Discover Rudyard Kipling's India - the best tours to take
A writer of short stories, poetry and children's books, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature at the age of 42. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, he was one of the most popular authors in Britain. His poems include Gunga Din and Mandalay, while his other works include The Man Who Would Be King. The action of The Jungle Book - the tale of Mowgli, the feral child brought up by wolves - takes place in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, which offers much for those interested in safaris and wildlife. Forests in the south-east of the state in the vicinity of Seoni - or Seeonee, as Kipling spells it - were the setting for where Mowgli was raised in the novel.
On the trail of the tiger
Look for the wildlife that featured in The Jungle Book with a tour that takes in national parks such as Kanha, Pench and Bandhavgarh. Kanha and Bandhavgarh in particular are Bengal tiger sanctuaries found in the eastern part of Madhya Pradesh. Guided safaris are available and a visit to these national parks can be easily combined with seeing Delhi, India's present capital, which was inaugurated as the capital of the Raj in 1931, taking over from Kolkata. Many flights to India land in Delhi; from there, it is easy to travel overland, such as by India's famous rail network.
Tigers and the colours of Rajasthan
Other parks to look for tigers include Ranthambore National Park, which is in Rajasthan. While in India's largest state, explore the remnants of kingdoms and forts that make this such a popular part of India for tourists. In the capital Jaipur, which is known as the ‘Pink City’, visitors can see the Hawa Mahal, where royal women were once cloistered, and the Amer Fort, built in the 1600s by a Rajput prince. There are even elephant stables to provide rides around the fort. Rajasthan can, of course, be combined with Delhi - from there it is easy to reach Agra (for the Taj Mahal), even if just for a day trip. Delhi, Jaipur and Agra have for many years been known as the points of India's ‘Golden Triangle’, combining sites that most visitors want to see in a short trip to this vast country.
Shimla and the north-east
As a young reporter, Kipling covered the ‘season’ in Shimla, which was the summer capital of the British Raj. The machinery of government moved to this hill station in the Himalayas when the temperature on the plains became too great. Today, Shimla is a picturesque town perched on a ridge, with churches and the historic Viceregal Lodge to visit. There is also the Gaiety Theatre, where Kipling once trod the boards. The easiest way to reach Shimla is probably starting from Delhi, perhaps stopping off in Chandigarh, India's only planned city. From Shimla it is possible to travel south, stopping off in Mumbai to explore the coastal city where Kipling was born.