TLFMagazine -A eco lodge near Panna National Park

Slow travel Sustainable luxury

 Slow travel  Sustainable luxury

The comfortable sitting area has a wonderful view over the river Ken. 


If you enjoy an indulgent holiday and believe in all things eco-friendly, then the Sarai at Toria should be your stay option. Not merely a lodge, it is a destination in itself, which provides a haven to relax and pamper the soul with unique and beautiful experiences.

Run by Conservation Biologist Dr. Raghu Chundawat and his wife Joanna Van Gruisen, who is a wildlife photographer, writer and conservationist, the earth friendly resort is situated between Panna and Khajuraho. It offers an environment friendly and socially responsible stay, providing comfort and indulgence while protecting the natural and the cultural environment.

Located amidst agricultural land in unspoilt countryside, the Sarai at Toria spreads over nine acres of undulating land. With the river Ken on one side and a small forest patch at the back, The surrounding grasslands and jungle attract fantastically coloured dragonflies, contain varied birdlife and are also a home for mammals such as langur, nilgai, jackal, mongoose and jungle cats.

The property offers eight independent cottage rooms, each with attached bathrooms, verandas and private courtyards. The spacious cottages have been fabricated in mud, with thatched roofs, four of these are especially suitable for families, as they include tucked-away mezzanine bed spaces that are great for children.There are many lovely corners for hideaway reading and relaxation and for private al fresco meals in this beautiful resort.

Raghu and Joanna are there to welcome the guests personally, and share wonderful stories and experiences over scrumptious meals. They are enthusiastic 'foodies' hence all the meals are utterly delicious! We had a light lunch of fresh beetroot and citrus and vegetable salads and crispy pizza. The vegetables are all grown in the property. The dinner consisted of local dishes-Raghu’s delicious home recipes feature on the Sarai at Toria’s menu along with Joanna’s more cosmopolitan, less spicy, favourites!

The dining and lounge area is situated on the highest point of the land commanding magnificent views of the surroundings. It is also the perfect place to view sunrises and sunsets and

generally to relax and enjoy the tranquil scenery. We enjoyed drinks and dinner under the stars, wrapped by the lingering fragrance of the wild grass in the air and it was a fabulous experience.

One can stay for up to a week at this magnificent place as on offer are numerous activities which are best enjoyed one at a day. We enjoyed a glorious sunset boat ride one the River Ken from the banks of the Sarai at Toria. It was a delightful paddle down the river in a country made boat, very peaceful, very beautiful. We didn't spot crocodiles but the birdlife is wonderful and with the help of our friendly boatman Raju, we spotted the Eurasian Kingfisher and the Striated Grassdird amongst other birds.The next morning we went for a jungle Safari at the Panna national park and were lucky enough to spot a tigress! We opted for a private jeep, group safaris are also available. 

Experience Bundelkhand with the Sarai at Toria
A number of other activities are also available. Since the home cooking is so much appreciated at the Sarai, they provide cooking demonstrations on request for those who wish to learn the art of creating the dishes they eat. A visit to the Khajuraho Temples can be organised. Night safaris at the Panna reserve are arranged, the local community has been given permission to operate these in the buffer area of the reserve. They operate from approximately 6.00pm until around 10.30pm. Spotlit sightings can include leopard, bears, nilgai, hyena, jackal, jungle cat, rusty spotted cats, civets, porcupine, hares, owls and nightjars – even all in one evening! The resort organises village walks. A delightful walk (3 - 4 kms.) from a drop off point a short drive from the Sarai at Toria below the Rajgarh Palace. Best taken in the evening when you can meet the villagers and their cattle returning at dusk. There are Bicycle tours through the the quiet country roads around the resort-the slow pace allows you to soak in the sights of the agricultural landscape and traditional villages through which you pass.V

Ajaygarh Fort, Panna town, Pandav Falls, Raneh Falls and Kalinjar Fort are also organised. (Kindly enquire for timings and cost of any of the above)


Double occupancy:INR 19,800/-

Single occupancy: INR 15,500/-
This includes three meals, tea, coffee, all Central and State taxes and some on site activities

Reaching there:

The Sarai at Toria is located only half an hour’s drive from Khajuraho, just off the NH75; if you have crossed the River Ken and Panna Tiger Reserve when driving east, you have just passed the resort. It lies north / west bank of the Ken River (on the Khajuraho side).