Ramthambore National Park - The Abode of Tigers



Well, I haven't been lucky to spot a tiger during my last trip to a National Park, Jim Corbett and this time I decided to make it happen in Ranthambore National Park, famous for its Bengal Tigers and as everyone says, you can spot a tiger easily. Its is situated in the Sawai Madhopur district of Rajasthan and is one of the best places in India to spot animals in their natural habitat.

In my quest to spot a tiger, my team and me decided to explore Ranthambore National Park. All bookings were done in advance and all sorts of plans were being made to make this a trip to remember.

We left around 10pm from our office premises in Gurugram in a Tempo Traveler. It was all boys trip and everyone was excited and was in quite adventurous mood. We continued the journey with music on and few stories from our drunk friends until we encountered fog on our way. It was mid-January and pretty cold out there and the fog not only halted our speed but it even scared a few. Visibility was almost zero but the driver did quite well and followed another vehicle which is usually a smart thing to do in such scenarios.

Soon, fog disappeared and we were back to the usual speed. While I tried to take a nap, couple of members were feeling hungry. While I was in trance between my dream world and reality, the driver suddenly turned towards a road side Dhaba (restaurant) which was weirdly and aptly named 'Achanak' (meaning Sudden).


It was 2am as we got off our vehicle and ordered for Paranthas and tea. It was quite cold and the owner lit the fire as we sat in circle around it feeling cozy. Suddenly there was a power cut and we were not amused as the name of the restaurant literally meant 'Sudden'. We hoped not to face any more sudden surprises as we waited for our food order in the dark, not totally dark, of course the fire was still on and the owner kept pouring some weird liquid on it which he called 'Carbon' stating that it will keep fire on for longer time which was not happening at all. The only thing that we felt was smoke coming out of it and nothing more. Anyway, the paranthas and tea arrived and Paranthas were actually good.  Soon after satisfying our stomachs, we left the place.

We encountered fog again as we crossed the stretch nearby Bhangarh (India's most haunted place) and it killed the speed. Slowly we moved and roads were quite bad. As we crossed, it was 4am and suddenly we heard a noise and we stopped. Tyre punctured! Phew! It was super cold and we had to get down while the driver and his assistant tried to change the wheel, but they broke the jack. Now the only option was to ask help from passing by vehicles, but we instead chose to lift the bus while driver disengaged the punctured Tyre and put on the other one. We needed strength in the cold so opened a bottle of Rum, almost everyone took a sip and then we lifted the bus while driver did his job. Hell lot of exercise at 4am. All's well that ends well and we were back on the road not hoping for anymore sudden tragedies.


At 8am, we finally reached our resort and quickly settled in our cozy rooms. After freshening up, we had breakfast and while few relaxed in the sun, few had energy to play cricket. Around 12pm, we left in a canter to explore Ranthambore Fort. While a friend who was feeling way too adventurous drove the canter while others held their breath praying for their safety. Soon, the driver took over and everyone took a sigh of relief. The weather was nice and sunny, the fresh air we could feel was making us more energized.


We reached Ranthambore fort where most of the pilgrims visit to pay respects to Lord Ganesha, an ancient temple inside fort's premises, but we had different plan which even we were not aware of. We wandered in the fort clicking pictures, scaring the hell out of each other sometimes and going far beyond fort's walls in jungle where who know what could have been waiting for us. From what we heard from the local guide, leopards, panthers and even tigers often roam in that area. Often you can spot the tiger on the fort's wall during sunset.




Still, this didn't stop few of us and we continued wandering in the jungle and doing photo sessions (I know, not appropriate). 


We spotted crocodiles lying along across the lake far from us while we stood on the fort's wall. If you walk couple of kilometers more, there is place in fort where Jauhar took place where the queen and her friends did mass suicide to save themselves from Mughal emperor Alauddin Khalji and his army. Finally someone called the shots and we started to head back to toward our canter to reach back to our resort.

We had lunch and slept for few hours to energize ourselves. In the evening, the resort arranged bonfire and we started with booze, juice and snacks along with get to know more about each other with few weird questions and answers. After dinner, we all had a teen patti competition and again went back to Bonfire with stories we had until 3am. We all went to sleep as we had Safari early morning at 7.

At 6 in the morning, we all woke up, few willingly and few, we had to drag, yes excessive booze does that. We left for one of the best zones which we booked, Zone 4. I was quite positive that I will spot the tiger today as we heard every guest in our resort was lucky to spot tiger in Zone 4.


With fully charged camera batteries and holding my zoom camera lens, we entered the zone 4 with high hopes. The driver of our canter must have been ex F1 driver. He was driving the canter at pretty high speed like he was trying to scare animals away. Repeated requests did slow him down a bit for a while but he kept on doing the same thing. I was sitting at the last seat and my back started to scream because of all the abuse by high speed and jungle terrain. At this moment I realized that I should have chose a jeep instead of a canter. Moreover, the guide which was with us was also least interested in helping us spot a tiger. In fact, he was asking for job from other tourists. There goes our luck of spotting a tiger.



In Ranthambore, the drivers and guides are allocated on the spot and you don't have any control of selecting yours. All we spotted were Deer, Sambar, Crocodiles, Rufous Treepie bird and few other species. We returned back to our hotel and only thing we looked forward was breakfast.


We had breakfast, packed our bags and started our journey back to our home. My quest to spot a tiger in the wild still on and hopefully one day, I will be lucky, one day fine day perhaps...

2 comments:

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