We have two UNESCO-accredited sites on our doorstep – Panna Tiger Reserve and the 11th-century Khajuraho temples…
Despite our proximity to the Panna Tiger Reserve, we haven’t actually set ourselves up as a wildlife resort. Our aim is to carry out community conservation and we encourage guests to pause and experience this wonderful area.
The Sarai at Toria is a destination in itself. I think we are able to offer more activities than any of the other lodges in the area helped by our proximity to two UNESCO-accredited sites – Panna and the 11th-century Khajuraho temples. Some guests have stayed two weeks and done something different every day. Other than tiger safaris and trips to Khajuraho, we offer many things; delightful boat rides, bike rides – we have these old-fashioned sit up and beg bicycles – yoga, country walks and day trips to some stunning rocky waterfalls. There are fabulous Gupta-era temples practically embedded in the forest where nobody ever goes. One guest described it as her Indiana Jones experience!
The rooms consist of eight thatched-roof mud cottages replicating a local village and flanked by natural vegetation. Sometimes you’re woken by peacocks calling and lulled to sleep by the cries of jackals. We have the luxury of an expansive land that enables these spacious abodes of around 900 square feet. That’s bigger than the apartment we once lived in. That being said, we’ll never extend. We didn’t want to build something that the local communities would feel too in awe of especially as all our staff are from the area. Plus, we’re both from wildlife conservation backgrounds therefore it’s really important to keep the carbon footprint as low as possible. We host around 10-12 people at a time, no different to a gathering of friends – the idea is that we have a party every day.
We always try to eat outside perhaps in the company of langur monkeys with this lovely view of the Ken River. We have a kitchen garden growing salad and herbs to accompany homemade pasta and quiches for lunch. All our bread, biscuits, croissants and jams are made from scratch and we even make our own soft cheese. In the evening its mainly Indian food from Raghu’s family home in western Madhya Pradesh. He’s the main star in the kitchen. His food is superb, so much so that people always complain about putting on weight when they come here. He cooks this delicious dal with Maharashtrian origins that has sugar, coconut, gur (boiled sugar cane) and nimbu (lemon/lime). Raghu though is famous for his desserts. He does this soufflé grand manière pudding, which is to die for.