Kanha

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India .

A country with so many cultural varieties, it’s a universe within itself when it comes to its people, its mindsets or even generally the way its millions of potluck denizens perceive her “India” or the world, hence one would say “layered like an onion”. So, it might seem like a mystical place of snake charmer’s and Bollywood to the untrained eye, maybe a reason why the western world still imagines it to be exotic to a certain extent. But there is so much more to India than just this, there is so much more meaning hidden in the name/ term INDIA than just a country.

It’s a place where being street smart is something you learn while growing up and “jugad” is the natural way of doing things (we are proud of it).

It’s a place where every corner is different from another, whether  it’s the cuisine, language, culture, customs, color palettes (a very important observation as every little corner in this country will take you through a kaleidoscope of colors ) right down to the way we live our day-to-day lives. What’s not different is the common binding factor that ties this humongous subcontinent and its people, that is its immensely rich history and its “we don’t need a reason to party” FESTIVALS, but more of  every parent’s dream that their child has to be a doctor or an engineer one day!! (yand go to yumricaa !!!)

In all this chaos that prevails in India, it is not easy to achieve dreams and goals that according to most here is a waste of time, or an excuse to waste time. Which could be anything from wanting to be an artist, actor, model, sportsperson, athlete, sculptor, dancer, DJ, musician, naturalist….. I hope the reader understands that the list is endless.

This is the story of two people who came together and took a leap of faith. This here is the story of their dream. This is the story of a Safari lodge called FLAME OF THE FOREST.

What started off as a barren land with only a few thousands in the bank, a crazy dream and a will as strong and rugged as the land they were on has now become a utopia of sorts, a paradise along the river called “Banjaar”, which in itself is an enigma of sorts thanks to the innumerable folklore’s that have been drifting around in the local tribal communities for centuries, passed on generation after generation as stories told around the fire (something that is a tradition at “Flame of The Forest”) .

In the gut of India lies the Central Indian state of MADHYA PRADESH, and within her womb is a paradise called KANHA.

Kanha National Park is a 2000 sq km jungle with a core area of 900 sq km, but keep these statistics aside and what you have is a place pure and untouched by the dirt and malice of civilization, through this pristine land the river ‘BANJAAR’ snakes its way through this jungle.

Along a stretch where the river takes a bend, the river bank rises up on both sides to form an undulating landscape with sparse shrubs and thick Arjuna trees along the banks. This was the place where the dream of Karan and Isa sprung to life.

Karan is a naturalist, who is from Bombay but never was much of a city boy. He trained under some of the finest naturalists from India and South Africa over the years that he has spent in the bush (the wild). A badminton national champ, who turned into an avid mountaineer and gave into his calling and became a naturalist.

Isa, is a nurse, teacher, yogini, trained yoga instructor, designer, all in all a multi facet individual who is also a perfectionist, and does not start something she has no faith in. She successfully not only helped design, build and create this little piece of Utopia along with Karan, but also shares the responsibility of managing the safari lodge.

So, to the unknown it might seem as simple as this. A safari lodge that is in the heart of India, in one of India’s most pristine jungles nestled in the womb of an ancient river that keeps us enthralled at every gaze. But, it’s far from just that.

 

Isa along with Karan also started a ‘social enterprise’ called HATHI, which is a classy designer apparel brand that though designed by Isa, is manufactured at Kanha by the local tribal women. This and the other medical camps and educational camps along with an intensive drive towards women empowerment with Health and Hygiene workshops for the local indigenous women, makes for some awe-inspiring stories.

This could be the best example as to what really happens when you follow your heart, and put in every last drop of blood, sweat and tears into it.

“Flame of the Forest” isn’t just a safari lodge; It doesn’t just cater to people who belong to the high-end wildlife tourism industry of India. It is a lifestyle that Karan and Isa have built, thanks to their common love for the wild and nature, and through this they have found means and ways to finally accomplish dreams and tasks, that takes together an entire community of the local village KUTWAHI, and tries to make a difference.

This, the first of many blogs that aims at bringing these epic yet incredibly fascinating stories that are told around the fire at #FOF, about ancient trees, to tigers that were legends, to people who were called “BAAGDHARAs” because he lived to tell the tale of a fight with a tiger.

Until then …. PEACE and HAPPINESS to ONE and ALL.

 

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