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Old 17th January 2012, 22:52   #16
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Default Re: Day 2 - 24 Dec 11 - Marvellous marble rocks of Bedaghat!

Beautiful. I had never heard of this place before this TL.

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Originally Posted by Fauji View Post
He points to “Hotel Shankar Bhau” and we head there for our favourite breakfast.

Hotel Shankar Bhau
Innocuous little place with a unique name. It has been my experience that we most of the times get the best food at such places.
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Old 18th January 2012, 13:00   #17
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Default Three faces and some more pictures of Bedaghat

Three faces - Chiselled by nature - Where does this leave the famed Mount Rashmore in the USA?

Fauji's Drivologues - Christmas in Wintry Wilderness and New Year on Sunny sands!-dsc_0661.jpg

The colurful marble wall - Notice the different coloured marble simmering in the aftrenoon sun

Fauji's Drivologues - Christmas in Wintry Wilderness and New Year on Sunny sands!-dsc_0666.jpg

The river and the rocks

Fauji's Drivologues - Christmas in Wintry Wilderness and New Year on Sunny sands!-dsc_0669.jpg

Fauji's Drivologues - Christmas in Wintry Wilderness and New Year on Sunny sands!-dsc_0675.jpg

A lone boat man busy with his catch

Fauji's Drivologues - Christmas in Wintry Wilderness and New Year on Sunny sands!-dsc_0643.jpg

We come out of the boat satiated and happy to have seen this beautiful place. As mentioned earlier, Bedaghat is also a good place to buy marble sculptures. Since we were flying back it was not possible for us to pick up any. However we pick up some small items as momento.

We leave Bedaghat on our journey to Bandahavgarh. A distance of 200 KMs and we hope that we will be able to reach by 6 PM. This was not to be. The biggest mistake i did on this trip is not to do my research on road condition and hoping that the driver of taxi would have the knowledge being a local guy. This was not to be and the driver was not aware of the condition as he had not driven on these roads for the past two years.

We hit NH 7 and our misery starts as there is virtually no road and being a Sedan we move very slowly. We travel till Siroha when the driver decides to check alternate road and we are advsised by locals not go via Katni but go via Dhimarkhera, Chandia and Umaria. The locals say that the road is good and traffic is less. (Later we come to know from Erwin, the manager that the best route from Jabalpur is via Kundam - Umaria).

We take that route and are relived. The road till Umaria is excellent. We also stop at a dabha run by a sikh. I start chatting with him and come to know he is also a fauji from Dogra regiment and settled down here for last twenty years. He drives trucks and has this dhabha on the NH 78. Hot chai on chilly night is welcome. I also chat with drivers having chai and they also confirm that the road is very good. They also as us to keep looking for wild animals on the road. We say bye to Sardarji and hit the highway. It is dark and there is virtaully no traffic on the road. We look for any wild animals but are not fortunate to spot any. By the time we arrive at the Tree House Hideaway, it is 9 PM.

Tree house Hideaway is located in a 30 acres of forest land in the buffer zone of the park. There are only five tree houses perched on huge Peepal or Mahua trees. We keep talking to Erwin, the friendly Dutch Manager of the property for guidance. He asks us to reach Tala gate and then take the dirt track to the resort. We see siganges of many resorts but not that of Tree House. The Verito is also finding it difficult to negotaite in the night - how i wished we had our Scorpio. It is pitch dark outside. Erwin asks us to go back to Tala. He says he will be sending a escort jeep to guide us. Within few minues we see headlights in the darkness and relived. We follow the gypsy to reach the resort.

It is pitch dark in the resort and we lose orientation of the place. The boys of the resort are very helpful. They give us each a torch and we follow them in the brightness of torch. As we follow, i start talking to them

" Resort kitna bada hain"

" thees acre saab"

" Yeh pura jungle dikta hai?"

" Haa saab yeh jaungle hi to hai"

" Jaanwar bhi hai?"

" Haan saab, janwar aata hai, kabhi kabhi"

" kaunsi janwar?"

" Bhalu, sher, wild boar. Pichle hafte water body ke aas paas sherne ek wild boar ko mara tha"



" Jab janwar ko dekthe hai to hilna nahi saab. O chale jayega. Hilega to attack kar sakta hai"

Brinda - "Room pahoonchnetak aap log saaat me rahenge na?"

"han madam, hum log saath rahenge. Aaap fresh honeke baad dinner aate samay phone kijiye. Hum aake escort karenge"

Brinda is relieved. The boys escort guests at night while moving inside resort due to presence of wild animals.

We are now in Jungle. We freshen up and join the small group of guests at the " Christmas Bon fire". The bubbly is on the house. We go for excellent dinner in the rustic and elegant Dining hall. Kshitij, the naturalist of the resort who is taking us for the safari next day joins us to give us a briefing on next days activities.

We retire for the day dreaming of spotting the tiger the next day morning!!

To be continued - On trail of Tiger in Bandhavgarh

Last edited by Fauji : 18th January 2012 at 13:05.
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Old 18th January 2012, 14:09   #18
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivologues - Christmas in Wintry Wilderness and New Year on Sunny sands!

Looking forward to a great TL! I also have an perennial love affair of Roads and Jungles.

Combining the two is my favorite. May have something to do with the over 20 visits to Corbett so far since my childhood. The first visit being in 1982 when i was 8!

Corbett too has changed the rules as per the MP Forest Reserves. Now only registered gypsys are allowed inside the park for Safaris. They say that even for people with rooms booked for night stay within the park taking their private vehicles is not allowed. I do not think that is true..or fair. It leads to a lot of "benami"bookings as you said and corruption. Its the hapless tourist who pays in the end.

I had hired the gypsy and Driver for Rs.3500/- and requested the authorities to let my Vehicle inside the park so i could park it at the Forest rest House that i was staying in. I was allowed to take my Fortuner into the park, and was given an official stamped receipt for the Rs.500 entry fee that i was charged. No bribe of any kind was hinted at by them or offered by me.

It remained parked here the first day but took it for the early morning safari with an official forest guard at 6:30 AM the next morning.
Fauji's Drivologues - Christmas in Wintry Wilderness and New Year on Sunny sands!-img_2248.jpg
We even came across many Forest officials at various gates and no one showed any objection to us using the Fortuner. I gathered from this that private vehicles are not allowed for Day Visits/Safaris but allowed for people staying inside the park in on of the FRH's ...and that too only if you hire a Gypsy with driver as well.


I will also plan and make a visit to Tree House. I dont mind parking my car at the resort as it is inside the buffer zone of the park. Its seems like an interesting place.

Looking forward to the rest of the travelogue.
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Old 18th January 2012, 16:11   #19
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivologues - Christmas in Wintry Wilderness and New Year on Sunny sands!

Quote:
V&V, thanks So much. Yes, it was on the Colva road. The festive spirit in Goa was amazing. Isn't it?
Yup , festive spirit is simply awesome. Especially at night with all those lighting. Even Colva was awesome. Live bands and goan food +++ you know.

My Gk of MP is almost nil. Never knew about this place. Bedhaghat has been marked , may be next time when use the north south corridor , give it a shot.

Your TL is unfolding really well. I am hooked. Nice photo graphs too.
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Old 18th January 2012, 20:35   #20
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivologues - Christmas in Wintry Wilderness and New Year on Sunny sands!

Awesome pictures at the beginning Fauji. Loved the leafless tree with birds and the deer one. The rocks also rock. I too never knew about this place called Bedaghat.
Looking forward to the jungle leg, we too love the jungle

Thank You for sharing

VW
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Old 18th January 2012, 20:46   #21
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Default Re: Three faces and some more pictures of Bedaghat

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Originally Posted by Fauji View Post
[b]The biggest mistake i did on this trip is not to do my research on road condition and hoping that the driver of taxi would have the knowledge being a local guy.

We hit NH 7 and our misery starts as there is virtually no road and being a Sedan we move very slowly. We travel till Siroha when the driver decides to check alternate road and we are advsised by locals not go via Katni but go via Dhimarkhera, Chandia and Umaria. The locals say that the road is good and traffic is less. (Later we come to know from Erwin, the manager that the best route from Jabalpur is via Kundam - Umaria).
Oops Fauji sir. When I had started my research in early December I think HVK sir had clearly told me to take the Kundam-Umaria route from Jabalpur to Bandhavgarh. He had told me that almost all of NH7 in MP is in a dilapidated state. Wonder how you missed that post. Oh well, hard luck on that one.

Now these pictures are making me wish that time could just fast forward to my own trip . Waiting to hear about your experience in Bandhavgarh and your return trip through the Umaria-Kundam route.
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Old 19th January 2012, 18:25   #22
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Default Re: Three faces and some more pictures of Bedaghat

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Originally Posted by Manuuj View Post
Looking forward to a great TL! I also have an perennial love affair of Roads and Jungles.

Corbett too has changed the rules as per the MP Forest Reserves. Now only registered gypsys are allowed inside the park for Safaris.

It remained parked here the first day but took it for the early morning safari with an official forest guard at 6:30 AM the next morning.
I gathered from this that private vehicles are not allowed for Day Visits/Safaris but allowed for people staying inside the park in on of the FRH's ...and that too only if you hire a Gypsy with driver as well.


I will also plan and make a visit to Tree House. I dont mind parking my car at the resort as it is inside the buffer zone of the park. Its seems like an interesting place.

Looking forward to the rest of the travelogue.
Thanks Manuuj. Good to hear that forest guys are restricting use of private vehicles in Corbett. In fact, my brother who has been to corbett couple times - he is a wild life photographer - blame the party crowd from Delhi who comes there for picnics which is sad.

Yes, you can comfortably take your Fortuner into Tree House. It is a fantastic place. I will be posting some pictiures of the place in next post.

Quote:
Originally Posted by v&v View Post
Yup , festive spirit is simply awesome. Especially at night with all those lighting. Even Colva was awesome. Live bands and goan food +++ you know.Your TL is unfolding really well. I am hooked. Nice photo graphs too.
Thanks V&V. We did an hour drive in and around Colva just to enjoy the festive spirit. It was lovely. You should make a trip to Bedaghat. Not to be missed.

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Originally Posted by VindyWheels View Post
Awesome pictures at the beginning Fauji. Loved the leafless tree with birds and the deer one. The rocks also rock. I too never knew about this place called Bedaghat.
Looking forward to the jungle leg, we too love the jungle

Thank You for sharing

VW
Thanks Vinod. We come with some advantage having moved around the places while serving in the army.

Quote:
Originally Posted by samarjitdhar View Post
Oops Fauji sir. When I had started my research in early December I think HVK sir had clearly told me to take the Kundam-Umaria route from Jabalpur to Bandhavgarh. He had told me that almost all of NH7 in MP is in a dilapidated state. Wonder how you missed that post. Oh well, hard luck on that one.

.
Yes boss. That was a big mistake of depending on the driver
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Old 20th January 2012, 15:49   #23
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Unhappy Day 3 - In search of Elusive Sher Khan

I always heard that if you don't see tigers in Bandhavgarh, you will never see them anywhere. Ever since i had seen a poster of MP Tousrim in eighties with the majestical beast in perfect pose, i was always fascinated by this place. It is another sad story that i did not visit this place though i was posted in Jhansi during my army days which was few hours away.

They say the fun is not spotting the tiger but the excitement of going in search of spotting one. How true it is. It happenned with us in Kanha in March last year and it was going to happen again today.

Tring! Tring!

The telephone in the room rings. I pick up the handset and the voice from the other end says "Wake up call sir"

It is 4.45 AM. It is pitch dark outside and very cold too. We get up reluctantly and freshen up. Clad in Thermals, pull over, caps and gloves we get ready to face the wintry chill in the wilderness. Mind you, we will be travelling in a open jeep. We give a call to the reception once ready and ask the escort to come - remember the previous day conversation about wild animals - as we don't want to take a chance. The boy comes with torches for us and we step out into wintry wilderness.

We walk down to the parking area where Kshitij is already waiting for us. He ask us whether we are carrying the ID card and we say yes. There is a spread of hot cofee/tea with biscuits and the security guards and other staff are around a "Fire" which is keeping them warm. We ask for chai with cookies and we also join the folks around the fire.

Kshitij gives us warm water rubber bags and also blankets. Warm water rubber bags are a brilliant idea - we never got one in Kanha which was also as cold in March - and makes us comfortable. We are now ready to go in search of tiger and we are excited!!

We reach Tala gate and Khshitij picks up the government approved naturalist after completing formalities. The parks in MP are very well organised unlike the chaos we had seen in Kaziranga when we were there three years back.

Abheek had told us to go to Magdi zone where tigres were sighted. Unfortunately we could not get Magdi in the morning and were allotted Kitauli gate. No worries. We know tiger sighting is always a matter of luck in this season and we were keeping our fingers crossed and hoping for the best.

We start moving and go towards Kitauli gate. Delay in completing formaliteis ensure that we are tenth vehicle in the row as the forest authorities check the IDs and allow the vehicles inside. They are very strict with IDs. Sun is coming out slowly as we get into the forest.

Sher baba darshan do!!!

Kshitij continue to drive and Bhola Ram, the naturalist is all eyes and ears. It is very cold out in the jungle and we are keeping ourselves warm with the warm bag. The jungle is decidous and the undergrowth is not that much and visibility is not bad. Bhola looks down as the vehicle moves to see if there are any fresh pug marks.

Morning sun is slowly helping bring the chill down. Khshitij stops at places whenever he or Bhola spots a bird. Morning drives are always excellent for birding and we ae fortunate to experience that. The streams at many places have dried and at one place we come across a small stream. Kshitij stops the gypsy, looks left, looks right to see if there is any chance of Sher khan. I am glued to my Binoculars and keep looking through the bushes if i can spot any. Bhola and Kshitij keeps telling about the different places where they had seen the tiger earlier. But to our bad luck we don't spot any in those places. We cross other gypsies on the way and the naturalists exchange notes and the answer from everyone is in "Negative".

We are now in the last hour of the drive and the exitement is mounting. It is something like one day cricket. We are biting nails and hoping that the Sher khan will give darshan. Bhola asks Khshitj to take a different route and we drive along. Thirty minutes to go. Do we or do we not? Count down begins as we are in home run.

We now lose hope as we come back to finishing point. The drive done, we are dissappointed not to see the Sher Khan. But we are happy to see many birds, jackal, deer etc but not the tiger.

Khsitij says the seats to go to fort is full. They allow only two jeeps to go to fort and it is on first come frist served basis. There is also trekking of two KMs involved in this trip. It would have been exciting to do that and there could have been a chance of spotting Sher khan. We miss out on that.

Do we see one in the afternoon drive? Hope is eternal and we pray and hope we do as we come back to the resort.

We are ready at 2.30 PM after quick lunch we start on afternoon drive. We are alotted Magdi zone. We are now more excited as we had heard about sighting in this zone. We are now hopeful as we enter the gate. The afternoon drive is pleasnt compared to morning one.We drive around for three hours and see every other animal and birds except tiger. Our luck seems to be running out as we reach the finishing point and get on the road.

We drive back and all of us are dissappointed including Kshitij who is a enthusiastic youngster from Pune. He could not believe that we could not sight in Magdi. We come back to resort and we could see a happy faced Arjun, another naturalist of the resort at the gate.

Arjun had taken some foreign guests to Kitauli zone in the afternoon - the same zone we had gone in the morning - and they had spotted a tiger!!. OMG, what luck!!

Does Sher khan give darshan only to foreigners???? We start wondering and go back to dining hall for a cup of tea.

Sightings of the drives. I don't know the names of the birds and any BHPians on the forum can help in giving the names

The Jungle Beckons

Fauji's Drivologues - Christmas in Wintry Wilderness and New Year on Sunny sands!-dsc_0742.jpg

Fauji's Drivologues - Christmas in Wintry Wilderness and New Year on Sunny sands!-dsc_0710.jpg

Birds, Birds everywhere.....where is the tiger???

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Sambar deer. This fellow was giving us pose as we stood in front fro five minutes and then disappeared. Looked like a pregnant female deer.

Fauji's Drivologues - Christmas in Wintry Wilderness and New Year on Sunny sands!-dsc_0714.jpg

Day of the Jackal!!

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This is a tamed elephant - there are no elephants in Bandhavgarh - enjoying bath watched by row of Langurs in the background!!

Fauji's Drivologues - Christmas in Wintry Wilderness and New Year on Sunny sands!-dsc_0802.jpg

Ready, steady, Go!!

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Beware, pedestrians crossing!!

Fauji's Drivologues - Christmas in Wintry Wilderness and New Year on Sunny sands!-dsc_0816.jpg



To be continued - Beautiful place called "Tree house Hideaway"
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Old 23rd January 2012, 15:37   #24
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Thumbs up Tree House Hideaway - A fine Jungle lodge

When we confirmed accomodation in Tree House Hideaway (TH), Bandhavgarh Tiger we had only the information from BHPian Nilnajanray who had stayed there last year. The prices during this time of the year - Christmas - is always crazy. When we called up Pugdandi Safaris to check availablity, they said they have rooms in both their properties. The difference was not much between Kings Lodge and TH and we opted for TH for an experience. We dont regret it!!

TH is designed by Erwin, the amiable Dutch manager who has been part of the venture setting it up from the concept. What stirkes you as you enter the lodge - i hate to call it a resort - is that you are already in jungle. Later when i was chatting with Erwin, he confirmed my doubts that the concept is inspired from African Jungle lodges in Kenya and Tanzania.

It is exclusive. There are only five Tree houses perched under the huge Banyan/Mahua trees. Ours was under Banyan tree. The accomodation is so nicely designed that the rooms merge with the contours of the tree though they stand on stilts. The canopy of the tree ensures that the roof is always covered by shade. The best part of these tree houses are the balcony or sit outs which are really huge and help you relax. This is so nice, you don't like to sit inside. The huge french window ensures that the tree house does not look claustrophobic.

The Staircase leading to TH

Fauji's Drivologues - Christmas in Wintry Wilderness and New Year on Sunny sands!-dsc_0752.jpg

The Entrance

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Fauji's Drivologues - Christmas in Wintry Wilderness and New Year on Sunny sands!-dsc_0750.jpg

The Sitout - look at the trees around!!

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Inside the room - quite spacious

Fauji's Drivologues - Christmas in Wintry Wilderness and New Year on Sunny sands!-dsc_0681.jpg

The lounge and dining hall again is under a huge banyan tree. The lounge is relaxing and the dining hall is rustic and elegant. The food is excellent.

Dining hall and lounge

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Lounge on the first floor

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Another attraction of the place is the huge waterbody within its boundary. I am sure that at night, there will be wild animlas around this area as per the instances told by the boys and Kshitij himself. A great place for birders as well.

Waterbody

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Birds near waterbody

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We paid Rs 24K for two nights on Jungle plan which inluded two safaris and all meals.

To be continued - Chasing Sher Khan in Mowgli's Den - Pench!!

Last edited by Fauji : 23rd January 2012 at 15:39.
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Old 24th January 2012, 09:12   #25
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivologues - Christmas in Wintry Wilderness and New Year on Sunny sands!

Glad to be of help :-)

I felt that Khitauli was the most beautiful of all zones, but probably with the lowest chance of tiger sightings.

We sighted wild boars below our treehouse when we were there - we were about to walk down to the dining room, and heard a lot of rusting in the brush. Figured out that it was a boar or mongoose or a clumsy bear (cats are always silent). Shone the torch around and finally saw the boar.

I have heard stories of bears and tigers paying a visit to the pond.
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Old 25th January 2012, 14:20   #26
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivologues - Christmas in Wintry Wilderness and New Year on Sunny sands!

Lovely story unfolding. Bring it on. Will love to see my backyard - Pench through your perspective.

Dr. A Ghosh
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Old 26th January 2012, 21:54   #27
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivologues - Christmas in Wintry Wilderness and New Year on Sunny sands!

Fauji sir, you never disappoint with your travelogues and drivologues. Each one is more spectacular than the other. Looks like you took a flight this time for a change, instead of your scorpio. Mind blowing travelogue and waiting for many more pictures from this trip, also, I must be the umpteenth guy on this thread to tell you I too had not heard of this place earlier.

The tree house hideaway looks rustic yet seems to be aptly endowed with the necessary amenities. Thanks a lot for sharing this. I'll put this place on my must-visit list. For now, I am eagerly awaiting pics of your chase to spot sher khan.
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Old 27th January 2012, 12:03   #28
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivologues - Christmas in Wintry Wilderness and New Year on Sunny sands!

Too Good, appears that you have 3 TL being updated side by side. Always envied you for the choice of hotels/restaurants where you usually put up. Have a very good taste for life to say the least
Awaiting your next updates...
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Old 27th January 2012, 16:43   #29
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Thumbs up Day 4 and 5 - Searching Sher Khan in Mowgli's Den!!!

We wanted to leave early from Bandhavgarh so as to be there in Pench by 2.30 PM – in time for the afternoon safari.We settle the bill on the previous night itself.

We get up early and get ready to leave the tree house by 6.30 AM. Laxman is ready with the car and we say bye to Bandhavgarh. Before we leave Bandhavgarh, here are some tips

a) Spotting Sher Khan is a matter of luck. You may probably book at least four safaris to increase the possibility of spotting the Sher Khan.

b) Make sure you book for the jeep ride/trek to the fort inside the forest. It has nice ruins of Lord Vishnu and if lucky will spot Sher khan

c) Book safaris well in advance and make sure you get right gates. Though sighting Tiger is matter of luck, local naturalists will have information where the sightings are happening at that time and book those zones.

d) Don’t forget to carry your IDs – DL, Pan Card, Voters ID etc

e) Enjoy the jungle. Don’t miss out other animals and birds in your excitement to see a tiger.

f) Carry good binoculars, water bottle. If in winter, make sure you are adequately covered.

g) Confirm and reconfirm from the hotel of your stay that all safaris are booked and ask them to send scanned copy of permits.

Total Distance - 365 KMs
Departure time -6.45 AM (Bandhavgarh)
Arrival time - 3.55 PM (Pench)
Road condition - Excellent except Seoni - Khawasa stretch on NH 7 which is bad
Breaks – Nil. But stuck in traffic jam on ghat for three hours
Max speed - 100 KMPH
Best stretches – Umaria - Seoni

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We depart Tala and move towards Seoni, going through buffer zone. We are still keeping our hopes alive of seeing Sher khan – you never know – as it is early in the morning. We are unlucky again as we move out of the forest area. Not before we see the carcass of fox killed by a vehicle on the highway.

The road to Seoni is excellent and we go through some nice hilly terrain in Narmada valley till Mandla. The landscape is brown and it must be beautiful after rains. A pleasant drive in the morning indeed. We continue to cruise comfortably and hopeful that we will reach Pench in time for lunch.

We cross Seoni and enter NH 7. We are now on the ghat road and I notice some lorry drivers parking their vehicles and cooking meals. It looks strange. We drive another two KMs and there is a huge pile up of trucks. This is a double lane road and we don’t have any option. We check with the truck drivers as to what has happened and they say that they have been waiting for last eight hours as a truck has broken down in the middle of a curve.

The Jam

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OMG!! It does not look like clearing soon. We don’t have an option but to sit and pray. We are keeping our fingers crossed and hoping that we are able to reach in time. One hour passes. No sign of any movement. Two hours passes. No luck. The gates in Turia gate of Pench will be open only till 4 PM which means that we have to reach the gate by that time else we lose to go on safari toady. We have another 45 minutes of drive.

After waiting three hours, the road clears and we rush past. Babloo, our driver for safari and Abheek’s man Friday in Pench is constantly calling us to make sure we reach in time. Fortunately for us this time, Laxman raises to the occasion and drive pretty fast and also know where Turia gate is.

We finally reach at 3.55 PM and we are ushered in. We go to the loo in the park reception quickly to freshen up. We have already lost close to two hours and left with one and half hours to explore the park today. Tejas and Parag from Dr Abheek’s team are waiting in the gypsy for us as we enter the park.

We are in Pench. We are in Mowgli’s den. In Kipling country. I am remembering the famous jungle book serial we used to see and enjoy on DD once upon a time. I am now looking forward to drive through the same forest and hopeful to see his friends Sher Khan, Bageera etc

We enter the Turia gate and Babloo ask us look straight and point at Jackal posing for us.

Jackal again!!

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A good omen he says. We are excited and hope that Sher Khan may give Darshan. Babloo, Tejas and Parag and fantastic. We move around the forest hopeful to see the Sher Khan. We go to Baghin Nala where Tejas says he had seen a male tiger once and wait for few minutes. Babloo says that the tiger was spotted in the area on the previous day. We see some beautiful birds in this area.

Beautiful birds

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The park is fantastic. It is huge, green and blessed with streams – though dry now. The undulations in the geography of the park make it lovely. I find this should be on of the prettiest parks in the country. Also, it is still not commercialised and hence the chances of seeing the animals is bright. We move around the forest and see all the animals except elusive Sher Khan as we head back. Babloo says that we will definitely spot one the next day. With that hope we return back.

We ask Tejas, Babloo and Parag to join us for dinner. We spend a quite evening chatting about jungle tales from the three blokes. The boys were telling how Gurudutt (GD1418) were lucky when they went for drive immediately after the showers in October. GD has captured it beautifully in his TL

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...gurgaon-7.html (Gurgaon - Jhansi - Khajuraho - Bandhavgarh - Pench - Kanha - Bhedaghat - Gurgaon)

We are up at 5 in the morning. Pench is not as chilly as Bandhavgarh but still cold. Tejas is ready with Gypsy to pick us up from Tiger N Woods where we have stayed. Not a good choice of place. Not recommended. See my review in Tripadvisor here under user name "Alemaari".

Went with lot of expectations but came back dissappointed - Review of Tiger 'n' Woods, Pench National Park, India - TripAdvisor

We reach Turia gate in time. We are fifth in the queue. Babloo makes sure that we enter the park quickly and move around first which will increase our chances of spotting Sher Khan. We enter the park and move around. Babloo parks the gypsy at many places on sensing something, wait but there is no sign of Sher khan. We come near the huge backwater created lake of Pench river. The setting looks out of the world and looks more like being in an African jungle.

The beautiful backwaters and grasslands

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The waterbirds in Backwaters

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The Indian Gaur and Peacock

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The cheetal with majestic antlers

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Peacock in all glory

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Parakeets

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Eagle

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Can you spot the owl here? Nature's own camouflage!!!

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Cheetals near water body

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Navigating through the grasslands

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Beautiful landscape

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We stop at visitors centre to freshen up and then leave the place before anyone does. Babloo takes us to different places and we criss-cross the forest with a hope of seeing Sher khan. Every one of us is anxious as time is running out. Babloo is distraught and so is Tejas and Parag. We miss out the elusive cat again as we return back empty handed but rich with experience of visiting one of the most beautiful jungles in the country.

I promise Babloo that we will be back again in May and he should show us Collar wali. He smiles and says yes. With that hope we say bye to Tejas and Parag who are also returning to Nagpur on their bike. We return to the resort, have breakfast and check out and hit the road to Nagpur.

Laxman gets us back to Nagpur at 2 PM and we drive straight to meet Dr Abheek Ghosh. We are to have lunch together and I am excited to meet the doc who is doing great stuff in these – Pench and Tadoba – parks. We reach Spandan Heart Hospital and to our bad luck, an emergency case is being attended by Doc. Still he takes few minutes to chat and meet Brinda and take pictures. We miss him at Lunch but not before we ask him to recommend the best place to have lunch. He recommends Minerva and we head there. Great lunch in Minerva done we move to see the Great Stupa and the Zero Mile point. On the way I also notice beautiful heritage buildings of British era.

Orange city!!

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Zero Mile point

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A church in Sadar - British built

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The British built GPO building. Being sunday, there was no one around.

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Stupa at Deeksha Bhhomi - The place where Dr Ambedkar converted to Buddhism along with his followers

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The torana at stupa

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Finally we arrive at the airport. Fortunately the flight is on time. But we have to spend the next three hours inside. In the hindsight, as we settle down in our seats in the aircraft, a thought cross my mind. Should we have stayed back in the afternoon for another safari and then come to airport? Would we have sighted Sher Khan then? Not sure. But hope is eternal as they say.

The aircraft is gaining height and the glistening lights of Nagpur’s look distant. We did not see Sher Khan but we saw his friends, beautiful jungle and going back rich with experience.

We land in Bangalore and i switch on my cell phone only to see loads of messages from friends – Let's go to Goa for New Year!!!

To be continued - New year on Sunny sands of Goa!!

Last edited by Fauji : 27th January 2012 at 16:50.
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Old 27th January 2012, 17:09   #30
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivologues - Christmas in Wintry Wilderness and New Year on Sunny sands!

Wonderful snaps sir. I am really surprised how you were able to spot and capture the Owl in the camouflage?

Now waiting for the sun 'n' sand.
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