BEYOND THE JUNGLE OF KANHA

A jungle safari (or many) is definitely on the top of your list when visiting one of the most beautiful national parks of India – Kanha Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh – and it should be so, unquestionably. But while chasing the call of the wild, you’re likely to miss out on the little delights the nearby villages dole out.

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While the trend of ‘do it like a local’ isn’t going anywhere, I list down some meaningful experiences to make sure your trip to Kanha is etched in your memory for all the right reasons. And the best part? Your phone doesn’t work at most locations. That’s a sure sign you need to “switch off” from the chaotic city life!

Put up in a Gond-inspired hut
You’re never going to feel like a local if you’re staying in an apartment-style hotel, no matter how luxe the rooms and facilities may be. Instead, put up in a cottage inspired by traditional Gond (Adivasi people of central India) architecture, made using locally available materials such as mud plaster, stone, terracotta tiles and rough-hewn timber beams.

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Tucked away in the little tribal hamlet of Narna, these eco-friendly huts boast of furniture made from waste and recycled wood and blend in seamlessly with acres of natural forest around. Kanha Earth Lodge by Pugdundee Safaris borders Kanha’s buffer zone, and makes for an ideal option.

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GET HIGH ON HIGHLANDER LIFE

To describe Zakopane in three simple words, you can easily call it ‘heaven on earth’. Here’s more about the little country town – situated in the shadows of the Tatra mountains – in Southern Poland.

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Even before you reach this modest peasant resort town, you want time to slow down and gradually come to a standstill. The scenic road route from Krakow to Zakopane is enough to keep you up throughout the two-hour journey. What you see on both sides are little picturesque hills bespeckled with pine trees and country-like mustard-brown wooden chalets – topography that’s bright and yellow-green in summer and buried in purple-white snow during winter months. In front of you, the view of the towering Tatra mountains – that seem to come closer as you progress towards your destination – is spectacular. And once you’re there, all you wish to do is stand and stare at what lies in front of you and take deeper breaths to feel the unadulterated air.

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TENTING IN THE HILLY HEAVEN

A quaint, little hamlet in Uttarakhand, Kanatal grants every wandering traveller an invaluable gift – the gift of inner peace and silence

The mountains are calling and I must go.
– John Muir, Scottish-American naturalist

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While leading a boisterous, flashy life as an urbanite, you’re constantly connected. It’s become a rare thing to break away from technology and keep sometime solely for yourself, to let your thoughts take you wherever they wish to. While you may perceive this as a ‘waste of time’, it’s a way of life for people living in the mountains. The layered hills of Kanatal – a picture-perfect hill station near Dehradun, perched at an altitude of over 8,500 feet – urge you to tune out of the mental baggage, tune into nature and reconnect with your disoriented self. Yet unharmed by commercialisation, Kanatal is surrounded by dense pine, cedar, oak and rododendron forests and offers a splendid view of mammoth snow-capped Himalayas.  Ornamented by beautiful wild flowers; it looks like a landscape straight out of Keats’ poetry.

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