Wildlife Luxuries Tipai — A Land of Tigers and Nature

Esha Aphale | November 3, 2023 | Life

Spending a weekend at Tipai, a Wildlife Luxuries retreat, was like immersing myself in the wilderness. Tipai – the wildlife resort hasn’t incorporated nature into its structure but has integrated itself into nature; honouring the fact that it belongs to the animals and nature first, and to man next. At first glance, I thought I was entering a forest with unruly trees, and imminent sounds of birds and insects — as if they were introducing themselves to me.

“Tipeshwar, situated in the Yavatmal region, known for agrarian challenges, represented an opportunity to uplift the area economically. With its excellent connectivity via a national highway and Nagpur airport, I saw the potential for it to become a prominent wildlife destination,” recounts Keyur Joshi, founder of Wildlife Luxuries, while sipping on a decaf coffee at Perch, one of the restaurants on the property. “I envisioned changing the landscape of Tipeshwar and possibly extending this impact to other underserved parks. This marked the beginning of my journey, driven by the belief that responsible tourism could offer remarkable experiences to travellers while positively transforming local communities and India’s natural wonders.”

With villas and food programs that encourage slow living, Tipai is rooted in the ideology of unwinding, detaching, and decompressing amidst nature. As someone who has spent their whole life in the city, seeing squirrels scutter around freely felt like witnessing an urban jungle’s hidden secrets. Rabbits lounging in the sun gave the impression that I was intruding on the inner workings of a well-kept forest.

Top: Graze at Wadi; Wadi

Bottom: Perch; Communal Pool at Tipai

“In the early 2000s, I noticed a different India emerging, one that was just beginning to find its economic footing. Concepts like entrepreneurship, startups, and wealth creation were taking root, and technology was evolving. At Wildlife Luxuries, we’re forward-looking, focusing on building for 2030, not replicating past successes,” says Keyur, proudly about the space he has created. “Today’s travellers, especially the younger generation, seek more than just basic amenities. They want immersive experiences, delving into a destination’s culture, history, and cuisine. Our goal goes beyond wildlife; we create memorable experiences. We encourage guests to slow down, enjoy the simple pleasures, and have a truly personalised experience.”

As Keyur aptly pointed out, Tipai is deeply rooted in providing an immersive and authentic experience. The moment I set foot on the property, I found myself completely enveloped in the lush embrace of the forest, truly living in harmony with nature. My journey began at the man-made lake near the entrance, where a friendly host greeted me with a refreshing glass of basil and rose water. This welcoming gesture immediately set the tone for the experience that awaited. Wandering along a pathway, I eventually arrived at the forest villas, a distinct feature of Tipai. These unique accommodations are thoughtfully designed to blend seamlessly with the surrounding natural environment. Walking into my villa, I was struck by the sensation of being transported to the treehouse of my childhood dreams. The stone walls and floors, combined with the rustic yet comfortable furniture and linen fixings, gave the villa a distinct, earthy charm.

One of the most delightful aspects of the villa was the attention to detail, like including organic peppermint toothpaste (which I enjoyed using), an array of teas and coffees focused on hyper-local ingredients, and the whimsical sparrow-shaped lamps perched on slender rods along the ceiling. These charming additions not only illuminated the room but also added a touch of magic to the whole experience. Even as I woke up to the sounds of birds and insects outside my window, the playful presence of these lamps within the room created an atmosphere of pure delight. It was a reminder that I was not just staying in nature but truly becoming a part of it. Tipai’s commitment to creating a genuine and immersive connection with nature was evident in every corner of my forest villa, making it a stay to remember.

Enhancing the overall atmosphere, the three distinct restaurants at Tipai each beautifully encapsulates various facets of a forest setting. ‘Perch’ exudes the charm of a majestic tree with intricately designed bird nests suspended from its branches, evoking a sense of serenity and the melodies of the forest’s avian inhabitants. ‘Wadi’ transports diners to a Mediterranean oasis, nestled within a lush garden, where the ambiance mirrors the tranquil allure of a woodland glade, replete with fragrant blossoms and vibrant greenery. Meanwhile, ‘Palaash’ immerses visitors in the enchanting embrace of a dense forest’s undergrowth, offering an intimate dining experience characterised by dimly lit, earthy tones, and the aura of a mysterious and captivating woodland floor. Each of these three unique settings provides a delightful journey through nature, making dining at Tipai an unforgettable and multisensory experience.

The Forest Villa

Interiors of the villa

‘Palaash’, the piece de resistance of Tipai is Chef Amninder Sandhu’s brainchild and passion project. Set amidst a thick patch of Palaash trees, this restaurant is much more than just a unique eating experience. Chef Sandhu has used the menu at Palaash to pay homage to local food and flavours. As someone accustomed to Maharashtrian cuisine, the chef’s incorporation of straightforward ingredients commonly found in most dishes in a Maharashtrian household made it seem very homely with a touch of luxury.

For many individuals, Maharashtrian cuisine is typically savored through traditional thalis. However, the opportunity to savor this cuisine in a gourmet setting provided a truly unique experience. Dining in such an environment allows for a heightened appreciation of the rich and diverse flavors, as well as a deeper understanding of the cultural nuances that make Maharashtrian cuisine so special; it offers a chance to explore the culinary heritage of Maharashtra in a way that is both indulgent and enlightening. It’s a culinary journey that offers a delightful departure from the usual, making it an experience to remember.

For me, the highlight dish was something I have eaten time and again at my house — the slow-cooked raan, bhakri (jowar flatbread), and lal theccha (red chilli pickle). The presentation of this dish wouldn’t convey the fact that this is a very simple and staple dish found in every Maharashtrian household; it looked edgy, experimental, and opulent. Every dish in this experience was paired with a glass of wine and thoroughly explained by a sommelier who was a local from the village where Tipai is based. At Palaash, the entire team is comprised exclusively of local individuals who work hand in hand with Chef Sandhu to craft dishes that capture the essence of the region. One notable example of this partnership is the preparation of bhakris and parathas, traditional Indian flatbreads. In the kitchen, these culinary artisans, known as “maushis,” demonstrate a remarkable level of expertise. Cooking bhakris and parathas is second nature to them, and they perform these tasks with a level of precision that can only be described as muscle memory. Chef Sandhu, with her culinary expertise, plays a crucial role in not only preserving but also enhancing the traditional flavors and techniques that the maushis have mastered over the years. This dynamic collaboration between Chef Sandhu and the local staff ensured that every bite at Palaash was not just a meal but a genuine culinary experience that celebrated the rich heritage and traditions of the region.

Left to Right: Ambaadi, Yoghurt, Tamarind and Pineapple; Jowar Bhakri, Lal Thecha; The team at Palaash with Chef Sandhu


Throughout my stay, it became evident that Wildlife Luxuries recognises regional diversity, tailoring its approach to different cities and lifestyles. Their goal is to disrupt the industry by offering deeply personalised and experiential travel. “It is my laboratory for innovative hospitality experiences,” says Keyur. “We aim to elevate local cuisine and empower women from rural areas, changing perceptions of fine dining and luxury. Our vision is to redefine fine dining as an exceptional experience, focusing on authenticity rather than opulence. This is about reshaping the concept of upscale hospitality.”

Wildlife Luxuries embodies its name by offering a unique blend of luxury and personalisation, all while providing a rich, localised experience that allows guests to fully immerse themselves in the surrounding culture and the untamed wilderness. Nestled within the heart of a pristine forest, where tigers and deer roam freely and nature reigns unapologetically, this retreat promises and delivers, an extraordinary adventure without pushing you to be adventurous. It’s a place where luxury is tailored to your desires, and the forest’s embrace invites you to become a part of its story.

Words by Esha Aphale.
Image courtesy Wildlife Luxuries Tipai.

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