India Wildlife Holidays: An Overview

India has 54 National Parks and 370 Wildlife Sanctuaries, many of which were former Maharajahs' hunting grounds in the central portion of this enormous country.

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Why we think you’ll love it

  • Uttar Pradesh is home to Varanasi, one of India's holiest cities. In Madhya Pradesh, Khajuraho hosts some of India's best known ancient temples covered with erotic carvings, whilst at Bhimbekta, you'll see 10,000 year old rock paintings
  • Original Travel arrange tailor-made visits to a number of different National Parks, and only recommend lodges where a part of the accommodation cost is reinvested in tiger conservation projects

Luxury Safaris in Central India

India also has over 1200 species of bird, and is on main migratory routes, so it is a satisfyingly good country for bird-watchers, but everybody knows the main event is the increasingly endangered tiger. Although poaching and lack of organisation are detrimental factors, the country is finally becoming more aware of its wildlife heritage, and it is well worthwhile exploring a wildlife park or two.

Among the best parks are Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Pench, Nagahole, and Gir (where the last of the Asian lions still exist).

Kanha National Park is spread over 1,300 square miles of thick forest and savannah plains in the Mandla district of Madhya Pradesh and is the area that inspired the writings of Rudyard Kipling, in particular The Jungle Book.

Elsewhere there is the completely unexploited Satpura National Park in Madhya Pradesh. Spread across the highest stretch of the rugged Satpura mountains, the National Park is classic tiger country, supporting an astonishing array of prey species including gaur, sambar, chital, wild boar, chausingha, nilgai antelope and their predators - tiger, leopard, wild dog, wolf and sloth bear - in such numbers that every foray into the jungle all but guarantees sightings of some impressive beastie or other.

Away from the Indian wildlife, the centre of India also boasts some of the country's cultural highlights. In Uttar Pradesh, Varanasi - the city of Shiva - has been a centre of learning for thousands of years, and is one of India's holiest cities, where colourful (and seriously photogenic) religious rituals take place on the ghats by the Ganges.

In Madhya Pradesh, Khajuraho has some of India's best known temples, a thousand years old and covered with erotic carvings.

At Bhimbetka see rock paintings dating back more than 10,000 years, while Ahoka has an ancient stupa, and Gwalior a forbidding fort.

Top picks for Central India

Interior at Baghvan, luxury hotel in India


Central India

This charming lodge is located alongside a stream on the edge of a dry deciduous forest of predominantly teak trees.

Where to stay

Mahua Kothi, luxury hotel in India

Mahua Kothi

Central India

Pronounced ma-hoo-a, this tree with its fleshy off-white flowers plays a central role in festivals and rituals, as the vitamins, minerals and sugar-rich flowers are used in a number of ways.

Where to stay

Usha Kiran Palace, luxury hotel in India

Usha Kiran Palace

Central India

Set in nine acres of beautifully landscaped lawns, this regal palace, rich in history, is decorated with ornate artistic stone carvings and recalls a bygone era.

Where to stay

Dinner at the hotel pool at Forsyth's Saptura, luxury hotel in India

Forsyth’s Satpura

Central India

A small stylish lodge set in 44 acres of wildlife-filled jungle at the edge of the Satpura Tiger reserve.

Where to stay

Bathroom at Samoda Safari Lodge, luxury hotel in India

Samode Safari Lodge

Central India

The brainchild of the Samode family, Samode Safari Lodge is in a secluded location by the new – and virtually unused – entrance to Bandhavgarh National Park.

Where to stay

Ahilya Fort

Ahilya Fort

Central India

The majestic 250 year old fort sits on the edge of a cliff, high above the sacred Narmada River, surrounded by the beautiful and unexploited town of Maheshwar.

Where to stay

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