Diwali is a festival that the world always looks forward to. Yes, it’s the “festival of lights”, but Diwali is also known to lighten up the world with kindness, humanity, and love.

The festival has many stories and beliefs that resonate with its celebration. Different religions celebrate Diwali differently, owing to the traditions and beliefs that have been going down for generations which means that India celebrates Diwali in many forms in different places.

In a way, celebrating Diwali doesn’t need any particular place to experience. But if you want to explore the different beliefs and rituals behind one festival, then these 3 places in India are a must-visit. Head there during Diwali, and you’ll feel three different Diwali vibes rushing inside you.


Dev Deepawali or Dev Diwali in Varanasi (a.k.a. Banaras) is celebrated on the occasion of Kartik Purnima. Which means that it is celebrated much later than Lakshmi Pujan (or 3-day Diwali festival).

Dev Diwali will reinstate faith in Gods and humanity, inside you. The mantras and chants recited and sung by the priests talk about keeping faith in the universe and lightening the darkness inside us.

And then comes the main attraction; the ghats are filled with small earthen lamps or diyas. Not just that, experiencing the Ganga Aarti, followed by floating the diyas on the river Ganga is a treat.


What is Diwali for others, is Kali Puja for Bengalis. Kolkata worships Goddess Kali on this day. Offerings are made in abundance, in the form of fish, meat, sweets, and flowers.

The entire city lights up like their faith in Goddess Kali. Be ready to witness the streets filled with mouth-watering food and shopping attractions. Also if you could not go for “pandal hopping” during Durga Puja, then you can do that on this day too.


Amritsar celebrates Diwali in two ways; one in a way it is traditionally celebrated, and other with Bandi Chhor Diwas. Bandi Chhor Diwas is one of the biggest festivals for Sikhs and commemorates the return of Guru Hargobind Singh Ji, the 6th Sikh Guru, from his imprisonment. The very main attraction here is to visit The Golden Temple, to experience the magnitude of the dual celebrations.

What will even leave you stunned, is the belief that the Sikhs have for their Gurus. Their kirtans and prayers will let you know about their gratitude and faith in their Gurus and the sacrifices they have made for humanity.

Let’s put it up this way; Diwali is more than a festival. It’s an occasion that teaches everyone about keeping humanity at the top of the priority list, no matter the other priorities.

Get the Diwali vibes flowing in and contact Mantra Wild to book your Diwali experiences, while you start planning and packing up for your “lightening” Diwali experiences.


“Discover, explore and repeat, till there’s no tomorrow

India’s North East is an epitome of nature’s precious beauty, which demands to be felt before praising.

It’s a land of exotic hills and plains with an unadulterated green cover, enough to fill your soul with awe.

North East comprises of 8 Indian States; Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Manipur and Assam, all of which gives a different perspective of nature and the living. North Eastern States might appear tiny on an Indian Map, but as they say, “big things come in small packages”.

Mantra Wild has introduced a North East India Tour to the explorers in its purest and raw form, that’s sure to leave a traveller with a life changing experience.The tour allows you to experience North Eastern culture, local life and 360 degrees of beauty. The journey begins with exploring the city vibes of Kolkata, a.k.a. “The City of Joy”, followed by the “Land of White Orchids” called Kurseong, which also offers stunning views of the Tea Gardens with the breathtaking views of the Eastern Himalayas. Further, we explore the city of Darjeeling, which is filled with enchanting beauty and infinite tea gardens and Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak of the world. The Ghoom Monastery, Batashia Loop War Memorial, Padmaja Zoological Garden and a joyride on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway will be yet another set of tourist attractions which shall be explored in its purest form. However, Darjeeling would be incomplete without visiting Tibetan Refugee Self-Help Center and we shall make the most out of the place by getting to know the life at the Center.

Explore the “Land of Monasteries”, Gangtok, which is the capital city of Sikkim. We’ll witness the magical life in the monasteries and then heading towards Kalimpong, which is popular for its flora and fauna.

Last but not least, the royal and luxurious experience at The Rajbari Bawari on the outskirts of Kolkata shall await us.

Contact us, so that we can craft a North East India Tour just for you.


India has different varieties of rice. We see some of them right in our kitchens. And amongst them all, there’s one rice; POKKALI RICE.

Pokkali (pronounced as Pokkaalli) is an interesting rice form which has a distinctively unique taste. Grown in organic ways and in the most unfavourable situations, this rice is a classic example of “Be a Diamond – Flourish under pressure”!

Pokkali is produced in water-logged coastal areas like Ernakulum, Alappuzha and Trissur districts of Kerala, a state in Southern India.

The one very striking feature of Pokkali Rice is that it’s very resistant to saline water. This rice grows in the months of June to early November, when the water salinity level is lower. Thereafter, prawn farming takes over.

The Story of Rice tour will witness various attractions like farm visit, village sight-seeing along with authentic local cuisine in a traditional style of eating, rides on the country boat to the backwaters, and much more.

Since Pokkali Rice is organically grown, it has more nutritional value than most of the rice forms. The protein content and medicinal properties of Pokkali Rice makes it more preferable for health-conscious people.

The Story of Rice tour will leave you with the taste of India by opening its doors to the glimpse of the diverse cultures of India.

Mantra Wild is ready to take you on a beautiful experience of Rice Story. Click here for more info on our Experience. 

Client Testimonial- Wild Heart of India Small Group India Safari Tour February 5, 2018

Wild Heart of India Small Group India Safari Tour

It was never on our bucket list.

We had heard the stories.  Delhi belly, dirty and noisy, crowded, smog, third world place, dangerous, unfriendly people….  Everyone had a horror story. (Martin and Pauline added on 2 extra nights in Delhi which included our famous Old Delhi Heritage and Food Walking tour)

Wild Heart of India Safari Mantra Wild

Photo credit: Martin and Pauline Oldfield. Old Delhi


We saw this trip advertised by Michael Snedic, from Wild Nature Photo Expeditions who works with Reena at Mantra Wild Adventures.  We liked game drives in Africa chasing the big 5.

India has the big 6 (same 5 plus tiger) – who knew that???  We had never seen the leopard. So we opted for this Small Group India Safari Tour escorted by Michael.

It had never been on our bucket list.  We believed the stories.

We spoke to Michael and then Reena from Mantra Wild Adventures.  We decided …. what the heck!  It is only for 2 weeks and we can put up with just about anything for 2 weeks.  Let’s just not extend our stay.  The stories had us a bit worried.  Good luck with all of that the story tellers told us.

It was never on our bucket list.

It should have been.  The stories were wrong.

The food was amazing.  Not a hint of Delhi belly, not even a mild upset.  Even off the streets in Old Delhi.  The lodges Reena chose were first rate.

Wild Heart of India Indian Wildlife Safari Tour Mantra Wild r

Martin and Pauline with host and naturalist, Aly from Reni Pani Lodge at Satpura Tiger Reserve. Breakfast is served!

The traffic was …. interesting… to say the least.  Unless you can judge the width of your car to the nearest millimetre, are prepared to consider road line markings as decoration only, don’t get perturbed by passing on blind corners, or turning nominally 2 lanes into 4 lanes of cars plus 2 bike lanes, and the prospect that someone will decide to ride their rickshaw the wrong way down a crowded road doesn’t faze you, do not .. I repeat …. DO NOT…. even think about trying to drive in India.

Reena found us excellent drivers.  After the first couple of hours of heart in the mouth stuff we realised that this was normal, everyone knew the “rules” and we were actually quite safe.  Sit back and enjoy the marvelous scenery.

The guides told us that Delhi was just foggy, because the politicians assured them that it was not smog.  Not sure that it is strictly correct, but on the plus side it provided a beautiful misty light for photography.  The air in central India was clear (albeit a bit dusty).

Wild Heart of India Safari Mantra Wild

Photo Credit: Martin and Pauline Oldfield in Old Delhi.

We roamed the back alleys of Old Delhi, we drove through dozens of villages, we walked through village streets taking photos and mixing with the locals.  Without exception the people were open and friendly.  The service levels provided at the lodges was of the highest standard, and the staff friendly and cheerful.  Not once did we feel the slightest bit threatened or in danger.

It was never on our bucket list.  What a shame.

The national parks were amazing.  We were told that Indian animals are more elusive than African animals.  And they were.  The leopard that had eluded us for many years (I think about 17 game drives in Africa and India) remained …….. elusive.  Until that wonderful moment in Pench when we were treated to a 9 minute sighting.  The wait was worth it.  What joy!  What an amazing creature. (You can see how happy we were in this video!!)

Wild Heart of India Small Group Safari Tour

Photo Credit: Martin and Pauline Oldfield, taken at Pench Tiger Reserve.

Wild Heart of India Small Group Safari Tour

Photo Credit: Martin and Pauline Oldfield, taken at Pench Tiger Reserve.

And now for that iconic cat – the Bengal tiger. 

Plenty of sightings we were told – last week.  Our excellent guides tracked their footprints, we heard the alarm calls, we smelt their kill, we drove for hours in the beautiful jungle.  We were rewarded only with a 5 second clear view under difficult circumstances.  But that actually didn’t disappoint us as much as it might be thought.  If the only outcome we wanted was a picture of a tiger, we would go to a zoo and get it.  But we enjoy the experience of being in their jungle and knowing that at any moment we might see one around the next corner.  We can always come back.

Wild Heart of India Small Group Safari Tour

Photo Credit: Martin and Pauline Oldfield, taken at Kanha Tiger Reserve.

It was never on our bucket list.

Client Testimonial Wild Heart of India

Photo credit: Martin and Pauline Oldfield, taken at Kanha Tiger Reserve.

It is now.

Thank you Reena and Michael.

Client Review of India Wildlife Safari Tour: Mantra Jungles and Himalayan Foothills October 6, 2017

Bird Nerd Paradise with a Cultural Appetiser and a side of Tiger!

Mantra Jungles and Himalayan Foothills

By Georgina Steytler


That’s what we ordered when we first contacted Reena Tory of Mantra Wild Adventures about designing us a trip to India. I was interested in Mantra Jungles and Himalayan Foothills Tour. I am the bird nerd. My husband is a perfectly sane human being. I admit, it’s not an easy order to fill. It requires a delicate balancing of  culture, nature safaris, iconic sights, lots of good food and accommodation and, of course, plenty of birds.  Did she deliver? You bet.

Mantra Jungle Himalayan Foothills tour Mantra Wild

Georgina Steytler getting friendly with the local treepies at Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve


Warning: the following may contain bird references…


The Cultural Appetiser

Our customised Mantra Jungles and Himalayan Foothills trip began in Delhi, an impressive city with over 11 million people and almost as many Black Kites wheeling around in the air above it. Old Delhi is what it says on the label: a hub of history, culture and food. Our Old Delhi food and heritage walking tour through the chaotic alleyways, overstuffed spice bags, baskets of flowers and lackadaisical dogs ended at the ‘Best Kachori in Delhi’ – the best street food I have ever tasted in my life. My tongue is still singing. Welcome to India!

Old Delhi Walking Tour Mantra Wild Himalayan Foothills

Taken by Georgina Steytler


Our cultural and historical forays didn’t end there. A drive through rural India is a visual feast that we devoured as we traveled from Delhi to Agra and Jaipur, and then ventured north towards the Himalayas, rounding off our three week Mantra Jungles and Himalayan Foothills journey in a luxurious mountain retreat sandwiched between moss-covered oaks and red-flowering rhododendrons.

Madan, our ever-patient driver, negotiated the carts, bicycles, winding roads, wandering cows and hungry pigs with aplomb and made sure to keep us (me) in an adequate supply of chocolate, Masala Munchies and a cup of hot Masala tea (the original ‘chai latte’).


Even for a birder like me, the Taj Mahal, the jewel of Muslim art in India, was a ‘must see’ part of our itinerary (Reena – we added this part in for Georgina!). As you turn the corner into its vast grounds, it rises up before you like a shimmering marble mirage, nesting on the river’s edge amidst swathes of greenery. The immensity of its scale and its perfect symmetry, convey a palpable sense of serenity. As you near it, you discover that the ‘sheer’ walls are each their own works of art, broad marble canvases into which have been inlaid precious and semi-precious stones in exquisite floral and geometric designs.

Mantra Wild MAntra Jungle and Himalayan Foothills tour


In contrast to the glassy glamour of the Taj Mahal, Jaipur’s Hindu styled Amer (or ‘Amber’) Fort is a rustic red sandstone hilltop palace set amongst the arid landscape of Rajasthan. The former home to the Rajput Maharajas, it is spread over 4 levels in a maze of courtyards (including one for his queens and mistresses), colonnades, ramparts and secret tunnels. One of the highlights is the Sheesh Mahal, or mirror palace, a stunning area of marble inlaid with mirror mosaics and coloured glasses designed to glitter in the candlelight.

Mantra Jungle and Himalayan Foothills Mantra Wild

Georgina and Chris at Amer Fort

By now our appetite had well and truly been whet with all things Indian.


Bird Nerd Paradise

After the cultural teaser, it was time to leave civilisation behind and venture into the Indian wilderness… well, not quite. Starting the day with a hot cup of coffee in bed inside your luxury tent, followed with a touch of tiger spotting and rounded off with a breakfast of fresh pomegranate, yoghurt, cereal, and/or a masala omelette can hardly be called uncivilized.  

It turns out that indulging in nature in India does not mean sacrificing comfort. From Ranthambhore and Jim Corbett National Parks to Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary in the lower Himalayas, we stayed in gorgeous accommodation with fantastic food and service, and the odd tiger pug mark at the front door.

Mantra Jungle and Himalayan Foothills Mantra Wild

Rustic Vanghat Lodge, Corbett National Park taken by Georgina Steytler

Khem Villas, near Ranthambhore, is located on 25 acres of natural habitat that is an oasis of wildlife with a couple of small lakes (complete with common and pied kingfishers, moorhens, long-tailed shrikes, red-wattled lapwings and a crocodile and babies), a dense forest (with the occasional tiger, deer or leopard hanging about) and open grassland buzzing with pipits, Indian robins, silverbills and lots of other lbjs (‘little brown jobs’).

Khem Villas Landscape at Ranthambhore National Park taken by Georgina Steytler

Even the hotel lobby had its share of wildlife. Apart from the greater goldenback on the palm tree out front and the civet cat living in the bamboo, CCTV showed to us by the manager, showed a leopard  on one night, and an hyena on another, strolling along the outer corridors (to the horror of the pet cat).

Mantra Wild Mantra Jungle Himalayn Foothills

Sloth Bear, Ranthambhore National Park taken by Georgina Steytler

At Jim’s Jungle Retreat near Corbett National Park, from the luxury of our own balcony, I photographed pygmy woodpeckers, sunbirds, bulbuls and hornbills as well as a troupe of grey langurs that, to my delight, and the gardeners horror, set about causing chaos amongst the pond lilies.

Jim's Jungle Retreat Mantra Jungle and Himalayan Foothills Mantra Wild

Brown Headed Barbet at Jim’s Jungle Retreat, taken by Georgina Steytler

In fact, there are few places in the world that can match Corbett National Park for birdlife, with over 600 species recorded. To put that in perspective, that is half the bird species of India present in 500 square kilometres. Welcome to bird nerd nirvana.

As a birder, however, it was Vanghat Lodge, tucked away in a remote valley on the other side of Jim Corbett National Park, that provided the richest pickings.

Mantra Jungle and Himalayan Foothills Mantra Wild

Spotted Owl, Vanghat Lodge Corbett National Park, taken by Georgina Steytler

Away from roads, and perched beside the Ramnagar river (which you have to cross on a raft) Vanghat Lodge offered unrivalled peace and tranquillity amongst spectacular natural surroundings. With cliffs rising high on each side, the warning calls of deers and langurs could be heard echoing down the valley, revealing the presence of a predator somewhere nearby. At night, we saw a porcupine snuffling in the grass and awoke one morning to find the tell tale signs that an elephant had spent the evening helping himself to the plants outside our bedroom door.

Mantra Jungle and Himalayan Foothills Mantra Wild

Ramganga River, Vanghat Lodge, taken by Georgina Steytler

When not hunting wallcreepers, crested kingfishers and cute little white-capped redstarts by the river, I was busy madly photographing the incredibly beautiful slaty-headed parakeets feeding on the fruiting trees outside our room or the Himalayan rubythroat, white-headed laughingthrush, grey treepie or the exquisite little red-billed leiothrix in the garden (to name just a few).

Mantra Jungle and Himalayan Foothills Mantra Wild

Crested Kingfisher, Vanghat Lodge at Corbett National Park, taken by Georgina Steytler

As to the safari trips, of course, any safari has to start with the proviso that animal sightings, especially tigers, are not guaranteed. But here’s the thing. Even if you don’t see a tiger, you get to spend the best hours of the day driving around some stunning scenery. From cliffs to sweeping plains, forest ravines to pebbled streams to (in Ranthambhore) the ruins of a UNESCO declared World Heritage Site sitting high atop a mountain, the national parks were a treat of their own. Throw some wildlife into the mix, such as a leopard, jungle cat, yellow-throated martens, crested serpent eagle, the massive Brown Fish owl, griffon and red-headed vultures, mountain goats, spotted deers, Sambar deers, Indian scops owls, spotted owlets, wild boar, blue antelope, Indian Gazelle, Indian Peafowls, grey langurs, sandwich-stealing rufous treepies and a couple of sloth bears (which, it turns out, aren’t hanging from trees), and you have a recipe for traveller’s (and photographer’s) heaven.


Mantra Jungle and Himalayan Foothills Mantra Wild

Jungle cat at Corbett National Park, taken by Georgina Steytler


Mantra Jungle and Himalayan Foothills

Indian Gazelle at Ranthambhore National Park, taken by Georgina Steytler


A side of Tiger

What about the tiger I hear you ask? The answer is yes. On our last safari in Ranthambhore we were fortunate to come face to face with a magnificent male Bengal tiger. Of all the experiences on our trip, this was the most unforgettable.

Mantra Jungle and Himalayan Foothills Mantra Wild

Tiger at Ranthambhore National Park, taken by Georgina Steytler

You can check out the photos from our holiday at:

Georgina and Chris Steytler travelled in India on our Mantra Jungles and Himalayan Foothills Private tour. We also customised this tour further to Georgina’s interest of birding.

Contact us for a customised Wildlife Safari Holiday to India


What Makes for a Great Photo on an Indian Wildlife Safari August 29, 2017

What Makes For A Great Photo on an Indian Wildlife Safari?

Guest post by Australian Professional Photographer, Michael Snedic. He talks to us about his photo tips and how to apply this while on an Indian Wildlife Safari.

I am often asked the question “What makes for a great photo while on safari”?

Indian wildlife safari

With millions-upon-millions of photos being taken everyday around the world, you could easily feel like your images are ‘swallowed up’ in the sheer quantity of images taken. While on an Indian Wildlife Safari, it’s important to be prepared.

The thing is, no matter what camera(s) you own, you can capture a moment, such as a particular wildlife behaviors, simply by knowing your camera and its settings and by being prepared.

Indian wildlife safari


For landscape photography, it could be an amazing sunset or Aurora that you are trying to capture. By getting out there on a regular basis with your camera, it greatly increases the chance of capturing that ‘magic moment”. Knowing your camera’s settings and capabilities also reduces the chance of ruining a shot.


I recommend you research where certain wildlife species are found and then do a reconnaissance trip. See where they mostly likely are at certain times, where they might feed, any spots such as waterholes where they might bathe or drink, or courtship spots. Once you have done this, go back a few times and sit quietly, camera in-hand. The chance of capturing that ‘special’ wildlife behaviour on camera is far greater.

Indian Wildlife safari tour

People regularly tell me how lucky I am to have captured an osprey that has just caught a fish, flying straight towards me. The thing is, there was no luck involved but instead lots of planning and patience. I spent three years trying to get that ‘perfect’ shot. It took six plane flights, thousands of kilometres of driving, 50-60 boat trips and hundreds of hours of time, to get the shot (pictured below). In the end, I could virtually predict what the osprey would do and was ready with my camera. Luck wasn’t a factor in any way….

India Wildlife Safari photo tour

With so many images wildlife images out there, a shot needs to have that special ‘something’ to make it stand out. It may be an unusual behaviour by an animal or while tracking a tiger on an Indian Wildlife Safari. Only recently, while presenting a Photo Expedition of the Arctic Circle, a polar bear came right up to our ship, completely unafraid. I carefully followed it with my camera and lens, not leaving my focus off it for one second. This went on for quite some time then suddenly it leapt across some ice. I was ready with my camera and took some shots, using a fast shutter speed to freeze any action.

Above all, I encourage you all to get out there with your camera and have fun. The more you are out there, the higher the chance of capturing that special shot.

Michael Snedic, is leading our next Indian Wildlife Safari Tour in January 2018.

We will be visiting 4 of India’s best National Parks. Package includes all accommodation staying in boutique lodges and luxury tented camps, park entrance fees, game drives, most meals, and personalised photography mentoring with Michael + a visit to the Taj Mahal. For more info, click here. 

About Michael Snedic

Michael Snedic is one of Australia’s most accomplished wildlife and nature photographers, writers and tutors. His photos and photography articles have been published in numerous publications both in Australia and internationally, since the year 2000. He has been photographing across Australia (and overseas) for the past 20 years and he has loved every minute of it! He is owner of ‘WildNature Photo Expeditions’, and has presented photography workshops and tours across Australia and the world for the past 15 years. He is an Australian Ambassador for Lowepro, Lenscoat and the Nature Conservancy Australia for 2015, 2016 and 2017.

An experienced, professional photography tutor, Michael is also a writer of photography articles for magazines such as Australian Geographic, Australian Photography +Digital, Wildlife Australia, Australian Birdlife as well as the UK’s BBC Wildlife.

Michael regularly conducts photography workshops and tours, across the width and breadth of Australia. Locations include Lamington National Park (O’Reilly’s)Bowra Sanctuary Birds (Qld), Far North Queensland Birds, Bunya Mountains Birds, Lord Howe Island, Tasmania and Girraween National Park (Qld). 

Overseas photography expeditions he organises and leads include Africa (various locations), the Arctic, Antarctica, the Sub-Antarctic, the Russian Far East, India, Galapagos Islands and Peru/Incas.  

He is thrilled to have joined the team at Mantra Wild Adventures and looks forward to showing guests how to get the best possible shots of both the wildlife and landscapes, as well as the culture, of amazing India!

Michael is very passionate about wildlife and nature photography and loves sharing his images and photographic knowledge with others.

Visit Michael Snedic’s WildNature Photo Expeditions HERE

10 Reasons to Visit Kerala August 11, 2017

By Julie Miller.

Kerala is a beautiful state in Southern India that has something to offer all types of travelers. Here are our 10 reasons to visit Kerala.

#1: God’s Own Country

10 Reasons to Visit Kerala Mantra Wild

With its tropical vibe, slower pace and rich, unique culture, Kerala feels a world away from the chaotic, dusty northern states of India. It’s like South-East Asia with all that’s tantalising about India thrown in for good measure – the perfect combination.

#2: The people

10 Reasons to Visit Kerala Mantra Wild Adventures

Keralans are highly intelligent, well educated (with a 94 percent literacy rate), extremely feisty and staunchly political, which all makes for lively and entertaining conversation. It also makes for a lot of strikes, so be prepared for disruptions!

#3: The food

10 Reasons to Visit Kerala, Kerala Tours with Mantra Wild

With a long coastline and dozens of inland waterways, Keralan cuisine is naturally seafood-based, with light coconut flavours, zingy spices and fewer carbs than traditional Mughlai cuisine. I’m drooling just thinking about it…

(Ask us about our Farm Kitchen experience!)

#4: The backwaters

10 Reasons to Visit Kerala, Kerala tours with Mantra Wild

There’s no more relaxing experience than to punt silently through the palm-fringed backwaters in a converted rice barge, or kettuvallam, watching life on the 900 km of waterways pass by. There are hundreds of houseboat cruises available, from half-day trips to week-long meanders.

(Check out our Backwaters tour)

#5: Ecotourism and homestays

10 Reasons to Visit Kerala. Kerala Wildlife Tours with Mantra Wild











Accommodation in Kerala tends to be low-key and eco-friendly, with more than 400 registered homestays and boutique guesthouses. A leading local hotel group, CGH Earth, revolutionised the concept of sustainable tourism, sourcing local goods, creating job opportunities and being kind to the planet – and their resorts still set the bar in ecotourism.

#6: The wildlife

10 Reasons to Visit Kerala. Periyar Wildlife Tours Mantra Wild

There are a number of popular wildlife sanctuaries in Kerala, including six national parks protecting endangered species such as Bengal Tiger, sloth bear and Indian bison. The Eravikulam National Park in the West Ghats is a sanctuary for the endangered and very bold Nilgiri Tahr (a type of mountain goat); while the Periyar Tiger Reserve harbours more than 40 reclusive tigers as well as more visible populations of Asian elephants, Sambar deer, Lion-Tailed Macaques and 265 species of beautiful birds. (Check out our Kerala Wildlife Experience ).

#7: Hill stations

10 Reasons to Visit Kerala. Munnar Tea Tours Mantra Wild

On the lush, misty slopes of the Western Ghats, tea plantations snake across the hillsides, ablaze with the colourful saris of women working in the fields. Located 1600m above sea level, the hill station of Munnar has long offered an escape from the coastal humidity, and is a lovely place for a weekend retreat.

#8: Beaches

10 Reasons to Visit Kerala. Kerala Ayurveda and Wellness Tours Mantra Wild

Kerala boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in India, with white sand, coconut palms and surprisingly few people. Marari Beach Resort, for instance, is located on a beautiful stretch of deserted beach, with a nearby fishing village adding some local colour.

# 9: Ayurveda

10 Reasons to Visit Kerala Mantra Wild Kerala Tours

Ayurveda, the ancient science of wellness and longevity, is an integral part of Keralan lifestyle, with the largest number of practitioners in the world. There are a number of dedicated Ayurvedic resorts in the state (Book one with us, here), while treatments and specialised programs are offered in most hotels. (Here is another great wellness experience)

#10: Kochi

10 Reasons to Visit Kerala, Mantra Wild Kerala Tours

Our 10th Reason to Visit Kerala…With a long and fascinating multicultural history based around the spice trade, Kochi (or Cochin) is a great base for exploring Kerala, with an excellent range of accommodation, sophisticated restaurants and good shopping. Don’t miss a sunset sail on the harbour to watch the huge cantilevered Chinese fishing nets – the symbol of the city – being raised and lowered.

Have you been to the state of Kerala? Tell us about it in the comments below! We hope that our 10 Reasons to Visit Kerala will pursuade you to travel to Kerala on a tour! Contact us for more info. 

Here are some more Kerala Tours, or we can craft an India tour to your needs:

Mantra Kerala Wellness Experience (4 Nights/ 5 Days)

Mantra Kerala Wildlife Elements (10 Nights/ 11 Days)

Mantra Kerala Ayurveda

Mantra Kerala Wellness and Backwaters tour






Corbett’s Hidden Gem: Vanghat Lodge May 23, 2017

Vanghat Lodge is a paradise for nature lovers

Does waking up to nothing but the sounds of birds, the wind in the trees, and the rush of a pristine mountain river appeal to you? If you dream of an unspoiled wild safari holiday in India, consider Corbett National Park and staying at the hidden gem, Vanghat Lodge. It’s one of the stops on the Himalyan Elements tour, and will give you one of the most unique tiger safari tours of India available.


Himalaya elements Mantra Wild

Photo Credit: Mariellen Ward

Room to breathe. That’s the first thing I thought when I arrived at Vanghat Lodge near the Jim Corbett National Park buffer zone.

No roads, no power lines, no connectivity. Nothing but pure nature, fresh air, thick forests, a sparkling river, and the seen and unseen presence of birds and wildlife. Room to breathe, space to unwind, and all the wonders of nature to absorb.

Vanghat is a very special place. Located deep in the forests of Uttarakhand, adjacent to the Corbett buffer zone, you have to trek in two kilometres to get to it. Past tiny villages of thatch roof cottages, and across the Ramganga River by makeshift river, the adventure begins even before you arrive.

Mantra Wild Safari Vanghat

To cross the Ramganga, you sit on a small wooden raft buoyed up by tires, and people on either side pull you across with an attached rope. It’s ingenious, low-impact, and fun … and it sets the tone for the adventure you will have.

Vanghat Lodge Mantra Wild

Photo Credit: Mariellen Ward

From the rocky river side path, you can’t even see Vanghat Lodge, it is so well immersed into the landscape. Formerly a small village – that’s where the name comes from – owner Sumantha Ghosh kept one of the original stone buildings when he developed the site several years ago.  He added four thatched roof cottages, a dining room, and a residence for staff and volunteers, ensuring that all the buildings were spaced apart to allow privacy, and the movements of animals.

Elephants are known to walk through the property, once knocking down the roof of the well, and many other birds and animals can be spotted without venturing off the lodge grounds. By the fire one night, we saw a porcupine ambling along. Not far from the property, we saw tiger pug marks. Other animals that have been seen on or near Vanghat include sambar deer, wild boar, and sloth bears.


I sat on my verandah reading a book of stories by legendary hunter, conservationist, and author Jim Corbett – for whom the park is named – and watched a flock of rose-ringed parakeets play in the trees. The forested hills and valleys around Vanghat, adjacent to the buffer zone of Corbett tiger reserve, are just as rich in wildlife and birds. There are an estimated 600 species of birds in this region of the lower Himalayas, and Vanghat is a popular spot for birders.


Vanghat offers safari tours, but they are not the usual. In fact, Sumantha Ghosh likes to say that he wants to “un-four-by-four” people. In other words, he wants to get people out of jeeps and walking in the forest.


Mantra wild Vanghat Lodge

Photo Credit: Mariellen Ward

When I was there, we went on a five-hour long walking safari across the river and into the park’s buffer zone. We walked up hillsides, along ridges, through heavily forested areas, and to a cascading waterfall. We stopped for tea, put our feet in the waters of the cold, clear stream. We saw langur monkeys, sambar deer, Himalayan goral, more birds than we could count, and lots of signs of the big cat, the tiger: pug marks, scat, and clumps of hair.


Back at the lodge, we gathered for lunch in the open-air dining hall and feasted on local specialties and an array of chutneys, pickles, and jams made by a local women’s cooperative. Part of Vanghat’s commitment to being eco-friendly and responsible includes supporting the local community, as well as working to preserve the pristine environment.


There are so many ways that Vanghat demonstrates this commitment – from hiring local staff, to heating water with a wood-fired boiler; and from using traditional building methods and natural materials, to helping to end a destructive fishing practice along the Ramganga River.


The result of this holistic approach to conservation, and creating a sustainable eco-lodge, is the beauty, peace, and abundance of nature and wildlife you will experience when you are here.

Interested to visit this amazing place? Contact us today to put together a walking safari holiday t o this beautiful part of India.

Written by Mariellen Ward.


Mariellen Ward is a Canadian travel writer and digital storyteller. Her award-winning blog is one of the world’s leading travel blogs about India. Mariellen is an advocate of female solo travel and responsible travel. She has been blogging since 2005 and splits her time between Delhi and Toronto. Though Canadian by birth, Mariellen considers India to be her “soul culture” and has spent many years immersing herself in the culture. You can also find Mariellen, as Breathedreamgo, on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Wildlife Safari Review: Tiger Safari Tours in the National Parks of Madhya Pradesh May 1, 2017

Guest post by Mariellen Ward

Taking a tiger safari tour in India is a great way to experience the natural heritage of the country. A wildlife safari holiday, such as the Wild Heart of India small group tour, can give you one of the most exciting wildlife experiences on the planet: seeing a tiger in the wild!


At first, the only sounds you hear as you drive through the wildlife parks of central India are bird songs and the vehicle’s engine. Herds of graceful spotted deer nibble on grasses in the rolling meadows. A family of wild boar suddenly scoot out in front of you.

Tiger Safari Tour Mantra Wild

As you enter the forests thick with sal, bamboo, and other native trees, glossy grey langur monkeys scamper along the road. Colourful parakeets dart through the air to land in the branches of a tall tree and Indian rollers swoop in playful arcs.

Wildlife Safari Holiday Mantra Wild

Indian Roller

It’s all very peaceful, an idyllic paradise. The natural beauty and pristine wilderness lull you into a gentle and restorative reverie.

Mantra Big 5 Wildlife Safari

Photo credit: Keith Davey on Mantra Big 5 Safari Tour


But suddenly, one of the guides picks up a distant sound. At first, you don’t hear it. The driver stops and turns off the engine, and the guide jumps up to listen more carefully. This time, you hear it too – a kind of high-pitched shriek. It’s the alert call of an animal, often a deer or monkey, and it can only mean one thing: tiger!

wildlife safari holidays mantra wild

Along with spotting pugmarks and the informed knowledge of guides and naturalists, animal alarm calls are the best way to track the big cats in India’s tiger reserves. At the sound of the alarm calls, especially if they are consistent, the chase is on.

Mantra Big 5 Widllife Safari

Tiger pugmarks

Everyone sits down in the jeep-like vehicle, and the driver races towards the sound of the alarm calls – park speed limits permitting, of course. The excitement and tension rise as all eyes and ears strain to catch a glimpse of sinewy stripes.

With luck, you will see one of these magnificent creatures emerge from the undergrowth. And you will be thrilled. Tigers electrify the forest, and everyone who beholds them. For many, it’s a life-changing experience.

Wildlife Safari Holidays


There are about 50 tiger reserves in India, and some of the best are in the central state of Madhya Pradesh. Among the top are Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Pench, and Panna. The tiger reserves of India are administered by the National Tiger Conservation Authority and their practices are helping to save the wild tiger from extinction. India is home to about 70% of the world’s wild tigers. In 2006, there were 1,411 tigers – which increased to 1,706 in 2011 and 2,226 in 2014.


Top tiger reserves of Madhya Pradesh


Kanha National Park is the largest tiger reserve in India, with a core area of 945 square kilometres. It’s considered one of the best managed parks in India, has won many awards, and is a prime destination for many safari tours. The park is well known for having a significant number of Bengal tigers and for rescuing the Barasingha (swamp deer) from near extinction by creating a breeding program. It is also home to many species of animals and birds – there’s always a lot to see in Kanha, even if you don’t spot a tiger or leopard.

Wild Heart of India Mantra Wild

Kanha National Park

Bandhavgarh National Park is about a four or five-hour drive from Kanha, and is equally good for spotting tigers. It’s smaller, at 400 square kilometres, but it has one of the best tiger densities in all of India. Bandhavgarh is also a very beautiful park, with a hill-top fort, striking cliffs and some amazing vistas and vantage points. Photographers tend to love Bandhavgarh. About 22 species of mammals and 250 species of birds have been recorded in this park.

wildlife holidays India

Bandhavgarh National Park

Pench National Park stretches along the southern boundary of Madhya Pradesh and is named after the Pench River that meanders through it. Pench is famous as the location that inspired Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. The park is a good place to spot leopards and many birds, including migratory birds drawn to the waters of the wide and shimmering river. It’s rich in wildlife, birds and plant life, with more than 1,200 species of plants recorded. Pench tiger reserve has highest density of herbivores in India.

Leopard hiding behind fallen tree trunk at Panna National Park

Panna National Park is another important tiger reserve in Madhya Pradesh. It’s located just a short drive from the UNESCO World Heritage site Khajuraho in the northern part of the state. The core zone is 543 square kilometres of very picturesque scenery owing to the Ken River, deep gorges, lush greenery and cascading waterfalls. Wildlife sightings are common in Panna as the park is rich in many animals including tigers, leopards, sloth bears, wolves, blue bulls, foxes and many others. The park boasts one of the highest densities of the gorgeous Paradise Fly-Catcher.

India wildlife holidays

Panna National Park

Would you like to visit one of these national parks?

Wild Heart of India Small Group Photo Safari tour will be visiting some of these parks

Mantra Big 5 Private Tour visits Pench, Bandhavgarh and Kanha National Parks.

More info? Contact us at


Mariellen Ward is a Canadian travel writer and digital storyteller. Her award-winning blog is one of the world’s leading travel blogs about India. Mariellen is an advocate of female solo travel and responsible travel. She has been blogging since 2005 and splits her time between Delhi and Toronto. Though Canadian by birth, Mariellen considers India to be her “soul culture” and has spent many years immersing herself in the culture. You can also find Mariellen, as Breathedreamgo, on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.



The Ultimate Foodie Tour: Old Delhi Heritage and Food Walking Tour April 10, 2017

Written by Julie Miller

There’s nothing quite like the aroma of Indian street cuisine, the heady mix of spices tantalising the senses and triggering the appetite. But like many other travellers to India, I’m often hesitant about eating street food, with fears of the notorious ‘Delhi Belly’ tempering my gastronomic adventures.

Old Delhi Walking tour

The solution to this is local knowledge; and when it comes to food, there’s no one more informed than our guide on Mantra Wild Adventure’s Food and Heritage walking tour of Old Delhi. Not only is Ramit a passionate historian, but he’s also the ultimate foodie – enthusiastic and perpetually hungry. Over the course of several hours, he’ll lead us to his favourite street stalls in Chandni Chowk, with the aim of proving to us that food purchased in this ancient marketplace is not only safe to eat, but also innovative and delicious.


First stop on our walking tour is a stall called Manohar Dhaba, which has been selling the curiously named Japanese Samosas since 1949. Unique to this vendor and made from a secret recipe, these samosas are created from 60 layers of pastry, an explosion of spiced peas and potatoes in a crunchy casing that costs just 8 rupees (around 15c) each.

Mantra Wild Heritage and Food Walking Tour

Mantra Wild Heritage and Food walking tour Old Delhi


Many of the stalls in Old Delhi date back to the 1800s, handed down from generation to generation. The famous Paranthe Wali Gali (Paranthe Alley), for instance, was originally known for its silverware shops, before a string of paranthe walas moved in during the 1870s. During its peak in the 1960s, there were 20 restaurants in this tiny laneway selling versions of the fried North Indian bread – only three remain, each one crammed with diners eagerly devouring the crispy flatbread, prepared in a street-front wok and served with dipping curries and condiments.

Sweet treats are also high on every Indian’s agenda, with one of the most popular a sticky curl of fried dough called jalebi. The oldest and most famous jalebi wala, dating back to 1884, is called – surprise, surprise – The Old and Famous Jalebi Wala, with the sticky pretzels whipped up before your eyes in what amounts to an amazing display of culinary street theatre.

Old Delhi Heritage and Food Walking tour Mantra Wild

As the midday heat bears down on us, Ramit hails a bicycle rickshaw to hasten our progress through the increasingly chaotic Chandni Chowk. Instead, we find ourselves trapped in a claustrophobic traffic jam, cheek to jowl with dozens of other bicycles as well as bullock-drawn carts, honking taxis and garland-decorated trucks using their size as leverage. It’s hilarious, but also rather terrifying – and we alight 20 minutes later outside the Old Delhi Spice Market, grateful for our lives and ready to continue our walking tour.

Mantra Wild Old Delhi Heritage and Food Walking tour


The spice market – the oldest in Asia – is both a visual and olfactory delight, pungent with the aromas of ground turmeric, cumin, nutmeg and nuts. There’s even a section dedicated to chilli, bags of fiery red peppers stacked to the rafters setting me off in a fit of sneezing.

Old Delhi Heritage and Food Walking Tour


But Ramit isn’t done with feeding us just yet. Despite our protestations that we are fit to explode, he promises one last snack that we won’t be able to resist – a dessert called Mango Kulfi. Stepping into an unmarked, near-empty concrete space in a nondescript back alley, we are presented with slices of frozen mango, stuffed with a creamy filling thickened with rice flour.

Old Delhi Walking Heritage and Food Tour


It’s a veritable taste sensation, sweet and cooling and the perfect epilogue to our eye-opening, mouth-watering and belly-expanding Indian food tour.

Our Old Delhi Heritage and Food Walking Tour is AUD$150 per person in conjunction with a Mantra Wild Holiday package.

Have you been to Old Delhi? Tell us about your experiences in the comments.




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