Thursday, June 8, 2017

Majestic Tigers of Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh - Day II - Maa Sharada Darshans and Safari Current Booking

Day 2 - 31 May 2017 - Warning - No Photos but blog contains important information about safari booking.

As we got up at 0600 without wake up call (actually a knock as this place being a jungle resort it does not have phones in the room or even a call bell) it was evident that we have not got the safari booking. That made us execute plan Maihar.

After quick bath (if it was appointment with Tiger, bath was optional but with plan to visit Devi Sharada temple bath became mandatory) and breakfast we left for Maihar visiting Barahi by 0900.

Trip to Maa Sharada Mandir at Maihar in Satan Dist of MP

Our route from Bandhavgarh took us through Khatauli village - Barahi - Mahanadi bridge and finally to Maihar where our car could go all the way up to rope way station (other option being climbing 1100 stairs to the temple). The roads were good and the trip took 2 hours. After reaching the rope way and buying Prasad and pooja items we took the cable car to the temple. This being a working day and not a Tuesday or Thursday or Friday there was little crowd.

We had very quick and smooth darshans of Devi Sharada. The devine Murti of Maa Sharada looked peaceful and benevolent. After darshans we spent some time in the temple complex and returned back by cable car.

We did not partake the Maha prasad at the temple "Annachatra" but for completeness sake of the blog I must mention that "Annachatra building" is across the road from the Cable car station and it runs for about 4 hrs in the morning (till about 1300). One can have the Mahaprasad (a full meal) for Rs 15 as indicated there. Another point to note is the temple is closed for darshans from 1300 to 1400 and so is cable car.

Our return trip started at 1300 hrs and we reached Mogali Resort at 1500 hrs. The total trip lasted for six hours, two to go, two for Darshans and two to come back.

Current Booking for Next Day Morning Safari

After lunch we were resting when at about 1700 hrs I got a call from a friend who was working on our safari booking for 01 Jun asking me to come to booking counter.  This was a must because of the changed process (to stop agents from booking the tickets) in which the Traveler has to come in person to the Booking Window to book next safari. We reached there at 1730 and relieved our friend who was holding number one position in the queue for booking the safari tickets, may be from 1500.

The time was 1730 when I got into the line but the position was being held from about 1500 hrs  for a booking which was to start at 1930 (later I realized that time was Indian Stretchable Time) . It is also important to give out as to how the system operates. Apart from the online booking at forest@mponline, which is the best thing to do, forest department gives four gypsy safari booking as current booking. The first person in the queue gets Gipsy safari in Tala zone, next person in Maghadi zone, third person in Khatauli zone and forth at Tala again.

What does Forest Department do with the vacancies created due to cancelled online booking is a mystery as they cancel online wait listed tickets seven days before safari dates (mine was cancelled too) so it obviously is not given to wait listed tourists nor at the current booking counter.

They also gives current booking for next day "MP Tourism Safari Truck" with a capacity of 18 passengers on per person basis for Magadhi and Khatauli zone (Tala geography makes this vehicle unsuitable for that zone) where getting seats has very high probability. If one does not get Jeep safari he / she can switch to Canter safari (that is what it is called).

Coming back to booking part, I got into queue at 1730 at number 1 position (which my friend was holding for me since afternoon) and was sure I will get a safari for Tala ( the best zone, second best is Maghadi and third is Khatauli) zone. The queue was not long though but if one has to get in the queue at 1500 for 1930 counter opening, it is painful.

The counter was to open at 1930. One person of forest dept landed up as if doing a great favour to tourists at 1950 and opened the counter. That did not mean booking stated at 1950. When asked, he said booking can start only after madam (some one else from their hierarchy) comes. That illusive madam arrived at 2005 with neither any regard for the fact that she has been 35 minutes late and that too when ticket seekers are queued up from 1500 or so, nor she had any remorse about coming late.

The booking still did not start because this lady was confused and wanted to wait for some other saheb to come. However when confronted about she being late by 40 minutes, she started the process.

I call it process because she just wrote serial no and zone on the booking form. Then I had to go to Gipsy operators union, pay the fees (Rs 2200) for Gypsy and get the Gipsy booking. After that one has to go back to the counter, pay the safari fee and guide fee and then your final booking gets done.

Having won this major battle of Waterloo I returned to resort at 2030. It was then the usual process till sleep time. 

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