The Bandhavgarh Experience: Our trip to Bandhavgarh was the most thrilling trip ever – from the time we left Delhi the excitement to see the Tigers in their natural habitat kept us on the edge & ready to brave any hardships that we might have to endure. But to our surprise, there were none – it was most comfortable and enjoyable – the train journey was fun and the road Katni station to Bandhavgarh is a good one (convenient 2 hrs drive). And then we were at Tiger Den Resort – a lovely place offering very good accommodation and services with the most kind, friendly, ever smiling & ever helpful team.
At breakfast that morning, we were briefed on Bandhavgarh & the Tiger by our gracious host, Sharad Vats. Our experience with the Jungle began that afternoon with our first sanctuary visit. During our three day stay, we were fortunate and blessed to see a total of 9 tigers – what an experience.
The Bandhavgarh National park is a beautiful park – lovely & cool in the mornings, despite the fact that we were visiting in mid-April when Delhi (where we came from) was rather a boiling pot. The topography in the park varies between steep ridges, undulating forest and open meadows – a large area of the park is tree-covered. And as one lives in constant hope of a spotting the majestic tiger – the world around is very much pretty.
Though we had incredibly successful and interesting visits to the park on all days, the most unforgettable was this extraordinary morning, memories of which are embedded deep into our minds. The morning’s events are still crystal clear in our minds and run like a beautiful dream. We set out early this morning – rather early so that we could be the earliest in the park, have maximum time, of course with an intention to augment our possibilities to see the mighty Tiger.
Since this was our fourth visit to the sanctuary, we had been kind of attuned to seeking the Tiger in the vast land and zero in to its black & yellow stripes from the various other elements in the forest.
There is a saying that the jungle people believe in “Whether you see a tiger or not is 90% down to the tiger. If it does not wish to be seen then you will not see it”. And each time we went on a jungle visit, we prayed for the Tiger to grace us with a sighting & mind you, it was fulfilled.
Driving up with a steep ridge with our very experienced driver ———- and of course the lucky Sharad Vats of Tiger Den Resort (he has the reputation of sensing tigers and almost always sights a Tiger – though I feel it might be the other way round, the Tigers come seeking this most kind gentleman with his love for capturing these big cats on his camera). Suddenly, the driver braked and excitedly showed us marks of a tiger dragging its kill towards the rocks to our left. They seemed quite fresh and anticipation mounted unimaginably as all of us craned our necks to seek out the impressive & powerful beast. Even our two daughters, who were a bit sleepy due to the early wake up call, were most alert and standing up in the open gypsy. The driver moved ahead cautiously and then we saw her – a magnificent Tigress enjoying her kill of the day – a Langoor. We were most thrilled to see her 3 cubs running up the hill – incredibly cute & playful. The cubs were out of sight in an instant but the mother sat comfortably with her kill, cutting into it and thoroughly relishing it, unmindful of our presence. We stood in the Gypsy and went into a frenzy of taking pictures, pictures & pictures – we must have had this most private & prized audience with this Ruler of the Jungle for at least 10-12 minutes before the next gypsy came in – and then it grew to a crowd of about 7-8 vehicles which made the tigress to get up and move away. We drove ahead a bit and caught another glimpse of the cubs. It was a most fortunate & special experience of our lives. We had seen Tigers earlier in the sanctuary but this prolonged experience was beyond dreams and yet, so true. The memories of this day will be with us eternally.
And thanks to the Tiger & Sharad.
Vandana & Ripan Dhawan