Saturday, June 10, 2017

Majestic Tigers of Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh - Day III - Appointment with Tiger(s)

Day 3 - Final day - 01 June 2017
This was our day of taking a morning safari trip to best of 3 regions of Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, the Tala region. The anticipation was written large on our faces (obviously of sightseeing Tigers) when we got up at 0420 to board safari gypsy which was to come at 0500 hrs.

Early Morning at Mogali Resort

Mogali's Jungle

The resort had provided us a cup of tea at 0445 as committed to us the previous day. As we had our tea the gypsy was there, dot on time. Since we were already ready with our cameras and binoculars, we boarded the vehicle and started for Tala gate.

Waiting in Anticipation  Tala gate

After verification of identity (by examination of Aadhar card) we waited for the gate to open. Gate opened at 0600 and we were in to a lush green beautiful forest bathing in soft morning Sundays and morning light chill. Chirping of birds all over the forest was a bonus.

Where are the Fish

What Colours?

Perfect Stillness

Two are a company

Keeping an Eye

Snow Capped Mountains at Tala? Just some clouds
As the vehicle progressed the lush green landscape gave way to hilly terrain and back to lush green plains. There was lot of bird activity but being early morning and lush green trees with thick canopy reduced the chance of sighting them.

I am Around - A Pug Mark

I am so Happy

How do I Look
In the mean time the driver got news of Tiger cub sighting at some place. Our gypsies immediately changed directions towards that area. Going there, it was a “wait n watch” time for us. There was a trainee elephant tracking that cub and we were tracking the elephant.

During waiting for the Cub we also found a Hornbill (hope I identified it correctly) sitting atop a leaf less tree. That got photographed to best of our ability in wildlife photography.

Under trainee Elephant

An Eagle


Should I fly away

Still Thinking

Horn Bill

Run, they are coming

Hush, Finally crossed safely

After a prolonged wait some of us saw motion of that cub at a long distance but that was all we could see. This was supposed to be a cub from a group of 3 young cubs of 12 month age and tigress mom.

Getting tired of the wait we decided to go to “central point”, a real central point to all four routes (each safari vehicle is allotted a specific route in the forest out of four routes, A, B, C and D). Another important point is, this is the only place where one can get down from the safari vehicle, go to toilet (both ladies and gents toilets are available) and have a cup of tea or have some thing to eat.

Don't have Any Doubts
Even before we are done with our cup of tea our driver got to know of sighting of another group of a tigress and her three cubs (about two years old but still dependent on their mom) in a place called Andhiyari Ziriya (a spring of that name). Some photos taken enroute are posted below.

View from the Center Point

A Beauty - Name unknown to me

That made us gulp our time and quickly mount the vehicle and rush. The driver and guide got busy looking for tigers. The warning calls of the monkeys were getting louder. After some time they sighted another elephant with some people on the back (how does one get this elephant ride at Bandhavgarh is a mystery to me despite many inquiries). And as they watched the elephant (who was possibly tracking the tiger) a tiger was also noticed moving towards the road where our Gypsies were standing.


Her Majesty 



What a view that was. The majestic Tiger (actually a tigress as we were to realize later) kept walking in proud steps and nonchalantly crossed the road right next to our vehicles and soon vanished in the jungle.

Our guide was very experienced one (as stated by our driver) who soon realised that this tiger will have to reappear around Andhiyari Ziria area. He guided the driver to that area.

At Andhiyari Ziria we were not alone. There were about six to seven gypsies who arrived almost with us (and we were told some impatient visitors saw the single cub and left the forest to return to their hotels, just few gypsies was a possible confirmation). Then the wait started.

The Omni present big elephant was seen in the area (how easy it was to sight Tigers atop an elephant, I wish I had one) but the wait was still on. We were rewarded for the wait. There was a tiger (rather tigress) walking through the Nullah that flew from the mountain to plain and passed through this point. The tigress was moving from downstream to upstream towards mountains taking her time and resting in the Nullah water to cool herself. We waited with breath held for her to progress towards us and then on to hills.

Here comes the  Queen of the Jungle

Walking on

Waiting for Some One?
We did not know then what lucky we had turned out to be until we saw another tiger (her cub number 1) following her. Then came the second cub and the third. We could not believe that we are seeing not one, not two but four Tigers walking in the Nullah as if attending a parade walking one after the other in a straight line.
Bonus Three

Wait, Where are you going?

Perfect Synch

Where is our Mom

What a magnificent sight it was. They paused in the Nullah for a while, rested on the ground for a while and continuing their journey towards the hills in a seniority order with their mom in the lead.

Let me Sit and Think

Its Too Hot in Tala

Slowly, steadily and majestically they walked over the ground parallel to Nullah (as our gypsies were on the bridge on the Nullah) to there destination, each one crossing the road behind our vehicle. A sight to behold and cherish for days to come. In all the sighing was for about 30 minutes of visual treat.

Leading the Pack

Time to March

Boys, Lets Go

Let Me follow my Mom

Tired of Bathing 

Commanding Steps

I don't bother about you all

Marcthing on to My Den

Bidding good bye to the tigress and her 3 cubs we reluctantly turned our vehicle out of that area. It was already about 1000 hrs. Crossing the territory of the forest, watching few more birds, spotted deers, Sambhar, Monkeys and wild boar we returned to the main gate at about 1045. It was a very enjoyable trip to Tala range of Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve with a absolutely huge bonus of sighting four grand Royal Bengal Tigers.

It was then a return to Mogali Jungle Resort, lunch and the return trip to Jabalpur. This trip took us four hours including a stop over.

In the end of this narrative which I enjoyed putting together I can only say “guys and girls, just come out of your comfort zone and go and meet the Kings (and Queens) of the Jungle at Bandhavgarh. Only advice is, get online safari booking at forest@mponline and then tailor your plan of travel accordingly. Else you will have to endure a few hour's hardship पर safari for current booking as I did endure.

Lastly, there was a board at the exit of the range which said’ “Perhaps you may noy have seen me but please don't be disappointed, I have seen you” (see photo below). There lies the key to happiness when one visits the tiger reserve at Bandhavgarh or elsewhere. Happy Safaris.

PS - Some answers to questions one would like to ask.

Best time to visit a Tiger Reserve - from April to Start of the Monsoon when water shortage in the deep forest brings out all animals into open at few water points in the forest.

Among Pench, Kamha and bandhavgarh (My ratings)

Beauty  in descending order - Kanhs, Bandhavgarh, Pench
Chance of Tiger sighting  in Descending Order - Bandhavgarh (highest per capita tigers by area), Pench, Kanha (Ever green forest)

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