Central India

Central India

The heart of the country, and the subcontinent as a whole – is quite definitely one of the best places to start one’s explorations of the Indian jungles.

This is the land of Bengal Tiger and the other key members of India’s forest ensemble. Many a tale has emerged from this region over the centuries, inspired by the wildlife, the myriad indigenous tribal communities and the exploits of the Maharajas. The most well-known of these stories was put together by Rudyard Kipling from his residence at Seonee near Pench Tiger Reserve. Living among these forests, travelling between dense jungles and hearing the stories of the land from the day to day encounters of tribal folk and wildlife officials, inspired Mr.Kipling to create his masterpiece, the Jungle Book.

The dense jungles of the Satpuras, the drainages of the Narmada and the Chambal rivers, the dhonk forests and plateaus of the Vindhyas continue to stand strong as a wilderness in the new India, weaving a plethora of new stories to delight our wild hearts. Thanks to well thought out conservation efforts National Parks like Bandhavgarh, Kanha, Satpura, Pench and Panna have over the years earned their rightful spot among the top wilderness destinations on the planet.

Exploring the rolling hills, tall woodlands, vast grasslands and meadows, shady nullahs and hidden pugdundees is what safari-ing here is all about. The shrill cry of the Chital, the deep roar of the Tiger, the whooping call of the monkeys and the morning alarm of the peacocks are the tunes we seek. Life here involves following clues, listening to the sounds and seeking the royal stripes. And we have the best people in place to help you with just that.


Satpura National Park

The Satpuras, the dominant hill range of Central India, form the southern wall of the Narmada rift valley. These forested highlands stretch west to east, stretching across the heart of this ancient landmass. A large chunk of this undulating terrain, around 4000 sq. km, has been declared as Satpura Tiger Reserve, the largest tiger reserve in the country.


Bandhavgarh National Park

In the eastern extreme of Central India, there is a knot that is formed where the Vindhyas and the Maikal Hills meet. In this wilderness pocket, under the towering presence of a 1 st century fortress ruin lays a Tiger kingdom like no other. Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve has got to be one of the most evocative tiger habitats on the planet. Cradled amidst the picturesque hills, Bandhavgarh was a former hunting ground of the Maharajas before turning into a Tiger Sanctuary in the 1970s.


Kanha National Park

The Eastern Maikal Hills along the borders of the tribal districts of Central India were once a large unbroken wilderness that Tigers and specialists like the Barasingha or the Hard-ground Swamp Deer and the Wild Buffalo roamed freely. What remains of this wilderness is now Kanha National Park, a conglomerate of rolling hills, meadows and Sal forests. The Wild Buffalo has disappeared from these parts but Kanha continues to protect the apex predators and the endemic Barasingha.


Panna National Park

In the extreme north-west of Central India, south of the great Gangetic plain lies dry table land of Bundelkhand. This area is well known for the temples at Khajuraho and the diamond mines that are scattered along its valleys. But there is a wildlife story in Bundelkhand like no other. The combined forces of the Ken River and the Vindhyan flat-topped hills create more than just a visual break in this dry landscape.


Pench National Park

Pench Tiger Reserve is the southern-most Tiger Reserve of Central India. Here, in the backwaters of the Pench River lies a wilderness that is said to have inspired Rudyard Kipling’s writings. In fact this forest patch is popularly known as Kipling country. Pench is largely a teak forest, the ideal growth in the trap soils that form the base of this wilderness.

Canoe Safari on the Denwa Backwaters

The no-motor options of Satpura aren’t restricted just to walks on land but extend to vast network of Denwa’s backwaters. This water body not only hugs the park’s northern boundary but forms arteries deep into the forest. Canoe safaris, guided by experienced locals who were once fishermen, provide one with a chance to quietly paddle along the park’s edge and slip into the narrower channels, some just a few feet wide. Watching birds, Crocodiles and the mammals that visit the banks as one sits on a small canoe, has got to be one of the top experiences in the country. In the summer, as water levels drop, large mud islands are exposed that attract a variety of birdlife including Skimmers and Pratincoles, that prefer these islands as nesting grounds. The lack of noise of the canoe and its ability to beach and unbeach with ease makes it possible for a slow approach to get incredibly close to these birds. Overall, canoeing in Satpura has got to be on top of everyone’s wilderness bucket list of India.

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where –”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
― Lewis Carroll

Beyond the Tigers…

It is important that we look at Satpura as a wilderness experience “beyond the Tiger”. The moist mixed deciduous forests have so much to offer for the keen eye. It is in many ways the land of the Baloo, Mugger, Indian Skimmer and the Rusty- spotted Cat. The flow of seasons, the changing shape and colour of the canopy, the dropping water levels in the Denwa River and the high species diversity create a series of transformations that make the park unrecognizable at different times of the year. Satpura is a time capsule, a sample space of what was, a place that fills everyone with wonder, taking each one back to words of James Forsyth, the time of exploration and discovery.

Story Highlight

Despite the numbers of star carnivores in Satpura, the mixed deciduous forests with their seasonal fruiting diversity and the rich forest floor have created a new star for the Central India, the Baloo or the Sloth Bear. In the land of the Tiger, the bears of Satpura have found their own home turf in these forests, roaming through every part of the park in search of termites, fruits and flowers.

Walking safaris and cycling safaris in Pench

Walking safaris and cycling safaris are a great way to slow down the pace and take in the wilderness of Pench from a very different perspective. Pack up a few sandwiches, tea and some water, and an openness to take in more, and the possibilities provided by the jungle now are endless. Whether one is exploring the forest in a vehicle or through one of the no- motor modes, Pench over the years has proven to be a truly exciting and abundant wilderness. One definitely shouldn’t expect any less from Kipling’s backyard.

The Story of Kanha

The story of Kanha is not of the Tiger, though the park boasts one of the highest Tiger numbers in India. (over a 100 individuals). The story of this park is the story of one lesser known but equally majestic species – the Barasingha. These large deer were once widespread across the marshy grasslands of Eastern India but disappeared to near extinction over the centuries of hunting and habitat loss. Accelerated efforts by conservation bodies, researchers and the wildlife authorities have brought the Barasingha back from the brink. Today, over 600 of these Barasingha roam the meadows of Kanha.




Central India – the heart of the country, and the subcontinent as a whole – is quite definitely one of the best places to start one’s explorations of the Indian jungles. This is the land of the Bengal Tiger and other key members of India’s forest ensemble. Many a tale have emerged from this region over the centuries, inspired by the wildlife,


Central India is the pivot that brings together and holds together the entire Indian experience. With influences from the Himalayas to the deltaic regions, from the impregnable desert to varied peninsular India, Central India is an amalgam, impacted and impacting the Indian epic in a way that no other region does.



Sentinels of frontier lands, accommodation partners of WATCH are beyond being just hotels, lodges and retreats. They are showcases of the authentic and invaluable, ensuring their propagation and celebration. World class hospitality is a natural derivative of this pride in their heritage and legacy.


Words from our Guests

Here are few inspiring words that drive us to veer off the beaten track to look for the beyond. Exploring and sharing the hidden wonders of this awe-inspiring land for that acknowledging nod, a simple smile, a few kind words is in a nutshell our raison d’être.

Now for the trip: …drum roll please. Of the various trips we have done with you this was definitely the best one. Of all the travel we have done Africa was our favorite, but this was a close second. A wonderful blend of different areas and people. Great variety of activities. Some of the hotels were the most spectacular we have and probably will ever stay at. Service was the best we received anywhere in the world. India like Africa speaks for itself, it was like going to a different world. The guides were truly exceptional. Each one injected energy and passion into their presentation. Our driver we had for the whole trip was remarkable person who always worked to make every day fun. My new knee was swollen and painful throughout much of the trip but I was enjoying myself too much to notice .


United States of America
Travel Scope did an excellent job in coordinating our tour and will definitely contact you for future clients. All your guides are knowledgeable and kept it interesting. What I liked most of all is their ability to adjust. As you very well know, travelers are not all the same - some would like a lengthy explanation and others, like us, would rather have the time to appreciate the place without information overload. Also, I like that we were not brought to any store in the guise of showing us “artisans” like our guides in Nepal & Dubai. It is a major turnoff that many of today's tours incorporate commercialism into their venture. Unless specifically requested by the guests, I think shops should be avoided at all cost as it is a waste of precious time .


United States of America
Mohan - You gave me the experience of a lifetime. My heart and soul have been deeply moved by the trip. Your organization was so excellent and kind we could not have asked for anything more except more time.


United States of America
Thank you for coming to meet us at the hotel in Delhi tonight. I think you heard clearly from the clients what a great tour you have put together and how much they enjoyed Avi. You have a world class team.


Thank you again for all your efforts in getting us home. The effort you and your people put in went well above and beyond. The people at the airport were the icing on the cake in that they just made us feel like rock stars. Mary and I are looking forward to next year when we can return to Incredible India for our sixth visit, I hope you and your people have a speedy return to normal business.


United States of America
Thank you both for organizing such a dreamlike trip to India for our group. We could not have been happier! I thought this is a perfect time to share with you about our fabulous experience, knowing how much time and effort you have put into planning & implementing this trip for our group. In short, your mission is accomplished and my hats off to you both as my husband and I rate this trip as one of the very best in the past 4 decades of traveling; we just can compare it to our trip to Africa which was already our most favorite.


United States of America
“I’ve had the privilege of travelling to India on numerous occasions and I list the country as probably my favourite on the planet. Having visited more than 100 countries, I don’t make this claim lightly. On each occasion, I’ve travelled with Travel Scope – for my personal travels and with my tour groups. Travel Scope’s itineraries, knowledge, care-factor, understanding of our needs and their attention to detail, make them an outstanding ground operator. Regardless of which region I visited, Travel Scope managed these adventures seamlessly and showed me the best on offer. I have learned that India is many different cultures within the one border. It is very difficult to name a favourite experiences but I have two stand-outs; The Snow Leopards of Ladakh and the wildlife of Central India. Both are on my list of the best things I’ve done in my life! And both are thanks to the outstanding team at Travel Scope! I can’t recommend them highly enough” .

Blue Dot Travel
Exceptional service standards at the Tiger lodges. Wonderful wildlife viewing opportunities. The safaris across the different parks gave the group a great variety of landscapes to see the full breadth of the wildlife. The guides were skilled at tracking the Tigers through the alarm calls of the deers and monkeys, creating a great level of suspense. Delicious food served with warmth and attention to detail at all locations.

Blue Dot
I have had the privilege over many years, during my travels throughout India, both on personal trips and with my TIKKA TOURS guests, to explore all the natural wonders that India has to offer. All of my experiences have been curated by Travel Scope India and its founder Mohan Narayanaswamy , whom I have spent many hours with, bouncing around in jeeps on our search for all things wild in the forests and jungles learning from Travel Scope’s expert handpicked guides and seeing everything from the abundant birdlife, to sloth bears and their babies being carried on their mothers backs, watching the playful and mischievous monkeys and of course seeing the breathtaking big cats – the Tiger and leopards, and even the Asiatic Lions! It’s because of Mohan’s passion and commitment in offering more than just the standard ‘’tiger tourism’’ experiences, that I have been able to explore the diversity and more ‘’óff piste’’ wildlife destinations, which have made me fall in love not just with India and its people, cultures and traditions, but also its treasure trove of nature that never ceases to amaze me. Thank you Travel Scope for your dedication to put WILD INDIA on the map!

Claudia wolf

Founder TIKKA TOURS Australia
“Travel Scope has become one of ATJ’s most trusted partners over the past two decades and one of the finest travel providers we’ve had the pleasure of working with over 3 decades plus of being in the business. Their ability to deliver top notch travel experiences is unmatched in India and South Asia. Unlike other travel companies, Travel Scope never rests on past achievements and successes nor assume that every visitor to South Asia is looking for the same type of experience. They understand that the itineraries we plan for our travelers are as unique as the clients themselves. Travel Scope tirelessly searches out and recommends destinations and experiences that most others companies simply aren’t aware of. Ultimately, Travel Scope always delivers flawless and expertly executed itineraries whether the focus is wildlife, art, culture, culinary, history or all of these areas combined.”

Eric Kareus

Director of Travel + Co-Owner

ATJ Travel, Boulder, CO USA



From pensive sojourns to penning ideas whose time has come, our WATCH experts and partners are as passionate about sharing their ideas, observations and life experiences as they are travelling to the hidden destinations. Read their recent writings.

National Park

Pench National Park

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National Park

Panna National Park

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National Park

Kanha National Park

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