Taj Gone Wild

BY Lisa Lindblad

February 11, 2010

One of the great traps that travel designers fall in to when planning trips in countries with solid gold reputations is to do the same old, same old.  India is a case in point. The vast majority of Americans head to Rajasthan while second-timers might feel intrepid enough to navigate the cities, plains and ghats of the South.  But India is huge and diverse, with an incredibly high-end infrastructure and a very creative tourism industry which means that we have to expand the boundaries of what we offer — and therefore of what we know. Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces makes this expansion not only an easy task but an exciting and enjoyable one as well.  Teaming up with the experienced South African safari company, andBeyond (formerly CC Africa), Taj has built four wonderful safari camps and lodges in the national parks of Madhya Pradesh in Central India that offer game drives and elephant back safaris to see tigers, cultural walks to traditional villages, birdwatching and nature walks.

None of the four properties – Baghvan, Mahua Koti, Pashan Garh and Banjaar Tola – has more than 18 suites or tents ensuring that the experience is intimate.  Simply luxurious, the service is vintage Taj — and therefore superb — food is delicious and the attention to individual preferences is key.  Children are welcome although the under-five-year-olds may not go on game drives or elephant back treks.  If these lush forests and grassy meadows, which served as inspiration for Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book, do not feel sufficiently “Indian” for those first timers who want a shot of Subcontinent culture, start in Delhi or Mumbai, add in the the sculpted sandstone temples of Kajuraho, a World Heritage site located just 50 km from Pashan Garh, and you will have a wonderful, different view of a country everyone finds remarkably moving.

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John Derian Goes West