Sanctuary Of Recurring Motifs: How A Lodge Preserves Local Art 


Sustainable tourism and promotion of local indigenous art makes the Singinawa Jungle Lodge a unique ecotourism destination. Tulika Kedia, owner, Must Art Gallery, shares some works from her personal collection displayed at the lodge, her labour of love, and writes on the confluence of conservation of plants, wildlife and traditions of the local communities.


Singinawa combines two of my passions — wildlife conservation and art. The lodge has been painstakingly restored from its original state. The restoration of art has been an important part of this process. Several works from my personal collection adorn the walls of the lodge. These are all indigenous works created by artists from local tribes, Gonds and Baigas. They are beautiful representations of the oral traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation. These tangible versions of an intangible heritage have led to the propagation and conservation of the ethnic culture of these indigenous communities.

A lot of these works depict tribal stories that revolve around nature. Recurring motifs of local plants and animals can be found in abundance, along with those of gods and goddesses inspired from Nature that is representative of the beliefs of these indigenous communities. The art produced is almost like a form of documentation and presents a vivid glimpse into the lives of the tribal communities. Guests at Singinawa can learn more about the harmonious coexistence of the regional people with their natural surroundings through these stunning artworks that are placed across the lodge, especially at the Kanha Museum of Life and Art. A special feature of the lodge, the museum, houses a collection of remarkable works by Gond and Baiga artists. Curated shows featuring local artisans are put up and the patrons are encouraged to understand, appreciate and buy the artworks of innumerable gifted artists of indigenous origins from Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.


‘Nature’s Changing Colors’. Acrylic on canvas. Artist: Ladoo Bai.


“Singinawa” comes from the Himalayas and means ‘protectors of the sacred forest’. Visitors to the Singinawa Jungle Lodge are encouraged to love and respect all things natural and wild. While the management team of Kanha Tiger Reserve and the professionals from the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department are the bulwark of every conservation initiative around Kanha, the Singinawa Conservation Foundation is committed to extend its efforts to these two entities and compliment their actions.

Sustainable tourism is at the core of Singinawa’s ideology. The use of eco-carts within the property prevents noise pollution and vehicular emissions, letting the sounds of the jungle be the only ambient music. The Singinawa Conservation Foundation was established to raise awareness on the natural habitat and indigenous communities. It works closely with the government in areas like healthcare and education.


‘Nature’s Stream’. Acrylic on canvas. Artist: Venkat Raman Singh Shyam.


Ecotourism as a concept has gained huge popularity in the last few decades. Its primary purpose is to offer tourists an organic experience in a natural habitat while focusing on conservation measures. Conservation here is two-fold. It includes conservation of local plants and wildlife, as well as traditions of local communities. Ecotourism promotes sustainability with an aim to minimise the human impact on Nature, as much as possible. Energy efficiency, resource conservation and providing opportunities to local people are a few of its components.

Entrepreneurs have a responsibility towards the environment when they set up eco-friendly accommodations. Several pioneers in India have established lodges and resorts in the vicinity of important wildlife sanctuaries that have also contributed significantly towards conservation measures.

Kanha Tiger Reserve, located in the state of Madhya Pradesh, has played a major role in checking the decline in the number of tigers in India. With efforts of the government and environmentalists, the tiger population has seen a healthy growth in this area. Singinawa Jungle Lodge is an attempt to add to this cause. It is a labour of love — love for nature and conservation.


‘Nature’s Energy’. Natural dyes and acrylic on paper. Artist: Pushpa Kumari.


The solar-powered museum has been built keeping modern standards in mind and offers audio guides and informative books to let visitors know more about the art on view. Through the museum and affiliate organisations, large scale art exhibitions have been organised in Delhi and Mumbai to bring these artists and their artistic traditions and practices to the global platform.

Kanha Museum of Life and Art is a reflection of the collection offered at Must Art Gallery, my venture in New Delhi. Providing opportunities to these regional artists was the main purpose behind setting up the gallery. A lot of indigenous art forms were endangered due to the lack of a platform where they could be promoted. This was unacceptable to me. I decided to take the initiative to promote them and through the endeavours of the Must Art team, indigenous works have been placed in the collections of important art connoisseurs and have also been displayed at international museums.


‘Nature can’t be Better’. Acrylic on canvas. Artist: Durga Bai.


Featured image: Nature Underneath (Bhon), cow dung and acrylic on canvas. Artist: Sadashiv Mashe.