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The long harsh Indian summer was knocking on the door, wrestling to knock over the pleasantry spring winds. Before it got too hot, I and my husband decided to travel to the tiger kingdom of India – Ranthambore National Park.
We took the early morning train from Delhi to Sawai Madhopur. From the station our hotel was only a 15 minutes ride away and it felt so exciting to start the journey with the open jeep ride. Upon checking around mid afternoon, we first enjoyed a lavish buffet lunch at the hotel. Couple of hours rest and we were off to the National Park.
The very first day we visited the Ranthambore Fort on foot. We had to climb more than 100 steps to reach the top of the fortress, but the beauty and the experience was incredible. You get awesome 360 degree views of the forest from the fort. Our local guide told us that on many occasions the leopards, and on certain occasions even the tigers, are spotted around the fortress. Just the thought of walking alone with a guide in tiger territory gave me a spine chill. But then that’s the spirit and adventure of travelling to a wildlife park. Anyways, I was happy to see no animals bigger than macaque & langur monkeys before returning back to the hotel for a bonfire dinner.
The next morning after having early morning tea, we got ready for our first safari in the park. I was all set and excited to spot a tiger! A canter (an open van, where 15 people can share it at one time) came to our hotel and we excitedly took our place. Around 20 vehicles enter the park every morning which is divided into 6 different zones. Our Canter vehicle was given permission to travel to Zone 2 of the park. We had sighting of alligators, monkeys, sambhar deer, spotted deer, wild boars, but alas none from the tiger family. Our guide tried hard to locate a tiger by reading the animal calls but unfortunately we couldn’t. The same happened with the afternoon safari.
Our third morning we visited Zone 3 of the park which was very scenic and beautiful. Rolling hills with savannah like grassland and beautiful lakes. Today, the moment we entered the park, our guide heard a call, generally made by monkeys & deers to warn different animals about the presence of tiger in the area. Our driver & guide with all their expertise started following the pursuit to spot the tiger. With more precise information on walki- talkie from the other forest officials, we were soon able to track the tiger.
She was T-17 or known as Sundari by the forest guides. The tiger was sitting in an open area of grassland barely 20 metres away from the jeeps and canters packed by tourists from all across the globe who all come for this one experience. T-17 was sitting with her back towards us.
As the saying goes, desires never end therefore we wanted to see the tiger face on, or even perhaps walking to some other place. We waited for almost 40 minutes and thankfully for once the majestic tigress moved and sat in the direction facing towards us.
Indeed this was the moment; all the shutterbugs went crazy taking unlimited pictures of her. For me, I just stood looking and admiring her, capturing her in my memory.
I must admit, that I was never too much into wildlife before. I was just sharing part of the dream and passion which my husband has towards wildlife. But this trip and its experience seeing the wild up close has changed my feeling so far. I now look forward to travelling and exploring Bandhavgarh, Kanha and other reserves on my next visit to India.