A day in the life of the Tharu Tribe
Begin your day with a 40-kilometre drive to a small village sitting strategically on the periphery of the Indo-Nepal border - a rustic hamlet belonging to the dominant tribe of the Terai region. For centuries the Tharu have lived closely with the jungle and their traditions reflect their intimate relationship with the natural world.
Though their main occupation is farming, the colourful tribal community is renowned for their folk roots in music and dance, expert craftsmanship and their impeccable hunting skills. The Tharu excel at the art of catching and training wild elephants and making the best mahouts. Meet your local host for the day, who has previously served as an apprentice to the grand old man of Terai, renowned Indian naturalist Billy Arjan Singh. Spend the day in his intricately designed traditional home, with a captivating introduction to the culture and customs of this prolific community. Witness the warm hospitality of these people as you savour delicious Tharu cuisine after a cooking demonstration given by the ladies of the house.
Afterwards, you will have an exclusive interaction session with the 'dancing boys' - the popular custom of young boys being trained in the art of dance and music, dressed as women, in colourful costumes. Continue with a visit to a local women's association that is dedicated to the cause of employment and welfare to countless Tharu women. Enjoy a cup of tea while interacting with the ladies. Later, stroll through colourful local markets where you can see fresh produce being sold, alongside indigenous jewellery and other goods.
A Birdwatcher's Delight: Sharada River
Today, you will explore the banks of the River Sharda, which introduces you to Dudhwa's wealth of endemic and migratory bird life. Every winter, Sharda witnesses an annual migration, a true spectacle of nature, where thousands of bar-headed geese, shell drakes, pochards and tufted ducks, visit the flood plains, making it their annual wintering and breeding ground. Traverse through remote villages, which give way to a thrilling, off-road experience, to arrive at the breath-taking waterscape. Witness local fishermen leading nomadic lives and stop for a brief chat with animal herders, who readily share their space with wild animals like tigers, leopards and wolves. Conclude the experience by witnessing one of the most spectacular sunsets with refreshing sundowners.
Tanda Village Visit with an Exclusive Safari in the Maillani Forest
Embark on an excursion to the charming rural environs of Tanda village, a vibrant hamlet occupied by a handful of families, located in the core of Kishanpur Tiger Reserve. Learn about the thrilling aspects of man-animal conflicts; living without electricity, schools or even hospitals, yet being self-sustainable - harvesting their own food, curing their illnesses and worshipping the forest gods.
After a fascinating village visit, proceed to the Maillani forest on an exclusive game drive, accompanied by your naturalist. Off the beaten path, this magnificent range is primarily dominated by miles of sal forest, interspersed with glorious examples of local flora like the flame of the forest and the silk cotton tree. Also, in a sacred grove, is an ancient shrine of a Hindu saint, covered by a million tinkling bells. The area offers prized sightings of the leopard and is excellent for bird watching. With an abundance of forest species such as woodpeckers, hornbills, colourful pigeons and the elusive emerald dove flashing its vivid plumage, it serves up an astonishingly vivid visual treat.
The Frog Temple of Oel
Set out for the 19th century Frog Temple at Oel, situated about a two-hour drive southeast of Jaagir Lodge. According to tantric doctrines of Hinduism, frogs represent fertility, prosperity and good fortune. Legend has it that the temple at Oel was commissioned by Hindu Maharaja Bakhat Singh as a mark of reverence for the celestial frog, who blessed him with good fortune and prosperity. Learn from your guide why animals are an integral part of the pantheon of gods, as you marvel at the architecture, murals and figurines of Hindu mythological characters.
Note: Guests on a long stay may choose to do the excursion as a day trip from the lodge. Guests on a short stay may opt for this excursion enroute to Lucknow.