Lonely Planet Writer

An Indian wildlife sanctuary has been painstakingly brought back to life over 26 years by this couple

In 1991, Pamela Gale Malhotra and her husband Anil bought 300 acres of abandoned, desolate land in Karnataka, South India. Over the years, they’ve lovingly nurtured the space into a flourishing wildlife sanctuary that’s now home to over 200 endangered species of plants and animals.

Pamela Gale Malhotra and her husband Anil.
Pamela Gale Malhotra and her husband Anil. Image by Sai Sanctuary

“We never expected to see the sanctuary grow to such a scale”, says Pamela, who in 2015 was presented with an award from the International Institute for Peace through Tourism. “But we hope it can continue to grow even larger. It’s critical to protect our forests and wildlife, in order to also protect the fresh water sources that have their origins here.”

The couple wandering through the rainforest.
The couple wandering through the rainforest. Image by Great Big Story

Pamela and Anil regularly wander through this lush green forestry, home to (among many other majestic creatures), Asian elephants and Bengal tigers. It’s an incredibly therapeutic experience for Pamela, who’s worked tirelessly to create this thriving ecosystem. “Many life lessons have been learned here”, she says, “like enjoying the so-called ‘simple joys’ of life; hearing the birds sing, breathing clean air, drinking pure water straight from the stream, and having the privilege of sharing this place, this planet, with all the other incredible species on Earth in peace and harmony.”

Visitors can also enjoy the sanctuary with a stay at an eco-cottage.
Visitors can also enjoy the sanctuary with a stay at an eco-cottage. Image by Great Big Story

“Other lessons include patience, flexibility, calmness, perseverance, and one-pointed dedication to reach the goal. Joy is the greatest emotion I feel here, along with peace, awe, and awareness. You never know what you’ll discover further down the path, you never know when you’ll come upon some bird, deer or other wildlife as you walk through the forest.”

Would you like to experience this incredible sanctuary for yourself? There are two ecotourism cottages on the site, where guests can truly immerse themselves in this magical forest. According to Pamela and Anil, “you’ll sleep peacefully, cradled in the arms of Mother Nature, the hush of the silent night broken only by the whisper of the wind through the trees, the songs of the crickets and hooting of the great white owl. And if one is lucky, the trumpet of the elephant, the barking of the deer and even the roar of the tiger.” Sounds good to us!

Find out more about the important work Sai Sanctuary does, here.