Being an ardent fan of wild life since childhood, grown up watching animal planet and also the recently pictured movie “The Jungle Book” inspired me to plan a trip to Bandhavgarh with my family.
And there began our enthusiasm to visit the “Land of Tigers” , Bandhavgarh. Just two weeks to go, lots of planning was done. The last minute reservations for the train, hotels, the Jungle resort and most importantly and the most awaited the “Wildlife Safari”. Very few days to go, packing of clothes and accessories started in full swing. My excitement was at its zenith by the only thought of watching the most royal animal – “The Bengal Tiger”. Since childhood, I had spotted Tigers only in zoos and so I very much awaited for the moment to watch the Tiger and the other wild animals not caged. We had a train reservation from Mumbai to Jabalpur for Suvidha Express on Friday so I wound up my office work on Thursday and there it was – I had past my Thursday work meter and ready to roll to Bandhavgarh. We started for Mumbai by Sinhagad Express which commenced from Pune. The train reached Mumbai by 10.15 am and had our next train was at 11.00 am –Suvidha Express. And hence, we headed towards the platform wherein Suvidha Express was halted. Inspite my natural tendency to reach any destination on time rather just in time, our rough and ready state made us reach the platform before time. Our luck favored us and the train commenced in time. As it is a 1000 km journey,we had already prepared our mind , got some books and homemade snacks with us for the journey.
But I guess the books had to travel for a short span with us till we had crossed Maharashtra. As soon as the train entered Madhya Pradesh, the lush green fields caught our eyes. This being the first long journey for us, our eyes were glued to the green fields of wheat , rice and daal. Though I captured every moment of our journey in the camera, it was my eyes and heart that had actually captured the entire journey. MP is indeed, the land of agriculture. Everywhere along the journey was lush green fields of rice, chana and daal . The fields were watered with sprinkle irrigation everywhere which gives MP name of an “advanced agricultural state”. It was a good chance for me to unleash my passion for photography and now my photography album has quite good collections of nature. Living in a crowded and metropolitan city like Pune, travelling through the nature is always appreciated by people like us. When we learnt that we are heading towards our destination, we started counting the hours, minutes and even seconds. And there it was Jabalpur.. Our destination…. Whoooo.. we had reached and had our driver waiting for us on the station platform as if his eyes speaking to us “Welcome to Jabalpur”. I love the city as I have a special connection with Jabalpur , the city being the native of my best friend.
After we got down from the platform, we headed towards the hotel Regal – located in the Vijaynagar area of Jabalpur, is a good place to stay surrounded with good restaurants to eat. The Suvidha express indeed gave us quite a Suvidha journey.We had a night stay at the hotel. Needless to mention, the people were really welcoming even at the midnight. Tonight, our tired souls had a good night’s sleep to recharge our batteries to head towards Bandhavgarh .
The next day, we woke up early and left for Bandhavgarh at 8 in the morning. It is approximately a 3 hour journey from Jabalpur to Bandhavgarh via road. We reached Bandhavgarh at 11.00 am. The Bandhavgarh area comprises of a small village, a fort and the National Reserve.
Though we didn’t get a chance to actually visit the Bandhavgarh fort, we learnt some mythological facts from the locals which the fort carries. Bandhavgarh, as the name suggests is “Brothers fort”, was gifted by Lord Rama to his brother Lakshamana to keep an eye on Rama’s wife Sita who was abducted by Ravana. Later , the fort was under control of Maharaja Rewa and the now called “National Park, Bandhavgarh” was once a hunting ground for the Maharaja wherein he had spotted the first white Tiger. In 1968, the Project Tiger was constituted. Since then, numerous steps have been taken to retain Bandhavgarh National Park as a natural habitat.
We reached Bandhavgarh at 11 am . While going towards the Jungle, we had to pass through the village Tala. It is a small village besides the jungle. On the way, we took a halt, rather a tea break on a restaurant nearby. There we got a chance to chat with the locals. Although for tourists it is an unique experience watching Tiger, for the locals it is a commonplace experience and it seemed that the locals had almost befriended the Tigers. Bandhavgarh, having the highest density of Tigers we were quite hopeful of spotting one
After the tea break, we headed our journey towards the Jungle Resort—The Royal heritage resort. Located on the main road, the resort is not very difficult to locate , offers good rooms to stay and serves delicious food. We reached the resort, unpacked our bags and got ready for the most awaited safari and hopped into the jeep as we had booked one. There are other options like Elephant Safari and Cantour Safari so that one can chose which one is convenient for him.
There are different zones like Magadhi, Tala zone and had booked one for Tala zone. Wohoooo… there began our Safari as we entered the zone after the formalities of checking the identity proofs were done as a rule of Forest department. Bandhavgarh, being a dense forest, the richness and tranquility of grasslands seemed like welcoming us to the large area. We started our drive with a forest guide accompanying our jeep. As soon as the drive started , we spotted a deer.
Frightened by the very sight of humans, the herd parted our company. Lucky I was to capture the beautiful ones in my camera. As it was the month of January, the forest was covered with quite dense tall, green trees. Passing through the wilderness of plants, trees, bushes and animal life was indeed fun. The jeep was passing through the jungle and our eyes were unremittingly and consciously searching for the Tiger. Then, captured our eyes were two beautiful peacocks fanning their colorful and beautiful plumage to attract the peahen.
This is considered as a courtship ritual to attract their mate. It was a beautiful site to capture. What caught my eyes was the difference between the caged animals and the animals who live in their own surrounding – the jungle where the flora and fauna breeds. Everywhere on our way ,on the trees , were the first of man kinds – The Langoors also called as Hanumaan Langoors which are the most widely spread species of Indian Subcontinent. Along the way was chirping of different species of birds. We also had a spot on of Vulture, the flesh eater. But our eyes were searching, rather craving for the one and only animal—The Tiger.
As our eyes searched for the predator, our guide spotted pug marks on the way. That was a relief to our sour eyes. My heart beats started increasing at the very sight of pug marks. Our jeep followed the pug marks. On the way, we spotted a jackal and a deer. Though we admired their sight, our eyes were keen on the sight of Tiger.
As our eyes searched for the predator, our guide spotted pug marks on the way. That was a relief to our sour eyes. My heart beats started increasing at the very sight of pug marks. Our jeep followed the pug marks. On the way, we spotted a jackal and a deer. Though we admired their sight, our eyes were keen on the sight of Tiger. As our jeep followed the pug marks, our heart filled with the hope of spotting the Tiger. The jeep driver stopped at a spot where the guide instructed him to. The place was near a small lake and our guide was hopeful to spot the Tiger thinking it would turn up to the lake in search of water. Waiting for like half an hour using all the tactics and thinking of the guide and the tourists with lots of hope filled hearts, sour eyes, searching here and there remittently only to disappoint ourselves with no sight of the Tiger. We almost lost our exuberance and vigor.
My dream since childhood to spot this royal animal in his home remained unfulfilled when our guide asked the driver to leave the place and head towards the entrance saying “Chalo bhai,chalet hain main gate ke taraf”. His voice sounded dissentient about spotting the tiger but our ebullience was not fully died as the Safari was yet to get over. While heading towards the main gate, we spotted a herd of deer grunting, warning whinny like snort as if they have sensed some danger. The herd took to its heels. The guide told us that the bleat or the grunting noise is called as a “call” which these animals give to protect themselves when they sense any danger.
And there again with an optimistic attitude our eyes started hunting for this ferocious animal. Is your dream coming true??? With “question marks” not to forget my heart said to me. The jeep halted at the spot. Every soul was very much anscious by now as to somehow we get to see the animal. As we had reached quite close to the entrance, the only hope we had of spotting the tiger was given by this herd of deer. Our excitement was short lived and our anxiety lead to dismay when the herd started grazing the jungle and had come back to normal.
As this was almost the end of our safari, we had to let go our wish. We headed towards the entrance with the disappointment of not spotting the tiger but at the same time felt the excitement and thrill of the first time jungle safari that we experienced. As we reached the main gate , I perceived a sign board , a Tiger painted on it ,saying “Perhaps you may not have seen me but don’t be disappointed I have seen you”. Woooo…. So the tiger must not be disappointed as we were. After reading the board, my heart uttered to the invisible Tiger who might or might not be around me that I will revisit your place and if my luck favors would quote the same thing to you. We reached the main entrance , The Tala zone gate where ourfriendly and engaging guide bid us adieu after saying “Fir milte hain saab”. And there ended our wonderful jungle safari with over the moon as well as down in the dumps mood to the resort. We were ready to satisfy our hunger pangs with the delicious meal cooked at the resort.