Thursday, November 7, 2013

Searching for tigers during the festival of lights

We trudge slowly avoiding as many as we can but the inevitable happens more than we accept. It is about ten in the night and we are negotiating the treacherous road to the World famed National Park - Kanha.  My friends had arrived from UK via a Agra and then Varanasi for this tiger tour.

"Tired" I ask them as they alight from the train. "Not really," the lady replies. I like her spirit. We had straight for dinner at the owner's place in Jabalpur. We were to lodge at Courtyard House in Kanha. We reach the National Park around midnight and quietly slip into our rooms.  

This is my second trip to Kanha and we have come across the tiger only once. As we head for the morning drive I am quiet apprehensive. This year it had rained till quite late and water is everywhere in the park, the pray base is also scattered. This is an easy time for tigers and they are not moving. The safari is anyway livened up by the birds and other enchanting animals of the park. The couple are disappointed - Clas and Helen. Both reside in Scotland hence some information gathering for me. This is Diwali time and they are quiet inquisitive about the festival of lights. "Quiet Colorful and Joyous," they remark. "Yep," I give a dull reply, my mind is occupied with possible tiger movements. Last year we had sighted tigers on all our trips.

On the last day we miss a leopard by few minutes and then come across a tiger in the grassland. The tigress is lying about fifty yards from us in the patch of grass near Shravan Taal. We wait with bated breadth but to no avail. The tigress remained for what seemed like eternity.

"Time Up," whispers the guide. Sad and disappointed we move back to the gate. We next time I wish them luck for their journey onwards. After a day of rest our next guest arrive from Dubai. "Two Indians, Six Swedes and a lady from UK. One car from Jabalpur arrives in time the rest lag behind. We have a quick lunch and then had for the Khatia Gate. We wait for an hour before the other guests arrive and load on the safari jeep.                   

Quiet late I think but then I should chance upon Munna who awaits the jeeps and then makes his move. This is a huge tiger and we drive over Sal Ghat. This jungle road leads to Kanha Meadow and is a mixed as well as Sal forest. The Bamboo too  is abundant here specially on the hills. 

After driving for about twenty minutes we dash straight into Munna. This is a huge tiger well over two hundred kilos. The tiger rules over the territory of Sal Ghat, Digdola and Kari Talia. But the beast is so powerful it transcends into other territories with brazen impunity.    

Back and forth the jeep scatter in grip of frenzy. There is panic as the seven year old tiger rolls along the Sal Ghat Road like a massive ball of fur oblivious of humans on the contraption. Cameras click on the shaky jeeps. My Guest Dag and Annund manage lot of images as we scamper here and there to avoid being trampled over by the tiger.

The next day my guests sight a sloth bear with two cubs on Kanha Ghat. Bison, Swamp Deer, Wild Boar, Spotted Deer, Barking Deer, Langur and Jackal along with very many pretty birds make up for our trip.

The guests are happy and immersed in the hospitality at Courtyard House. This fantastic Kanha Resort accommodation offers sumptuous food. This is the best Indian cuisine in the park prepared with trained chefs. The place offers luxurious comforts and spacious living experience in private, picturesque settings.         

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