Col. & Mrs Johnson spent three weeks on a central India
tour in March 2013. From visiting the tigers of Bandhavgarh to
discovering the impressive temple complex and sculptures of
Khajuraho, read all about their time travelling the
1. Have you travelled in India before, if so where did
We have visited India
numerous times before - to date we have travelled to Delhi, Mumbai,
Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kerala, Rajasthan,
Darjeeling, Shimla and Madhya Pradesh.
2. What made you decide on this central India
We always like to start and finish in Mumbai. When we
travel we enjoy mixing in places we know, like old friends -
Kolkata, Mumbai and Delhi, and then a few new places for a
different experience, Bandhavgarh and Kanha. When we revisit an old
destination, we like to explore new aspects of it, places that we
have never visited before. For example, on the last trip we went to
Bhavan in Kolkata for the first time and did a walking tour in
Raj Bhavan, Kolkata © Chiradeep
3. You visited Khajuraho - can you tell us a little
about your visit to the temple complex and the site? Were some of
the Khajuraho sculptures a little risque?
We really enjoyed Khajuraho, but wouldn't necesssarily rush back
to it. Not because there is anything underwhelming about the
temple, but simply because it is such a popular monument it is one
of the few places you really feel like a tourist, and it slightly
feels more like a museum. And yes, the carvings were pretty
Khajuraho Temple Complex © F9
4. Having visited Bandhavgarh and Kanha National Parks -
can you talk about the difference between the two parks? Is viewing
the tigers of Bandhavgarh and other wildlife in India a different
experience from an African safari?
Going on safari in India and Africa is a totally different
experience and one that can't really be compared. Africa has a much
more established safari infrastructure where the officials and the
tour operators work together to produce a wonderful experience for
guests. Whereas every morning in India, in the cold of early dawn,
we had to wait in our Landrovers to be assigned a route by the park
officials. Tigers are quite elusive and quite a few people saw
tigers, although we think it was probably the same tiger. They have
recently reopened part of the park and there are two or three
females who live in this section. You have to go with an open mind
and dealing with the officials is slightly like a game of chess as
there are so many different rules and conventions to follow.
Tigers of Bandhavgarh © Peter
5. Viewing tigers is an essential part of any trip to
India and must be an amazing experience, but what other animals did
you see and did anything come close to seeing tigers?
Nothing else comes close to seeing a tiger, they are simply
magnificent. Quite a few of our fellow guests were keen bird
watchers and got very excited by the birdlife, but unfortunately
not us, we are not really interested in them. We also saw deer and
wild boars, but they were not as interesting as the tigers. We
would love to go back to Ranthambore as Greaves make it extremely
easy to get to for us.
6. You stayed at two lovely properties - the Mahua
Kothi Lodge and the Banjaar Tola Lodge - on your central India
tour. Can you tell us a little bit about what made these safari
lodges so special?
Both the hotels were good, even if they felt a little more
African than Indian, the Indians have borrowed much from the
African way of doing safaris, even if they are not very
similar. Out of the two hotels we preferred the Banjaar Tola. The river is lovely, the lodge is
beautiful and it is really well managed. Mahua Kothi was good, although we felt the
management could have been a little sharper.
7. You also visited a selection of old colonial towns
and historical sites around Kolkata. had these been preserved well
and did the history come across well in a different
The highlight was Flagstaff House in Barrackpore, a beautifully
preserved building. Built for the Military Secretary of the
Governor General and built in the early 19thCentury.
Serampore was a wonderful town and we had a great guide who showed
us around, it was a fascinating site.
Flagstaff House, Barrackpore ©
Jay Seedy, Flickr
8. During the trip you visited three of India's most
important cities - Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai - which did you prefer
and was there a marked difference between them all?
All three cities are very different - each has a unique feel. We
love the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai - a wonderful
hotel, expensive but great quality and feels truly luxurious. We
have a soft spot for Kolkata and love going there. In fact we are
going back again shortly for a week to visit friends. Finally,
Delhi - we thought the hotel, the Delhi
Imperial, was a little geared up to package tourists for our
Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Mumbai ©
9. If one experience will stick in your mind from your
holiday to India, which would it be?
Getting up at 5.30 am and sitting peacefully in the courtyard at
Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai or at Falaknuma Hyderabad listening to the city come
Taj Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad
© Taj Hotels
10. Would you recommend travelling with Greaves India to
a friend? And if so, why?
We constantly recommend Greaves to friends, mainly because
we are full of admiration (and amazement) about how they handle the
amount of bureaucracy that one comes across in India. Our trip went
off without a hitch and even when we were there and wanted to
change our itinerary, it was as simple as talking to the company
and they did whatever we wanted. Greaves are very, very good at
what they do in India.
You can find itineraries on our website for Kolkata, Delhi and