Sarai at Toria on the river Ken is an ideal getaway for Khajuraho, Panna, Ajaygarh and Kalinjar. Beautifully designed mud cottages are fashioned on local village houses with the aim to inspire villagers to see the advantages of local architecture. Set in 11 acres of stunning land features, Sarai offers many dining choices like breakfast by the river, lunch under the spreading Ficus tree and dinner by candle light under a star-lit sky. The open pavilion overlooking the river doubles as a lounge and dining. Popular now as a three-night destination Sarai at Toria’s river safaris, village walks and excursions to Ajaygarh fort offer great insights into the region.
As with most of the RARE hotels, is important to introduce tthe inspired couple behind Sarai at Toria. Dr. Raghu Chundawat, one of the world’s leading tiger biologists and his wife Joanna Van Gruisen , wildlife photographer, writer and conservationist run this beautiful retreat with just eight cottages, that is perched on the western bank of the river Ken close to the Panna national park just over 20 minutes drive from Khajuraho.
The Sarai is a simple lodge built with a great balance of detail, design and ecological perspective. The cottages seem to merge naturally with the forest cover behind and the high grass infront. Traditional mud cottage
constructions are inspired by local architecture with thick mud walls and roof made of tin and grass. Inside, the rooms are large, high, well lit and cool while the attached bathrooms almost as large as the room itself have smooth
mineral oxide-finished floors. Solid, uncomplicated furniture with extra-comfortable mattress and warm-as- a-glove duvets, furnishings of Indian fabrics, all requisite amenities in place, make inviting living spaces. While the sit
out that allows you to bask in the late winter sun or watch the fire flies at night will be your favourite place to curl up with a book or just snooze. Four independet cottages stand to one side while the rest of the four cottages have upstairs mezzanine spaces connected in pairs with a machan, of which two overlook the flowering grass and river in front while the other two overlook the forest behind.
An open stone, wood and tile- canopied pavilion overlooks the river affording different views; hammocks, strategically placed day beds and benches are perches for nature lovers. All meals and drinks are served in the pavilion, home recipes that are Dr. Chundawat’ s favourites, breads, croissants and pastries freshly baked in the well equipped kitchen . Reliance on solar power, minimal landscaping and simple decor that neither compromises on the aesthetics nor comfort are what works for Sarai. And charming details that one can never forget – the fish paddocks for the doors, star shaped stone-ware decorated with flaming lantana, soaps and amenities from a local NGO, citronella oil containers to keep away the insects, a gracefully arched bridge that brings you into the Sarai !
Besides safaris into the Panna National park and a visit to the world heritage site of the temples of Khajuraho, there is a carefully explored list of excursions that ensure interesting visits. A walk from Rajgarh, an imposing castle a short drive from Sarai to Taparian village through lovely farms and plantation of Ber (Zizyphus mauritiana ) a fruit indigenous to India and Malaysia nicknamed as the ‘poor man’s apple’ ; trips to the Ajaygarh fort, a river safari on the ken to watch birds or a walk along the banks of the Ken. There is much to explore in this region while on a 2-3 nights visit, excursions may be accompanied by naturalist guides trained by Raghu and Joanna.
by Jayensh on 11/22/2020
Lovely lodge run by Joanna n Raghu, most rejuvenated short vacation,artistically designed cottages. Delicious local food followed by lovely desserts. Must go to experience incredible India...
by 502nsr on 11/20/2020
Apart from seeing the seeing the tigers we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Sarai@Torai. Raghu and Joanna were great hosts and regaled us with anecdotes of the jungle tigers when they were actively...
by Jennifer H on 04/24/2020
We enjoyed our stay at Sarai immensely. The lodge and cottages are well done and meticulously designed to be as eco-friendly as possible. It is apparent Raghu and Joanna put a lot of time and...