decadent and delightful food. A pre-set menu that consists of a 5-course meal in a plate would be an understatement.

Gourmet food Kanha Earth Lodge

Source: Ozzy

Dinner at Kanha Earth Lodge is a whole different spectacle altogether. From amazing chicken steak and pastas to jungli meat and daal, it has been quite an experience.

Service at Kanha Earth Lodge:

Being pampered in a wildlife lodge is something extraordinary, the staff members of Kanha Earth Lodge makes sure of that. Great service comes naturally to these wonderful people and they always take extra care of their guests, be it with their dietary requirements or anything else. Everybody at this wonderful lodge from the front desk (office), housekeeping, servers, chefs, management, etc raises the bar quite high when it comes to service. Whether it is getting fresh tea at 5 in the morning or a drink at 10 in the night, it is always possible. At times it seemed like nothing is impossible at Kanha Earth Lodge.

Kanha Earth Lodge Staff

Source: Ozzy

Special mention goes out to Manav, Bharat, Rohit, Happy, Harry, KD, Ashu, Mr Negi, and all the others who made sure that we had one of our best stays in the wild.

Things to do in Kanha Earth Lodge:

Chill in the Library: The library section of the main building is the perfect spot to relax with a book from their collection or indulge in some board games such as Vagh Bakri, Monopoly, etc. Being right next to the bar, this is also the spot where wildlife presentations are held every evening prior to dinner.

Relaxation Kanha Earth Lodge

Source: Ozzy

With the ever smiling Harry

Nature Walk: Another initiative by Kanha Earth Lodge to get more people involved in nature and its conservation is through a nature walk. Guided by the experienced naturalists of the lodge, a walk into the buffer zone forests can be quite a revelation. We were guided by the knowledgeable naturalist Harpreet Dhillon (Happy) who made us spot a few beautiful birds as well as imparted his excitement about nature conservation. The walk is quite relaxed, well paced and takes a couple of hours. Nature walks are ideal in the morning when the forest is lush green with dew and sun rays sieving through them is quite a refreshing feeling.

Jeep Safari: One of the best ways to enjoy the wildlife of Kanha Tiger Reserve is in an hood-less 4X4 jeep that has been retrofitted with seats facing forward. Morning safari starts at sunrise and continues until 11 and afternoon safari commences around 2:30-3 in the afternoon until sunset. There are essentially three zones in the park for the game drive – Kisli, Mukki and Kanha. Although all the zones are equally good, personally we favoured Kanha zone as we had our first tiger sighting here.

Jeep Safari Kanha Earth Lodge

Source: Ozzy

We were over the moon when we spotted the first tiger on our very last safari (big thanks to our naturalists KD Kargeti and Ashu Khan), especially since it was the same tiger (Munna) who I had spotted more than a decade ago. Among other animals, we did see Barasinghas, Black Bucks, Wild Dogs, Jackals, etc. along with varied species of birds and creepy-crawlies.

Jeep Safari Kanha Earth Lodge

Source: Ozzy

Cycling tour: Being an eco-friendly lodge, Kanha Earth Lodge has a few good quality bicycles for guests to enjoy a ride in the buffer zone. A few marked trails are open for guests to explore on cycles guided by naturalists from the lodge. There are a couple of lakes and water bodies nearby which can be explored in cycles quite easily. Afternoon cycle ride into the nearby village is also quite an experience.

Sundowner: A beautiful hike/trek through the forested buffer zone leads to a hill-top with unmatched views of the massive forest on all sides. With 360 degree views of the forest, it is the perfect spot to see the sunset while enjoying a refreshing drink. Guided by Happy, we felt privileged to experience this sundowner arranged by Kanha Earth Lodge.

Sundowners at Kanha Earth Lodge

Source: Ozzy

Village visit: With prior request, the lodge can arrange for a visit to the local Gond tribal village where guests can see their way of life. There are craft workshops with local pottery experts, woodcarvers, painters and artisans that gives an insight into the beautiful world of Gond tribe.

It suffices to say that Pugdundee Safaris and Kanha Earth Lodge are doing a great job in making sure that wildlife and nature can be conserved so that the same can be enjoyed by generations to come. We can’t thank you enough for your hospitality and generosity.

Have you been to any wildlife lodge in India? Do share your experience in the comments below.

Booking Info –

Website – http://www.kanhaearthlodge.com

Phone – +91 – 124 – 2970497, +91 – 124 – 2570404

Email – enquiry@pugdundeesafaris.com

NOTE: We were invited to stay in Kanha Earth Lodge for 3 nights by Pugdundee Safaris, however, all views and opinions mentioned are completely our own.

 

1 Comment

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