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Old 23rd August 2013, 15:51   #1
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Default Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!

Yippee......a fresh new trip and a brand new TL!!

Preamble

Story of our 2013 Independence weekend trip.


The nation is in it adolescence at 66 showing the signs of restlessness and throwing the tantrums associated with adolescence. A lot of water has passed down the bridge from that fateful day on Aug 15th 1947 and a lot more to go. As with most individuals and nations - we will also settle down and make our place in the annals of great nations in years to come.


With this fervent hope and with Pt. Jawaharal Nehru's/Robert Frost's words in my mind - "The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep"


Yessir - we take - "Live to Drive" very seriously indeed

We took off for our yearly Independence weekend trip. This is a special trip as it means monsoon drives and greenery all around and also something that is done without our usual run to the jungles....


... well not really, not this time. Read on!


The Start



Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_0788.jpg


Somewhere near Barr, Rajasthan
Date: August 15th
Year: 2013
Time: 1400 hrs
Destination: Bera, Rajasthan


We were on the last legs of our 700 odd kms journey from a hot an humid Gurgaon to the leopard country - Bera, Rajasthan. For a place with such illustrious neighbours - Udaipur, Jodhpur - Bera is a relative unknown travel destination.

Motel where we stopped for tea just before Jaipur
Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_0716.jpg

The parking - all about Scorps! Scorp in the foreground and Scorp in the background
Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_0719.jpg


Below the clouds - we drove...
Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_0731.jpg

Through sunshine - we drove...
Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_0743.jpg


On great roads, with great views - we drove...
Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_0752.jpg

In rains - we drove....
Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_0767.jpg

Under amazing skies - we drove...
Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_0781.jpg

Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_0783.jpg


Sleepy country side, bad roads, slush and mud and air which is fragrant with cow dung and other smells associated with sleepy little villages greeted us as we neared our destination.

Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_0789.jpg

Last edited by sach.sri : 26th August 2013 at 13:57.
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Old 26th August 2013, 13:56   #2
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Default Re: Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!

Prologue

For the Independence day weekend we had yet to decide on what we wanted to do with the holidays that we had on our hands. I did not want to let it go waste and wanted to go on a small vacation.

The Ladakh bug had bitten me and I wnated to use these 4 days for a small trip up into Himachal as a precursor to my Ladakh trip - scanning for options - wanted to do Spiti and Chandertaal or Naukuchiatal.

But it is rainy season afterall - and did not want my vacations to be spent couped up in a hotel room, had even booked booked Club Mahindra Naukuchiatal for 3 nights.

With smile on my lips and excitement in my mind, started planning for the trip. Little did i know that there was a twist in the tale. With all the recent rain related issues in Uttarakhand i was keeping a wary eye on the weather and rain conditions in Naukuchiatal. Looked like the weather gods has something else in their minds - it was predicted that for the entire duration of our stay there will be rains and on 14th there were supposed to be heavy rains there.

So - there we were and i watched my plans going down the drain, then - i remembered - Bera, leopards, wildlife and jungle - our first love and favourite type of holidays.

I had come to know about this place from a friend, who goes to Jodhpur and had many a times wistfully mentioned about making a side trip to Bera and Jawai Sagar dam for Leopard sightings.
That was the inspiration for the trip.

Also - recently another member had done this trip and posted some absolutely smashing pictures (robimahanta) and that kind of sealed it (so to say)

So - booked the leopard's lair resort and we were set to go.

Cut to Aug 15th

By the time we reached Bera, it was already the time for people to turn on the lights in their houses and the cows to come home and there were only a couple of ramlal type characters when we alighted from our steed to take over the reigns and settle us in.

It was "Thakur Sa'ab ka Bageecha" for local populance and the setting lived up to its name - with an old Thakur sa'ab presiding over and his trusted bulter providing the service.

So we settled in and after some gap shap with Thakur Devi Singh, the proprietor, retired for the night.




Tommorow - once again

Day2, Morning

Alarm woke us up faithfully at 5 am to get ready for SAfari that started at 6 am and then at 5.30..... knock.. knock on the door - the "ramlal" of the resort was there with our morning tea. Everything done and all equipment loaded - we got ready for the safari.

Okay, so it was not a "normal" safari per se. Why do i say so - first because it is not actually a forest but normal farm land with villages and villagers and cattle all around and second because it did not happen on gypsies - but on Mahindra jeeps and also a Kaizer.

So, Up and ready by 6 am for the safari, and like i said above, it turned out that we will be going in a fully customised Mahindra SWB Jeep - which was modified in a true African Safari style vehicle.

It is some local religious festival - and one in which people go for "viserjan" of the devi ji. There was much dancing and fooling around happening
Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_0796.jpg

Shepherd with his flock - really like the red colored turban
Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_0805.jpg

The den
Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_0810.jpg

Dreamy mountains and clouds
Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_0814.jpg

Our national bird
Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_0815.jpg

Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_0835.jpg

My son and me on - The Mahindra customised SWB
Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_0836.jpg

Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_0858.jpg

Viserjan
Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_0864.jpg


I should mention - somehow - JEEPs pull at the strings of my heart and one thing that i really enjoyed was the Jeeps - i made it a point to drive all of them! Thakur saab had a veritable stable - with this SWB, 1 MM550, 1 Kaizer with DI engine, 1 Landy, 1 rally prepped Gypsy and 1 more Kaiser recently bought.

Dhandha bahut sahi chal raha hoga
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Old 26th August 2013, 14:15   #3
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Default Re: Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!

Day2, Evening

Now, as against the normal practice in the Jungles of evening Safaris starting at somewhere around 2.30 pm, here in Bera the evening Safaris start at 5.30 pm and continue after sun down with help of search lights. So this gives you ample time after you return from morning safari at around 8.30 am to do whatever you want to do till the evening safari start.

Flip side is that there is little else to do in the village - other than going to some nearby places for a dekkho. We were not so inclined and so i planned for us (father and son) to wash our Scorp as a fun activity. And as you would imagine - kids love playing with water - and my son really like it - to top it all, he is very much interested in cars and Jeeps and so this was something that he was very happy doing.


In the evening - we went to a different place - to a temple called Devgiri - where a leopard by the name of Devraj is sighted regularly. But - no such luck today - we did get to see some ducks and other things, but not the Leopard.

Devgiri - nestled in the hills

Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_0868.jpg

Comb duck - in golden light
Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_0873.jpg

Lone sentry - the langur that kept on calling, but we could not see the Leopard
Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_0876.jpg

But, we did see - Egyptian Eagle owl
Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_0877.jpg

Some landscapes and interesting rocks... this is a backwater for Jawai Sagar dam and gets flooded when water is released
Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_0896.jpg

Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_0898.jpg

Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_0907.jpg



So - with sun sinking in the horizon and our hearts sinking in the Jeep, we decided to go back to the place where we went in the morning....


.... and, finally, under spotlight - we had our first encounter of the trip with the majestic being...

Lookyyy there, you beauty

Giving you - Zara


Initially Thakur saab (who was in a different Jeep) saw it walking on the road and she jumped into the bushes on hearing the Jeep. But then, we saw it sitting in the bushes, framed my them. Had to bend real low to get these shots.

Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_0934.jpg

Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_1025.jpg

Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_1048.jpg

Then - she moved

Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_1058.jpg

To sit behind a boulder and give a real good sighting. We were not more than 10 - 15 feet from her and she gave us some great shots and poses. The intensity of the stare and the shine of the eyes was just mesmerising.

Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_1068.jpg

Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_1075.jpg

Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_1078.jpg

Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_1084.jpg

Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_1116.jpg


To be frank - the only thing going for Bera is the Leopards, and i would be so bold to say that seeing and capturing a Leopard under spot lights has its own charm - the colors and the coat comes out really nice if you manage a decent capture. Only issue - it is very rare to get to see the animal out in open under spot lights, but if that happens - nothing like it.

Infact, after this trip - i have resolved to visit Kabini for sure to capture more Leopards in the wild with my lens.

Last edited by sach.sri : 26th August 2013 at 14:22.
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Old 26th August 2013, 17:59   #4
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Default Re: Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!

Day3, Morning/Evening

This was a repeat of the previous day - with no sightings in the morning and sighting leopards in the evening safari. The difference was that we saw 2 leopards in the evening - one was a male Leopard sitting high up on the rocks and second was Zara again.

Fingers of God
Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_1166.jpg

Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_1172.jpg

Ship of the Desert - do we have "wild" Camels in India?
Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_1179.jpg

Khopdi Gufa - Phantom lives here
Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_1187.jpg

Male Leopard - high up on the rock, record shot - heavily cropped
Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_1199.jpg

Some pics of Zara again - did not get good shots this time
Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_1405.jpg

Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_1407.jpg

Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_1409.jpg

Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_1410.jpg

Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!-img_1411.jpg


Thus concluded our Trip to Bera

Last edited by GTO : 27th August 2013 at 11:34.
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Old 26th August 2013, 18:28   #5
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Default Re: Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!

Mod note: Thread moved from Assembly Line to Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 26th August 2013, 18:54   #6
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Default Re: Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!

Dear Sach

Good photographs and good narrative too. Reminded me of my days at Jodhpur when we use to visit Mount Abu and Kumbh Garh park. In fact, Rajasthan has both extremes of places like places with loads of greenery and that with high temperature. Whole State is colorful and each city in Rajasthan is associated with a color like the pink city and the blue city. Spotting a leopard here is as difficult as spotting a tiger at other reserve forest and you are really lucky to spot two. By the way, did you visit any other places in the State?
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Old 27th August 2013, 12:55   #7
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Default Re: Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!

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Originally Posted by Gokrish View Post
Dear Sach

Good photographs and good narrative too. Reminded me of my days at Jodhpur when we use to visit Mount Abu and Kumbh Garh park. In fact, Rajasthan has both extremes of places like places with loads of greenery and that with high temperature. Whole State is colorful and each city in Rajasthan is associated with a color like the pink city and the blue city. Spotting a leopard here is as difficult as spotting a tiger at other reserve forest and you are really lucky to spot two. By the way, did you visit any other places in the State?

Thanks Gokrish for liking it. Yes Rajasthan is definitely one of the places with lot of stuff to do, things to do and places to visit. Unfortunately - till now i have only seen a miniscule part of the state. I definitely want to goto Jaisalmer and Bikaner among other cities to experience the desert.

Actually - we went to Bera for preciously the reason that in other sanctuaries where Tigers are around, it is very difficult to see Leopards - so we went to a place where there were no Tigers and hence the Leopards were more open and sightings are better.
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Old 27th August 2013, 13:54   #8
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Default Re: Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!

Awesome photos, especially the ones of the leopard. We are planning to Rajasthan ourselves in October, though more towards the desert side.

Do tell, how was the Gurgaon Jaipur stretch? Been reading that it is horrible state. How many hours did it take?
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Old 27th August 2013, 15:45   #9
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Originally Posted by KrishD View Post
Awesome photos, especially the ones of the leopard. We are planning to Rajasthan ourselves in October, though more towards the desert side.

Do tell, how was the Gurgaon Jaipur stretch? Been reading that it is horrible state. How many hours did it take?
Thanks Krish. For once - the rumours and the information is correct. It is really in a bad shape. Though if you start early from Gurgaon you can still do good time (i touched Jaipur in around 3 hrs from Gurgaon)

However, there is another way to Jaipur -

Take NH8 till Bhiwadi, from Bhiwadi you turn onto Bhiwadi Alwar highway (this is a toll road maintained by Raliance and a excellent road with very little traffic).

When near Alwar - take a left from a circle where you see Ashok Leyland symbol ( you will have Fortis hospital on your right) - continue on this road till you reach a t point (from this T-point if you go right you will go towards Sariska) and take a left from here - continue on this road - you will get Bandikui and then Sikandra - from Sikandra - turn onto NH11 (Agra-Bikaner highway) and this till take you to Jaipur.


This is a slightly longer route - but roads are good and traffic is very little. I would recommend taking this route if you are not starting very early from Gurgaon, or while returning again if you was not starting very early from Jaipur.
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Old 27th August 2013, 17:57   #10
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Default Re: Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!

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Originally Posted by sach.sri View Post
Thanks Krish. For once - the rumours and the information is correct. It is really in a bad shape. Though if you start early from Gurgaon you can still do good time (i touched Jaipur in around 3 hrs from Gurgaon)

However, there is another way to Jaipur -

Take NH8 till Bhiwadi, from Bhiwadi you turn onto Bhiwadi Alwar highway (this is a toll road maintained by Raliance and a excellent road with very little traffic).

When near Alwar - take a left from a circle where you see Ashok Leyland symbol ( you will have Fortis hospital on your right) - continue on this road till you reach a t point (from this T-point if you go right you will go towards Sariska) and take a left from here - continue on this road - you will get Bandikui and then Sikandra - from Sikandra - turn onto NH11 (Agra-Bikaner highway) and this till take you to Jaipur.


This is a slightly longer route - but roads are good and traffic is very little. I would recommend taking this route if you are not starting very early from Gurgaon, or while returning again if you was not starting very early from Jaipur.
Thanks so much for the alternate route. On the route you suggested, i have been upto Alwar, and I agree its a great road
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Old 27th August 2013, 19:34   #11
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Default Re: Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!

sach.sri,

Great photos! 10-15 feet near to a wild leopard to take these shots shows your sheer passion for adventures!! Keep it up.

Thanks
Jeethu
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Old 28th August 2013, 16:06   #12
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Default Re: Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!

Absolutely stunning pics of the Leopard sighting and thanks for sharing.
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Originally Posted by sach.sri View Post
Day2, Evening

To sit behind a boulder and give a real good sighting. We were not more than 10 - 15 feet from her and she gave us some great shots and poses. The intensity of the stare and the shine of the eyes was just mesmerising.
No doubt about that. This is really close indeed and I loved her expressions and the glitter in the eye.
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Old 28th August 2013, 16:35   #13
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Default Re: Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!

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Originally Posted by jeethucj View Post
sach.sri,

Great photos! 10-15 feet near to a wild leopard to take these shots shows your sheer passion for adventures!! Keep it up.

Thanks
Jeethu


Quote:
Originally Posted by siddarthbh View Post
Absolutely stunning pics of the Leopard sighting and thanks for sharing.

No doubt about that. This is really close indeed and I loved her expressions and the glitter in the eye.
Thanks Jeethu, Siddharth. Glad that you guys liked the pics - i had a lot of fun shooting them
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Old 29th August 2013, 18:25   #14
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Thumbs up Re: Deep into Leopard County (no, it's not Kabini). Bera, Rajasthan!

Super photos, especially the Nakta and the Owl. Had heard about Bera before from INW and these leopard shots are very good indeed.
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Old 2nd September 2013, 10:30   #15
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Super photos, especially the Nakta and the Owl. Had heard about Bera before from INW and these leopard shots are very good indeed.
Thanks Kartik. Bera is good for leopards but i think winter season would be more suited as the Leopards come out in the open and bask in sunlight.
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