With A Restaurant Within A Forest & A Safari Through A Wildlife Sanctuary, Tipai In Tipeshwar Is A Must-Visit


It’s common for wildlife enthusiasts in Maharashtra to opt for a safari at Tadoba Tiger Reserve or Pench National Park to spot tigers. But now, there’s a new wildlife sanctuary within the state that has been recording frequent sightings of our majestic national animal. Tipeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary is the next destination to explore. And a sustainable wildlife resort is aiding in putting this forest on the map. Tipai by Wildlife Luxuries in the heart of Tipeshwar is the brainchild of Keyur Joshi, the founder of MakeMyTrip and sits on the fringes of Tipeshwar’s forest. It is the same resort that went viral when a pregnant tigress visited the property for 6 hours to seek rest by a pond attached to one of the villas. It was after her visit that she received the name Talabwali from the locals. The thrill of a sighting, however, isn’t the only thing that lured me and my fellow travel buddy, my dad, into exploring this destination. The ethos of Tipai, which lies in giving back to the land and its people, along with a focus on a hyper-local food movement, set us on a journey to explore the resort.

Earthy Bliss

A smooth 2.5-hour drive from the Nagpur airport brought us to a peaceful haven where the only sound I heard was that of birds chirping. My only complaint? The piercing heat that struck me. But that was put to rest as soon as I stepped into my pool residency villa which was surprisingly cool inside despite the air conditioner being switched off. I later learned that the rammed earth walls and conical terracotta roof – made using kulhads or clay pots from local artisans – help maintain the temperature despite the scorching heat outside. I go on to discover the little thoughtful elements that make up this space.

Featuring a spacious living room, a vast bathroom with an indoor and outdoor shower area, (hello sky showers amidst nature!) and a comfortable bedroom that offers unhindered views, the interiors seamlessly blend the natural surroundings with local elements and craftsmanship. For instance, all textiles have been handwoven with organic natural fibres, the highlight for me being the sheer curtains with hand-blocked prints of real indigenous leaves of the region.

The verandah outside the living room comes with a swing and a bio pool that makes use of no artificial chemicals and gives you the feeling of swimming in a natural pond surrounded by the jungle–talk about fusing serenity with thrill altogether! The forest landscape has not only been retained but replenished with bio-diversity that was lost due to teak plantations through reforestation and permaculture, making Tipai a celebration of its land and people. And that’s exactly what Interior Designer Ariane Thakur Ginwala kept in mind while building it for 5 years before its launch. Besides the pool residencies, Tipai houses forest villas that include similar elements and a sit-out surrounded by the forest, as the name suggests. 

A Day Of Gourmet

After soaking in the earthy interiors of our space, we headed out to explore the dining spots whose culinary programs are designed by Tipai’s F&B Partner and Chef Amninder Sandhu. My first meal began in the all-day dining restaurant, Perch, which has fascinating interiors featuring hanging lamps inspired by a weaver bird’s nest coupled with wood and cane furniture. Lunch on the first day involved indulging in a North Indian Thali which included Ammu’s Butter chicken, Dal Padoliwala, Paneer Kofta, Lassuni Palak, Chapati, Salad, Chilli pickle and Butter Milk. We are told by the team how the ingredients are grown and sourced from the farm on the property and then head out to explore it.

While all the commonly grown vegetables were planted there, I was particularly fascinated by the Ambadi (Roselle) plant that is native to Nagpur. I knew that the leaves of Ambadi are commonly used in making sabzee, but I learned that even its bright pink flower is used to make sherbets and chutneys. “You’ll get to taste that during your lunch tomorrow,” the naturalist told me. And I looked forward to it.

Right in the middle of the farm is Wadi, the second dining spot of Tipai, which gave us a farm-to-table experience. We enjoyed a lovely dinner with fresh ingredients picked from the surrounding farm. We began with a mezze platter and pasta paired with wine; then moved on to a fun pizza-making session where I miserably failed to stretch the dough, and became the subject of my dad’s jokes who enjoyed watching me embarrass myself. The pizza did turn out great though. A tiramisu was the perfect sweet end to our meal and fresh peppermint leaves picked from the farm served as a great digestive. 


Into The Wild

Keeping our spirits high, we set off on a jungle safari the next morning, hoping to see at least one out of the 20 tigers in Tipeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary. Besides the big cat, the forest is home to sloth bears, monkeys, peacocks, deer and myriad birds. Accompanied by our guide and naturalist from Tipai, we saw fresh pug marks within five minutes of entering the forest, and that continued at three other spots. But luck wasn’t on our side and it looked like we kept on missing the tiger’s sighting. That didn’t stop us from enjoying the safari through the beautiful Tipeshwar forest.

Road To Relaxation

The 4-hour game drive tired us out. Our spa booking right after came to our rescue. Aptly named Aesta, the spa at Tipai invites you to take it slow. Conceived in collaboration with Tattva, Aaste is set in two villas, overlooking the forest on one side and a rain-fed watering hole on the other. The therapies are drawn from Ayurvedic traditions with native oils and ingredients from the Deccan and the Himalayas. From a rejuvenating Champi to an intense Akhara Maalish and a therapeutic foot reflexology session, Aaste has your wellness covered. With the help of a therapist, every knot and stress in my body was put to ease.

Flavours Hitting Home

The second day had us going back to Perch for a traditional Vidarbha thali, native to the Nagpur locals. It began with the ambadi sherbat which I was excited to try. The sweet and sour drink blew me away and paired so well with the thali’s spicy constituents including aloo bharta with crispy bhindi, methi dal bhaaji, saoji chicken, kothimbir vadi, millet bhakri, green chilli and coriander thecha, ambadi chutney and shrikhand. Being half Maharashtrian, half Punjabi, Perch’s familiar yet comforting offerings resonated with my roots on both days of my stay. 

Dining In The Forest

The best was kept for the last. I finally dropped by Chef Amninder’s Palaash, a restaurant that gets its name from the surrounding Palaash trees. As soon as I got there, my senses tingled with the smell of freshly prepared food, the sound of the crickets in the forest and the occasional clacking of earthenware in the kitchen, accompanied by the sight of a full moon. An open kitchen run by an all-women team faced my table; I headed over to see what they were cooking.

Greeting me with a smile on their faces, they let me in on some of the cooking techniques that took me back to my grandma’s kitchen. For instance, one woman is cooking rice in an earthen chulha; another is crushing spices on a silbatta, and the rest are cooking meat on an open fire. Palaash uplifts the local women by harnessing their skills to reflect on the menu, which features preparations that resonate with their roots and personal stories.

“We lost an entire generation of women who were my mum’s age and were never allowed to do anything. Even when I was a budding chef, I never had a female mentor to guide me. I don’t think we ever gave those opportunities to women. I’ve reached a point in my career where I can and must make a difference. And that is why these maushis who were cleaners in my kitchen are now chefs. As they’ve cooked at home for 30 years, they have that sensibility and inherent patience to cook something on a slow simmer. It was delightful to work with them,” Chef Sandhu shares. 

A Mahua cocktail set off my dining experience followed by two courses. It included a combination of Ambaadi, Chinch, Charred Ananas and Dahi, which was similar to eating chaat in one bite; and Ratalu Gulab, Nimbu, Crisp Kashiphal (pumpkin) which served as a flavour bomb to my tastebuds.

The second course continued with an aromatic slow-cooked, tender Raan with Bhakri and Lal Theccha, and Saoji Bater (quail) accompanied by Paratha and Charred spring onion. The Gendaphool sorbet, a refreshing floral delight, that captures the essence of marigold petals in a frozen treat, served as the perfect palate cleanser.

Our last course, Bamboo Smoked Pork served with Indrayani rice and Haldi patta, took me back to my visit to Nagaland where I savoured a similar preparation. The meal ended with an indulgent Mahua Kala Jamun and Pista Ice Cream, accompanied by two sweet bites of puran poli profiteroles with amti dust, Nagpur orange malai chom chom and a silbatta ground Thandai-dipped Paan. 

Palaash also invites you to participate in the underground BBQ–an interactive activity with the chefs where you marinate meats or veggies during the day, witness the process, and enjoy the fruits of the labour for dinner. 

Built around nature, Tipai is a sustainable destination that lets you be amidst nature, surrounded by elements that allow you to take it slow and indulge in meals prepared by a team of local chefs who cook with all their hearts. It’s not only a resort to visit for the sake of going on a safari. It’s also a space for you to forget about the fast-paced life you lead in the city, appreciate the offerings of Mother Nature and savour the simple aspects of life that bring you joy.  

- Lifestyle Editor


More From

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content