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Old 3rd June 2010, 12:44   #1
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Default Driving through Rajasthan and Gujarat - Tigers at Ranthambhore

“If you see a tiger at Ranthambhore you’ll be lucky,” were the words we heard from a lot of people, before we left for our holiday. Now whether that was supposed to be sarcasm or sheer honesty, I don’t know. But with the dwindling numbers of tigers being hotly debated, we wouldn’t be surprised if there was a bit of both in that comment.

We drove 4000 kms from Pune-Vadodara-Chittorgarh-Ranthambhore-Ajmer-Mount Abu-Udaipur-Gir-Pune in 12 days, but Ranthambhore and Gir were easily the highlights of our trip.

I was hoping and praying that the visit to Ranthambhore would not be a repeat of the one to Dandeli Tiger Reserve where we didn’t spot one big cat and had to be satisfied with deer and bison! So when we set off from Chittorgarh that morning, it was with a silent prayer! Once we reached the highway, we were on our way to Kota from where we would be driving to Sawai Madhopur, which hosts the Ranthambhore wildlife sanctuary, another home to the fast dwindling species of the striped cat.

On the highway, what we realised once we had gone a little over 100 kms was that we had not spotted a petrol pump since we left Chittorgarh. I guess we never realised that because we were once again on a dream of a road, all the way to the outskirts of Kota. Off the NH 76, once we were on the outskirts of Kota, we travelled on a dirt road for around 15 kms till we reached Kota town from where we took the road to Sawai Madhopur.

After checking in to RTDC’s Vinayak, a quick lunch and a siesta we were driven to the Ranthambhore Wildlife Sanctuary, where we hoped to see the elusive tiger. After a fruitless search of over an hour, in which I nodded off, we landed up at a watering hole. Suddenly there was a hush, because just 15 feet away from us was this magnificent striped cat, lolling in the pond. It looked at us and then turned its face away disdainfully. Our Canter moved closer to the animal and we were worried it might walk off, but it stayed put. For close to 20 minutes we were clicking away.

Then it emerged from the water, gave us another look and sauntered off into the thicket, marked its territory by raising it hind leg (!) and disappeared. It was then that everyone broke into excited chatter. When there are just 1400 odd tigers left in the country and around 38 in Ranthambhore, we considered ourselves lucky to have spotted one. Before we left we were to see one more, but not so up close.

But as far the tigers go, once was never enough and the next morning we set off again. This time there were a lot of fresh pugmarks our forest guide saw but no tiger. I decided I had had enough, so stayed back in the hotel. My wife and son set off again in the afternoon for some more tiger spotting. They got lucky, because in another zone, across the lake, a tigress oblivious to the humans observing her, was playfully slapping a monkey around! They saw a herd of deer too.
But tigers are not all that we experienced. There’s a hotel in Sawai Madhopur which gave us the creeps. The night before we left Sawai, we decided to have dinner out and drove to the hotel. The gates of the hotel were closed and when we were allowed in, we had to drive in pitch darkness towards the hotel. On the way we saw a Nilgai running alongside our car and got quite excited.

As we drove up the winding road, I saw the silhouette of the hotel and it sent a shiver down my spine. It reminded me of Norman Bates’ Motel in Psycho. It was enveloped in darkness, and there were no lights outside or in the hotel. We pushed our way into the Reception area, and stood there also in the dark waiting for someone to greet us. Someone was talking on the phone in a room and he just stared at us, refusing to get up. Then we saw a tired looking, old man come shuffling along to meet us.

“Do you have a restaurant?” we asked and were shown a room again enveloped in darkness.
“Can we get something to eat?” was our next question.
“If you order the food, we’ll make it,” said the old man very mournfully as he advanced toward us.
We turned and fled.
“You can check out any time you like,
But you can never leave…”

If you need to see all the pictures please email me I'll send you a link to my picasa folder
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Old 3rd June 2010, 13:26   #2
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That was indeed a tough drive to GJ and RJ in the hot summer season. What was your drive plan like, and how were the drive conditions like?
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Old 3rd June 2010, 15:22   #3
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That was indeed a tough drive to GJ and RJ in the hot summer season. What was your drive plan like, and how were the drive conditions like?
We always started early morning around 6 am and ended the day at some well known town/city by 6 pm latest.
Usually on this route we would touch the places we wanted to see by afternoon or early evening, so it wasn't a hassle.
We carried enough cold water and soft drinks (Not the aerated kind) and sandwiches with us. Oh, chocolates and mint too,if you're a diabetic like me.
Usually when the petrol tank was half empty we would top it, depending on the distances we were covering during the day.
The other thing we realised, for example was that in Rajasthan on some routes there were no petrol pumps for long distances. Like when we were driving from Chittorgarh to Ranthambhore we found the first pump after at least 100 kms.
As for the driving conditions, if you don't have a good AC in the car don't even attempt it, unless you love the heat. For example, on our way to Ajmer from Ranthambhore we were stuck in a sandstorm that lasted for almost 50 kms of the way, and I dread to think what our condition would have been without an AC car! Bless my Swift!!
I think the drive was a lot more comfortable because of the four-lane highways on most routes, except from Ajmer to Mount Abu, where most of the way we drove on a two-lane highway, till we neared Mt. Abu.
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Old 3rd June 2010, 15:24   #4
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Hey mohansinha, that's a great trip. I am tempted to see more photos, please PM me the Picasa link. Please also share us you road experience as well as I see you have covered for more than 4K Kms.

The photo that you have uploaded is a wonderful teaser to start waiting for more.

Is see you have been to Mount Abu as well wow any pics of that please upload ASAP. Thanks
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Old 3rd June 2010, 17:29   #5
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Default Ranthambhore and the tiger

Here's another of the tiger at Ranthambhore
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Old 4th June 2010, 09:27   #6
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Originally Posted by ranjith.rajaram View Post
Hey mohansinha, that's a great trip. I am tempted to see more photos, please PM me the Picasa link. Please also share us you road experience as well as I see you have covered for more than 4K Kms.

The photo that you have uploaded is a wonderful teaser to start waiting for more.

Is see you have been to Mount Abu as well wow any pics of that please upload ASAP. Thanks
Not too many pics of Mt Abu except the scenery because at the most of temples photography wasn't allowed.
You can visit my blog Been there done that and read all my travelogues of this trip and the last one to Bijapur-Hampi-Dandeli and Dapoli.
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Old 4th June 2010, 14:32   #7
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Default Here's another of the tiger at Ranthambhore

WOW! How close were you and what camera/lens did you use? Doesnt look like you zoomed much here...
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Old 4th June 2010, 21:04   #8
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Originally Posted by mohansinha View Post
“If you see a tiger at Ranthambhore you’ll be lucky,” were the words we heard from a lot of people, before we left for our holiday. Now whether that was supposed to be sarcasm or sheer honesty, I don’t know.....
Dude, all I can say is that you are lucky and blessed.

Just imagine out of the 38 tigers at Ranthambhore, you get to see them not once but twice in two days, and whats more, you see one 15 feet away.

Tussi privileged ho!
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Old 5th June 2010, 05:16   #9
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Awesome photos. Can you PM me some the link to your picasa? I am crazy about tigers! Haven't had the chance to spot one in the wild yet :-(

PS: Also read your blog! Really good :-)
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Old 5th June 2010, 23:07   #10
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WOW! How close were you and what camera/lens did you use? Doesnt look like you zoomed much here...
Just a simple Canon 7 megapixel camera with a zoom! We were 15-20 feet from the tiger
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Old 5th June 2010, 23:12   #11
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Originally Posted by naveenvenkatesh View Post
Awesome photos. Can you PM me some the link to your picasa? I am crazy about tigers! Haven't had the chance to spot one in the wild yet :-(

PS: Also read your blog! Really good :-)
Hi Naveen,
Here you are:
Picasa Web Albums - Mohan - 2010_05_13 in...

Picasa Web Albums - Mohan - 2010_05_04 Ra...

Picasa Web Albums - Mohan - 2010_05_12 in...
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