If you haven’t yet you surely soon will fall under the spell of this charming tale with the new Disney film recently released. With an all-star cast and clever CGI effects, it promises to be a treat, and is sure to increase interest in its Indian setting.
Penned by Rudyard Kipling, the original books – there were two written in 1894 and 1895 respectively, were in fact collections of short stories or fables, of which Mowgli’s is the best known. Charting the adventures of the ‘man cub’ these tales introduce various jungle animals he encounters, friend and foe, who have now become so familiar. Baloo, Bagheera and Ka, and of course villainous Shere Khan, have long been favourites with children and adults alike and are due a new boost of popularity with the film’s release.
The setting is central India. This region is blessed with some of the country’s finest national parks where you can have your very own jungle book experience. Here’s a brief guide:
Kanha is widely considered to the inspiration for The Jungle Book, so you’ll be in Kipling country here! Tigers* are the main draw, so you should get to see Shere Khan, as you explore the dense sal forests by jeep. There are many other mammals and a great number of birds, so you’re assured of an excellent all-round wildlife experience.
Bandhavgarh was once a Maharajah’s private hunting reserve, but now the wildlife is protected and the only shooting permitted is photography. The landscape here is quite rugged, with steep valleys and forested hills overlooked by the ancient Bandhavgarh Fort. You probably won’t see King Louie amongst the ruins, but there are plenty of monkeys in the forest and a great chance of spotting tigers here as well.
Pench is a smaller park named after the river that flows through it which attracts large herds of spotted deer. The landscape here is more open than in Kanha and Bandhavgarh. This won’t stop you seeing plenty of tigers, for which Pench is famous, but in the grasslands around the park you can also encounter the Indian wolves who raised Mowgli in Kipling’s tale.
Satpura is a large and rugged park which sees fewer visitors than Kanha and Bandhavharh, but offers a great mixture of different wildlife activities. You can explore the park by jeep, canoe, on foot or even on the back of an elephant. Tigers are not as common here, but it is a great place to observe the sloth bears who served as an inspiration for The Jungle Book’s Baloo, plus blackbuck with their amazing spiralled horns, and birds.
Tadoba is less developed than the parks further north, but is home to one of the highest concentration of tigers in India. The terrain is dominated by steep hills and narrow gorges blanketed with thick forest. Tadoba Lake provides a permanent source of water and is a great place to see both crocodiles and water birds, and this is another park where you may catch sight of Baloo.
So next time you want to relive the thrills of The Jungle Book you just need to ask and we’ll make it happen for real.