On a lazy Thursday afternoon I was sitting at my office desk when I came to know that my boss would be out of station on the weekends. I said to myself that this is my chance to go on a long pending trip to Ranthambore national park. Thanks to Indian railways, it didn’t took much time for me to check out the train reservations and after a couple of phone calls to my friends I had booked tickets to Ranthambore.
I finished my office work at around 1830hrs and went home to find that everything was packed and we were all set to leave for ranthambore. Hashmi, one of my friend who was in Vyara that day reached Surat in the nick of the time to do the packing and in the commotion that followed forgot to keep some warm clothes.
We reached the station well in time for the train picking up Sumesh, Sonal & their cute daughter Kuku on the way. We left Surat at 2100hrs, on 17.11.06 had our packed dinner in the train, discussed about the days work and the excitement and anticipation of tiger sighting in the coming weekend.
We reached Sawai Madhopur our destination for ranthamore at 0830hrs on 18.11.06 and headed straight away for our resort, the Hammir Wildlife Resort which was approximately 5kms from there.
Ranthambore National Park is in Sawai Madhopur District of Rajasthan state.Located at the junction of the Aravalli and Vindhya hill range, this is one of the finest places to view animals, especially as they are used to being stared at here.The park covers an area of approximately 300 sq Km.
Ranthambore national park was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1957 and in 1974 it gained the protection of "Project Tiger". It got it's status of a National Park in 1981.
Ranthambore National Park is dotted with structures that remind you of bygone eras.There are many water bodies located all over the park, which provide perfect relief during the extremely hot summer months for the forest inhabitants.
A huge fort, after which the park is named, towers over the park atop a hill.
There are many ruins of bygone eras scattered all over the jungle, whi
ch give it a unique, wonderful and mixed flavour of nature, history and wildlife. These tigers are famous for being seen in the daytime, due to their lack of fear of human presence in vehicles. This lack of fear of humans is excellent for tourists, as they get to see the tigers often.
After having lunch we went for our first safari with our jeep driver Shakeel who entertained us through out the safari with his tales of the big cat sightings. We came across deers, wild boars, sambhars but the big cat eluded us. We were in the park till sunset waiting, hoping for some call, some movement sign indicating the presence of the tiger. But there was none. Nevertheless the feeling of being in the jungle, sharing the territory with the big cat was great.
Two safaris had gone and we hadn’t seen the majestic tiger of Ranthambore. Spirits were high as we embarked for our third safari on Sunday afternoon anticipating our encounter with the big cat. After a short drive on route no 1 something caught the attention of our guide in the bushes far off. Sitting majestically on a rock covered wild yellow grass was the big bat of Ranthambore- a tigress.
Though it was not in the photographic range still I was excited to see the tiger in the wild. We stayed there for 5 minutes waiting for the tigress to make a move and come out in the open. The sambhar nearby on seeing the tigress started giving
the unmistakable call alerting others of the presence of tigress.
After a while the tigress started walking down the hill and came too close to our canter. Even the noisy tourist in the canter didn’t disturbed the big cat and she started walking the cat walk in front of our canter along the dirt road as if reminding us of who’s the boss here in the jungle.
She walked along that path for almost a km marking her territory along the way and we followed every step of her. After walking for a while she left the main track , our driver as if knowing where she would head for parked the vehicle in front of the small pond. And after five minutes or so she appeared there to quench her thirst. We were all excited to see her so close to us.
After quenching her thirst ,satisfying the tourist with her presence the tigress left the track and went behind the hill form where she came from in the morning.
All satisfied we followed our way back to our resort feeling elated on our first tigeress sighting