A Brief Sojourn to Bandhavgarh

5 hours sleepeth a traveler, 7, a scholar, 8, a merchant and 11 every knave – says an old English proverb. In my city life you can categorize me with the knave as even 11 hours of sleep sometimes seems inadequate. My body clock changes when I am in the jungle though. There I am the traveler and sometimes can even manage with less hours of sleep than him. It is not the excitement of seeing the big mammals but the entire rhapsody, which captivates me. The air, the smell, the rumbling of dry leaves ET all. They say you need to visit the jungle thrice in a year to witness the change of colours and rhythm. Here I was visiting Bandhavgarh for the second time in six months.

Located in the Umaria District of Madhya Pradesh, Bandhavgarh National Park is the most sought after wildlife destinations in India. The Tiger density in this National Park is one of the highest in India.

The unrelenting heat could not hold me back and after generous application of suntan (why are we city dwellers so delicate?), set off for my afternoon drive. Within a few minutes, the Paradise flycatcher welcomed me. What a welcome by this gorgeous bird. The Indian Roller, in its breeding plumage made the woods even more vibrant. After an hour’s drive, punctuated with the occasional Golden orioles and a gorgeous pair of Brown fish Owl, we had to stop our vehicle as the other jeeps in the front had spotted ‘Him’ a few meters away. Let me be honest, it was that kind of a sighting where your eyes do see the stripes but the heart is adamant. It is not convinced. It wants to see more, see again. I kept changing my position to get a better glimpse. Suddenly, on my right, a little uproar and there was a tigress, walking on a stagnant log, heralding towards us. What a walk! She jumped off the log a few feet before its edge and quietly crossed the road right in front of us, completely ignoring all other vehicles and all its astounded occupants.

‘There is nothing in the caterpillar that tells us that it will turn into a butterfly’. We hope all secrets in our lives reveal so beautifully. There was nothing special in the air that could forewarn me about the spectacle I was about to witness. Doing justice to the typical Homo sapiens trait was hoping to see something unusual with the tigers. Pushing my luck too far I guess. Just a mere glimpse was not enough. Around 7 a.m. near the ghodadaman tiraha, we first got the smell of the kill. Our experienced guide Ajit told us it seems to be 3-4 days old. At the next bend we saw her, the reigning queen, resting, after a heavy meal. She was trying to sleep along with her three cubs who were five months old! For the first time I saw the cubs suckling. What a sight! I had earlier seen cubs, which were approx. 10-11 months old. It was hard to differentiate for my ignorant eyes between cubs, sub-adult and an actual adult. I had never seen them so small, so adorable yet, fierce. The tigress was trying to get some rest but the cubs kept jumping all over her. It was interesting to note that an adult tigress whose one roar can freeze the blood in your veins was being so docile with her cubs. Is indulgence synonymous with motherhood? I would like to believe it is. An iota of my luck was still floating. After about half an hour near Andhyari jhiria, saw a cub (14months) chase away a chital twenty feet away from my jeep!! He came and stopped near our jeep, giving up the chase, breathing heavily. I understand it was a mere playful exercise and not the dramatic ‘hunt’. The entire momentum of the event sent my heart to a complete frenzy. There was nothing else I could ask for.

Bandhavgarh can be approached by rail, road and air transport. It is approx. 37 kms from the Umaria railway station. It takes about 4 hours to reach Bandhavgarh from the Jabalpur Airport. Driving through the Maikal range is a difference experience altogether.

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Source by Jay Rawat

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