During my recent trip to Kanha, the main attraction was a trip to jungle for the tiger sighting. It is called locally as Tiger Safari. It was scheduled for morning of Saturday, February 14. I was really looking forward to it. We were told that the reporting time for the Safari is 5:30 a.m. in the morning. I was quite surprised to know about such an early start time. We were told that the core zone of Kanha National Park is about 8 km away from our resort and we have to drive quite deep into jungle to spot a tiger. I thought maybe an Early human gets the tiger. Anyway, almost all the registered persons reported at 5:30 a.m. in the morning. We were at the Park gate at around 6:00 a.m. It was very cold, maybe around 7 or 8 degrees. The gates opened at 6:15 a.m. and our jeep was allotted a guide. BTW, only locally registered open Maruti Gypsy jeeps, which can seat 6 people comfortably, are given entry inside the park. Once inside the park, a persons is not allowed to disembark from the jeep. Inside jungle we have to follow and respect the rules laid down for us humans. It is a National Park after all.
We begun our journey inside the jungle after a guide was allotted to our jeep. It was still dark. After some time I spotted the Sun between the trees and I was sitting next to the driver, and took the picture. It felt sublime. As the sun came out the cold started receding a little. I kept hoping a tiger may cross any time on our path and we early humans can get a gilmpse of the king of the jungle. No such luck for the next few minutes. We sighted animals such as gaur, spotted deer, peackocks, etc. but no tiger so far. Then we were driven to a spot called Kana Camp where one can alight from the jeep and relieve himself or herself. Here the guide informed us that we will get the information about where the tiger is sighted today. We got down and stretched our legs after sitting in the jeep for more than an hour. The guide informed us a tiger has been sighted today at a place called `Raja Pachchad Talab', and we have to register for the sighting. The sighting will be done riding an elephant. I was excited that we also get to ride on the elephant too, besides having a lookg at the tiger. I told the guide let us register for it immediately. Well, he told me we have to drive back to the Park gate to register for it by paying 100 rupees per Indian and 600 rupees for per foreigner. Why such a disparity. The guide told me the rules are made by higher authorities of the Park. So we drove back to the gate from where we have entered the Park and registered for 6 persons (we were all Indians in our jeep). After half an hour drive, we eached the spot where we saw few elephants. The guide gold us that there are two seater and 4 seater elephants, the small elephant will take two persons and a large one will take 4 persons. Mounting an elephant was quite easy, as a staircase was provided for it. I got on the elephant back with Prithvi who was in our jeep. After elephant walked for a few steps inside the jungle, the mahout pointed to a spot and told us see the tiger.
So here was the king of jungle, sitting and enjoying a good sunshine. He looked at us for a moment and then just looked away. It seems so heavenly to see a tiger sitting there just a few meters away. The picture (left) is the best picture I could get. I wished that the tiger may look again in our direction, but no such luck. The tiger just sat there majestically and seemed indifferent to our presence. The mahout then turned back the elephant, despite our pleas to stop for a few moments more. So I just said a quick goodbye to the majestic tiger and we came back to our jeep. Such a short sighting of the tiger left me speechless for some time. It seemed sublime.
As we were driving back, the guide showed us the pugmark of a tiger on the side the path. He said the pugmark are fresh, maybe the tiger has walked this way in the morning. We could not had a more closer look at the tiger, we certainly had a long look at the pugmark. I still wished our mahout had stopped a few more moment so we could have a longer look at the tiger. Anway, so we drove on but could not spotted another tiger. The guide informed us that the Kanha National Park is home to around 89 tigers, and if we are lucky a tiger can cross our path. We had no such luck. We certainly spotted many deers, spotted and without spots. Here is one such picture of a young spotted deer.
We back back to resort at around 12:00 noon. I will always remember my trip. It was an experience. We all in urban jungle, but to see the real jungle so closely is something which I cannot describe in mere words. One has to see it and feel it. Though I was little disappointed that I could not got a good picture of tiger. It seems many persons who were on different jeeps have the same story to tell. But some were quite lucky. One of the participant, Takeshi, was quite lucky to get pictures of a tiger crossing their path and also some pictures of a tiger at Kanha Meadows. Takeshi also got some pictures of Barasingha (Swamp Deer). With his kind permission the beautiful pictures are given below. Click on the pictures to enlarge.