Jabalpur—160 km/4 hrs—Ichol/Maihar—92 km/3 hrs—Bandhavgarh—235 km/5.5 hrs (via Mandla)—Kanha—178 km/5 hrs (via Mandla)—Jabalpur
Day 1 JABALPUR- ICHOL/MAIHAR
Depart Jabalpur for Art Ichol, a gorgeous artist’s retreat and gallery set amidst mustard fields along the Khajuraho-Bandhavgarh highway. Set up by artist Ambica Beri near Ichol village, the lush space is dotted with stone and metal sculptures, and unique pieces created from innovatively upcycled scrap materials. Artists from India and around the world have created stunning installations here, drawing curious visitors and art enthusiasts every day.
Guests can stay in lovely rooms within the grounds, or at Ambica’s home, Maihar House, in the nearby town of Maihar. The delightful heritage home is an oasis of greenery and calm within the industrial city. Watch artists at work, try your hand at pottery, ceramic art, or painting.
Day 2 ICHOL/MAIHAR
Every morning, the fifth generation Maihar Band practices at the Maihar music school. Watch them play beautiful Hindustani classical melodies composed by the legendary sarod player who hailed from Maihar, Baba Alauddin Khan.
Explore Ichol village and meet with the local community, many of whom work or learn at Art Ichol. Older mud-walled homes feature motifs of birds and flowers—patterns that recur in many creations at Art Ichol. Take a break by the peaceful Tamas River in the afternoon, and then spend the rest of the day watching artists at work, and exploring every stunning corner of Art Ichol.
Day 3 BANDHAVGARH
Depart early for Bandhavgarh and settle into Bandhavgarh Jungle Lodge. If you are not in time for an afternoon game drive (3-6 p.m), go to Bijaria village near Tala Gate. Home to the Baiga community—one of Central India’s forest-dwelling tribes—the village sits amidst mahua trees, corn and rice fields. The Baigas have a rich tradition of folk music and dance. On a walk through the village, ask the locals to show you their traditional instruments like the mandar drum. Notice the corn and mahua flowers drying in the courtyards of blue-green mud homes. In the evening, enjoy a traditional Baiga dance performance at the lodge.
Day 4 BANDHAVGARH
On an early morning game drive (6-11 a.m), explore the thriving sal and bamboo forest of Bandhavgarh National Park. The meadows, caves, and jungle support a variety of fauna, including dhole, sloth bear, the massive Indian bison or gaur, chital, and leopard. The tiger dominates these tracts, and Bandhavgarh is one of the best places to spot the striped cat. Look into the canopy to spot langurs and more than 250 bird species, including the grey Indian hornbill.
After lunch, explore Tala’s main market stretch. Pick up organic haldi from Her Café. The nearby Bagdara Farms provides the café and shop with 27 kinds of turmeric for various medicinal purposes. Drive to the Dhamokar Gate in the late afternoon to explore Gond and Baiga villages in the park’s buffer zone. Watch the cattle come home before sundown, a wonderful sight, especially for children.
Day 5 KANHA
Depart Bandhavgarh to reach Kipling Camp at Kanha National Park before lunch. No fences separate the camp from the forest’s buffer zone. Watch birds, butterflies, and maybe even herds of chital in the sal, mahua, and jamun thickets. Go on a nature walk to the Banjar River with Rahim, the camp’s naturalist. Along the way, he will point out drongos, orioles, and other hard-to-spot birds and animals native to Kanha.
Browse through the collection of beautiful Gond art in the Shamiana, the lodge’s common space. The ancient, intricate art form is an essential component of the Gond community’s culture. For those interested in buying Gond art, artists like Ram Kumar Shyam from Patanagarh village often visit the camp with a selection of works for sale. It is fascinating to see how the forests of Madhya Pradesh lend inspiration to Gond art.
Day 6 KANHA
Go on a morning game drive (6-11 a.m) into the dense sal forests of Kanha. This is the only habitat of the hard-ground barasingha—the stately deer with 12-point antlers—brought back from the edge of extinction in Kanha. Chat with the camp’s naturalists about this fascinating story of revival. Look into the foliage for other animals like the gaur, dhole, sambar, and of course, the big cat.
In the afternoon, go on a walking trail through nearby villages. Sarekha village is particularly pretty, with large white homes framed with sloping red roofs built around courtyards. An afternoon market (haat) takes place here on Friday, when locals sell fresh vegetables, wild honey, daily supplies, and some locally woven bamboo crafts.
Drive back to Jabalpur early the next morning.
Address: Khajuraho-Bandhavgarh Highway, Ichol Village, Near Maihar, Madhya Pradesh
Tel: +91 98310 09278
Tariff: Doubles ₹6,500 per person per night, includes all three meals; taxes extra.
Bandhavgarh Jungle Lodge
Address: Tala Gate, Bandhavgarh National Park
Dates: Oct 1- Jun 15
Tariff: Doubles ₹8,500 per night, includes all meals and taxes. Shared safaris cost ₹6,000 per jeep (seats six).
Address: Morcha Village, P.O. Kisli – Kanha National Park, District Mandla, Madhya Pradesh 481768
Open: Oct 16 – May 15
Tel: +91 76492 77218
Tariff: Doubles ₹16,600 including meals, village visits, nature walks; plus taxes. Shared safaris cost ₹5,500 per jeep (seats 5); taxes, park entry, and guide charges extra.
Open: Oct 1-Jun 30
Hours: Twice daily open-top jeep safaris from 6 a.m. to 11a.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.; parks are closed on Wednesday afternoon.
Booking: Book permits online at forest.mponline.gov.in.
Entry: Permits per jeep cost ₹1,550 for the core zones and ₹1,250 for the buffer zones. Each jeep seats six. Vehicle and guide charges are extra and payable at the gate, shared by all occupants of the jeep. Carry government-approved photo ID.
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