Monday, January 5, 2015

A beautiful start to the New Year !

It is the time again for new beginnings, new resolutions, new diaries and calendars and for me to wish you every happiness and joy in the year that has just started...2015 is here and I hope it has begun with a bang for all who stop by here!May it be the stuff that dreams are made of !

For us it has been a 'wild start'. I have just returned from a short 'digital detox' in the jungles, a few days with no technology, no 'phablet-tablets', no television and where the only 'twitter' you have access to is that of the birds !

I am thus starting 2015 here, on a slightly different note, by sharing a treasure trove with you today that is really close to my heart, a snapshot of my recent experience at a place that I have loved visiting as a child, and which remains as dear to me today as it was back then, Kanha National Park. If there is one place that I can truly identify as a treasure trove, it is these beautiful jungles in the heart of Central India, a place that defines the words 'serene' and 'pristine'. I grew up in Central India and have spent many wonderful days with my family in the forests of Madhya Pradesh. To me, the idea of a perfect getaway is a wildlife safari over any other form of vacation. I think I get my love for the forests from my father who is nothing short of an encyclopaedia when it comes to this subject and he planned this wonderful vacation for us to send off the year that was, and to welcome the new year that is.

In a world full of luxurious resorts, we stayed at a wonderfully rustic forest rest house that is inside the gates of the park.

This is right in the middle of the jungle, with meadows full of elephant grass in front of it and the forests  in the distance. There are no barriers or barbed wires and the staff says they have witnessed wild animals, even the big cat, come and do the rounds of the verandahs many a times. All that really stops you from walking right into the meadow beyond the rest house is a strong instinct of self preservation and a small signage that suggests it might not be prudent to venture outside the wooden stumps.

After dusk, you can enjoy the moonlit silhouette of the forests in the distance, and stay up all night, counting the twinkling  dots in the star-spangled sky. It is the perfect getaway for nature lovers like my husband and me.

We soaked in the relaxed, laid-back feel of the place, enjoyed the 'dal-sabzi' made by the cook and relished many rounds of 'adrak chai' through the day ! It took me back in time as I recalled some memorable trips with family on other occasions in the early nineties, the bonfire, the guitar, the anecdotes, the laughter that accompanied all the fun ! It felt as though nothing had changed, when so much really had !

Safaris in Kanha start as early as six a.m. during the morning and resume again after lunch. We would be up everyday at the crack of dawn, donning our woollens, getting ready for the hunt ahead...every safari brings with it a new excitement, a renewed anticipation, of all that lies in the dense forests, the thought of the flora and fauna that we may chance upon...of the adventure that awaited us.
The jungles that cover an area of 940 square kilometres are divided into 5 zones and specific points within them have some delightful names such as 'Jamun Tola', 'Sal Ghat', 'Bamhni-Dadar', 'Bandri-Chaapar' and the like, each name with its own interesting story behind it. About 55 jeeps are allowed inside the gates every day with a specific route and they bifurcate into the different trails from the entrance of the park.

Kanha is home to about 96 tigers, and the jungles provide their king a befitting abode to reside in. The tall 'sal' trees, the yellow elephant grass and green bamboo thickets make the most majestic home for the Royal Bengal Tiger as they do for the other animals and birds that live there. During winters it is difficult to look beyond 10 metres into the sides of the narrow muddy trails that run through the jungle, the dense foliage providing the perfect camouflage for its residents.

In forests as dense as these, especially during winters when the foliage is really thick, the chance of spotting wildlife is limited and it is rare that you will get to see the big cat. But Kanha did not disappoint us and we had some lovely encounters in the wild. We were lucky to see herds of 'cheetal' or the spotted deer, the endangered 'Barasingha', the 'Gaur' or the Indian Bison, a brief glimpse of the leopard and believe it or not, we had three unexpected dates with the king of the jungle himself :-)

The spotted deer treads carefully as it crosses a pool of water to get to the other side...

...while another herd stared at us inquisitively as they saw our jeep approaching them in the open grassland...

The Indian bison (thankfully) ignored us as we went by...content to enjoy his meal and handpick the choicest greens for his grub..

A mother-son 'sambar' duo darted across the trail, startled by our jeep...

...while the king of the jungle strode the meadows in regal splendour, indifferent to our presence or that of any one else...there is no sight more humbling than this, a glimpse of the Royal Bengal Tiger in his kingdom...

The jungles of Kanha are truly majestic. I have had the good fortune of seeing other wildlife parks, including the great Kruger in South Africa, but Kanha is in a class by itself. Even if you fail to spot the tiger, which is of course what every visitor hopes for, the forests are mesmerising enough to transport you into a different world. The sounds of the jungle, the knock of the wood pecker, the call of the barking deer, the scent of the flowering trees, the sight of the the low lying mist over the marshy grounds, the fluttering of the green wings of the alexander parakeet in the sky, it is mother nature's soul-stirring embrace, beautiful and mystic. I am no wildlife photographer, yet many a times I would stand up in the jeep to take a picture and be unable to click, because I found myself struggling to do justice to the beauty of the landscape and the expanse of the lush forest through my lens. I would then sit back in the jeep and be content savouring the sight, capturing it through my eyes and carrying back beautiful memories of this treasure trove in my heart.


  1. Awesome photography, kudos to you if you were the one behind the lens!!

    1. Thanks a lot Ambika, yes they're all mine barring the last photo :-)

  2. It was wonderful to visit Kanha safari with your lens and beautiful write up. Each pic is mesmerizing.

    1. Magical place isn't it? I am so glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for leaving your feedback. Love.