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Besides the absolutely amazing and trippy 3D visuals, there’s something very warm and inviting about the new Jungle Book.

Maybe it is the use of the original jingle of Doordarshan days in the Hindi version: “Jungle jungle pata chala hai, arey chaddi pehen ke fool khila hai.”

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Reworked by Gulzar and Vishal Bhardwaj, the original team, it brings alive a very homely feel to the whole film.

With Disney’s Jungle Book grossing as the biggest ever Hollywood bestseller in the country, it is time to look at national parks that, despite our half-hearted conservation efforts, still manage to provide an atmosphere of the kind one only finds in Rudyard Kipling’s stories.

Below is our list of forests where you can meet the characters up front. The real deal!

Bagheera in Dandeli

Bagheera is Mowgli’s gutsy best friend. He is well-known and feared.  He’s a melanistic black panther, a variety of leopard with a ghostly presence in the tropical rainforests of India.

Your best bet to meet Bagheera is Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary in Karnataka.

We suggest Kali Adventure Camp for a secluded stay, they are as good as their website (and their heavy-duty name!).

Mowgli in Thekkady

It is obvious that the book’s main protagonist, our dear Mowgli, enjoyed chilling on trees. So what better way to follow in his footsteps than up into the canopy?

Treehouses have become a major tourism trend in the recent years, but many hotels tend to cheat by calling any upper storey structure as one.

Kerala is one place where they seem to have cracked it. Thekkady region in particular has several good options.

We like Vanya Forest Treehouse for the most authentic experience.

Sher Khan in Pench

Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh is literally known as ‘Mowgli Land’ for the jungle-book feeling it inspires, and for being the official setting of Kipling’s magnum opus.

Chances of spotting the majestic Bengal tiger are high in Pench, though unfortunately their star tigress Bhagin Nalla died due to poisoning in March this year. It is a great loss, but you can still count on meeting Sher Khan here.

Try the eco-lodge Pench Tribal Camp for a jungle safari.

Baloo in Bannerghatta

That shaggy, sleepy awesome species called sloth bear is actually on decline (like most wonderful animals of the planet). But ever imagined building a hammock for Baloo to rest in?

Oh yes, you can actually do it. 

Volunteer with Wildlife SOS and show up in Bannerghatta in Karnataka (or one of their other three bear rescue centres) to do your bit to save everyone’s favourite honey-eater!

Akela in Panna

Meet the Lone Wolf in the famous Panna National Park in Madhya Pradesh and perhaps you will forget Sher Khan for a while.

Remember though, he isn’t called Akela without reason, the stealthy wolf requires patience and reverence to come by.

For best sightings, we recommend staying next to a river. Ken River Lodge is steeply priced but perfect for such an experience.

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