Kanha National Park, India

Flame of the Forest


Jungle VIP


Tiger woods

Perfectly poised for forays into the woods, eco-friendly hotel Flame of the Forest has earned its stripes as a luxurious basecamp for close encounters of the feline kind. Kanha National Park’s tigers, leopards and sloth bears may be the star of the show, but there’s much to cheer budding naturalists at this intimate retreat: delicious home-cooked feasts, yoga classes to keep guests limber and just four stylish cottages to call home.


Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

A free private dinner or a tribal village walk


Photos Flame Of The Forest – Kanha National Park – India

Need to know


Four suites.


11am. Earliest check-in, 12 noon. Both are flexible, subject to availability.


Constructed from earth, water and local grasses, the lodge’s yoga shala (‘school’ in Hindi) overlooks the River Banjar. Pick a spot in the shade of tall indigenous trees to practice your asanas; owner Isabelle is a trained yoga teacher and will happily organise a class or retreat around your safari schedule.

Hotel closed

Flame of the Forest is closed during the monsoon season from 30 June to 1 October.

At the hotel

Yoga classes, free Wifi. In rooms: fireplace, air-conditioning, tea and coffee-making facilities, Soultree and Puro toiletries.

Our favourite rooms

Entered through an intimate courtyard, each of the four cottages have bags of exotic appeal. Four-poster beds are draped in billowing net; rough-hewn stone walls and colourful saris frame alfresco showers. Catch the breeze on the outdoor machan daybed, perfectly positioned for lazy river gazing. Bashful love birds should make their nest in Cottage 4 – it’s the furthest away from the restaurant.

Packing tips

Bring a well-thumbed copy of The Jungle Book to get in the mood; more prosaically, bug spray can be handy for keeping the creepy crawlies at bay.


One of the cottages has a bathroom adapted for disabled guests. Phone signal, internet access and electricity can be a bit patchy – stow your devices away and savour the lodge’s off-the-grid charms.


Welcome. Extra beds and cots can be added to all rooms. Babysitting is available for INR100 an hour (four-hour minimum).

Best for


Recommended rooms

There’s plenty of room for cots and extra beds in all the cottages.


With trees to climb, river shallows to paddle in and nature trails to explore, Flame of the Forest is an exotic children’s paradise. Budding gourmets can learn all about organic farming in the grounds; sociable types can make friends with the local kids over a game of cricket.


The kitchen will happily whip up favourites such as pasta or fries to suit young palates.


The hotel can arrange babysitters for INR100 an hour (four-hour minimum) but you’ll need to book a week in advance.

No need to pack

Baby wipes, baby food and child-friendly snacks can be purchased onsite.


Over-5s must have their own passport to confirm safari bookings.


Having worked closely with local communities during the construction of the lodge, the hotel takes care to minimise its impact on its surroundings, with thoughtful initiatives such as composting, rainwater harvesting and organic gardening. The owners are actively involved in improving living conditions for their neighbours through their social enterprise Hathi, which provides women with work opportunities and health education.

Food and Drink

Photos Flame Of The Forest – Kanha National Park – India

Top Table

The lodge likes to surprise its guests with table arrangements: expect bush dinners around the fire and candlelit tables on the riverbed.

Dress Code

Keep things soft, comfortable and muted; wrap up warm in thin cashmere layers on nippy winter nights.

Hotel restaurant

The clue’s in the name at Riverview restaurant, a rustic, whitewashed temple to the delights of Indian home cooking. Chef Jitender whips up tantalising fare from the region’s fresh produce: vegetables plucked straight from the market, fish from the Narmada river and the day’s most tempting finds at the local market. Need a break from Indian feasting? Try the zingy Burmese curry or ask for a classic Italian dish.

Hotel bar

Compare the day’s animals sightings with fellow guests around the campfire. Whisky sours, fresh lime and gin sodas and Mahua martinis (brewed from the potent flower of the butternut tree) are served under the star-filled sky alongside aubergine bhajis, paneer tikka bites or moreish chicken dumplings. The soundtrack is nature’s finest: come dusk, crickets and nightjars replace the daytime calls of the jungle fowl.

Last orders

Lunch is served from noon to 3pm, dinner from 6pm to 8pm. Tipples are poured until 11pm.


Photos Flame Of The Forest – Kanha National Park – India
Flame of the Forest
Kuthwahi Village, Post Office RATA, Mandla District, Mandla Kanha National Park Madhya Pradesh
Kanha National Park,


A three-hour drive away, Jabalpur airport is the gateway to Madhya Pradesh. It serves domestic flights to the international hubs in Delhi and Mumbai. The hotel can organise private 4x4 transfers for INR15,000 each way.


If you’re feeling adventurous, hop on an overnight train from Delhi or Mumbai to Jabalpur (a three-hour drive away) or Nagpur (a five-hour drive away through the scenic forests of the Pench Tiger Reserve).


Hair-raising and occasionally bewildering, driving in India is best left to the professionals. Book transport as soon as possible: car permits for Kanha National Park are limited.

Worth getting out of bed for

Unsurprisingly, days at the lodge are all about the game drives, which structure days otherwise spent on more genteel pursuits such as yoga (in the dappled riverside shade), massage (by local tribal therapists) and napping (on your inviting daybed). Flame of the Forest has unparalleled access to the Sarhi zone, the national park’s largest and most remote – a luxuriant deciduous forest teeming with all manner of feathery, furry and endemic species. Active types can set out on foot or two wheels to explore neighbouring villages, markets and nature trails. If you’re feeling brave, the River Banjar makes a tempting spot for a wild swim during the rainy season.

Local restaurants

Remote, off-the-beaten path Kanha has little to offer the wandering gourmet. For a taste of something local, sip on a hot brew at one of the tea stalls by the park gate.


Photos Flame Of The Forest – Kanha National Park – India

Anonymous review

Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this luxury hotel in India and unpacked their binoculars and yoga mats, a full account of their safari break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Flame of the Forest in Kanha National Park…

A riverside lodge on the edge of Kanha National Park’s captivating wilderness, Flame of the Forest has mastered the art of welcoming weary explorers home. Four-poster beds, alfresco showers and ethereal views of the jungle-flanked river are, naturally, part of the equation, but there’s more to this rustic-chic hideaway than aesthetic considerations. Guests are assigned their own naturalists – dedicated trackers and animal lovers with unparalleled knowledge of this protected corner of tiger country. Days here start with two breakfasts (fewer would be churlish), the later and larger of which is served on the hood of your jeep on your morning drive. At night, cocktails are sipped and stories exchanged by the campfire, but there’s plenty of hideaway spots for untamed lovebirds: with just four cottages perched alongside the river, you’re unlikely to suffer from unwanted company.


The Guestbook

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