A strong believer of this phrase and realising that life is too short to see the whole world, no place entices me to visit it twice.
But who would have thought that an "underestimated" place like Satpura would change my perspective.
The beautiful restaurants of Madhai
I say underestimated because, most of the blogs I followed to plan my trip , had a very sad connotation for the jungle ,due to rare sightings of the majestic Tigers However, with a wish to cover all the forests of Central India ,love for the jungles and deeply awestruck by the poem " Satpura ke Ghane Jungle " (The Dense forests of Satpura) by Shri Bhavaniprasad Misra,who aptly articulated the essence of the place ,we(The usual gang of Forest lovers) chose Satpura as our next destination in the month of December.
The beautiful poem right in front of the "Satpura ke ghane jungle"..
The idea of putting all parameters together to make one beautiful trip makes planning a trip so much fun for me.Its about minimizing the cost , maximizing the experience, optimising the travel time ,getting to know the place as if you belong there, making friends , being a responsible traveller, respecting the place even if it does not meet your expectation and in the end leaving few things to be decided on arrival...... I love planning trips.
Madhai FRH across the Denwa river
Bhopal,sohagpur,Itarasi,Pipariya....having checked all permutation and combinations,Pipariya was chosen as the connecting railway station.It is approximately 40 km and 1.5 hrs away from Madhai(One of the safari starting point) .We reached around 4:00 A.m at Pipariya, booked a cab @1500 bucks (the charge for a 7 seater vehicle) and left for Madhai.
View from the room with Denwa river in the backdrop
We reached Madhai check point ,situated at the bank of the majestic Denwa River, around 6 but we had our stay booked at the Forest rest house (FRH)(which was just accross the river),so we had to wait till 12:00 P.M to check in.Now, its important to mention here that we were extremely lucky in this trip to have got all our accommodations in the FRH ,not only because normally all FRHs are located in the core zones but also because the stories that you get to hear from the forest officials will make you feel the woods in our soul.
N.B :- Visit here for all bookings, however do not give up in 1/2 phone calls.Getting a booking in the FRH is a tiring and uncertain process but the results are worth taking that pain.
A beautiful morning at Ram Swaroop Ji's house!!
Not knowing how to spend time and where to find a place to freshen up after a long and tiring journey of 21 hrs ,we came across Ram Swaroop Ji ,a forest guide by profession, who was silently standing at the counter and patiently answering the repeated questions of the anxious tourists who had come early in the morning to get safari tickets.When he came to know that we had another 6 hrs before we could get a shelter, he cordially invited us to his home to take rest, have tea, freshen up and also have a bird watching safari near by until its time .Sometimes, the world is not as bad as it is shown in the media . At least people like Ram Swaroop ji and his family rightfully asserts this fact and the stay at his home for those few hours also proved that while on a journey, uncertainties are the most beautiful part of it.
Jungle treks in the core zone, safaris to keria/lagda/Chutki Deo routes, bird watching in the valleys, bonfires, listening to calls in the night from our cottage and assuming that the Big Cats might be near by, befriending the macaques and watching them while basking in the sun , drenching in the vastness of River Denwa and getting lost in core jungle of Satpura while sitting in the portico.....The list is long enough to tick Madhai as a must-go-again place in my list.
Jungle trek in the core zone with ,Manoj Ji ,who is an assistant professor of Botany and a part time guide for his love for the jungles. .
"Aap logon ko is jagah ke bare me kisne bataya" ("How did u guys come to know about this place ? " ~ asked Jeevan Ji, our guide for Churna route.
The Churna FRH
Usually, the tourists take the churna route for the evening /morning safari and return to Madhai ,but it was nothing less than a coincidence that we got to stay at the Churna FRH after the safari, because not only its difficult to know about such a place which is lying hidden ,silently in the deep core of Satpura forest but also because MP government is about to close it permanently in the coming months for the overnight stay of the tourists, because of the disturbances they create.
On repeat in my mind - Satpura ke ghane jungle !!!
We left our baggages at Madhai ,as it was just one night stay at Churna, packed a day pack and left for the Churna route.With all the hype on the internet ,which said not to expect much from Satpura in terms of big cat sightings, I was all set to enjoy the jungle (which is why I go to the woods:D) and the shooters were all set to capture the birds and bears (if lucky enough to find any).But woods and mountains are mysterious in their own ways and Satpura was about to raise its bar high.
It was a long way from Madhai to Churna(approx 35 km) and being a winter evening of December it was getting dark early too.We were all busy in our own ways ,admiring the jungle, when suddenly Jeevan Ji whispered at the top of his voice "Tigerrrrrrr" and there he was ,right in front of us on the dusty road, walking with a swag .It was a hair-raising moment and we started following him with a wish, not to miss him even for a second but then .....he turned back, snarled and started walking towards us which in a way meant "STAY WHERE YOU ARE !!"
And his wish was our command....
While we stayed still in our gypsy, awestruck by the experience we just had and let him enter into his home, peacefully, I decided I am never ever going to judge a jungle .( Now for the readers who are deciding to visit Satpura ,just because we sighted a tiger,I would suggest the same.Do not judge the jungle ,visit it just for the sake of the love for the jungles)
Churna FRH with nothing but the chilling air and the wildness around...
It was pitch dark when we reached the Churna FRH around 7. Few snacks and a coffee later ,we settled around a bonfire in the middle of the dense forest of Satpura, hearing the crackling sound of the firewood and not talking much, yet all feeling the same thing inside - "How amazing it is to be amidst the woods !!!"
Every time I have been to the woods , I always wondered ,lying warm inside my blanket in the night, what would it be like ,to be out there in the dark ????So when Ram swaroop ji gave us the choice to opt for a night safari we just plunged into it.
Having planned the first 3 days of the trip, we had left the 4th day on the road to decide and it beautifully turned out to be the most exciting one. We ditched Panchmarhi(for we knew how crowded it is going to be ) and chose Parsapani FRH( lucky again to get the booking in the last moment) as the stop for the last day.
The watch tower
Be it waiting in the watch tower for some movement below, wandering in the night in our gypsy with torches in our freezing hand , rushing with our cameras to the near by pond in the night to watch the wild dogs drag their recent kill or savouring those hot makke ki roti and curry, Parsapani just completed the trip with some of the most exciting lifelong memories.
The wild dogs in the spotlight....(look carefully :P)
The Pride & Prejudice...
With Ram swaroop ji (in red) and his Brother
Unlike the other National Parks of MP, Satpura is not just about safaris.
It is more about the silence and less of the gypsies moving around,
It is more of the locals visiting it for a short stay of half a day to 2, and less of the wildlife enthusiasts,
It is more of the prejudice(hence not crowded) and less of the pride(that "we saw a Tiger"),
And finally, it is more of what Shri Bhawani Prasad Mishra writes in his poem and less of what the demanding tourists expects from the jungles....
No matter how it is....I just wish it remains that way ...... forever!!!