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Old 24th January 2014, 12:04   #256
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Default Re: Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!

Something horrible has happened in Ranthambhore. The Grand Dame - T 16 (Machli) has not been sighted for the last fortnight. This news item is self-explanatory..

Very very sad. Hope no foul play is involved...

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Old 25th January 2014, 16:51   #257
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Oh that is really a bad news. When I was there about 15 days back, they had just given her food the previous day and she was presumed to be resting, though there was a great search to show her to the VIPs read Mr. Mukesh Ambani and family. Not sure if they were successful in locating her. We obviously did not see her, but we saw Ambani and his troupe were taken to a restricted to Aam tourist area where she was last seen.

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Old 28th January 2014, 12:41   #258
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I cannot see any option to book safaris online starting April 1st. Can any one tell me how to go about these bookings.
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Old 28th January 2014, 14:07   #259
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Default Re: Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!

Some tech issues with the site, should be back online in another 10 days. I was also trying to book for the middle of April.
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Old 28th January 2014, 14:12   #260
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kewlferrari View Post
Some tech issues with the site, should be back online in another 10 days. I was also trying to book for the middle of April.
Doesn't look like a tech issue. Booking is allowed for March.
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Old 5th February 2014, 14:27   #261
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The latest update is that both Machli and Sultan have been found. Thankfully both are hale and hearty.

Sultan had been pushed out by his father T24 and has been disowned by his mother who is looking to raise a litter again. There was no news of him till yesterday where he was found and captured on camera traps. I had seen him marking the periphery of zone 2 and 1 last month so this exile was very much expected.

So in all, all is well in Ranthambhore. Now if only they start the online bookings for summer coz I am raring to go back there.

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Old 19th March 2014, 22:27   #262
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Default Re: Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!

Ranthambhore in December 2013

I visit RTR twice in a season and that too in searing heat. It at least assures me a sighting. In the tourist season that is from October to March, I don't go as the resorts jack up their rates, heavy tourist influx crowds the park and the gypsy bookings mysteriously vanish on the net.

Thus it came as a shock when my friend Kuldeepak Acharya (KD) from the US of A called me sometime in October 2013 and expressed a desire to go to R'bhore with me in the last week of December. I almost choked. This was the New Year week and the rates would be skyrocketing. I called up Guddu Bhai of Jungle View Resort and he was kind of evasive. In any case I asked him to explore the possibility and inform.

In the meanwhile other efforts were also on and I was very happy & elated as KD informed me in November that Koshy Sir (TBHP handle: llamrei) too would join us.

Koshy Sir informed us that he would organise the accommodation & the jeep safaris and suggested 27th & 28th December as the dates. I had to work around these dates my programme.

KD would fly in from States, reach Delhi/NCR on 25th Dec.

Koshy Sir had arranged the accommodation in the Police Guest House in Sawai Madhopur and had asked his regular driver-cum-guide Raees Khan to take us for the 4 safaris. The one advantage that we had was that our jeep was in the VIP category and zone-free.

Raees Khan

Raees Bhai has been driving tourists into the Park ever since its inception in 1980. Highly knowledgeable & respected by one and all, he knows all that has to be known and some more about the R'bhore Park.

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-raees1.jpg

I had been wanting him to drive me on my safaris since 2011 but he was never available. This time I was lucky thanks to Koshy Sir.

After an exchange of several e-mails, the outline of our plan emerged as follows:

Departure ex-Gurgaon on 26th night to R'bhore - 11 pm (in my truck)

ETA R'bhore: 4:30 am or 5 on 27th

Morning & evening safari

28th Morning & evening safari

overnight stay

29th morn: dep to Jaipur to drop Kuldeep and return to GGN.

to be continued.../-
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Old 20th March 2014, 00:49   #263
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Default Re: Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!

26th Dec, 2013

The rendezvous point was my home and KD & Koshy Sir landed up by 9 pm. As wife was getting ready, we three went out for dinner and were back before 11. Loaded our stuff in my Scorpio and rolled out at 11. Traffic as usual was heavy till Dharuhera and from there we took the Bhiwadi - Tijara - Alwar route. It was very cold outside though the truck's cabin was warm & cosy.

27th Dec, 2013

Reached the Police Guest House, Sawai Madhopur by 5 am and were ushered into our respective rooms. Though spartan, the room was very big & spacious. Unpacked our stuff, readied our safari gear and tried to catch 40 winks before Raees Bhai landed up with the jeep.

It was still dark when the jeep came a 6:10 and after exchanging pleasantries, we were off to the forest entrance. It was biting cold but the excitement of going into the forest lessened the impact.

Reached Singhdwar and while Raees Bhai got down to make entries & enquiries, the guard informed that a Tiger had just been sighted near the entrance to Zone 4 & 5.

Though we were initially planning to go to Zone 2 & 3, this information took us towards the Zone 4 & 5 entrance. A few jeeps were parked and waiting.

One of the jeeps belonged to my friend Balendu Singh & I saw Bina Kak, the former forest Minister in that vehicle. Raees told me that the Governor of Rajasthan, Mrs. Margaret Alva was camping in R'bhore with her family & entourage and would be visiting the Park on 27th & 28th. Bina Kak was chaperoning the Governor. Thankfully Mrs. Alva wasn't there so early.

As soon as one enters the Zone 4 & 5, immediately on the left of the entrance gate is a Cenotaph like structure that is known as the "झरोखा". We were parked here and saw the Tiger walking towards us at a distance.

I had the 70~200 on my camera and finding the range inadequate changed over to the 300/f2.8. As the Tiger neared I realised that I needed a wide angle. At that precise moment Raees Bhai moved the jeep to a better vantage position from where we could get good pictures. The lurch resulted in 70~200/f2.8 falling down on the floor of the jeep with a thud. My heart almost popped out of my mouth.

I picked it up and checked, the focus had gone awry and wouldn't lock. There was no time to check it out. I had to pack it and shoot with the 300 through the entire trip. Of course I had the 24~70/f2.8, but didn't get the time or chance to change. Regretted having sold off my D300 in haste.

That magnificent Cat was T 24 a.k.a उस्ताद. He was hungry and was on a hunt. I shall let the pictures do the talking.

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2573.jpg

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2578.jpg

Though Raees Bhai suddenly moved to position the jeep for better view and my 100k lens went out of commission, it was worth this picture.

The eye contact - it did send a chill down my spine

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2581.jpg

The anger within

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2590.jpg

The reflection

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2605.jpg

And then he stood on his hind legs and stretched his frame to the fullest on a Dhok tree to scratch & sharpen the claws.

In love with the Tree

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2615.jpg

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Ummm...what a smell

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2626.jpg

About to embrace the tree-trunk

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2634.jpg

Embraced....bliss

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2637.jpg

I must tell you that I was the nearest to this beast with the jeep stationed about 20 feet from him.

to be continued.../
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Old 20th March 2014, 14:33   #264
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Default Re: Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!

Quite a catch there, great pics. What route do you recommend from Gurgaon, I prefer better roads and can deal with an extra 30 mins of driving.

Also, the online bookings for April have opened yesterday morning for the safari. Booked mine yesterday.
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Old 20th March 2014, 16:43   #265
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Default Re: Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!

GD sir, keep it coming! hooked on to the thread for more. And can I request you to please involve me also for such plans. I also go to RTR every month for the temple visit as the princess is only 8 months old and my better half isnt permitting a forest visit (Though she is also a wildlife enthusiast).
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Old 20th March 2014, 21:22   #266
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Default Re: Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!

Thank you..

Quote:
Originally Posted by kewlferrari View Post

Quite a catch there, great pics.
https://www.google.co.in/maps?t=m&sl...output=classic

Quote:
Originally Posted by kewlferrari View Post

What route do you recommend from Gurgaon, I prefer better roads and can deal with an extra 30 mins of driving.
Thank you. Selecting pictures and making them web-compatible is taking time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stormerider View Post

GD sir, keep it coming! hooked on to the thread for more.
You are welcome and we can work out the logistics & economics. This year I don't think I will go in May as my daughter's annual college semester exams are due. But surely I am there in June.

Well, no one argues with the Home Minister...

Quote:
Originally Posted by stormerider View Post

And can I request you to please involve me also for such plans. I also go to RTR every month for the temple visit as the princess is only 8 months old and my better half isnt permitting a forest visit (Though she is also a wildlife enthusiast).
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Old 20th March 2014, 21:46   #267
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Default Re: Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!

And then he got down and started walking straight towards me and the 300mm proved useless at such a close distance.

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2652.jpg

He walked in front of our jeep, came on the trail, looked around and then cut across. Raees said that he would walk on the main road and reversed the jeep, left behind scores of others and trailed Bina Kak's jeep. Since the DFO was sitting with her, it was prudent not to overtake that jeep. But Raees did not allow the other jeeps to overtake him. It pays to have a good and an experienced driver.

True to Raees's prediction, T 24 came on the road and the catwalk started.

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2668.jpg

The Paw

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Scent marking

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Morning walk

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2689.jpg

Some interesting scent..!

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2705.jpg

The Flehman's response

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2713.jpg

The spray

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2716.jpg

And then he climbed the hillock on the right and went towards Zone 1 vanishing in the bushes. The show was over. It lasted all of 12 minutes.

We now drove towards the lakes in Zone 3 and then went to kachida. Saw these on the way.

Rufous Treepie on our Jeep

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2729.jpg

Magnificent Sambar

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2730.jpg

A small waterfall

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2734.jpg

A Darter & a juvenile Cormorant

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2737.jpg

The Kachida Lake covered with Red Algae

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2738.jpg

It was time to exit and we returned to our rooms to freshen up and rest. What would the noon safari hold in store?

to be continued.../
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Old 23rd March 2014, 18:37   #268
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Default Re: Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!

Before continuing further, I will be failing in my duty if I do not introduce my fellow partners in crime...!

Kuldeepak Acharya - without his insistence this trip would not have been possible

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Koshy Sir - without whom the safaris & the stay wouldn't have been possible

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-koshy.jpg

Shanno - my wife (need I say anything more?)

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-shanno.jpg

And of course Raees Bhai, who you all met before the start of this travelogue.

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Old 24th March 2014, 23:53   #269
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The Evening Show

The jeep came at 3 pm and by 3:30 we were inside the forest. At Singhdwar we found that the pug-marks of a male were seen in the morning in Zone 2. This was the area of T 24. We weren't surprised as in the morning we had seen him go in that direction.

At the entrance to Zone 2 we came to know that the pug-marks were not that of T 24. This was some other male. Which male could this be who would dare venture in T 24's area? It probably could be Sultan, his son from Noor - T 39.

But it wasn't Sultan either. With the mystery deepening and excitement all around, we entered Zone 2. But before that we decided to take a detour around the lakes in Zone 3. The area was generally quiet & calm. But we saw these:

Marsh Crocodile - sunning

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2742.jpg

Woolly-necked Stork

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Ruddy Shelduck

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2745.jpg

Returned back to Zone 2 and started exploring. Just before Nalghati saw a couple of jeeps parked. One of them had Bina Kak in it. Did she spot something or waiting in anticipation?

We parked next to her's and Raees pointed to something in the bush and said - Tiger. Now this fellow was so well camouflaged that it took a while for my eye to adjust to the surroundings and then only I could spot.

According to the experts around this was T 65, the son of T 19, who was sleeping. Only his belly area was visible. He was lying so very still.

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2741.jpg

After waiting for a while it became clear that he would not get up soon but certainly would make a movement around 5 pm or so.

We left him resting and proceeded to Nalghati to check any action at the water-hole but all was quite. Drove on further till the end of Zone 2 till Gandhra in search of T 22 but all in vain.

As we reached Parnia just before Nalghati we saw a traffic jam. Many jeeps and Canters were blocking that narrow road. The Governor had come in with her entourage and they were parked at Nalghati and a sighting had happened. T 65 had woken up and had come to Nalghati to drink water.

Since the Governor couldn't be asked to make way for us, we waited patiently. Actually we should have waited at Parnia itself. Doing so would have given us a head shot of T 65 walking towards us.

But then we did not know which way he would go. While we were jostling to get ahead, we heard the Governor's team leaving and a shout went off in the air - "इधर ही आ रहा है".

We wanted to reverse but were stuck as there were two canters behind us and for them to reverse was a tricky job. A lot of expletives were exchanged amongst the drivers & guides and finally we made it in the open and raced towards Parnia. T 65 had already arrived there and sat down, intently looking at something in the thicket. The clock read 5.10 pm and for the next 12 minutes he kept sitting there in one pose only. The pictures shall speak.

We found him sitting like this

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2751.jpg

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2756.jpg

Turns and looks at the "human circus"

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2762.jpg

Growls at a jeep in irritation

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2771.jpg

Annoyed look

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2791.jpg

As I stand up to get a better shot, looks at me directly

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2813.jpg

Licking his nose

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2816.jpg

Yaaawn..!

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2823.jpg

Suddenly alert & swishing his tail - what did he see?

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2826.jpg

Raees Bhai moved the jeep a bit further and now we were in his line of sight

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2833.jpg

The deadly Canines

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2855.jpg

Drowsy

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2869.jpg

The display

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2875.jpg

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2878.jpg

The final parting shot

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2903a.jpg

T 65 didn't move from this position and it didn't look like that he would. Our time to exit was approaching and the light too was failing. We decided to leave him alone and returned back highly satisfied. It was Kuldeeps' first Tiger sighting in the wild. He was very thrilled.

Tonight we all were invited for dinner with Aditya Singh at Ranthambhore Bagh. After a great evening with Aditya we returned to our rooms by 1 am.

Tomorrow would be another day.

to be continued.../-
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Old 25th March 2014, 21:56   #270
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28th December, 2013

The previous day we had sightings both in the morning & evening to our heart's fill. But man is a greedy animal and wants more. Here the Nature takes its own course and it has a way of balancing things. I was to know about this later in the day.

Hoping to catch some different action we went towards Zone 2, but before that took a detour of the lakes in Zone 3.

The winter Sun had just arisen and its rays lit up the 1000 year old Rajbagh ruins with a veil of mist surrounding the structure.

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2911.jpg

Near the banks of Padam Talao, the White-breasted WaterHen was briskly walking along.

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2912.jpg

We circled the Rajbagh Lake and reached this quaint little water-hole that is always crowded with various birds. But on this cold wintry morning, saw a Little Cormorant drying its wings and a large Purple Heron patiently waiting for the fish to emerge.

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2913.jpg

The continuous flapping of the wings by Cormorant seemed to disturb the Heron & it took off. And here is my once again a failed attempt to capture a bird-in-flight properly.

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2918.jpg

We turned back to Zone 2 and after crossing Nalghati reached छोटा छता where this female Sambar was grazing on water plants with its head under water. The sound of the approaching jeep startled her and she lifted her head and looked at us.

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2922.jpg

We drove on towards Gandhra at the edge of Zone 2 in the hope of catching up on T 22. On the way saw this magnificent male Sambar in his prime and antlers in full glory. The light was perfect, the pose was perfect but my lens was not perfect. The 300mm offered limited visibility, whereas the need of the hour was a wide-angle. I tried my best to compose and this is what I could manage finally.

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2928.jpg

Probably the shutter noise of three cameras was too much for him and he decided to scoot with his tail raised.

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2931.jpg

He went behind a bush to emerge on the trail a little ahead of us. With his front leg raised he paused for a few seconds that was enough for us to capture, before he bounded to the other side to vanish away in the bushes.

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2934.jpg

We met a jeep that was coming from Gandhra and the driver informed that nothing stirred there. There was no point in going there all the way then. The exit time was approaching and it would take almost an hour to get out.

On our way back we almost missed this beauty but for Raees Bhai. He spotted this well camouflaged Snipe.

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2939.jpg

Nearing the exit gate we saw this beautiful Little Blue Common Kingfisher perched on a branch.

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2944.jpg

Evening

The evening trip was as barren as it could be. Except this Pond Heron, I didn't find anything of interest to click.

Gurgaon - Ranthambhore - Jodhpur - Gurgaon: Big Cats call again..!-2947.jpg

Thus ended our two wonderful days at R'bhore. We were scheduled to leave for Jaipur the same night to drop Kuldeepak and return to Delhi/NCR the next day morning. But there were something that we couldn't avoid.

Raees Bhai insisted on dinner at his home for all of us. Our pleadings fell on deaf ears. The jeep was taken directly to his home where his wife & daughter had cooked one of the most delicious दाल भाटी that I had ever eaten. Though I normally do not eat anything before a long drive, threw caution to the winds and had a belly-full.

Left Sawai Madhopur around 8 pm and by 11 pm we were at the guest-house in Jaipur. I was tired and went to bed immediately. Koshy Sir, Kuldeepak, my Wife and Dhiraj had plans to go to Chandliya that was about 65 kms from Jaipur for bird watching. They were to leave early in the morning next day. I stoutly refused to accompany them as I wanted to catch-up on my sleep.

Thank you for staying. Hope you enjoyed the travelogue.

Last edited by gd1418 : 25th March 2014 at 21:59.
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