Friday, January 25, 2013

In which some tigers see me

I had a most interesting trip to the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve, with a few friends. I shall call them Dr A, Ms. A, Dr. J and Dr M, and which tempts me to ask you logic puzzles featuring them, which impulse I shall nobly resist.

Right. How it came about was that I waxed lyrical about my last trip, which was in November, and these guys decided it was worth a visit, and in a moment of recklessness, decided to take me along. The missus  couldn't come so I dragged my business partner Mr. D and we tromped off into the wilderness.

So to summarize, the cast is as follows:

Dr. A - smart guy, but never visited Tadoba before
Ms. A - smart lady, Dr. A's significant other, but never visited Tadoba before

Dr. J - smart guy, but never visited Tadoba before
Dr. M - smart lady, Dr. J's significant other, but never visited Tadoba before
Mr. D - smart guy, but never visited Tadoba before
Myself Narendra Shenoy - VISITED TADOBA BEFORE !!!

Alright, let's move on:

Tadoba is about 140 km south of Nagpur. The roads are really excellent, especially by Maharashtra standards. Our driver, who drove like he had taken up taxi driving because formula one wasn't exciting enough, got us there in about 2 hours.

We stayed at the Tiger Trails Jungle Lodge, a very well appointed and homely place at the very edge of the reserve. In fact, it is regularly visited by fauna of all hues, sizes and dietary preferences. Our hosts told us not to step out of our rooms after dark, NO MATTER WHAT.

The food is simply outstanding. We had a simple but delicious meal of a local recipe chicken curry, rotis, a couple of vegetarian dishes (which I admired visually), rice and dal, and some killer kheer for dessert.

After we returned, the first question missus asked was "The food must have been amazing, no?"

"Indeed! How did you know?"

"You're back from Tadoba and you're looking a tad obese. Elementary, my dear Watson"

But I digress

We retired for the night. I had been sneezing and coughing away the entire journey and a couple of thoughtful and immensely therapeutic brandies sent me into a deep dreamless sleep. We were awakened by a cheery "Good morning!" and "Get ready for the safari drive" at what seemed to be midnight. I cursed and tucked in deeper into the sheets but the chap, who seemed to be experienced in rousing city slickers from their slumber, even those who had had brandy shots the night before, persisted and presently, I found myself standing by an open Gypsy in 10 degree C, which felt like -40 to a Bombay guy but once we were inside the forest, I sort of forgot about all that.

Here's the first vista that greeted us ....

 And soon enough, a large Sambar male presents himself. A word here about the "male" "female" thing. These naturalist types have an uncanny ability to tell a critter's sex without seeing its private parts. Some of them have give-away features - the Sambar above, for instance, had antlers which even the most liberated feminist sambar wouldn't wear, so it had to be a male - but other creatures are far less differentiated. Of course, it could be that they said naturalists were randomly giving' gyaan' as they say, secure in the knowledge that the pusillanimous Bombay guy would never get down and check for himself.  Anyway, I digress

A large, beautiful lake from which Tadoba gets its name. Legend has it that there was a wise Gond king named Tadu who became a sprite and lives in this forest

 Spotted deer grazing by the lake

The most feared predators of Tadoba - the wild dogs. The locals call them 'dhole' 

We went on to another, smaller lake called Teliya and came across this!

It was a family of five cats, the mother and four almost fully grown cubs - ("female", our naturalist guide told us almost immediately)

We spent another two days in tranquil bliss, visiting the forest twice a day (and getting a tad obese too, I suppose).

All in all, highly recommended.

Best way to get in: Fly to Nagpur, drive from there

Best place to stay: Tiger Trails Jungle Lodge

Best creature to see: Tigers

Best thing to drink when it's 10 degrees C - Brandy

Cheers and hope you visit soon!


Nagaravind said...

AAJM forms a wonderful acronym in Kannada :)

Parshuram Ramkrishnan said...

Looks a beautiful place to visit!
Good Pix, great description. Keep sharing!

Parshuram Ramkrishnan said...

Looks like a great place to visit!
Good Pix, Great Description. Keep Sharing!

Siddharth said...

:) Good visit one must say Dr. Watson. Even without Holmes....