Five Best: Indian Jungle Retreats

Harriet O'Brien gets back to nature in these perfect escapist locations
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The Independent Travel

Oberoi Vanyavilas, Rajasthan

Tents take on new meaning at this impeccably stylish resort bordering the Ranthambhore National Park and Tiger Reserve. You may be sleeping under canvas but the 25 tents here have wooden floors, four-poster beds and private gardens. Facilities include a dining room and a spa in a courtyard surrounded by fountains - so that you can relax in luxury after a day on the trail of leopard, tiger and, for the bold, crocodile.

Oberoi Vanyavilas, Ranthambhore, Rajasthan (00 39 066 780 231; www.lclworld.com). Tents start at £360, full board.

Taj Garden Retreat, Tamil Nadu

Set in a magical world of rolling hills and drifting mists, this 33-room haven exudes charm. The gardens are filled with birdsong and offer panoramic views over one of Tamil Nadu's most verdant regions. Beyond the hotel, the town of Coonoor is the second largest hill station in the Nilgiri Hills. Surrounded by tea plantations, it lies on the railway line between Mettupalayam and Ooty.

Taj Garden Retreat, Church Road, Upper Coonoor, Nilgiri Hills, Tamil Nadu (00 91 423 223 0021; www.tajhotels.com). Doubles from US$135 (£75) including breakfast.

Nature Heritage Lodge, Madhya Pradesh

Bandhavgarh National Park offers a better chance than anywhere else in India to see the tiger; more than 50 of these threatened creatures live there. Accordingly, the town of Tala that adjoins the park is full of places for tourists to stay. But the Nature Heritage Lodge, on the edge of the town, is the most enjoyable. Accommodation is in cabins set in grounds that are bursting with plant- and bird-life. The main building houses the restaurant - where tea is served before dawn for early morning game drives - and an open-air cinema.

Nature Heritage Lodge, Tala, Madhya Pradesh (00 91 7627 265351). Double cabins start at US$180 (£100), full board, including a safari.

Bansbari Lodge, Assam

With tea estates on one side and glorious views of the Himalayan foothills on the other, this wonderfully remote lodge sits at the entrance to the Manas National Park on the Assam/Bhutan border. Its 16 rooms offer simple, comfortable accommodation (and electricity) while facilities include a dining room serving anything from Assamese to Continental cuisine, and small library. The outlying park is a tiger reserve also famous for its golden langur monkeys and red pandas.

Bansbari Lodge, Manas Park, Assam (00 91 361 260 2223; www.assambengalnavigation.com). Doubles start at US$120 (£67) full board, including park entrance fee and a jeep safari or boat trip.

The Lake Palace Hotel, Kerala

The only hotel in the Periyar Wildlife Reserve has a stunning lakeside setting, and mildly eccentric décor. The six suites are in traditional tharavads - aristocratic wooden houses with gabled roofs - from whose windows drongos, hornbills and other birds can be spotted. Meanwhile the surrounding game park is home to a fairly healthy population of tigers as well as wild elephant, bear, boar and giant squirrel.

The Lake Palace Hotel, Periyar, Thekkady, Kerala (00 91 22 2404 2211; www.nivalink.com/lakepalace). Doubles start at Rs8,575 (£105), full board.

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