Monday, June 4, 2012

Travelogue - My Journey from Hyderabad - Indore and back - by road IV

Part IV 

In the Lap of Mother Nature - Pence Tiger Reserve

09 May 10

Started from Nagpur post good breakfast at 0910 hrs for Pench Tiger Reserve. Traffic was heavy till Kamthi which is about 20 km from Nagpur. The road is two lane through out and not so good in Maharashtra though when the road (NH 7) enters Pench Forest, the road is good even in Maharashtra. Crossed  Sillari junction  (where Maharashtra Tourism has a out sourced resort where one can stay) and reached Khawasa at 1030 hrs. 

We had booked FRH at Khawasa which is immediately after one turns left for Turia. FRH rooms were good but they did not have coolers and back up power supply. Power situation in MP is bad. MP Forest has also upped the room rent to Rs 900 per day. Despite rooms being good, for two reasons ie power cuts coupled with no power back up and no coolers, we decided to check out Kipling’s Court at Turia (A MPSTDC resort).

At Kipling’s Court the AC double room was at about 3900 per day with Rs 800 for extra bed, non AC @ 2900 with Rs 700 for extra bed and dorm at 700 per head. All plans are American plan (AP) with three meals and two tea included but for dorms only Veg food is given where as for rooms (both AC and Non AC) non veg and veg cuisines are given. All meals are buffet.   

They have two Dorms of five persons each and have three toilets and three bath common between these two dorms. Dorms and non AC rooms have coolers. Only drawback of Dorms is, only Indian type toilets are available. One can make use of Western type at the reception though. We liked the place and checked in into five seater dorm.  One can book all accommodations of MPSTDC at .If it was winter we would have stayed in FRH Khawasa. 

Gypsies for afternoon safari and next day morning safari were fixed. The rate for Gypsies is Rs 1200 per safari. Lallan would be driving us tomorrow (he is praised by many on the net). MPSTDC also has its own safari Gypsies. One can hire Gypsy if it is not a week end and crowd is less for even Rs 1000 per safari by prior discussions with Gypsy owners/drivers.

Afternoon Safari starts at 1600 till 1900. One needs to reach the gate by 1530 (this seems to be time during summer when temperatures are high). Chandan was our driver and he arrived on time at 1520 hrs at Kipling’s court (pick up is from your resort/ hotel). We reached the main gate at 15:30. The procedure is complicated, in that, either one gives net booking print out or fills up a form (and pays the charges) at a window where they make a permit (530 on web booking and current booking). Pick up your permit and then go to another hut where show your permit and the forest people make entry in a register and take guide fee of Rs 150. After you pay guide fee and attach its receipt on permit, another forest person allots you a guide (so three queues in all, thankfully, your safari driver does the last two jobs for picking up the guide). Actually all these tasks can be done at one place where they should make permit, take fee for guide and allocate guide. Three queue system just appears to be a method to give work to more people but it ends up harassing the tourists.

We finally entered the main gate at around 1600 hrs. The sanctuary was awash with variety of animals. We saw Langoors, Jackals, Peacocks and Peahens, Wild Boar, Deers, Nil Gai, Sambar, etc many times during the safari. We could see variety of birds also like owls, Tiger Brush, etc. Our guide searched for elusive tiger on large number of water holes but we had no luck. After looking for tiger at around six water holes (out of twelve) and Pench river bank we returned to Junewani water point (Talab) at around 1815 hrs.
                 Spotted Deer                                                                                   Sambar

What about Tiger? No we could not see any but the scene was superb. The Deer, Peacocks and Langoors were giving tiger sighting (Danger) calls. Very different kinds of sound then their usual calls. All of these animals wanted to drink water but in the hierarchical Jungle none could dare till ‘King of the Jungle’ (at least this jungle is ruled by tiger) has had his drink of water. The animal kingdom was stand still with a pregnant silence and the mankind around (about 10 safari jeeps full) were excited that finally they would sight the King. The animals were standstill and fearful, the humans were excited but the King was unmoved. He was somewhere there but would not oblige any one of us. At 1830, the forest inspector (or whatever they are called) indicated that the time is up and we must go out of the park.
Langoor                                                       Wild Boar                                    Jackal

All safari jeeps returned with heavy heart without sighting. Morning safaris has had sighting of tigers (one male and one female) at the same spot to their heart’s content. We were very happy with all the sightings and had no special regrets for not sighting Tiger. We also knew that tomorrow morning again we would go to Jungle and have our chances. Only Dr Abheek Ghosh of Nagpur and some of his friend had sighting of one tigress (who has a radio collar on her which is likely to be removed in two days as her tracking would be discontinued on 11 May 10) at Hand Pump area.

We came back to Kipling’s court at 1920 hrs. Had a cup of tea and had dinner at 2100 hrs. Food was good. We were all tired and slept off at 2200 hrs. In any case, tomorrow morning Lallan (our Gypsy driver who is very famous naturalist) is to come and pick us up at 0500 hrs as park entry starts at 0530 hrs.

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