Travellers talk a lot about India’s talent for overwhelming the senses. As the colours, noises, smells, and overwhelming rush of that first day in Delhi or Mumbai hit you, on India tours, it’s hard not to feel as if you’ve stepped into another world, one that promises a wild ride to test your preference for creature comforts.
It’s also a great destination to see beautiful creatures while staying in comfort.
India is one of the world’s best and most popular budget destinations, but visiting with a little extra cash to splurge creates a whole different style of adventure. Everyone’s glad of a clean bed, a flavourful local dinner, and a cool drink after a long day of India sightseeing. But when you stay at a property such as those operated by Taj Safaris, the bar is raised just a little.
Like so many India tours, the Taj experience all starts in Delhi, the frenetic capital where politics, culture, and history meet. So too do the soaring monuments to India’s past, such as the Red Fort and the Qutub Minar, and the intoxicating chaos of its streets, where the course is being charted toward the future. The Taj Mahal Hotel (not to be confused with India’s most famous landmark and mausoleum) brings these elements together in one jaw-dropping 5-star property, located right in the middle of one of Delhi’s lushest, greenest areas.
Sightseers could not ask for a better location, with highlights such as the India Gate, the grand tomb of Safdarjung, and the Presidential Palace just a few minutes away. Without doubt, this is the high end of town. The Taj Mahal Hotel also happens to be one of Delhi’s favourite spots for afternoon tea. Hand-crafted scones, tarts, sweets, and of course, teas and coffees imbue Britain’s favourite afternoon indulgence, with inimitable Delhi flavour and style. A round-the-clock butler service also helps to anticipate every need.
From Delhi, many week-long India tours set out for the classic “Golden Triangle,” seeing the Taj Mahal and taking in the “Rose City” of Jaipur, before returning to Delhi. While this is a great introduction to India, it leaves vast parts of this diverse country unexplored. India offers ancient temples to rival any found within its Southeast Asian neighbours, along with wildlife safaris on par with Africa – if you know where to go.
Taj Safari properties are all about opening up India’s best wildlife regions, including Panna National Park. Panna is one of the most accessible national parks for visitors to India, located just a few hours drive from Khajuraho, home of the famous Hindu and Jain erotic temples. Here, Taj Safaris invites guests to Pashan Garh, a beautifully appointed lodge that seamlessly brings together luxurious indoor comforts and the outdoor beauty of the park. Earthy tones and al fresco dining give a sense of being part of nature, rather than intruding on it. But Pashan Garh’s commitment to the environment is more than cosmetic. Many of the ingredients that go into guests’ meals are produced on site using organic fertilizers and sophisticated water recycling systems. Kids staying at the lodge can even help out on the farm, or learn to bake cookies in the traditional local style.
Go outside the camp, and nature welcomes you with some of the most impressive wildlife in India. Panna is particularly known for its variety of bird species (over 250 of them, in fact). But you’ll also most likely see wild dogs, wolves, hyenas, sloth bears, deer, and chital. If you’re lucky, some of the big cats might grant you an audience. Panna has a healthy population of caracals and leopards, and has a proud and successful history of transplanting and repopulating Bengal tigers. A range of activities specifically for kids ensures guests of all ages get the most from their India safari experience.
To the southeast of Panna lies Bandhavgarh National Park. Traces of ancient human settlement in India can be found in what is now one of the country’s most wildlife-rich national parks. Bandhavgarh also has one of the highest densities of tigers in the country, so chances of seeing the king of the Indian jungle on India tours are high. To make the most of this opportunity, guests staying at the Mahua Kothi enjoy two daily jungle safaris, and have access to guided nature walks and outdoor picnics, along with cultural walks and bike trips that take them through a traditional village.
With full butler service, Mahua Kothi immerses you in Bandhavgarh’s wilderness, with designs that compliment nature. Meals at the lodge are similarly exceptional, focusing on traditional local flavours and dishes, all made with fresh ingredients and served at varying times of day to suit different guests’ itineraries.
8-Day Indian Wildlife Luxury Safari: Delhi to Jabalpur