I dare you. Go on, name one person who doesn’t like The Jungle Book. Nobody? That’s what I thought too.
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling first came out in 1894 and remains a favourite book of millions across the world. If you grew up in India in the 80’s and 90′s, you are likely to be nostalgic whenever you hear the lilting tune “Jungal jungal baat chali hain pata chala hain..” and the lovable image of Mowgli would magically be retrieved from your memories. This timeless tale got a modern-day visual representation with Disney’s The Jungle Book, and your kids got to experience the magic again. But did you know that many of the animals that you see in the movie are a part of India’s vastly diverse wildlife? Yes, these fascinating creatures are just a little jungle trip away. What better way to spend the summer holidays with your kids than letting them see their favorite Jungle Book characters in flesh and blood? It doesn’t hurt that you can also secretly relive your childhood.
Here’s a roundup of the 5 main animal characters in the Jungle Book and where you can spot them now.
(1) Panther: Bagheera is the lovable, protective black panther who discovers Mowgli in the jungle and watches over him as he makes his way back to civilization. Black panthers in Asia and Africa are leopards (Panthera pardus) and black panthers in the Americas are black jaguars (Panthera onca).
“Everybody knew Bagheera, and nobody dared to cross his path; for he was as cunning as Tabaqui, as bold as the wild buffalo, and as reckless as the wounded elephant. But he had a voice as soft as wild honey dripping from a tree, and a skin softer than dawn.”
— Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book
Panthers can be spotted at these places:
(2) Bear: Mowgli’s best friend, Baloo, described as the “the sleepy brown bear” is most likely the Indian sloth bear, as per experts in this field. However, Baloo’s visual depiction fits the Himalayan brown bear better. In either case, the character is eminently lovable, don’t you think?
“Whenever great deeds are remembered in this jungle, one name will stand above all others: our friend, Baloo the bear.”―Bagheera
Sloth bears can be spotted at these places:
The Himalayan brown bears are extremely hard to spot, as they are in a critically endangered state. In Himachal, their home is the Kugti and Tundah wildlife sanctuaries and the tribal Chamba region. These bears now exist in very small numbers, and you would be very lucky to spot one, although there have been some recent sightings in Kashmir.
(3) Tiger: The archetypal villain of The Jungle Book, the scarred tiger Shere Khan (loosely translated – Chief of Tigers), is a Bengal tiger. Shere Khan literally makes the story roar, with his fearsome persona, and in some ways, can be described as the oppositional force through which Mowgli discovers his inner strength.
In the real world, Bengal Tigers are endangered, despite being India’s national animal and heavily funded conservation efforts.
Bengal tigers can be spotted at these places:
(4) Elephant: Hathi, the leader of the jungle’s elephants, referred to as “The True Master of The Jungle” is an Indian elephant. In Kipling’s books, he is one of the oldest animals of the jungle and represents order, dignity and obedience to the Law of the Jungle.
In the Disney movie “The Jungle Book”, the elephants have a critical role to play in the climax.
Elephants have also come to symbolize India in many ways. There would hardly be a visitor to India who would return without buying a gift or souvenir with an elephant motif.
Elephants can be spotted at these places:
(5) Python: Kaa is an exceptionally long, yellowish snake in Kipling’s Jungle Book. Kaa is portrayed as a helpful mentor in the original books, while Disney’s movies portray Kaa as the secondary antagonist. In both versions, Kaa has an impressive presence and hypnotizing powers.
Kaa is an Indian rock python, a nonvenomous serpent that can grow up to 21 feet long. Despite their foreboding presence, rock pythons are rarely a threat to humans, with their timid behavior, lack of venom, and slow locomotion. You can spot them in the daytime if they are basking in the sun. Do keep your distance though – despite their lack of venom they are powerful animals capable of suffocating large prey.
Rock pythons can be spotted at these places:
All excited to make your own Jungle Book story? We have created a very special itinerary to make your job easy. After all, kids, and kids disguised as adults should not be made to work hard to have fun.
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