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Old 25th March 2010, 12:01   #1
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Default MP, Dec 2009 - the Land of the Tigers

I've been meaning to put up this travelogue for a long time, but work and other commitments have denied me that chance.

In December 2009, me and fellow Team BHPian icy went on a 10 day trip to Madhya Pradesh, the "Heart of Incredible India" as the posters say.

The itinerary was as follows:
11-Dec Depart Howrah for Satna by train
12-Dec Arrive Satna
12-Dec Satna to Khajuraho by car
13-Dec Khajuraho - Hotel Surya
14-Dec Khajuraho to Bedaghat by car
15-Dec Bedaghat - Hotel Marble Rocks
16-Dec Bedaghat to Kanha by car
17-Dec Kanha - Dyna Resorts
18-Dec Kanha
19-Dec Kanha
20-Dec Kanha to Gondia by car
20-Dec Depart Gondia for Howrah by train
21-Dec Arrive Howrah

We had initially planned to visit Bandhavgarh as well, but time and budget didn't permit this. So, we decided to focus on three spots, leaving Bandhavgarh for next time.
To travel around MP, we had hired a diesel Indica (non-AC) from the MP Dept. of Tourism. Since it was winter, we could do without an AC car (helped the budget front as well). The roads in MP were a mixture of good and horrible. The Indica was pretty impressive throughout, and underlined its USP as a cab/chauffeur driven car - spacious, fairly comfortable seats and handles bad roads well thanks to its soft suspension and high ground clearance.

Instead of a detailed write-up, I'll let pictures (with captions) do the talking. And this won't be in true chronological order - for example, I'll put up pictures from our last destination, Kanha, first.

All pictures are taken with a Canon 500D with a Sigma 18-200 OS lens. icy took several pictures too, with his Canon 350D, and I'll request him to add to this thread too.

I've put up some more pics on Flickr:
Madhya Pradesh 2009 - a set on Flickr

Hope you enjoy the pics!
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Old 25th March 2010, 12:20   #2
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Default Pics from Kanha

Watchtower at sunset
MP, Dec 2009 - the Land of the Tigers-img_1946s.jpg

Fog and extreme chill greets us at 6 in the morning
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Gypsy makes its way through the fog
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Navigating through the towering Sal trees. This photo reminds me of Jurassic Park for some reason!
MP, Dec 2009 - the Land of the Tigers-img_2815s.jpg

Trees in the fog
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The sun breaks through for the first time
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Sunrise over a lake
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Woods on fire in the early morning sun - looks like an enchanted forest!
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Early morning sun rays find their way through
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MP, Dec 2009 - the Land of the Tigers-img_2909s.jpg

Last edited by razor4077 : 25th March 2010 at 12:35.
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Old 25th March 2010, 12:46   #3
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Default Pics from Kanha - 2

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Watering hole. But where are the animals?
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Ours was the first Gypsy to enter in the afternoon safari. This was a boon, for what was to follow
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Sambar deer - the appetiser
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And the man himself - Mr.Sher Khan, the main course, so to speak!
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MP, Dec 2009 - the Land of the Tigers-img_2985s.jpg

Perspective shot from the Gypsy. The tiger was about 35-40 feet ahead of us. Being one of the front two jeeps gave us the best seats in the house!
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Old 25th March 2010, 12:55   #4
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Default Pics from Kanha - 3

The tiger was sprawled out on the road, basking in the late afteroon sun and taking a nap. We rudely interrupted his siesta, but the guy ignored us in the most imperious way possible, cooly oblvious to the presence of us biped intruders.

Some of his moods, captured by me during the initial part of the photo shoot:

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Old 25th March 2010, 13:10   #5
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Default Pics from Kanha - 4

After watching him lying around for close to half an hour, the guides and drivers decided to coax him to move a bit. This was done by inching closer to him with the jeeps. It's hard to explain the kind of pandemonium that prevailed in the crowd of jeeps. Being the first in line, we were repeatedly asked to go closer to the tiger. Eventually, we did.

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Having got the big guy to get on his feet, we started tailing him as he made his way down the road. With mating season around the corner, male tigers mark their territories. And we saw our man do this, in various ways - spraying, urinating, defecating and scratching tree trunks. All the while, continuing to give us the royal ignore!

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At this point, he spots a tree trunk that he feels he needs to mark
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And mark it he does, standing on his hind legs, rising to over 7 feet at full stretch. The guide told us that the higher the mark, the stronger is his claim to that area. Any tiger wishing to oust him has to match or exceed that mark on the tree. This is him, still standing up against the tree, after marking it.
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The scratch on the tree, that I captured at a later time
MP, Dec 2009 - the Land of the Tigers-img_3314s.jpg
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Old 25th March 2010, 13:24   #6
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Default Pics from Kanha - 5

Tiger trailing continues

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Eye of the tiger
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The tiger then goes off into a bush, and my driver, seizing the chance races past the tiger and pulls up in front of him. While crossing him, we were less than 10 feet from the tiger and this is the only time that he snarled at us. I guess tigers don't like being overtaken
There was one jeep ahead of us at this point, and we were the ones directly in front of the tiger. Doesn't get better than this as far as good seats go

icy and I were leaning out over the tailgate of the Gypsy, getting as close to a tiger in the wild that one can get to without getting mauled! Some asked us later how we weren't scared, being face to face with one of nature's deadliest predators, but I guess we were too excited and pumped up to even consider fear!!

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The star of the show, the crowd desperate to get a good look.
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Show's over, time to go. Winding Kanha roads, just before the sun sets
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MP, Dec 2009 - the Land of the Tigers-img_3324s.jpg
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Old 25th March 2010, 13:33   #7
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awesome... dude! I'm pissin in muh pants just by looking at the "eye of the tiger"!
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Old 25th March 2010, 13:47   #8
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Amazing pics..

A truly close encounter with those piercing eyes..
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Old 25th March 2010, 13:48   #9
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Bravo Razor. Lovely shots of the King. You are truly lucky to have see the King so close. Wonderful shots.
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Old 25th March 2010, 13:52   #10
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Fabulous photography. Great shots of the jungle. You capture the mood of the forest so beautifully.

As for the Tiger, what can we say, no matter how many pictures you see of the Tiger invariably I remain stunned at its awesome beauty and presence. What a creation, simply mindblowing.

How can anyone ever raise a gun to this animal. How warped must humans not be to actually take down something so beautiful.

Thanks for sharing, you take great pictures
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Old 25th March 2010, 13:54   #11
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Lovely Shots. Thanks for sharing. Hope this is just the beginning. Though its easier to track and see tigers in the parks of Central India when compared to the ones in South, the excitement will never ever go when you see the tiger for the first time.
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Old 25th March 2010, 14:40   #12
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Although I like and in love with the central India parks I can't just get myself to accept the unethical practice of waking up a resting tiger and letting him walk on the road as it happens in kanha and bandhavgad. Imho Places like pench and tadoba which are not yet as commercialised as kanha and bandhavgad offer better tiger viewing opportunities. The tigers of kanha and bandhavgad also have become very tourist friendly but for me I don't like to watch these magical creatures behave in such an unnatural way.

Great thread by the way sir. Pl keep the pics coming. Try to get eye level shots by leaning down the next time when you have a tiger so close. You have a great camera to shoot with and I believe you can get much better pics if your technique is just right.

Also , a little bit of post processing can do wonders to your photographs.

regards,
Dr. A Ghosh
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Old 25th March 2010, 14:44   #13
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Nice pics. But why are people and vehicles allowed to get so close to the animals. Why not let them have some peace of mind.
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Old 25th March 2010, 14:58   #14
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Just one word - Amazing, the morning shots are very nice. Waiting for more.
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Old 25th March 2010, 16:07   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pypkmsrikanth View Post
Though its easier to track and see tigers in the parks of Central India when compared to the ones in South, the excitement will never ever go when you see the tiger for the first time.
Well, it took us 6 safaris to get a good sighting, so it wasn't all that easy We saw a tiger from very far away on our very first attempt, but it wasn't a good sighting.
Prior to kanha, I had travelled to several national parks (6 to be precise) to get a glimpse of the king, but this was the first time I got to see a tiger. So it will be a moment I will always treasure!

Quote:
Originally Posted by abheekg View Post
Although I like and in love with the central India parks I can't just get myself to accept the unethical practice of waking up a resting tiger and letting him walk on the road as it happens in kanha and bandhavgad. Imho Places like pench and tadoba which are not yet as commercialised as kanha and bandhavgad offer better tiger viewing opportunities. The tigers of kanha and bandhavgad also have become very tourist friendly but for me I don't like to watch these magical creatures behave in such an unnatural way.
Many have asked this question. In a way, it's a trade-off. Tourism leads to revenue generation, which helps in the upkeep of the park, better security against poaching and better care for the animals. It also is a livelihood for the poor people of the region.
In all fairness, Kanha is the cleanest and most well maintained park I have seen so far. Not a single piece of plastic or garbage can be spotted, no bottles etc. The drivers and guides insist that the tourists keep things this way. Also, tourists are not allowed to step out of the vehicles or approach the animals at any time. So yes, the animals get used to people and vehicles to an extent, and there is a sense of commercialism in and around the park... but overall, I think it's a good thing. My 2 cents.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jayabusa View Post
Nice pics. But why are people and vehicles allowed to get so close to the animals. Why not let them have some peace of mind.
This is unfortunately the case in most big game parks across the world. The fact is, the vehicles are restricted to the roads, and only in cases like this, when the animals are on the road do the vehicles and people get close to them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by abheekg View Post
Try to get eye level shots by leaning down the next time when you have a tiger so close.
Trust me, I was leaning halfway out of the jeep while taking the shots. Any more, and I would have fallen out! And there are some eye-level shots in the bunch, aren't there?

Quote:
Originally Posted by abheekg View Post
You have a great camera to shoot with and I believe you can get much better pics if your technique is just right.
Also , a little bit of post processing can do wonders to your photographs.
Thanks. I am learning.

Last edited by razor4077 : 25th March 2010 at 16:12.
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