Into the Wilderness

2nd Oct 2014
Photo of Into the Wilderness 1/5 by Rhucha Kulkarni
A Golden Dawn Like Welcoming Arms
Photo of Into the Wilderness 2/5 by Rhucha Kulkarni
Along the tusker trails a mock charge unveils
Photo of Into the Wilderness 3/5 by Rhucha Kulkarni
Unfurls in a flurry the peacock glory
Photo of Into the Wilderness 4/5 by Rhucha Kulkarni
A Glimpse of the Striped cats not just a hype
Photo of Into the Wilderness 5/5 by Rhucha Kulkarni
As dusk falls the solitude charms

Finally! You have decided to ditch the urban jungle this holiday season and head out towards the real ones. As you dare delve into the land of growls, jungle fowls and owls a sense of trepidation gives you the jitters! After all it’s an alien world out there amidst the wilderness and fresh dose of oxygen that your lungs are so not used to! So before you try to seek exile from the worldly ways to the wild wild ones, here’s a glimpse into what’s in store for you – hidden amidst the gorgeous greens and the jungle goons. Here are those wonderful life-changing experiences that are sure to send you into an everlasting infatuation with the ways of the wild!

The misty breeze, your soul is pleased...

If you are one of those seeking an escape from the drudgeries of daily life and trying to find that perfect bliss in the midst of nature, what better to way to start the day than on a “high” note; albeit, high on the misty realms of the safari trail. So call upon the adventurer in you, as your safari gypsy treads the dirt trails deeper into the unknown! Head straight to Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan and brace yourself for the wild wild ways. Close your eyes and soak in the silence. Your heightened senses are sure to elevate you to a state of ecstasy - a state that no amount of man-made therapy can. Seek tranquillity in the caresses of Mother Nature!

Ranthambore National Park, a park of national and international fame is one of the oldest tiger reserves of India. The looming landmark of the Ranthambore fort lends this forestland a unique character – intimidating, yet appealing in an uncanny manner.

A golden dawn, like welcoming arms…

As your city-weathered body and soul slowly get accustomed to the fresh chill of the morning dew and so full-of-life hues of this natural haven, your cells shall open up like a fresh breath of life in response to a pretty dance of the leaves and shade. There before you – Behold! The rising sun seemingly bathing the new born world in a glorious golden glow. As you are made privy to this warmth-laden welcome extended to the new day, your heart warms to a fuzzy sense of comfort! One of the many offerings of nature- seldom sought in the uber-busy urban times. Sit up and soak in the slowness – as the blanket of smooth mist slowly unfurls over the beautiful junglescapes. A true gift unfurled right before your eyes – the gift of a golden dawn, so true and warm! All this and more in store for you as you tread the winding lanes and rocky cliffs in the early morning haze at Ranthambore National Park

Bandhavgarh National Park is known for the famous swamp deer or barasingha – the deer with the twelve-tined antlers. Ming you, while you admire these deer, you might catch a tiger majestically walking across!

The pugmarks uncover, signal lurking danger...

You see yourself getting to business – the business of tracking down the “Big Cats” like every other safari gypsy out there on a mission! Make sure you set your eyes on the dusty paths in search of the elusive pug marks! By the ways of the wild, “seeing is believing”. The very sight of these elusive cats is sure to send your mind into an exhilarated tizzy! As you spot those ‘larger than life’ prints of a very real carnivore an unrealistic sense of peril seems to hang thickly in the air. Your hair stands on end as a rush of adrenaline shoots through your veins in a “Flight” or “Fight” syndrome. Don’t forget to take snippets of these moments by clicking snaps of the dusty imprint. And then pray your heart out to as you follow the evidence to lead you to the real deal!

Make the most of a chance sighting during your summer vacations since the best season to sight a tiger in it’s wild habitat is during peak summer months of April and May. It is during these parched times that this majestic mammal loves lounging around in waterholes to cool off. Take a cue from the Striped one and take a chill pill during your next summer by heading straight to Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve(TATR) in Central India. A Tiger Reserve with amongst the highest density of tiger population, TATR is easily accessible from Nagpur. The Tiger Reserve has a total of six entry gates, the Mohurli gate being the oldest entrance to the park for excursions and most popularly used as an entry point. The other gates are Kuswanda, Kolara, Navegaon, Pangdi, and Zari (or Kolsa). Each gate has a fixed number of entry passes for safari gypsies, thereby limiting the number of tourist vehicles per day. Online bookings for the gypsies can be done through the government website:

The alarm call.. cautions one and all

Nature speaks – live and real, provided you listen to her! The rustling leaves, chirping of birds, and the occasional alarm call of the herbivores. It is nature’s giveaway of the masters of stealth, a safety signal from the prowl. A single alarm call is sure to make your heart miss a beat and start racing. For it is a signal – that any moment could present itself with the ones feared by one and all, predators on the prowl. Every alarm call is bound to announce a lurking hunter, graceful in combat. Who knows – she may be out there silently stalking you, watching you a 100 times over as you remain blissfully ignorant in your human reverie.

Experience the ways of the wild in the core zone and buffer zone of the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve. The core zone is the untouched area of the jungle, whereas the buffer is the surrounding area fringed with villages. Each tiger bears the responsibility of maintaining and marking his own territory, be it in the core or the buffer. For example, the tiger called “Wagdoh” aka “Scarface” is the king tiger who reigns the buffer zone of TATR, famously the largest male tiger in the wild, he is the epitome of felines might! Head straight to this tigerland to come face to face with this beauty!

Along the tusker trails… a mock charge unveils…

For those of you curious of the mighty pachyderms, head straight to Jim Corbett National Park at the foothill of the Kumaon ranges in Uttarakhand. As you explore these magnificently huge mammals, be mindful. For a lone tusker in sight may make or break your plight! Do observe these highly intelligent and sociable creatures, yet from a distance. Quite temperamental ruler of the turf, an encounter with a moody loner may leave you floundering at the sheer might of these pachyderms. Even the slightest sense of unease or aggression sends the mighty bulls into a histrionic display of brawn and brains. Trumpets and bellows fill the air as a thousand kilos of pure muscle approaches you heads-on. And yet a mere display that generally means no harm, but a warning to back off. Truly one of the most harrowing yet amusing experiences in the wild!

Jim Corbett National Park offers breath-taking landscapes, from the towering trees of the dense Sal forests to the vast central grasslands of Dhikala. For an authentic jungle experience, check out the facility @ Dhikala or many of the Eco-resorts fringing the towering Sal trees. And you are sure to be blessed with a pachyderm encounter!

Unfurls in a flurry.. the peacock glory..

Jungles are all about nature and action. Nature is the charm, while action packs the thrill. And what better way to experience a beautiful marriage of both than seeing the beautiful peacock dancing to the unheard tunes of the winds! As the national bird lives up to its status by taking centre stage and unfurling its plumage in a classic wooing game, your heart fills up with an emotion beyond words. A visual treat for the eyes, a sight that takes a place forever in your heart. Such is the grace of this docile birds. The next time you step into a jiggle of your own, you’d be sure to ape this splendid beauty!

Venture out into the dry deciduous forests of Sasan Gir National Park in Gujarat to catch a glimpse of these iridescent plumes in plenty against the backdrop of the rustic browns. Who knows, you might have a chance encounter with the king of the jungle  - a maned mammal greeting you face to face!

A glimpse of the striped, it’s not just a hype!

As you follow the calls and the territorial marks, your heart whispers a fervent prayer for a glimpse of the apex predator. And then it happens. A sambar dear clambers frantically out of sight. Way down the winding road you spot a form appearing slowly but surely – a tigress roaming her territory. Symbol of strength, epitome of grace, the ultimate predator walking the earth. Your heart flutters like a butterfly as you stand, agape, witness the marvellous creation of the Gods. For a second she weighs you up, cold feline eyes meeting yours in a straight eye-lock. She walks away non-chalantly, ruler of the roost, what is left behind is only a strange weakness in your knees, as your mind tries to fathom this chance encounter in the wild.

Check out another of the jungle jewels of India, Kanha National Park nestled in Madhya Pradesh. Lush bamboo and Sal forests framed the story of the Rudyard Kipling’s famous “Jungle Book”. Only home to the rare Swamp deer or Barasingha, this national park has pulled it from the clutches of extinction.

As dusk falls, the solitude charms...

Towards dusk, as y.ou embark on your return, a strange luminosity seems to engulf the endearing grass. As dusk edges nearer, the shadows lengthen, birds flit homewards, a mystic aura coats everything. You hear the jungle sounds echo the hidden depths and unheard ways of this different world. The entire kingdom of the wild seems to descend into a different sphere – as darkness slowly but steadily creeps nearer, threatening to engulf your very being. You suddenly break free from the overwhelming dusk as your gypsy breaks the gates of the national park – back to the world of human chatter and laughter.

Explore the lush green jungles of the south as you enter Kabini, a part of Nagarhole Tiger Reserve. This unique landscape of backwaters, lantana and horizontal branched trees housing the shy leopards turns into a mystical land shrouded in mist as dusk falls. Known for its leopard sighting, especially the tree perches, the evergreen forests of Kabini provide an evergreen experience to the nature lover!

Night descends, rises the crescent..

Most of the national parks being located near small towns, makes them a haven for those seeking solace in the company of the stars. You heard it right! Star-gazing! Enjoy the cool nights amidst the backdrop music of cicada calls as you stroll through the night, hand-in-hand with your loved ones. Appreciate the moonlight and the dead silence around. Listen to you hearts whisper to one another – unsaid words so profound with each heartbeat. Truly surreal and truly fulfilling!

So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and head out in search of these moments of panacea – out into the wild!

Ranthambore National Park is one of India's oldest and largest national park, internationally famous for its wonderful tiger sightings. Located near the town of Sawai Madhopur, this was originally the hunting ground for the Maharajas of Jaipur. With wildlife protection coming under the radar of Indian Government and establishment of Project Tiger, today this stands as a safe haven for wild species ranging from the tiger, leopards, sambar deer, chital, nilgai, jungle cats etc.
Photo of Ranthambhore National Park, Sawaimadhopur, Rajasthan, India by Rhucha Kulkarni
Located in central India in Madhya Pradesh, Bandhavgarh National Park is famous for its high density of tigers. Named after a famous hill believed to have been gifted by Lord Rama to his brother Lakshan, local historical lores provide it a unique identity. In fact it is a well published fact that Maharaja Martand Singh of Rewa captured the first white tiger in this region in 1951, a rare occurence of an albino cat species. You can still see this on display in the Rewa palace which is now converted to a museum
Photo of Bandhavgarh National Park, Tala, Madhya Pradesh, India by Rhucha Kulkarni
Popularly known as the "Land of the Tiger", this forest in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra is unique owing to its major flora constituting various types of bamboo. Its name 'Tadoba' is derived from the name of God "Tadoba" or "Taru" a local deity worshipped by the local tribal people, whereas "Andhari" is derived from name of Andhari river that flows through the reserve. Apart from the tiger the park hosts a plethora of leopards, sloth bears and wild gaur or indian bison.
Photo of Tadoba Tiger Reserve, Tekadi Mandavzari, Maharashtra, India by Rhucha Kulkarni
Founded by famed hunter turned conservationist, this national park located in the Kumaon district of Himalayas is known for its majestic herds of elephants. Dense sal forest interspersed with the grasslands of Dhikala and the mystic Ramganga river snaking through the terrains creates landscapes beyond words. A must visit if you wish to witness the beauty of the gentle giants on the backdrop of golden sunsets.
Photo of Jim Corbett National Park, Ramnagar, Uttarakhand, India by Rhucha Kulkarni
The only home to the Asiatic lion, Gir National Park is a story to be proud of- a story of bringing back the Asiatic Lion from the brink of extinction. A story of restoring it to numbers from a plunging 12 to a healthy 500+ as on today. Located in Junagadh district with nearest flight connectivity from Rajkot, witness these majestic social cats in their true homes, living their as the rightful kings of the forest!
Kanha boasts of a story of comeback- the comeback of the beautiful and graceful Barasingha or swamp deer. Restored from a mere population of 66 due to incessant hunting of its majestic antlers, this species from the deer family have been provided special protection status in these beautiful Sal forests. Nearest flight connectivity being Jabalpur, make sure you witness the famed ‘misty meadows’ characteristic of a typical Kanha morning.
Photo of Kanha National Park, Mandla, Madhya Pradesh, India by Rhucha Kulkarni