The deeper you go into a forest, the quieter it gets. So quiet that you can hear every leaf that rustles and every twig that cracks. The trees get denser, with the occasional ray of sunshine filtering in through the leaves. The path gets more rugged and the air gets cleaner. And somewhere at the back of your mind, the niggling feeling that you are intruding upon the natural habitat of animals and flora & fauna.
Not for Raj Singh, though, who runs Sarai Kothi, an exclusive jungle resort set deep within the Mukki Range buffer zone of Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh. He is at home in the wilderness, having started his experience in Kanha way back in 1991. He knows the reserve as well as the wild animals do. Raj has been instrumental in setting up resorts in Bandhavgarh and Pench previously, and is known for being one of Central India’s most experienced managers of wildlife destinations.
He is undoubtedly the best person to host you at Kanha National Park, a sprawling wildlife reserve that is home to over 22 species of animals like three-striped palm squirrel, common langur, jackal, wild pig, black buck, striped hyena, leopard, chinkara, ant-eating pangolin and the highly endangered hard-ground barasingha, a species of the swamp deer. The national park nurtures close to 70 tree species and is a bird watcher's paradise, with over 200 recorded bird species. Most importantly, Kanha was one of the nine reserves in the country selected for Project Tiger. Hence, spotting the majestic beast is one of the prime attractions that draws naturalists here.
Sarai Kothi derives its name from the dense Sal/Sarai jungle that it is set amidst. One of the few resorts in the country to be surrounded by Sal trees, the stay offers luxurious rooms and services with no compromise on comfort. Wake up to the sounds of birds chirping and watch as the sun bathes the jungle in its morning light.
No matter where you go in the property, be it the rooms, the dining area, the sit-outs or the recreation area, you have a spectacular view of the surrounding Sal trees, paddy fields and villages.
The staff will arrange jungle safaris, bird walks and nature walks for you, and when you get tired of walking, pick up a cycle and pedal over the kaccha roads of the nearby villages. Speak to the Baiga and Gond tribals who are responsible for conserving the wildlife and environment, and learn about their ways. Visit the neighbouring Phen Sanctuary where you can spot tigers, leopards, wild boars, cheetals and more.
Breathe in this precious paradise and you are bound to become an addict for life. This is it, you say, this is how life should be. The crisp cool mornings, the lazy afternoon siestas, the thrill of the sun going down in the forest.
The closer you get to nature, the more it will awe you. And if it’s an immersive experience of the luxuriant outdoors that you seek, Sarai Kothi might just be the one for you.
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