Bandhavgarh National Park,
Tel: 91 921 230 5607
A co-venture between the Taj Resorts and Palaces hotel group and CC Africa to establish a five-park "tiger circuit" in Central India aims to elevate the overall experience (and price) of game watching in India to the level of the best that Africa has to offer. The first two of the five planned lodges combine CC Africa's game-watching expertise (luxe four-by-four jeeps, English-speaking drivers trained as naturalists, and outreach to local people on whom survival of the wildlife depends) with Taj's local roots and culinary expertise. Baghvan, in Pench National Park, offers in its 12 bungalows with walled courtyards a post- and late-colonial style with outdoor showers, mosquito-netted beds, and a machan, or lookout area, to scan the darkness for tiger eyes burning bright. Its main lodge is more funkily and distinctively designed, mixing colonial-style architecture with an eclectic selection of Indian antiques. Mahua Kothi in Bandhavgarh National Park comprises 12 kutiyas, mud-walled cottages similar to many Indian village huts. Meals at both lodges are taken family style, but the refinement of the cooking will hereafter ruin ordinary Indian restaurant fare for you. The extraordinary service, especially at Mahua Kothi, will so pamper you that your return to real life may be a rough awakening.