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Old 30th March 2012, 17:08   #1
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Default One Lucky Sunday At Ranthambhore- 24/03/12 Trip Report!!

In the year 1794 an English poet, William Blake, wrote a poem : -
Quote:
"The Tyger"
........By William Blake


TIGER, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand and what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? What dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And water'd heaven with their tears,
Did He smile His work to see?
Did He who made the lamb make thee?

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
I am sure he must have seen something like this that inspired him to write the poem.

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This is a story about our short trip to Ranthambhore.........

PRELUDE

As a wild life lover I am very happy that I stay in Jaipur. Why? Well because we have two big National Parks within 3 hrs of driving time from the city. Them being

1. Sariska National Park

2. Ranthambhore National Park

We also have a protected forest just on the periphery of the city. This protected forest though does not have any tigers but has a healthy number of Leopards and other prey. Its is called

3. Jhalana protected forest.

Over a period of last 6 months my friend Vishwas and I have made it a ritual to visit either Sariska or Jhalana on every Sunday. Our visits to Jhalana use to start early in the morning on a sunday and would end by 0900 hrs but we were never lucky enough to spot the Leopard

The next NP is Sariska. Actually the love for Sariska arose after having done a few trips with GD1418 ( Gurudutt Sir from Tbhp) and reading his travelogue and seeing all those lovely wild life pics he has posted. His knowledge about the area is immense and safari's with him is always a pleasure! Also another member here, Sach. Sri, another avid wild life enthusiast and his travelogue (Sariska Tiger Reserve - Land of Tigers? Quick getaway from Gurgaon) about wildlife in sariska, especially his luck with the leopards has been an inspiration for me.

For Sariska we used to start in the morning from Jaipur and used to do the afternoon safari and return back to Jaipur by late night. Our numerous trips to Sariska also never yielded any results w.r.t. spotting a tiger. Well once we did catch a fleeting glimpse of a tigress in the dark but I would not call that a proper sighting.

Anyways I never left hope and the visits continued. Actually it was all about being there in the wild, looking at those beautifull animals and those birds, discussing about them and sharing knowledge that made us return to the jungle time and again. Ofcourse spotting of the ever elusive big cat would have been an icing on the cake.

Vishwas (my friend) has visited Ranthambhore many a times in the last 2 years, he has been very lucky with tiger spotting and swears by RNP. Infact he has good knowledge about the forest and the wild life in the area. He called me on 23/03/2012 and asked me if I wanted to make a trip to RNP on 24th and 25th (saturday & sunday). I was thrilled and I confirmed. The only thing troubling me was that it was still peak season for RNP and the dates were falling on weekend so it would be next to impossible for us to get a booking in a safari.

But Vishwas being an ever optimist person insisted that we will manage something somehow when we reach there. So the plan was fixed!! We booked ourselves in a very good resort at the peripheries of RNP. Booking at a good resort was done because, by chance if we do not happen to get a safari we could atleast get to relax at the resort.

So the final plan was that we leave at around 1000hrs on 24th, reach the resort at around 1230 hrs, try for an afternoon safari that day, have a relaxing evening and then the next day try for a morning and afternoon safari and return back to Jaipur.

But plans some times do not materialize!!

To be contd in next post.....
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Old 30th March 2012, 17:40   #2
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Default Re: One Lucky Sunday At Ranthambhore- 24/03/12 Trip Report!!

24/03/2012 - Saturday Morning

As planned I was ready by 1000hrs waiting for Vishwas to come and pick me up. Seeing the huge difference in Petrol and diesel prices, we had planned to go in his diesel Figo, but the day started with bad luck as he discovered in the morning that his car has a crack on the wind shield. His dad has a fiesta and luckily it was free, so he decided to get that as our ride. But that took some time so by the time we left from my office it was 1300 hrs.

Since Vishwas was getting delayed, I had decided to come to office and spend my time there reading Harsh's recent travelogue on Ranthambhore. Basically the idea was to find the latest update on route conditions, the movement of tigers in RNP and also to feast on the beautifull pics they had taken. So I was all set and only waiting for my friend to pick me up!!

Prior to this I had zero first hand knowledge about RNP. Last I had visited RNP was 21 years back when it was not even 10% commercialized as what it is today. We used to take an overnight train from Jaipur to Sawai Madhopur (it was meter gauge then and used to take 5 hrs) do the morning safari, by booking it on the spot and take the evening train back home.

So having left everything on Vishwas we started towards Chaksu on NH12. Someone had told us that there is a new road that joins Chaksu to Kotkhawada to Lalsot. ( Kotkhawda to lalsot is apparently not in the below map, so I have marked the route in red)So we decided to try out that.

Below is the Route we wanted to try. Red line depicts the new road between Kotkhawada to lalsot
One Lucky Sunday At Ranthambhore- 24/03/12 Trip Report!!-1final.jpg

In between Vishwas started calling up the hotel people to see if they could try and organise a safari for us on next day morning and in the afternoon. We had realised that it was a bit late to catch the evening safari so the safari's had to be tomorrow. We knew the chances were slim yet there was no harm in trying. We had categorically told them that a canter would not do and the safari's had to be only in a gypsy. Basically we did pressurise the hotel, but it was done in a nice manner!!

The route till Chaksu was pretty bad, We used to much better roads in Rajasthan. 4-lanning of the route is going on, so thats why maybe it was a bit rough. At Chaksu Vishwas asked me if I wanted to see something special. He did not remember the name of it but if we wanted to see it, we would have to continue till Tonk and then take a left from there to SWM. Anyway, we had no Safari to do today so we decided to take the longer route via Tonk

This is the route we finally took
One Lucky Sunday At Ranthambhore- 24/03/12 Trip Report!!-2final.jpg

This place that he finally remembered the name is called Hathi Bhata. It falls about 25 kms after Tonk on the SWM route. One has to take a 1 km detour on the right. There are no signboards so have to ask. It falls under the purview of ASI
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Apparently Hathi Bhata was sculpted in the year 1200 AD by Ram Nath Slat, during the regime of Sawai Ram Singh. There are inscriptions on the elephant that tell stories about Raja Nal and Damyanti. I later realised, when I came home, about these inscriptions when I read more about this monument on the net. The bigger than life size elephant monument is made out of a single rock and has no joints.
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The surrounding area is all rocky, so it gets really hot but the topography is very picturesque
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There were these circular patterns dug out on a flat stone, which apparently were uses as "thali's" for brahmins, when the king hosted meals for them
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The sun was really beating on our head and it was really getting hot so we decided to move on. By 1730 hrs we reached our hotel.

We had chosen Abrar Palace Wild Life Resort due to its location and also because they had tents and we wanted to experience staying in the tents for once.
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This resort is situated on the peripheries of the RNP and just 5 kms before the entry gate of the park. Actually later we came to know that because the resort is on the peripheries of the park, if you lucky, or rather unlucky you could have a wild animal walking in the lawns of the resort!!
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The walk way along the tents
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They also had fruit bearing trees in the resort area
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We checked in the resort and was alloted our tent. They have around 8 tents and 22 rooms. All the tents are named after birds, so our tent was called "Sand Piper"

The tents are very well appointed with a/c's and mini fridges, both are a must for summers. The beds were pretty big and in the rooms a lot of details were taken care of, for example they had put face masks for us to save us from dust during the safari. Will we get a safari or or we wont was still unclear till now.
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Face masks- a small yet a significant thing while at a safari
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Everything was about wildlife, so much so that even the bed sheets had leopards and the ashtrays had pug marks. This was turning out to be pretty nice

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The bathrooms were also nice for a tent and were very clean. Each bathroom also had an attached geyser and all the complimentary stuff usually present in decent hotels.
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After settling in the room we decided to go out to the pool area. I wanted to have a swim and Vishwas just wanted to relax.
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Soon it was evening and by then luckily the hotel Manager had informed us that he managed 2 seats for us in a Gypsy for the morning ride, the status for tomorrow afternoon safari was still not confirmed . Obviously we were more than happy, atleast the morning safari was taken care of. We can think about the afternoon safari later!!

It was time to relax now and do some night photography.
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So after whiling time we headed off for dinner!!. The dinner is a buffet and is also served in the dinning tent. The food was quite tasty!!
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It was time to sleep as the morning safari was to start at 0645 hrs.

Lets see what we have in store for tomorrow

to be contd.....
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Old 31st March 2012, 11:11   #3
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Default Re: One Lucky Sunday At Ranthambhore- 24/03/12 Trip Report!!

Onegood thing about writing in the Assembly line section before uploading the travelogue is that you can twist the story as an when required without going too much off course.

Well, this travelogue was supposed to be of Ranthambhore, but I will add an incident that happened to me when after I returned back from RNP.

Going a bit off topic, but still related to wild life and being lucky !!


Story about day before last evening (29/03/12)

As I had mentioned in my 2nd post that we have a protected forest on the periphery of the city called "The Jhalana Forest", and that was about 10-12 leopards, lots of deer and other smaller animals like wolves, wild boar, hare etc etc.

Since its very close to my house, less than 3 kms away, my friend Vishwas and I keep venturing into the forest, atleast once a week. With proper permissions from the forest authorities, one can take their own car inside, provided it has high ground clearance and drive around on the jungle tracks.

Though, no one checks here but still we follow the rules that are applicable to any national park having wild animals. Some of them are:-

1. We take a petrol vehicle
2. no getting out of the vehicle
3. no smoking/ no drinking/ no eating and no littering
4. No starting a fire
5. animals, big or small, have the right of way
6 no loud noise like no honking etc etc

Here is the Map of the area and location from my house

A- My House
B- Gate to the Forest
Green Line- Protected Forest area
One Lucky Sunday At Ranthambhore- 24/03/12 Trip Report!!-jhalana.jpg

So on the evening of 29/03/12 at around 1700hrs Vishwas called me and asked me if I was interested to go there. I am ever ready for spotting wild life, I find it very relaxing. So he said he will come and pick me up by 1730 hrs.

In the meanwhile we called up the forest officer incharge and asked him if we could go in the track. He knows that we love wildlife so generally he says yes and luckily he gave us permission this time as well.

By 1745 hrs we were at the gate of the park and asked the security guy if he had heard of any movement of the leopard. He categorically told us there aint a chance today because the Navratras are on and the park also has a Mata Ka Mandir close to the gate and lot of devotees are walking around. The leopard being a shy creature wouldn't dare to come down the hills.

Anyway, a bit disappointed we still went ahead. The forest officials have made 4 watering holes for the animals on this length of route we took. Its about 5 kms long between two hills. The jungle was pretty quiet with Neel Guy grazing peacefully.
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We crossed an old hunting lodge of the Kings called the Shikar Oudhi.
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By 1830hrs we reached the last watering hole, which is in the deepest part of the forest, but it was empty. After waiting there for 5 mnts we turned back. We were sure we wouldnt be lucky again

While returning at one of the other watering holes on route we heard a soft call of Neel guy. Was the leoprad around??? We waited silently for some time but all went quiet again. So slowly we started back toward the gate.

It 1900 hrs and was pretty dark by now, we had switched on the llights of our car. We hadnt gone far from the place we had heard the call and suddenly at a distance of about 100 mtrs ahead we saw a silhouette with its eyes burning bright
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We slowed down to a crawl and inched towards it, it confidently walked towards us. It was a leopard for sure. What luck, but now to get some proof.

So we stopped, and the leopard stopped too. There is a critical distance that has to be maintained between the wild animal and humans. If we cross that distance, ,most probably you will scare it away. With leopards the critical distance is pretty high.

We must be 100 feet away, but the light was very less. I was inside a car and plus I did not have a tripod. I was using my 75-300 mm lens, and was hoping I would get some decent shots. I just increased the ISO to 1600 and tried various settings.

The leopard sat down for the next 5 minutes and here is what I could shoot with the camera hand held.

Not the best pics but still one can make out its a leopard

Try 1
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Try 2
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Try 3
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Try 4
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Another lucky day

Now back to the the Ranthambhore trip.............
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Old 31st March 2012, 11:15   #4
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Default Re: One Lucky Sunday At Ranthambhore- 24/03/12 Trip Report!!

Thread moved from Assembly line to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 1st April 2012, 00:29   #5
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Default Re: One Lucky Sunday At Ranthambhore- 24/03/12 Trip Report!!

So - the luck turned and how

Nice pics and narration - actually all the pics are very nice, but specially liked the haathi pics and also the pic with room key.
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Old 1st April 2012, 06:01   #6
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Default Re: One Lucky Sunday At Ranthambhore- 24/03/12 Trip Report!!

Wow, the encounter with leopard was worth the read, BTW i was waiting for the Tiger story to unfold? Is the TL remaining or its over. The first teaser picture of the Tiger made me believe there would be a Tiger spotting somewhere.

Abrar palace looks good in pictures, but wouldn't it get very hot inside in the summer heat when heat wave flows? How expensive was the place?
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Old 1st April 2012, 12:41   #7
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Default Re: One Lucky Sunday At Ranthambhore- 24/03/12 Trip Report!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by sach.sri View Post
So - the luck turned and how

Nice pics and narration - actually all the pics are very nice, but specially liked the haathi pics and also the pic with room key.
Even I was also presently surprised to see the Haathi Monument. Its only about 100 kms from my place and had never heard of it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mayankjha1806 View Post
Wow, the encounter with leopard was worth the read, BTW i was waiting for the Tiger story to unfold? Is the TL remaining or its over. The first teaser picture of the Tiger made me believe there would be a Tiger spotting somewhere.

Abrar palace looks good in pictures, but wouldn't it get very hot inside in the summer heat when heat wave flows? How expensive was the place?
The tent living area is insulated with 3 layers of cloth and had a 2 ton powerfull standing ac. So I do not think peak summers would be a problem. But the bathroom area has only single layer of cloth protection and that too way ploy vinyly and no AC so definitely that would become unbearable. All these hotels have a very high rack rate (printed price on website), but during off seasons they give as much as 50-60% discounts so that they can atleast meet their fixed over heads.

I apologise for causing the confusion regarding the travelogue. I had started to write about RNP but in between we also went To Jhalana Park and spotted the Leopard. So just added that chapter in between

Now Continuing about RNP

24/03/12 - Morning Safari RNP

Whenever I am going for a jungle safari, on the previous night, due to excitement I can’t sleep. I keep dreaming about the wild animals especially the big cat variety. Will I see them? Will I not see them? If I see them where would I see them? Would it be a leopard on a tree or would it be a tiger on the road or in a pond cooling itself? All this suspense is very difficult to handle and that makes me anxious for the next day. I don’t know about the rest but I also keep visualizing that if I am lucky enough to see the big cats what would I do? How would I feel? Would I get nervous, would I be happy or would I be scared? Would my hands tremble? Would I be able to set my camera and I get a decent picture and so on?

Anyways, with all these thoughts going through my mind I don’t know when I slept but I know I was up much before the scheduled wakeup call of 0545 hrs from the hotel. I wanted to go out of the tent but did not dare to go alone as the hotel management had already warned us that for safety reasons not to walk alone during dawn and dusk. Vishwas was still sleeping so I just lazed around.

To the hotels credit, dot at 0545 hrs the phone rang for the wakeup call and within 5 minutes of it we had our tea in bed. By0630 hrs we were both waiting at the hotel reception for our gypsy to arrive. Breakfast is generally served after the safari so we had a few biscuits and got some packed water andwe were ready to leave.

Dot at 0645 hrs our gypsy arrived and apart from the driver, there were 4 more people (1 lady and 3 gents) in it and the last 2 seats were kept for us. We jumped in and got going towards Gaumukh – The entry gate for RNP.

Started towards RNP from our resort
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Reached Gaumukh- The entry gate
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Usually in such sharing scenarios with unknown people, the best way to break the ice is to introduce each other and usually conversation picks up from there. So both my friend and I introduced each other to them, but instead we just got a very cold response. Maybe they were not interested in a polite conversation or they were just cheesed off because they did not want to travel with 2 unknown men. So we left it at that and the gypsy moved on inside RNP.

The route taken for this morning safari was from Gaumukh (entry gate) – Malik Talab- Lakhadda Chowki – Semli valley and return via Semli – Malik Talab – Raj Bagh – Padam Talab – RNP Fort gate – Singh Dwar and Gaumukh to Exit. Ofcourse I did not know the route till the safari finished and I came home and plotted it on Google earth.

Google Earth view of the route
One Lucky Sunday At Ranthambhore- 24/03/12 Trip Report!!-route1final.jpg

Our Gypsy was quiet and so was the jungle. There was no sound at all of anything that was audible. Except ofcourse the sound of diesel canters and the passengers chirping in them, which could be audible from the next planet as well. Can’t they have petrol ones atleast so that the sound level would be less? There would be gypsies time to time that would cross us and all the while the drivers would exchange notes, but unfortunately there seemed to be no movement of tigers all over the park. The pet dialogue of our driver seemed to be a very old Hindi Proverb “Jungle Mein Mor Nacha Kisney Dekha”. This if translated in English broadly means, no one has seen anything. So we moved on.

I would love to see the tiger, but I also like to enjoy the other animals that are present in the park. I like to see the deer’s grazing, the birds sitting or just stop by a place offering good views of the surroundings and take photographs of them. But it seemed that the whole agenda to day was to spot the tiger and nothing else. It was turning out to be a quite disappointing safari.

Soon we reached a point where there were some gypsies standing in wait.
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Apparently yesterday evening a tiger had killed a prey and had dragged it across the road into an anicut. Everyone was waiting for it to come out. Actually no one even knew for certaing if the big cat was still there or no as it could have moved from there during the night.
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Not far from here we could see some spotted deers grazing. Luckily we had stopped so I could get a decent picture of them
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After 5 minutes, the other occupants of the gypsy decided we had waited enough for the tiger to come out and we should move on. So with us going rush rush everywhere by 0800 hrs we were at one of the eastern most chowki’s of RNP Lakhada Chowki.
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No sooner we could get off the gypsy for a break we were surrounded by Rufus Treepie’s. They seemed to have adapted the best for their food needs. They eat the food crumbs provided by the tourists and in turn these birds pose on the tourists hands and head for photographs. I used to like that earlier but now I am strictly against it. This is my opinion others might disagree.

The bird realized we had nothing to offer it do just sat on the gypsy for some time and disappeared.
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During the break at Lakhadda, we again tried to have some conversation with the co-occupants of our gypsy and suggested them that we should go slowly enjoying the bounties of the jungle. I tried to explain that in pursuit of only the Big Cat, we will miss the other flaura and fauna. And if at the end we do not see the tiger also we would be left with nothing. One of them spoke up, he said that we were right but the Madam in the gypsy has to return to Jaipur and has to catch a flight from there hence the rush. One thing we realized that “The Madam” was the main person in the group and indeed their only agenda was to spot the Tiger.

But the brighter side was that we still had about 2 hours left in the Jungle and we somehow had to make the best use of it. From Lakhadda we moved towards Semli Valley. This is one of the last points on the eastern side of RNP.

By this time I had also started requesting the driver directly to stop at places where I could sense a photo opportunity and the driver used to oblige. The other men didn’t like, but “the Madam” didn’t say anything so they also kept quiet.

Most of the vegetation in RNP had gone dry by now and everything looked parched. The undergrowth in open areas was minimal and the trees had no leaves left. It was only different shades of brown left on hill tops.

Dry Landscape at Semli area
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Within the valleys wherever there was water left, it was lush and it was green.
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There used to be lots of prey around these watering holes as it was much cooler here in the shade.

Courting deer couple
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By now we had encircled the Semli Valley and were effectively on our way back. We stopped at Malik Talab for a bit. There still seemed to be some migratory birds left along with the resident birds. We were on a hillock and the sight of these birds going around doing their daily jobs in the pond was a wonder full sight to watch.
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After leaving Malik Talab, Vishwas pointed me towards another lake. This was Raj Bagh. The RNP fort standing tall at the backdrop of the lake looked wonderfull. I never realized that the Fort was this big. I had always thought it to be a smaller fort, but the rampant walls stretched across the whole hill.

RajBagh and The RNP fort
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We took a half circle of the lake and we could see some birds enjoying the morning sunshine.

A Cormorant
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Brahmini Ducks
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All the 6 ducks in this pic have their head inside their body, guess its still their sleeping time.
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This bird has been Id’ed as Darter by Sach.Sri. (member of this forum)
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As we went along the shore of Rajbagh we saw an old hunting Chowki in the middle of the lake on an island. I just wondered how many animals the erstwhile Kings would have murdered sitting in this chowki ? Try a hand to hand dual with a Male Deer, leave alone a leopard or a tiger and then see who’s head is severed.

Old Hunting Chowki
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More view of Rajbagh and the fort
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I was somewhat enjoying the safari now. The views were magnificent. Here I thought that RNP landscape is much better than Sariska. Don’t get me wrong, I love Sariska but all these big lakes and the massive fort was just adding to the charm.

Suddenly with a turn the scene even got better. Now on our right was another lake, this was Padam Talab. Right in the middle on the other shore of the lake was a beautifull red stone palace. This had to be Jogi Mahal, the palace used by the kings to relax. Apparently it was named Padam Talab as stunning lotus flowers bloom in the lake.

Jogi Mahal at Padam Talab
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We went around the lake and saw quite a lot of wild life including deers grazing and monkeys playing happily with the fort walls looming large over them. This scene felt straight out of Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book. Felt like heaven.
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Another Rufus Treepie. But this time it’s on a tree as against on a human head or a human hand or a gypsy. I think they look much better on branches.
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Slowly encircling the lake and enjoying the beautifull vistas we had reached the area behind Jogi Mahal. Up ahead we could see lots of vehicles waiting and all heads pointing in one direction. Well, this could only mean one thing. Our heart skipped a beat and we inched slowly towards the rest of the waiting gypsies.

Gypsy and canters and all the tourists
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We looked in the direction where everyone was looking. We could only see bushes of different shades of green and browns. Apparently somewhere in between those green bushes there were some golden and white stripes of a tiger also visible. But we could not make them out from a distance of about 60 feet from the naked eye. But the camera lens tells another story.

Can you spot the stripes
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What happened next….

To be cond…
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Old 1st April 2012, 15:05   #8
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Default Re: One Lucky Sunday At Ranthambhore- 24/03/12 Trip Report!!

Great narration & pictures. Jogi Mahal looks so beautiful with the vast expanse of water body in the front. The Royals did have style...

You sure did have some bad company in the jeep.
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Old 1st April 2012, 22:33   #9
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Default Re: One Lucky Sunday At Ranthambhore- 24/03/12 Trip Report!!

Great detailed TL with beautiful pictures of the forests. Its so different from the MP jungles, with beautiful forts and lakes adding so much more magic to the place.
You have been really lucky to see a leapord. In my years of travelling to the jungles I have still to see one.
Waiting for the stripes to show up.
Please allow me to put up a picture of the tree pies often taking free rides provided by the thier own home the forests.
Regards

One Lucky Sunday At Ranthambhore- 24/03/12 Trip Report!!-4.jpg

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Old 2nd April 2012, 10:23   #10
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Default Re: One Lucky Sunday At Ranthambhore- 24/03/12 Trip Report!!

Wonderful post and beautiful narration. Yes, I can spot the tiger in your last pic. If I'm correct, it is visible at the top of the picture towards the right. Good one though!

You have mentioned in your post above that, the hotel staff had advised you not to venture out of the Hotel before dawn or dusk. Any reason for that? Is it due to the reason that a Tiger might suddenly appear or some other reason?

Last edited by joe1980 : 2nd April 2012 at 10:26.
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Old 2nd April 2012, 11:57   #11
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Default Re: One Lucky Sunday At Ranthambhore- 24/03/12 Trip Report!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by gd1418 View Post
Great narration & pictures. Jogi Mahal looks so beautiful with the vast expanse of water body in the front. The Royals did have style...

You sure did have some bad company in the jeep.
Thank You and yes, Jogi Mahal indeed looked wonderfull. Must be an amazing experience to spend a night there!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Coooolcat21 View Post
You have been really lucky to see a leapord. In my years of travelling to the jungles I have still to see one.
Waiting for the stripes to show up.
Please allow me to put up a picture of the tree pies often taking free rides provided by the thier own home the forests.
Regards
The leopard in the backyard of my house (well 2 kms away) was being really lucky. We got lucky after almost 10 attempts of visiting this place. But I guess its being at the right place at the right time!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by joe1980 View Post
Wonderful post and beautiful narration. Yes, I can spot the tiger in your last pic. If I'm correct, it is visible at the top of the picture towards the right. Good one though!

You have mentioned in your post above that, the hotel staff had advised you not to venture out of the Hotel before dawn or dusk. Any reason for that? Is it due to the reason that a Tiger might suddenly appear or some other reason?
No I dont think you got it right. Its actually in the center of the picture towards the bottom. As you see the photo its face is on the left and the tail, which is quite visible, is on the right. Ive marked it on the photo for you

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Yes, as I mentioned that the resort was on the peripheries of the forest and because the Tiger population is very high in RNP, the leopards have been forced to move to the peripheries hence spotting a leopard in human settlements around the forest area has become quite common. Infact T-24 a huge male and a sloth bear apart from leopards had been spotted in our resort area during the last 2 months.

Hence the caution!!

Continuing with The Morning Safari!!

Our eyes glued at the spot we kept waiting for something to happen. There was definitely a Tiger that was very well camouflaged in those bushes. The word had spread like wild fire and within no time all the gypsy’s and the canters in that area had converged to the spot. The decibel levels were increasing by the minute and with all the disturbance around I was pretty sure that this was the best we could see of the tiger. As the tiger will wait in the bushes till our time in the jungle finishes and everything gets quiet before making a move.

I wanted to make the best of it and get the best angle possible of the bush hiding the tiger. Atleast then, at home I could zoom the picture on the PC and show it as proof to the others. So within the gypsy I tried to move around clicking pics from all possible angles. Seeing me moving all over his gypsy the driver turned around and spoke for the first time to us during the entire journey. He said “ Sir, please relax, this is T-17, she is not shy of tourists and vehicles, very soon she will come out and then click as many photographs as you want.” I was sincerely hoping and praying that the driver would be right or else I would again miss sighting the elusive by a whisker.

I clicked as many pics as I could, You never know this might be the end of our spotting.

Pic showing the stripes behind the bushes . It was not an illusion, she was indeed there!!
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Mean while in our gypsy “The Madam” was yet not able to spot the Tiger. Love for spotting the tiger is so high that it makes things happen within seconds that we were not able to achieve for the entire length of the journey, we started conversing. Infact Madam could not yet sight the stripes in the bushes so I offered her my binoculars. We even made her move from the front seat with the diver to the seat in between but still she could not get the direction where the tigress was sitting.

About 20 minutes had passed and the hiding T-17 was getting restless and so was the tourists. I say T-17 was getting restless because initially we could see occasional movements behind the bushes and as time passed the occasional movements became more and more. Tourists were getting restless because our time in the park was ending and the Tiger seemed to be in no mood to get up.

Suddenly all hell broke loose. Not so hushed sounds and not so silent murmurs echoed in the air. T-17 had finally decided she had enough of hiding and got up.

A messed up photo of T-17 Getting up
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I could see stripes moving through the thicket and moving towards the road. Will this be the first time ever I get a proper sighting of an animal that has been elusive to me for almost 21 years. ( I did my first safari 21 years back)

Ah those beautifull stripes
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As she started walking out of the bushes, all the vehicles, must be about 25 of them left, cranked up with 2-3 seconds of each other. I guess so much of noise in such a short span startled her again and she decided to sit back down. She did not completely sit; I guess she was just waiting for things to settle down before moving again. Now we could easily see 2/3rd’s of her with naked eye. The feeling was awesome.

Startled she sat down again
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My heart was racing faster than a jet plane and thumping louder than the sound of a Royal Enfield. Never ever before, I had seen this beautifull creature from so close and so clearly. I realized I was gazing at her without batting my eyelids. She had magic in her eyes and they had kind of hypnotized me.

I got in my senses and calmed myself down. It was photo graph time again. I changed my camera setting to manual focus to miss the leaves and the twigs just before the Tigress. I wanted one clear shot of the beautifull creature. And I think I managed it pretty well.
First time I realized how essential Manual Focus mode is in a camera
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Just look at those eyes, enough to cast a spell on you
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After 5 minutes she got up again, changed direction and started to walk. Everyone in our gypsy was stunned looking at her. No one uttered a word, we just watched her. All my senses were concentrating at her, I could just see, hear and feel her presence, nothing else really mattered.

Walking in the open
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She walked 5 mtrs towards the watering hole, which was right in front of us. Maybe she wanted to have water.
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But the king decided that it was not yet time for a drink so she just sat down in the open area. This was by far the best view of her and that too from not more than 30 feet away. Her grace, her face and her walk all were mesmerizing.
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She looked thristy, she had saliva dripping from her lips
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But she was alert of her surroundings; any movement would make her alert
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Every wild life enthusiasts fantasy: To get a good view the elusive!!
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And we were quite lucky to see her for ample time
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Infact we had so much time and I had clicked so many pics of her, that I decided to keep my camera down and just enjoy her view through my own lens rather than the camera lens. After a while I changed my camera lens to the 18-70 as we wanted to stand infront of her so that we could get her and us both in the same frame.

That’s the 70-300mm in my hand. This picture also shows the actual distance between us and T-17
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To be Contd….

Last edited by deky : 2nd April 2012 at 12:11.
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Old 2nd April 2012, 12:24   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deky View Post

Mean while in our gypsy “The Madam” was yet not able to spot the Tiger. Love for spotting the tiger is so high that it makes things happen within seconds that we were not able to achieve for the entire length of the journey, we started conversing. Infact Madam could not yet sight the stripes in the bushes so I offered her my binoculars. We even made her move from the front seat with the diver to the seat in between but still she could not get the direction where the tigress was sitting.
I believe that the best ice-breaker between strangers during a safari is the sighting of a predator - be it a tiger or a leopard or a bear.

Suddenly a bond is created because of the unusual and exciting event in which all of us are co-witnesses. The excitment and the joy is such that people lower their guards!

I have experienced this in my Safaris in RNP as all of them have been shared and some even on a canter. Infact, my first 2 tiger sightings were on a canter in RNP.
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Old 2nd April 2012, 17:40   #13
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Default Re: One Lucky Sunday At Ranthambhore- 24/03/12 Trip Report!!

ABOUT T-17

Since we are watching T-17 it would be nice to know a bit more about her. T-17 the tigress, is also called “Sundari” or Beautifull if translated in English. He name is very apt for her as I think she is indeed very pretty. She is the daughter of “Macchli” the famed tigress of RNP. Macchali was called the “Lady of the Lake” as she was the one that started fighting with the crocodiles in Raj Bagh for meals. With this bravery and with grace she has become a legend in her own right. When Sundari became an adult, she got the same traits like her mother. So much so that she even fought with her own mother i.e Macchli, to get the prized territory of Raj Bagh area. Now she rules this area after pushing her mother out. She is also referred to as “The Lady Of The lake” now.

Also, Sundari knows that she is beautifull and never leaves any tourist disappointed once she is spotted. Apparently she is the most sighted and the most photographed tigress in RNP. She seems to take all the attention she gets from the noisy tourists around her in her stride. Infact I was told that she has learnt to use the tourists and the vehicles roaming in her territory to her advantage. Apparently she stalks her prey using these vehicles as a shield and suddenly comes from behind and takes the unsuspecting prey down.

I don’t know if this is nice for her or no, but I will only say she is smart enough to adapt!!

Continuing from previous post…

We were busy enjoying the full view of Sundari and taking photographs of her. We were planning to leave soon as our time in the jungle was coming to an end. Our small conversation with “The Madam” and the other people in our gypsy was only about Sundari. For the first time in the last 3 hours we all finally agreed to one point and the point was that Sundari was indeed very beautifull. We were all in awe of her presence.

We all also agreed that though Sundari was a bit disturbed about being surrounded by so many vehicles and so many tourists, but she still showed awesome restraint. I think we all just loved her. Suddenly she decided to get up and started to walk towards the road where all the gypsy’s were standing. I was still using my 18-70mm kit lens.

She crossed the road in front of us in between the biggest gap through the vehicles.
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Walking slowly but steadily she went to a tree. Was it time to sit down again?
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She stood in the shade and posed again. Deciding about her next move maybe?
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The pose gave me a chance to put back my 70-300mm lens again. Soon she started to walk again. This time it was more purposeful. It felt that now she knew what she was doing
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She went straight to a tree and smelt it. Checking the presence of other tigers around. As told later, there are high chances that she is expecting. She was seen with a male tiger a few weeks back and now she is been avoiding other males. So highly possible that she is!!
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She starts the cat walk again
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Luckily she came back on the road, and the way the gypsies were positioned our driver managed to come right behind her as she walked, so we followed her

The gypsy in the front had to reverse while we followed her
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For this 4- legged model doing the cat walk, the ramp was the jungle path. Any day more beautifull than watching 2-legged models doing the catwalk.
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My luck had changed and how!! So far I had only seen pug marks in a jungle and today, I was seeing the padded pug that left the marks
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The walk continues for about 500 mtrs. She sure knows where she is going and what she is doing
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She reaches a watering hole that offers a shaded place as there is a cliff next to it
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She bends down to have water, but is startled as the other gypsies reach this place as well
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She just has a sip and is up again. Guess we were guilty of not letting her even drink in peace
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“The Madam” in our gypsy didn’t like this. She thought we had encroached enough in her space and wanted to leave T-17 alone. We all unanimously agreed as by now even I felt that there has to be a limit to such things. She needed to have some peace. It had been about 40 minutes since all this circus was going on around her.

So we were ready to move, but could not as by then the road was blocked again from both sides by vehicles. So we had no option but to stay put and enjoy Sundari.

Sundari also sat down
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She was quite relaxed actually
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She did not even give us a second glance, for her us humans was an every day sighting
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The shaded area against the cliff and next to water was a perfect place for her
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She just chilled
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Even her reflection was as beautifull as her
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Shade and water does wonders, the saliva strip from her lips also gets smaller
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The hind paws
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Time for her afternoon siesta
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Ready to lie down
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It’s definitely sleep time
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Quite a comfortable bed it seems
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So with her sleeping, good sense prevailed in the entire gypsy fleet. Everyone started to back off and was heading straight to the exit gate. I asked my driver if we could go a bit ahead and then turn around from there as I wanted a front view of her sleeping. he gladly obliged.

Sundari looked at us and said good bye or was it Thank you for leaving me alone??
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The journey out from RNP Fort till our hotel was no where quiet. Infact by now “The Madam” had turned around in her front seat and was talking to her. We realized that it was her first Tiger sighting in the wild, just like mine. We also came to know that she was a very senior IAS officer in Delhi and the other men were her subordinates hence they were reluctant to talk with us initially. But once she opened up with us, she turned out to be a very nice lady and had no airs about her position. Initially they were just being wary about two unknown men, that’s it!!

We reached our hotel soon, settled our gypsy bill and bid farewell to the rest.

Both Vishwas and I were smiling from ear to ear. I could not believe what I had just witnessed. The feeling was yet to sink in!!

But soon it was time to start thinking about the afternoon safari. We were yet to be booked in one!!!

To be Contd…
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Old 2nd April 2012, 20:25   #14
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Default Re: One Lucky Sunday At Ranthambhore- 24/03/12 Trip Report!!

Wow, Amazing shots Dhiraj. You must be damn lucky. These are the best shots of the wild tiger I have seen in Team-Bhp. Exclusive stuff. As usual your narration virtually transported us to RNP.
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Old 2nd April 2012, 21:34   #15
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Default Re: One Lucky Sunday At Ranthambhore- 24/03/12 Trip Report!!

Great shots and narration! I am envious...it has been almost one year since I saw a tiger :-)

Please continue posting asap.
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