Ranthambore 2015 – Insight into the Wilderness

It is 4.00 pm on the afternoon of 23 rd May. I am in the sitting area with two of my colleagues and a bunch of kids, waiting restlessly. They are fidgeting and excited, anticipation is high in the air. As we stroll through the room, checking up on each of them, distributing the food packages, I am trying to keep a calm face and go on about the duties allocated, but really I am freaking out in the inside. The heart’s thumping is so loud, I wondered if any of them did notice it and not ask me why I am quivering. I did not sleep the previous night, in fact I have been high on the nerves ever since I was offered the chance to go to Ranthambore. It is not that I am used to this, but the after effects of  realising ‘You-are-going-here-so-and-so’ never gets curbed fully, and all night and day I am like a squirrel-high-on-caffeine!
There was a time, when back then I dreamt of being free, joyous and alive. I wondered how it is to be without being on the receiving end of the prejudices of others opinions of you weighing you down. There is a whole new world out there to be explored without the anchor of human jealousies, envies, and fears which bring you down.The sooner one realizes this, the faster you can travel light, and make the journey come out alive.

Royalty Galore...The fort
Royalty Galore…The fort

Ranthambore 2015 is a hazy dream even now as I write this, but the experience I had there has wrung me back to the reality. This is the perfect introduction to wildlife one can have, having visited Corbett National Park I can say it, there is a striking similarity and difference in both of them. The forest life is contrasting and different from the bustling city life, you develop a deeper insight in the working of an Eco-system, the conservation of the forest and how important it has become for children to be exposed to the natural surroundings away from the concrete blocks of city life which hamper the growth and limit the world sense in a way. The tourist spends his money on visits to the forest with the goal of glimpsing the tiger. All around them is a eco-system thriving with hundreds of flora and fauna, yet they seem oblivious. ‘Tiger sighting ho jaye, bass !’ .They start making unreasonable demands, and pester the guides with their lack of common sense. From the beginning they should be ‘warned’ that this is a forest, not a ‘zoo’, and you cannot simply demand the animals come out and become a victim of your silly comments, eyes that have zero admiration and affection for them.

View from the Ranthambore fort
View from the Ranthambore fort

Ranthambore is characterized as a dry-deciduous forest with water bodies and the Dhok as the most widespread tree type. It also hosts the Majestic Ranthambore fort of Maharaja’s of Jaipur. It served as a hunting ground of the Maharaja’s untill independence. It also boasts of the second largest Banyan Tree in Asia, with Padam Talao, Rajbagh Talao along with the ruins which beautify the whole area. In total of the 10 zones, 1-5 are the core zones, 6-10 are the buffers. The prime sightings happen in the core area. We were lucky to see a total of 5 tigers in zones 5,3 and 1, with 4 of them being cubs and sighting of Krishna ( T-19 ). Ranthambore forest plays host to a variety of birds..every safari introduced us to them..Red-wattled Lapwing, Indian River Tern, Cormorants, Wolly-necked Storks, Ibis, Jungle bush Quail, Indian Peafowl, White-breasted Waterhen, Rose-ringed Parakeet, kingfisher, Asian Paradise Flycatchers, Small Green Bee-eaters, Golden Orioles, Black Drongo, Brahminy Mynah, Indian Tree Pie and Magpie Robin and animals  to name a few that I have seen, Sambar Deer, Nilgai, Wild Boar, Langurs, Indian Hares, Monitor Lizards, Crocodiles.

Eurasian Thickknee - Totally camouflaged
Eurasian Thickknee – Totally camouflaged
Peacocks dancing in a flare to impress the peahens !
Peacocks dancing in a flare to impress the peahens !
Sitting coolly against the water
Perched atop a tree coolly against the water
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All that glitters is a Golden Oriole !

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Indian Hare
Indian Hare
What is he doing, exactly !?..Monkey business..
What is he doing, exactly !?..Monkey Business..

The purpose I went with in my mind is fulfilled, but not put to rest. At Corbett, the tigress gave us a blink-and-miss, this time we were blessed to see it at Ranthambore for a longer duration. Perched with the camera, I gathered up all the patience I had and waited with it like a Man on a Mission. I was determined to see it for the longest time. And lo ! Who walked out of the bush, Krishna’s cubs. They were oblivious to the prying Gypsy’s armed with cannons and hooting tourists. As cats play in the park, they strolled majestically and playfully in to the open.

A Curious soul !
A Curious soul !
That stare, the eyes, that walk.
That stare, the eyes, that walk.
Siblings sitting in Solitude
Siblings sitting in Solitude

On the last Safari, luck visited us again. With 3 flat tires in 3 day’s time, we were flabbergasted. This was our last chance to spot the Tiger,we entered zone 1 with high anticipation.

The best click..Noor's ( T-39 ) cub lazing around with the Mongoose and Asian Paradise flycatcher for company.
The best click..Noor’s ( T-39 ) cub lazing around with the Mongoose and Asian Paradise fly-catcher for company.

That stare though…Sends you the chills, makes you think about your whole life’s time spent. It is as if he can see right through you and read your mind through the camera…one stare of this is enough to be captivated !
There was no one special highlight of the trip, everything mingled in one made this a great experience. There are animals apart from the tiger in the forest which make it live and possible for the tiger to hunt,live and survive. Everything and Everyone co-exists which makes the whole forest a big lively buzzing activity place. It is not dormant, it is wild, systematic and carries the forces of the universe.

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The most important thing to learn was the planning,logistics and execution part of this camp. To handle 25 mischievous over-energetic kids is a huge task which I had absolute fun doing. As you get involved with the camp details, it becomes easy to understand your role, which you can do with the support and co-ordination of your team, who is passionate, willing and supportive.Observing those who are experienced than you is a more direct way of learning.
With awareness and experience, this role becomes more challenging,demanding, and fun.

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Within the Wild, you find peace in the chaos. The mind’s eye is ignited with the new sights and glows when the yearning is fulfilled. All the small worries and problems which are inside the head, slowly start to easy away and thoughts which demand greater importance replace them. Travel I learnt is not limited to visiting the place and mugging up facts, it is a process where you give yourself to the surroundings and become one of it. The journey is more important than the destination, and when the destination rewards you, it cannot be put into words. The feeling of belonging here, somewhere, anywhere you choose to go, is exhilarating and ever-growing, you never belong to any one place. But to live, to travel, to learn and grow, make it yours and immersing yourself in it is the ultimate apex of bliss. Travel is like breathing, necessary, but it is never easy, lot of hard work goes into realizing the dream..the greater the resolve, the higher the satisfaction on reaping the rewards !

IMG_2435-14 Thank you to everyone who made this blog possible !

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5 Comments

  1. Wow, this looks so great. I’m visiting South Africa in summer and I’m already watching forward to some animal watcing that may be as amazing as yours. Sadly, without tigers, but hopefully great nevertheless 🙂

    Like

    1. Hello there, thank you for such encouraging comment ! South Africa is very beautiful, with or without lions 😀
      Do visit India, the forests here will leave you spell-bound and wanting to come back for more 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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