Wild India - View from the Inside

"I had visited a completely different country to the India that I already knew. I had learnt so much about the strong relationship and connection between the people of this country and the wildlife."

May 2020 • Marion Mensah, Product Executive

Wild India - View from the Inside

I fell in love with India on my first trip to this fascinating country, which was over four years ago. Since that time, I have returned to explore it every year! For me, India is one of the only countries that still gives travellers a complete cultural shock. It is a country which can be defined by opposites; peaceful but chaotic, beautiful but messy, rich but so poor. India is a country you will want to keep coming back to, discovering more of its treasures and as well as discovering more about yourself along the way.

You simply cannot cover the whole of India in one journey - after four trips I have not even covered a quarter of it. After visiting the golden triangle which includes Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, I wanted to see more of the renowned sights in the north and east of India, so went to visit Amritsar, Shimla and the vibrant Varanasi. On my last trip to India, I explored the highlights of Rajasthan and delved deeper into this mysterious country. On my most recent trip I was able to see another aspect of India - not only the magnificent buildings, the flamboyant architecture, the sumptuous hotels and the bustling streets of Delhi and Varanasi, but the real-life of the locals, discovering their villages and their schools, all whilst receiving warm welcomes along the way.

For most of us, the highlights of India include the Taj Mahal, Delhi and the Maharajas palaces, however, there is an aspect of this country which I believe not many know about and that is the wildlife. By staying in villages and lodges close to animal reserves, I had the chance to join unique safaris offering me a new experience completely different from the well-known and touristic Ranthambore Safaris.

One fact that surprised me is the number of large animals you can find throughout the national parks and private reserves which can compete with the likes of Africa! These areas are home to Asian elephants, Bengal and Indochinese Tigers, Asiatic lions, Snow leopards, Clouded leopards, Indian leopards, Indian sloth bear and Indian rhinoceros, as well as many endangered species and unique species such as the rare blackbuck, nilgai and wild asses.

After visiting Udaipur, I travelled through the Aravalli Hills stopping on the way to visit the Jain Temple in Ranakpur. This is one of the largest temples in India, decorated with incredible architecture and more than a thousand carved pillars.

I continued my journey passing lively villages which are mostly along the roads making it a fascinating drive. In Jawai, I spent a couple of nights at the Jawai Sagar Resort. The resort is located on the outskirts of a small village and is surrounded by huge rocks - a landscape I have never seen anywhere else before. It is nestled at the base of a sheer granite outcrop called Nag Giri, also known as the Cobra Mountain, which is home to the Indian Leopard, making it an ideal location for wildlife enthusiasts.

During my time at Jawai Sagar Resort, I was able to head out on safaris to discover more of India's wildlife. The jeeps are owned and organised by the resort and we had a wildlife specialist accompanying us. The best time to head out and spot the elusive leopards is at dusk, so the afternoon drive would start at around 4pm.

This safari was completely different from the ones I had done in Ranthambore - they are much more exhilarating and active! The drivers would drive the jeeps all the way up some of the massive rocks giving us a hearty but memorable experience. Also, these rocks are the perfect habitat for leopards who settle in some of the natural caves. During this safari, I had the privilege to spot and admire three beautiful leopards playing and mating together on the top of the rocks. When the safari had finished, we headed back to the resort where we spent the evening by a bush fire, sharing the memories of our day over a few glasses of wine.

From Jawai, I travelled to Rohet and stayed at Rohet Garh. The owners of the hotel organised a trip to the Bishnoi village, a Hindu religious sect, as well as a drive to see where Blackbucks (Indian Antelope) coexist with villagers. This was a unique experience compared to all my other trips to India, as it provided me with a deeper understanding of the different practices and beliefs within India, and I also gained a greater understanding for the respect, preservation and dependence the locals have for all the animals.

Continuing my journey and passing through Jodhpur, I was reminded of the rich history of India when visiting Mehrangarh Fort, which became my favourite fort that I had visited in India. I imagine that this would have been such a nice way of living back then.

My last stop before going back to Delhi was Sariska National Park, where I stayed at the Vanaashrya Resort in a luxurious tented room. After a much-needed sleep, the next morning we left on an early jeep safari, organised by the owners of the resort, to explore the national park in search of the famous Indian tiger. The landscape and safari experience was similar to my Ranthambore experience but with fewer tourists and a lot more vegetation throughout the park. Only a small percentage of the park is open to the public, making it harder to spot a tiger but allowing you to spot plenty of other wildlife without seeing any other jeeps.

Back in Delhi, I sat reminiscing and felt that I had visited a completely different country to the India that I already knew. I had learnt so much about the strong relationship and connection between the people of this country and the wildlife.

A true Wild India Journey!