• Staying at Shergarh
  • Who we are
  • Activities
  • A typical day

At Shergarh we have just six tents, all of which recently went through a complete transformation and upgrade. Each is set amongst a young woodland, individually spaced to give total privacy from one another. Guests zip into homely canvas from a mud-finished verandah to a large bedroom, either twin or double bedded with space for an extra bed if required. Our attached bathrooms are pukka (not tented!) and spacious, with a twin-basin unit and separate toilet and shower rooms, as well as plenty of luggage-storage and hanging space. Each tent is housed under locally handmade baked mud tiles which have the dual-function of shading the tents from the sun and providing insulation when it's cold.

At the centre of camp is a water reserve charged all year round by two natural springs, which attracts an array of birds including kingfishers, cormorants and the seasonal breeding of hundreds of egrets. It is overlooked by the Main House, where guests congregate to dine and share stories of the day or quietly laze on the verandah choosing from a selection of books.

Our chefs prepare light salad lunches using ingredients fresh from our garden or local markets. Dinners are traditional home-style Indian recipes, delicately flavoured and accompanied with flat-breads and pickles. Continental cuisine can also be prepared on request. Homemade cakes and biscuits flow as well as homemade muesli and a few in-house inventions as breakfast treats to enjoy on safari.

Dining may be in our Main House, under the shade of a large mango tree or by the light of the moon. If you want, we could take you for a simple meal prepared and served in the courtyard of one of our chef's home.

Amenities at camp include:

  • Library of wildlife references, Indian fiction and other fiction.
  • Internet access in Main House
  • Laundry service
  • Bar
  • CD burning of digital images
  • Mountain bikes for free use
  • Souvenir shop

Shergarh is the creation of Jehan and Katie Bhujwala, a Parsi-British couple who reside for much of the season in camp with their young children. Jehan, originally from Mumbai, followed a passion for an outdoor life and has 15 years experience working in tiger habitats. It was his desire to develop his home into a small tented camp which could be used as a base for wildlife enthusiasts to explore the remote and magnificent forests that comprise Kanha Tiger Reserve. In 2002 he met Katie who was volunteering at a nearby camp. Having travelled extensively through the country, Katie was keen on exploring the ideas behind 'responsible tourism' and bringing them into the development of the camp. Shergarh opened

18 months later. It was founded on three principles:

  • High quality wildlife experiences would be the main provision of the lodge.
  • The camp atmosphere should be comfortable and informal.
  • The development and running of the lodge should benefit and not impose on the surrounding social and ecological environment.

In 2005, Shergarh welcomed Mr Rajan Gurung (Raj) an exceptional naturalist from Nepal. His early training at the renowned Tiger Tops, which included tiger tracking on foot, have tuned his tracking skills and senses to an impressive level, and his extensive knowledge of the diverse eco-system makes for a rewarding park experience. We also promote the development of local guides into flourishing naturalists. Local guides have an inherent bond with the jungle as well as a wealth of stories. We encourage their communication and language skills, but mostly offer them a platform to welcome visitors into their homeland.

Our staff stronghold consists of 16 ladies and young men, all from the surrounding villages. They run the lodge as cooks, cleaners, waiters, housemaids, grounds men, night guards and overall maintenance. Most of them have been trained from scratch having never worked previously, and have flourished into a wonderful team.

We also welcome a helping hand from volunteers from India and abroad in helping to run the lodge. Our volunteers ensure that camp runs smoothly, and each has left their imprint whether in culinary, housekeeping or artistic touches, while taking away a memorable experience.

In order to offer our guests the maximum opportunity to explore and enjoy this special habitat, we have developed a number of activities, which are as follows:

Morning and afternoon game drives:
We offer game drives twice daily in front facing 4x4 open jeeps, escorted by one of our in-camp naturalists. We seat a maximum of 4 guests per jeep, and can organise exclusive vehicles by pre-arrangement. While we tailor our drives to the needs of our clients, our drives are designed to take guests along quieter routes where you are less likely to see other vehicles and your wildlife encounters become uniquely your own. Our naturalists and guides constantly keep their senses alert to the whereabouts of a predator, but we avoid taking a tiger-centric approach. The wealth and importance of the entire eco-system is immense and we want our visitors to leave Kanha with a complete experience. Morning game drives commence at sunrise. We pack breakfast and remain in the core forest until approximately midday. Afternoon drives are shorter, 2-3 hours, ending at sunset.

Sher Darshan (Viewing tiger from elephant back):
Each morning the elephants penetrate the forest interiors searching for tiger in the true spirit of Colonal Haathi's 'dawn patrol'. If they are successful, you may have the opportunity to watch tiger from elephant back. It is a unique opportunity to get very close to the tiger, and the experience will depend on a number of factors including time of year, number of park visitors, and the location of the tiger.

Forest, hill and river walks:
Our walks begin at Shergarh and follow gentle trails that explore the buffer forest. These take you through the sal forest, allowing you to experience smaller wildlife; the butterflies, dragon- and damselflies, lizards, frogs, incredible spider-webs and maybe the occasional snake, as well as interesting tree structures, wild flowers, ant and bird nests and wild beehives. The river Banjar, which creates a natural boundary between the unfenced core and surrounding buffer forest, is a beautiful setting to walk along its banks or perch on its ancient rock formations. We also like to ramble up to some giant boulders that form a hill behind camp, offering panoramic views of the forest and villages scattered within.

Cycle rides:
We have kept mountain bikes at camp for our guests to take off freely and explore the rural and forested landscape. A map of the local tracks is provided in camp.

Villages and markets:
The people of Kanha are predominantly members of the Gond tribe, the original dwellers of the Kanha forest. Their lives are beautifully humble; housed in charming mud dwellings, herding cattle, harvesting grain and bartering for daily essentials. We can take you for a walk through our village to visit some of the homes and families of our staff and stop in at the school.

Weekly markets are fascinating to witness and have barely changed for centuries. Goods for sale serve local needs although the brass water pots are a favourite for plants back home. One can soak in the atmosphere sipping a glass of sweet chai, or for the more daring, go in for the smoothest ever shave in the most unique location.

A typical day at Shergarh (as if there was one)

Upon arrival all our guests are greeted with a cool refreshing glass of nimbu pani - freshly squeezed lime and water. Once you are settled, we will provide you with a full brief of the activities and essentials, and gather info on your preferences to help us tailor your experience. For some the suggestion of an immediate departure for an afternoon drive in the reserve is too good to resist. Others savour the camp atmosphere and patiently await their early morning wake-up call.

Bed tea (or coffee) is delivered to your tent at whatever time you request, in time for all guests to gather at the Main House with our in-house naturalists who will escort you into open jeeps and set forth into the jungle. At the entry gate, you will be joined by a mandatory guide, provided by the Forest Department, who will accompany you throughout the drive.

Upon immediate entry, one feels the temperature drop, for the tree coverage is thick with moisture-dripping Sal trees. Our naturalists co-ordinate with forest guides on where to go. A basic route will be allocated to assure all jeeps are well dispersed within the reserve, but this includes a good degree of freedom. As you drive deep into the jungle, our naturalists and guides will unravel Kanha's many layers, its beasts and birds, secrets and tales. Signs of a nearby predator such as fresh pugmarks or alarm calls are closely monitored, followed and interpreted by trained eyes, tuned ears and the innate sense of a native forest dweller.

During the drive, you will pass a number of forest outposts, the dwellings of forest officers who protect their area day and night. It is at these posts where our naturalist will enquire to see if a tiger has been sighted from elephant back. The elephants and their mahouts (drivers) have been out tracking tiger since 5am. They penetrate the forest interiors in their search for crucial signs. When a tiger is sighted visitors are taken to the location where they await their turn to enter the tiger's lair.

Breakfast has been carried in the jeep: hot thermoses of tea and coffee, ompatis (a special Shergarh creation, homemade muesli pots, sandwiches, fruits and our ever-flowing banana cake. We break when the time is right, at one of the designated picnic areas of the park.

Our morning excursion is completed anytime up to midday, and we return to camp to refresh, bathe, sleep, read, drink, bird-watch, walk, talk, whatever takes your mood. A light lunch including salad greens fresh from our garden is served at 1pm, usually outside under the shade of a large tree. Over lunch we finalise our activities for the remainder of the day.

Guests returning for the afternoon game drive congregate at the Main House at 3pm (progressively later in summer months). The afternoon drive is shorter than the morning drive - lasting 2-3 hours until sunset. It is often a quiet and gentle saunter through the forest in a beautiful dusky light, yet anything can happen at any time. Guests who choose other activities such as a walk, cycle ride or market trip can determine their timings based on their preferences, though it is advised that everyone be back in camp by sunset. Darkness falls rapidly, and there is little light except for the oil lanterns burning along our winding pathways, or on nights nearing full moon.

Dinner is served near the camp fire after 7.30pm and follows pre-dinner drinks, snacks, soup and stories. Events of the day are re-capped, and the wish-lists for the day to follow are shared.