|BANDHAVGARH NATIONAL PARK.|
JABALPUR(Wednesday 12-6-2013) :- There were three families in the tour group, the rest of us all single travellers irrespective of marital status.The Abhijit.Bakshi family were an elderly couple, the Sameer.Mhatre family, a young couple along with their young daughter and the Rajneesh.Barve family, a young couple with their young son.Total strangers became acquaintances and age or profession was no criteria as it was the passion of nature and wildlife that brought us together on this tour.Three air-conditioned cars were waiting for us and Denis.D'souza, Praveen.Ramaswamy,a American student of Indian origin, Romeo.Coutinho and myself were allotted a "Toyota Innova( MP 19 BB 2399)", an excellent new A/c car..After loading our luggage we were driven to "Paras Hotel" where the ladies and men got themselves freshened and later breakfast was at "Atithi restaurant" situated on the ground floor of the same hotel.At the breakfast table tour leader and co-founder of "Mumbai travellers" Mr Jogi.Prajapati explained the tour schedule and requested a self-introduction from all tour members, our total being 16, including tour leader Mr Jogi.Prajapati.During the self-introduction realized that we all belonged to different professions, age groups ,sex and marital status, the passion of nature and wildlife being the bonding factor.
|"Bhedaghat" Rock marble on River Narmada.|
After breakfast consisting of "Paratha/Curd/Pickles" we drove towards "Bhedaghat(Marble Rocks)" , a village approx 25 Kms from Jabalpur station situated on the banks of the Narmada river. Bhedaghat is famous for its unique marble rocks , most beautiful on a full-moon night and many prominent Hindi films were shot at this river location.At approx 1000 hrs we reached Bhedaghat, all the three vehicles arriving in uniform order.There were numerous shops selling marble handicrafts, mostly religious icons.We made our way towards the banks of the river and were greeted with the beautiful sight of large marble rocks and a few young boys diving into the river from one of these rocks, a source of tourist income.We boarded a rowing boat and were given a tour of the river and glistening marble rocks by the boatman Rajesh, a hilarious narrator who told us the various locations on the rocks on which Hindi films were filmed.Spotted a man doing the "Dead Man's Float" on the river, absolutely still akin to a log or dead body,a advanced form of yogic breathing. After the boat ride viewed the scene around the river spotting two magnificent Egyptian Vulture gliding in the sky, a rare sight as vultures are almost extinct in most parts of India.Purchased a curio, my normal habit on any tour, memories for another day.From Bhedaghat we drove a short distance towards "Dhuandhar Falls", a prominent tourist attraction of Jabalpur with its best view being in June, just before the onset of Monsoon.It was a long 10 minutes walk from the car- park to Dhuandhar falls , numerous marble curio shops and fruit vendors occupying both sides of the narrow path.The sight of the Duandhar falls from a distance reminded me of the Rhine falls on the Switzerland/Germany border, beautiful and powerful.The Duandhar falls plunges from a height of approx 10 meters, the water creating a mist and hence the Hindi name "Dhuandhar". There is a rope-way above the waterfalls from which tourists can observe the grandeur and beauty of this unique seasonal waterfall.
|The massive flow of " Dhuandhar Waterfalls".|
Lunch was at the same "Athithi Restaurant", a unique Jabalpur vegetarian thali and a dessert consisting of 'Gulab jamun'.One unique observation of "Mumbai Travellers" and tour leader Mr Jogi.Prajapati unlike all my previous travels in group tours was the religious ceremony of reciting the "grace-before-meals" in Hindu ritual before every meal..Even on my tour to the "Holy Land(Egypt,Israel,Jordan)" we never ever recited religious catholic rituals although that was partly a religious tour, a Christians life-long dream of visiting the "Holy Land".After lunch at approx 1445 hrs we began our 184 Kms journey to "Bandhavgarh Tiger national Park". Our driver Mr Ashok.Chowdhury was a skilled veteran and the air-conditioned car was a luxury in travel.The highway was excellent and the car averaged speeds of 80Km/hr on the main highway .We had a short stop-over for tea at a small town.The traffic on the highway was sparse, besides there was no rain and hence the journey peaceful and normal..About 10 Kms from Bandhavgarh national park the roads are cratered intentionally for drivers to reduce speed and hence prevent wild animal accidents. The main highway towards Bandhavgarh passes through the core area of the national park and wild animals including tigers do cross the road , a corridor between various zones of this large forested area.Spotted a large herd of chital(spotted deer) grazing on one side of the highway, our first glimpse of the jungle's herbivore wild-life. At approx 1830hrs we finally reached "Nature Heritage Resort" situated in Tala, the small town inside the "Buffer Zone" of the Bandhagrh tiger reserve.
|Classic "NATURE HERITAGE RESORT" in Tala Zone of Bandhavgarh National Park.|
BANDHAVGARH NATIONAL PARK:- On arrival at "Nature Heritage resort" we were given the usual welcome cold drink and tea.This sprawling forest resort was one of the original resorts built in the early 1990's before mass tiger tourism and a string of hotels flooded the buffer zone locality.Today there are approx upwards of 45 resorts and hotels within Bandhavgarh tiger reserve with "Nature Heritage resort" definitely amongst the top resorts in location as well as external and interior decoration..Tigers are occasionally sighted in the nearby countryside.as the "Tala zone" which contains maximum tigers forms a boundary with this resort.We were allotted our rooms,Denis,Praveen and myself checking into "Room 119", a palatial A/C room with balcony's akin to a suite.Framed photographs of tigers decorated the rooms walls, a perfect atmosphere of lush and rich tiger jungles.
After a quick bathe explored the surrounding estate of the resort which was lit up with "Petromax lamps", reminders of the early 1900's before the advent of electricity in villages when tigers must have been as common as cats in these forested jungles.Amazingly rustic as well as beautiful, especially to city dwellers from one of the most populated city's in the World, Mumbai..Bandhavgarh had received heavy rainfall the previous day of our arrival and the jungle was smelling with typical lush jungle natural perfume!
|"MUMBAI TRAVELLERS" group at the entrance of "NATURE HERITAGE RESORT" in Bandhavgarh.|
|"Mumbai travellers" tour group enjoying a sumptuous dinner at "Nature Heritage Resort" .|
Dinner was at 2100 hrs in the main dining hall, a palatial hall decorated with tribal handicrafts and framed photographs of tigers in various poses.One strange aspect of "Nature Heritage Resort" was the total absence of television , a total blackout of entertainment other that tiger talk and tiger tourism,excellent and innovative.Dinner consisted of Vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes and was relieved do dig my human teeth into a chunk of chicken , a total human carnivore by choice! After dinner we assembled at the "Bonfire" enclosure and were given a brief introduction about Bandhavgarh national park and its topography by a experienced guide of the resort. Bandavgarh National park has 4 zones which are Tala, Magdhi, Khitauli, and Panpatta, the Panpattal zone being closed for tourists.The recent Supreme Court legislation of reserving only 20% of core tiger area in national parks for tourists reduced drastically the chances of common tourists viewing a tiger in Bandhavgarh.The "TALA ZONE(Gate 1)" has the highest tiger density in the entire Bandhavgarh forest range and hence a maximum rush for advance tourist bookings to this safari zone.Sadly, "Mumbai travellers" could not manage booking at short notice as a minimum time frame of 2 months is required for advance bookings in the "TALA ZONE(Gate 1)" .Hence we were allotted the common and less preferred Khitauli zone(Gate -3)and the Magdhi zone(Gate-2) .where spotting a tiger was akin to winning on a total "OUTSIDER HORSE" in the sport of Horse-racing. Akin to Illegal cricket betting in India i wouldn't be surprised if bets are placed on "TIGER SIGHTINGS" in the national park as it is the most popular and rare wild predator of the Indian forests.I was a avid fan of Jim.Corbett and among Indians, the famous "Billy" Arjan Singh who akin to Corbett was a prolific hunter in his youth but later a great conservationists of the "Big cats" in India. Devoured books during my younger school and college years , "The man-eaters of Kumaon" being one of my all time favourite book. In later years , thanks to the "B.N.H.S(Bombay Natural History society" library got a inside view of some of India's most famous wild-life pioneers and hunter/ conservationists, the most notable being "Billy" Arjan.Singh who set up the "Dudhwa National park". He was the first conservationist to introduce captive leopards and tigers back into the wild Indian forests most famous being "Tara", the hand reared baby tigress released in the wild .It is an engrossing and tragic story with "Tara" supposedly turning a man-eater and later shot, although Billy Arjan .Singh insists that it was a look-alike tigress that became a man-eater and was shot and not Tara.The mystery is debatable.. I was also a "Air-gun" hunter during my youth , guilty of shooting numerous birds during the 1970's on vacations to my parents ancestral villages in Mangalore.Hence i had a theoretical knowledge on "Big Cats" due to reading and also owning pet cats since 1995 which are carbon copies in miniature of their bigger cousins. As a "Speculator/Gambler" I sensed and had a premonition that we might not sight a tiger in our 3 safari trips to the jungles as "Big Cats" ,especially tigers always routinely prefer their own territories, never ever or rarely straying out of their respective "ZONES". .In Bandhavgarh forests the preferred tiger territory was the "TALA ZONE" and hence a rush to that zone by advance booking tourists and "V.I.P's".We were all tired from hectic sightseeing and car travel ,besides, the next days safari began at 0430 hrs and hence after the brief lecture we all departed to our resort rooms.After ages experienced a typical "Jungle Stay" with insects creeping into our air-conditioned accommodation on opening the door.
|"Khitauli Zone(Gate 3)" of Bandhavgarh National Park.Typical Bamboo and Sal forest .|
BANDHAVGARH NATIONAL PARK -Day 2 (Thursday 13-6-2013) :- A poor sleeper on tours i was the earliest to wake up amongst the three of us, much before the alarm call. Woke up at approx 0300 hrs and quietly walked to the bathroom/toilet and performed my natural biological agenda.Denis and Praveen woke up later and we all were dressed up and ready for our first tiger safari.At approx 0430 hrs we assembled in the dining hall and after tea/biscuits made our way to the resort entry gate, awaiting the arrivals of our safari jeeps.
KHITAULI ZONE MORNING SAFARI(Gate-3) :- The 'Maruti gypsy' vans arrived and 6 tourists were allotted to a jeep, the driver and guide occupying the two other seats, a total accommodation of 8 people to a jeep.Tour leader Mr Jogi.Prajapat, Mrs Madhuri.Mhatre, Mr Romeo.Coutinho,Mr Ameya.Kharulkar and myself were alloted "Jeep Nos MP54TO313" .Our jeep was first driven to the main co-ordination center where the jeeps were registered and a guide allotted to every jeep.Our guide Mr Surendra.Singh arrived and from the here it was a 5 mins drive to the Khitauli Zone.At approx 0530 hrs we entered the "Khitauli Zone(Gate -3)" and after the normal identity verifications were allowed to drive into the Bhandavgarh tiger reserve.
Our first mammal sighting was a jackal and the jungle although not very dense was filled with bird calls, the most beautiful and common being the mating calls of the "Common Hawk-Cuckoo (Hierococcyx varius)" popularly known as the "Brain fever Bird". Thanks to Mr Jogi.Prajapati,Mr Amay.Kharulkar and Mr Romeo.Coutinho that i managed to identify as well as learn about various bird-calls in the jungle.Our jeep meandered its way through a specified route and we all were anxious to view a tiger.At approx 0615 we stopped at the "Forest Camp" where guards and rangers of the forest kept track of tourists and wild-life in the Khitauli zone. After a brief rest at the "Forest Camp" our jeep wandered across the Khitauli forest zone including stopping at a large water-hole where a large machhan was erected as well as a "Camera-trap" kept for "Tiger census".Our jeep stopped for quite a while at the small pond hoping to view a tiger but totally disappointed.Spotted the beautiful Asian fly-catcher bird near the pond, some compensation for missing a tiger spotting.We finally departed from the pond and made our way on the usual tourist trekking path and came across a broken down tourist vehicle, the vehicle blocking the entire narrow forest road.A few minutes were wasted at this spot with our driver and other tourist jeep drivers providing repair aid to the jinxed tourist jeep.Finally it was decided that the vehicle had to be abandoned and our jeep carted a couple from the mechanical failure jeep onto our jeep back to the "Forest Camp".A bad omen in spotting the elusive tiger ! My Shikar hero Jim.Corbett always associated certain jungle phenomenon as either "Good Luck" or "Bad Luck" during his legendary hunting of "Man-Eater " tigers and leopards. Every sportsman or gambler/speculator would be lying if they said that they were never superstitious in their dangerous sports or monetary profession..A jeep would later pick these tourists at the "Forest Camp".Our only encounter with mammals was the common chital, langurs, macaques and Nilgai's.Among birds we spotted the peacocks,common jungle fowl, hornbills , the exotically coloured Hoopoe bird and the rare Indian Pitta, this bird having 9 different colours in its plumage.We finally exited the "Khitauli Zone(Gate 3)" at approx 0900 hrs, reaching our resort at approx 0915hrs.
On arrival at the resort and during discussion at the breakfast table we heard the first hand account of a tourist family sighting a tiger in the "TALA ZONE (Gate 3)". Our entire group envied them and as a speculator/gambler by profession i realized the odds of us viewing a tiger in the "Khitauli Zone(Gate 3)" and "Magdhi Zone" were slim , especially with the latest "20% Tourist Reservation" in core area of the zones.My google research on the park indicated that 99% daily tiger sightings were only in the "Tala Zone(Gate 1)"
|Our "Maruti Gypsy Safari Jeep" outside our resort.|
After an excellent breakfast consisting of omelet/bread and vegetarian snacks we made our way out of the dining hall and i explored the resort.The resort was excellent jungle country in miniature, one of the most beautiful natural designed resorts i have visited in India.For the first time in my life viewed a 2- storey cottage built engulfing a giant tree , the branches of the tree protruding out of the house roof, environmental and nature conservation at its unbelievable best.We single tourist travellers got to know each other better in our room and New York Citizen Mr Praveen.Ramaswamy with his "American accent" enlightened me on the U.S.A and its education system..Mr Denis.D'souza's was a I.T professional having previously seen a tiger in a national park Denis's wife and Mr Praveen.Ramaswamy were relatives, aqnd hence both were on the same safari trip, .The American Praveen had visited the game parks in Tanzania having viewed African wild-life and this was his first visit to a National park in India.As for Mr Romeo.Coutinho, he was a "Tiger addict", having a penchant for visiting tiger national parks in India in order to just glimpse a tiger and feeling the forest life. In Kanha National park's he was lucky to view its most famous tiger resident "Munna" at a handshake distance from his safari jeep..He was a married private media writer by profession and a great mimic of "Ajit and filmy Jokes", a humorous gentleman.Ultimately, total strangers became acquaintances.The resort had a tiger souvenir shop which sold tiger shirts and ceramic products for a non-profit organization called "Tiger guards" which helped in tiger conservation efforts in Bandhavgarh. In the shop met Mr Amar.Juvekar and we both decided to visit the "Bandhavgarh school of Art" on the main road that had a vast collection of tiger T-shirts and tiger art. It was a 5 minutes walk to the shop and was amazed by the beautiful paintings ,wild-life books and tiger souvenirs.Purchased a "T-Shirt" costing Rs 300 which was designed with 3 Indian Roller birds on the front and two tiger silhouettes on the back.My premonition that our visit would be more of a birding than a tiger safari..Later in the afternoon i made my way to the dining hall for lunch where Jogi was busy talking to fellow tourists. A gentleman entered the dining hall and Jogi told me that this man had rescued a tourist from a tiger attack and sure death. Mr Rajvardhan.Sharma, the owner of "Nature Heritage Resort" and a few of his tourists were on a safari in Bandhavgarh in 2003 .A wounded tigress had jumped into the tourist jeep and grabbed hold of a tourist causing panic.Every tourist jeep had fled the area barring Mr Rajvardhan who was in the vicinity on another jeep and rished to the rescue of his tourist ,hitting the tigress with a stick, himself being attacked and grabbed by the tigress. The tigress which had a broken jaw suddenly let go her grip and hence Mr Rajvardha.Sharma became a hero and lived to tell his unbelievable story. Since that incident "Nature Heritage resort" is famous for its owner as for its splendid location and natural forest decor.View this documentary produced in 2016 about Bandhavgarh Wildlife Park and Mr Rajvardhan.Sharma which i later updated to this blog :- https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=173&v=vl2wAEN9wIE
|Mr Rajvardhan.Sharma, owner of "Nature Heritage Resort" and legendary tiger man.|
is episode was featured in a "National Geographic documentary" and a French television team was camped at the hotel during our stay to do a documentary on Bandavgarh and Mr Rajvardhan.Sharma's encounter with the tiger.I introduced myself to Mr Rajvardhan.Sharma, clicked his photograph for my blog and asked him about his encounter, a simple millionaire hotelier from Agra who risked his life while others ran for cover.He was very much in favour of the "20% Tourist Reservation" in core area of tiger reserves stating that rampant tourism was ruining tiger conversation in India. Its not everyday in life that a person meets a man that has genuinely had an encounter with a wild tiger and also lived amongst the tigers, a genuine tiger conservationist. and not just a "Arm-Chair tiger conservationist".After the enlightening tiger discussion with Mr Rajvardhan.Sharma made my way to the dining table and the rest of the group arrived for lunch at approx 1330 hrs.As usual after the we began our meals after reciting the "Grace-before-meals" in Hindu ritual with co-tourist Mrs Swati.Barve conducting the prayer ritual..The Barve's owned a resort in Alibaug near Mumbai and Mrs Swati.Barve was a avid outdoors lady, a snake-catcher , later releasing the snakes and also a owner of 3 dogs, two Labradors and a Doberman.The non-vegetarian menu consisted of chicken curry and an assortment of vegetarian dishes ,the food delicious.
.The afternoon safari tour was scheduled for 1500 hrs.After a brief rest made my way to the resort gardens and met most of the group members who were on their way to do some shopping at "Bandhavgarh School of art".I accompanied them and got to know another lone tourist Miss Sneha.Mani, a lady who had recently discovered the joy of wild-life tourism.At the shop a variety of tiger memorabilia products were purchased by everyone, mostly T-shirts.We later proceeded back to the resort and later boarded our respective jeeps for the afternoon safari ride.
KHITAULI ZONE AFTERNOON SAFARI(GATE 3) 1530-1900 hrs :- At approx 1545 hrs we entered "Khitauli Zone" and into the national park.The vegetation and forest of the Khitauli zone was sparse and the topography mostly flat with a few small hillocks, a long stream and a large water pond.The musical calls of the "Brain fever bird" or Common Hawk-Cuckoo (Hierococcyx varius) was now a familiar signature tune of the Bhandhavgarh forests, the month of June being the mating season of these birds. We spotted a jackal and later the best bird sighting in the park, a magnificent " Crested serpent eagle" that just flew across our jeep pathway and settled on a tree barely 50 meters from the ground.The hawk stood still on the tree akin to a model posing for photographs and hence i managed to get the best wild-life photograph of my tour, the model of my Bhandhavgarh safari blog.Our jeep made its way through the same route as the morning safari, stopping at the same pond and waterhole, the usual haunts of the tiger during the dry summer season.We waited patiently for approx 5 minutes at the waterhole, the favourite haunt of the few tigers in the Khitauli zone. Our guide Mr Jai.Prakash told us that the tiger could be sleeping in a cave just above the water-hole, its normal haunt during the day, common habits of domesticated house cats and big cats.They love to sleep the entire day after meals.A further deterrent to spotting the tiger was that it had rained heavily in these forests the previous day of our arrival and hence small puddles of water were in various parts of the park.The tiger and other animals had easy access to water and hence would not need to venture towards the few waterholes and ponds in the National park. As usual we were disappointed of not at least getting a glimpse of the majestic tiger.Observed a forest guard on a bicycle and amazed at their bravery and callousness in patrolling the forests on the slowest and least protective vehicle, a cycle.We finally arrived at the forest camp and was surprised to see a massive tusker munching leaves under a bush next to the camp.Our jeep stopped at the camp as does other tourist jeeps.Seeing the massive chain around its hind leg i presumed that it was chained to a post or tree.
|"Banraj" the massive forest elephant along with his mahout.Notice the approx 25 meter long chain that he drags.|
|Hanuman Langur with baby.|
|MAGDHI ZONE FORESTS OF BANDHAVGARH :-The "Magdhi Zone" has more diversity in forest topography than the "Khitauli Zone".|
MAGDHI ZONE SAFARI :-GATE-2(Friday 14-6-2013):- Woke up at 0300 hrs as usual and after normal routines we all made our way to the dining hall..Tea and biscuits was the early dawn refreshments and at 0430 hrs we made our way to our respective jeeps.The "Magadhi Zone(Gate-2)" was known to have only 4 tigers in its zone, a large male and a tigress with two cubs.Hence sighting of this majestic beast was at higher odds compared to Khitauli Zone which had a slightly larger number of resident tigers.On our way towards the Magdhi Zone we spotted a jackal in the centre of the highway, confused by the glare of the jeep headlights.Numerous animals fall prey to vehicle accidents in buffer zones of all National parks and hence the buffer zone highway had potholes to prevent vehicles from speeding, the speed limit being 20Km/hr.A tiger was once killed by a tourist jeep in Bandhavgarh national park .It was bizarre that the sighting of a "Jackal" greeted us on all our entry's into the park zones, the previous two sightings being unlucky for tiger spotting.Would we be third time lucky or unlucky with this jackal sighting ?We finally reached the entry gates of Magdhi zone at approx 0500 hrs, ahead of the allotted opening time of 0515 hrs. Alighted the jeep and studied the surrounding terrain on either sides of the buffer zone highway.Spotted a herd of deer in the open fields on the opposite side of the highway.At exactly 0515 hrs the gate of "Magdhi Zone" was opened and after the necessary legal formalities our jeep headed into the forest.The jungle topography of Magdhi forest was entirely different compared to Khitauli zone with large open meadows and a large water pond.
|A large Wild boar and a jungle fowl :- Photo Co-tourist Mr Amar.Juvekar.|
Breakfast was at 0930 hrs, a lavish continental breakfast with vegetarian dishes.After breakfast went to my room and had a quick hot refreshing bathe, akin to a jacuzzi.
DISCOVERING A TIGER KILL IN TALA BUFFER ZONE :- After my bathe i decided to stroll around the forest vicinity of "Nature Heritage resort", my usual routine on any jungle or wild-life tour.Walked along the narrow road towards the opposite direction of the main town into the forested countryside.As usual the air was filled with the beautiful sound of the "Brain Fever Bird(Common hawk cuckoo)" and i ventured into a thick bush to track this bird with my binoculars. Akin to my hunting hero's i had become a avid naturalist and wild-life conservationist after spending my youth shooting birds with an air-gun.The main road on which there were small bushes and trees was lonely, the occasional villager or forest officials passing along at odd intervals.This was the main buffer tourist zone of "Tala Zone(Gate 3)" in which the maximum number of tourist hotels and resorts were situated.Walking along the narrow road i suddenly spotted a cattle carcass on the opposite side of the road with crows feasting on the rotting animal.This was a absolutely desolate location on the road, a narrow nullah(ravine)" running parallel to the location on which lay the rotting carcass.I quickly realized that this was a "TIGER KILL" as tigers from the "Tala Zone" were known to occasionally stray into this buffer zone.I was a bit nervous of the tiger still being in the vicinity as the carcass was half-eaten, the complete hind portion below the navel missing.The neck seemed broken and one piece of a leg was lying in the nullah.A small cottage was situated approx 100 meters from the carcass, the entire locality being a buffer zone area of Bandhavgarh National park.
|TIGER KILL :- Half eaten carcass of either a bull or cow. The complete hind portion was missing.|
Went back to the resort, thrilled at my discovery of at least viewing a tiger kill, an identical copy of the shikar books written by hunters almost a century ago!.The beauty of Natural history is that it never becomes redundant with time and modernization , except that some animals, birds, reptiles, insects and amphibians become extinct over the years due to deforestation , habitat destruction or indiscriminate human hunting..In the case of the tiger, it is definitely on the brink of extinction if its numbers are not increased drastically in the national parks of India, its last stronghold in the wild forests.Would a naturalist like viewing tigers in a zoo ? As for me definitely not and i have visited some of the World's best zoo's including zoo's in India.
|"Bandhavgarh School of Art" in Tala village founded by Wildlife Artist Mr Mahesh.Jangam.|
After Sneha finished her shopping we made our way back to the resort.On entry to the resort met the French documentary producer who wished Sneha definitely surprised of her prowess in French language.I inquired about their itinerary and was told that they were leaving for Africa to continue their documentary on wild-life around the World.Spent the rest of my time studying the management structure of this beautiful resort.Power outages were a regular occurrence during our short stay and hence i went to the generator room situated at a remote corner of the resort.I was filled with "shipping Nostalgia" on seeing the generator room, akin to a "emergency generator" on ships, small and compact with a switch-board.There was also a small waste product fired boiler to generate hot water for the resort.Marine engineers usually branch out into the "5 star hotel industry " once they quit sea-sailing , the reasons obvious.A large hotel or resort is identical to a ships engineering structure barring a few factors and modifications.
Went back to my room picked up my back-pack and made my way to the dining hall.This was our last lunch at this unique and beautiful jungle resort.
The entire tour group assembled at the dining hall at approx 1230 hrs, the hall being full due to additional tour package tourists.The Bandhavgarh national park closes for tourists during the monsoon months and hence June 30th was the last date for safari tours in the 3 zones. This explained the rush of tourists, besides, this was one of the best resorts in entire Bandhavgarh.Tour leader Mr Jogi .Prajapati had misplaced his cell-phone and was a worried man as all his transactions/business was through a internet cellphone, the trend in 21st century communication.. We reassured him that he would ultimately find his phone and things settled down..After the normal prayer ritual we began our lunch, the non-vegetarian dish being egg-curry.Seems a group of tourists had managed to sight the elusive "Khitauli Zone" tiger in the morning safari and we all were envious of them, the luck factor playing a crucial role. After lunch we all posed for a group photograph, memories of a been here, seen that, done that but, missed seeing tiger, tiger !
Our cars arrived at the entrance gate of "Nature Heritage Resort" and we all boarded our respective vehicles. At approx 1345 hrs we drove away from the exotic and memorable "Nature Heritage resort" in Tala village of Bandhavgarh national park. On the way in the core area highway we spotted a large monitor lizard across the road and akin to a model it posed for photographs.Our last hope of tiger spotting was to see a tiger crossing the core area highway akin to the monitor lizard and that was a 1:1000 chance! The weather was cloudy and we experienced our first monsoon showers during the road travel to Jabalpur station.En-route had a short stop for tea and finally at approx 1700 hrs reached Jabalpur station .A few train tickets had to be confirmed for coach/seat accomodation , including mine.Tour leaded Mr jogi.Prajapati confirmed our seat/coach nos and we whiled away our time outside the A/C waiting room, the station packed with passengers awaiting or disembarking their trains.
DEPARTURE JABALPUR AND ARRIVAL MUMBAI(Friday/Saturday 14/15-6-2013) :-Finally at 1930 hrs boarded our train "Garibrath Exp"on platform nos 1.Entered coach G9/ seat 13 and made myself comfortable, an excellent a/c train.Our entire group was booked into different compartments with tour leader Jogi being in compartment G15 along with Denis and Praveen.. It was raining heavily on our departure from Jabalpur station.The train departed from Jabalpur at approx 1945 hrs, bringing an end to a memorable and eventful tour cum safari . Later in the night Romeo shifted to G15 and it must have been hilarious entertainment within themselves.As for me, avoided dinner and had a excellent nights sleep, the best ever sleep during my entire life-time travel on trains.Woke up at 0600 hrs and after the normal toilet routines made myself comfortable reading the novel "Deliverance" by James.Dickey. I always carry some reading material with me whenever on a tour, normally novels.Breakfast was normal "Vada/Paav(Veg burger)/tea", the typical Mumbai snack.Our train was delayed by 2 hours and finally reached Dadar station at approx 1400 hrs. Alighted my train and was thankful that the rains had stopped.Made my way to Dadar(West) and was unsuccessful in hiring a taxi, finally managing to board a bus ,bizarre! Reached home to the welcome of my house-keeper Sabina.Dias , parakeet "Mittoo" and my small miniature tigers, traditional Persian cats Matahari and Matata. To understand "Big cat psychology" you have to first study the "Small cats Psychology".I was reminded of the hilarious satirical conservation documentary advertisement on "National Geographic" where wild-life filmmakers are documenting a normal day in the life of a common house pet cat , the future of wild-life film-making if the tiger and other "Big Cats" becomes extinct ! A strong and thought provoking message about the precarious existence of these beautiful and magnificent animals in the wild jungles.The elusive tiger spotting trail continues and hopefully next year should spot a tiger in the natural wild forests of my country.