Central India's Parks camps - The Sarai at Toria

The Sarai at Toria

The Sarai is a perfect example of how to build and run an eco-friendly lodge and is the outcome of a fierce passion for wildlife and conservation by its owners, biologist Raghu and his wife Joanna, a wildlife photographer, writer and conservationist. Together they have created a relaxed and homely place to stay in an idyllic rural spot on the west bank of the River Ken near Panna Tiger Reserve, a 30 minute drive from the world famous temples at Khajuraho.

Reached by crossing a small wooden bridge, among nine acres of grassland dotted with trees the eight spacious rooms are situated in mud brick and thatched cottages. Inside they are economically furnished and rustically stylish with polished mineral oxide floors and natural Indian fabrics, while outside there’s a veranda (not private) for relaxing with a book.

Meals and drinks may be served outside - overlooking the river at breakfast, under the shade of a ficus tree at lunch and under a star-lit sky at dinner – and are usually taken communally with other guests, but ask if you’d prefer to dine privately. A mix of home-style Indian dishes and more cosmopolitan cuisine are often prepared by the hosts themselves who will also share their vast knowledge of wildlife and the area with those who are interested.

Bird watching from a rowing boat on the river and village walks are an excellent way to get to know this part of Bundelkund, in addition to the options of safaris in Panna, excursions to Khajuraho, and the hugely atmospheric ruined fort, carvings and temples at Ajaygarh.

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