An Encounter with the Vanishing Beauty of Ranthambore

Ranthambore national park experience

With all hesitation in my mind , somehow I agreed for ‘not my kind of trip’ to the land of tigers – Ranthambore. The moment we reached the station, I was thrilled to see the wall paintings of tigers all over the station walls. It gave the feel of having been entered into their territory. Our hotel drop in an open Jeep  just added to the feel.

In the hottest state of India, during the hot summer days, our noon safari was planned after lunch. The way to the national park is equally interesting as the same route goes to the Ranthambore Fort. Being fond of hunting, the Rajputs and the British had developed certain ponds and the huge gates on the way of entering their than hunting field. The sun was quite harsh but that increased our chances of sighting a tiger roaming around for some cool air. After initial instructions we entered the gate which is famous as the haunt of the most photogenic tiger of the park, Machili.

Ranthambore national park experience
Arrow Head – PC Darshan Kamat Photography

We were about to enter the third zone as indicated by the Padam lake on our left and suddenly….. all were alerted by the guide…yes…. There it was…. Panting…. Breathing….resting underneath a huge peepal tree…. And staring at us was the fully grown cub of the tigress Krishna, who was named ‘Arrow Head’.  Tigress Krishna is the daughter of Machili and thus logically we were witnessing her granddaughter, the third generation of the great tigress. After clicking her different poses we went ahead with the expectations of encountering a few more of the vanishing beauty. We headed to the next haunt at the Malik Talab. It was a plain field beautified by spotted deer all around. The serenity and the beauty was at its peak, with the magnificent view of the fort with the backdrop of a dramatic sunset. We had almost lost the hope when we were back at the starting point. But again, the Arrow Head did not disappoint us. It was at the same spot but this time with a kill. Yes!! Then we had a happy realisation that the first time we saw her, she was resting just after killing a spotted deer. It was an exceptional opportunity for an earnest first timer like me.

The next day morning safari was again in the same zone, but this time we had to remain satisfied with the splendid view of the lakes and some lovely birds like coppersmith barbet, tree pies, drongos, honey fudge and an owl. Demotivated by our morning experience we were seated quietly in our cantor for the evening safari to Zone 2. But the silence didn’t last for long! We hadn’t even entered and the big cat was right in front of us walking fearlessly, neglecting the humans’ curiosity and excitement. It clearly showed it was her territory and she didn’t give a damn to any over excited human. After she vanished into the forest, we moved ahead looking at the dense bushes and trees, searching for the tigers.  We hardly expected to see any tiger further in that zone. But that little desire of seeing the most talked cubs and the new mother tigress in that zone kept on peeping through our childish minds. Meanwhile, we enjoyed being followed by the tree pies and the monkeys in search of some food.  While resting at the check point of Zone 2 end, our drivers got some unuttered message and immediately we rushed in filmy style among the bushes, racing on the not so well defined tracks of the forest. And then!! A glimpse of two tiny curious eyes made us almost jump off our jeep.  To everyone’s delight we saw a little cub of T60, and then the another one resting peacefully among the bushes. One of the cute cubs quickly ran to its mother lying a few metres away and the other one first stared at us and then assuming  its safety  it sat back. The site was then trafficked by more and more tourist jeeps, the mother tigress decided to take the little ones to a safe  abode. And finally, among the clicks of the cameras the mother, followed by her three tiny toads crossed the safari track, increasing our thrill and excitement, moved to the interiors. Though we waited for them to cross the main path again, we were disappointed. I wonder if the mother didn’t want to risk her babies when it came to humans!!

That evening just passed in narrating the thrilling experience to our friends and relatives on the calls and visiting some craft shops for local artifacts.

The next morning was our last safari in Zone 5. We had high hope of encountering a male tiger. This zone has picturesque open fields. We encountered some deer and monkeys at the starting point and further as our eyes were scanning for the black and the orange, we just spotted a huge black figure staring at us from far away, which was a rare spot as per our guide. And it was  the famous honey and termite lover, black bear. We admired its act of digging the ground for termites and then straight way went to spot the wild beauties. It was a lovely morning which was made more beautiful with peacocks dancing all around us as if it was just to welcome us to their amazing fairyland. Just imagine the clear green land, sparkling water ponds, bright day and the colourful peacocks dancing around you. Yess… such was the site during our safari. We were still observing peacocks and deer for the alert calls. Despite of a few calls we didn’t have any glimpse of the fierce one. There was a strange silence in the environment, the crocodiles were enjoying their morning naps and sun bath. It seemed as if we were transferred to some planet of animals where humans did not exist.

Luckily, this time , we got the opportunity to step on that beautiful land as our jeep’s tire was punctured. It hardly took five minutes for them to fix it up, but those few minutes we kept on waiting for some thrill, but all that we got was just a few photographs on the track.

We returned remembering the previous sightings of the tigers and the wonderful time we had that day at zone five.

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