RENDEZVOUS WITH RAN-THAM-BHORE TIGER RESERVE- THE SO CALLED ‘GHIN DHAAR GAYA SAFARI’ - Ran-tham-bhore Tour Diary
(guest writer Reshmi Chakraborty, with some input by Sourabh)
08/04/21 : CCU (Kolkata - fare 3904/- only) > Jaipur at 2030 hrs > Sawai Madhopur (By shared vehicle – Rs 4500 in 2.30 hrs)
Sleep at Sawai Madhopur
09/04 : - Zone 3 (Morning) and Zone 4 (Evening) - Sleep at Sawai Madhopur
10/04 : Zone 5 (Morning) and Zone 4 (Evening) - Sleep at Sawai Madhopur
11/04/21 : Zone 2 (Morning) : Sawai Madhopur > Jaipur (Visit Gaitore Chatri and Hawmahal) > CCU
Forest was not a preferred destination for me or of Saikat , so generally we don’t plan for a forest trip. Little did we know, this is going to change forever ! It was the first time in the year 2011, when we planned for Nainital trip and it was then when we paid a visit to Jim Corbett National park. We went there with the expectation that we would be able to sight tigers, but unfortunately we couldn’t.
Our very own Sourabh Da, our friend, philosopher and guide, I can say, had arranged for a Jungle safari and it was the Ranthambhore tiger reserve in Rajasthan. Actually we were supposed to go for this trip in 2020, but due to the lockdown, the trip got postponed (we got the refund from airlines and safari booking was put on hold). The trip again got rescheduled this year. Last year we had lost hope whether we would be able to make this trip anymore, because of Covid. We never expected that this year we can make it. This trip would have been probably cancelled, due to the imminent second wave, but for the persistence of Sourabh da. In this trip we were six members, myself, Saikat (my husband), Sanjit Da ,Sourabh Da, his wife Mohua di and Arun. But mohua di could not make at the last moment because a Board Meeting was called at the last moment on 9.4.2021. So we were five.
We didn’t carry much luggage because it was a trip of just three days. We carried two backpacks. Saikat came back from office in the afternoon at around 2.30 pm as we had to start for airport by 4.30-4.45pm. So after he came back, we started getting ready we did our final packing and took the blessings of God and our parents and left for the airport. We had to pick up Sanjit Da from his house, so we booked Uber and went to Sanjit da’s house to pick him up. The Uber driver was very aggressive in nature and was not willing to go to Sanjit Da’s place as it was not mentioned in the destination. He argued with us and finally agreed to go there. The distance between the two house is not more than 350 metres though. We reached Sanjit Da’ place at around 4.45 pm and waited downstairs in the cab for him, he came down after 5 mins. He was dressed up like a true traveller, carrying huge backpack in his back.
Anyways, we started from his place for the airport .On our way we discussed about various trips that he and we did. Sanjit Da shared the experience of his Russia trip with Sourabh Da and how they ate there at the cheapest rates and they literally witnessed Russia walking, whenever possible (since if you don't walk, you cannot really feel the country) and how the country is so well organised. He shared his experiences. He also visited France with Sourabh da.
We reached Netaji subhash Chandra Bose domestic airport at around 5.45 pm. There was enough time for us. We had planned to eat something at the airport as we would not be able to have dinner, since we have to travel late at night to reach our destination at 1 am. So three of us went to the lounge after security check in. The escalator to the lounge floor was out of order and so we climbed it up. We reached the lounge and at the lounge one person could dine in one card. Sanjit Da earlier also said he has no apetite at this point of time and he was not willing to have anything and on reaching the lounge he said he didn’t have the lounge card as well. But fortunately Saikat carried three cards for three us. How could we relish our food, if one of us could not eat. because he was not granted permission to enter the lounge ?
In the lounge they had huge spread - fruits, juices, orange and lemon, fried idli, Pav Bhaji, hariyali chicken pakoda, chicken biryani and pastries along with soft drinks like coke, fanta, sprite and coffee and tea . And also pocket mazaa and some breads were there - which we didn’t have. There was even pasta and sandwich. We made a cardinal error of not surveying the spread and then we had hariyali chicken pakoda, chicken biryani and pastries along with soft drinks like coke ( I had fanta and Saikat had coke). Arun came after sometime and then came our tour leader Sourabh DaJ. We all met at the lounge.
Arun ate same as what we ate and he even had fried idli, Sourabh Da also ate almost the same thing. All of us picked (surreptitiously) pocket mazaa for our journey from there. Pastries were tasty, the food was good. We spent almost one and half hours there at the lounge. We were pulling Arun’s leg regarding his diet and he would keep us telling that he is on a diet and he eats less carbs and all - but that day he relished almost everything, saying that he doesn’t impose any restrictions on tours. Anyways, thereafter we headed downstairs towards the boarding gate. Meanwhile two smokers’ - Sanjit Da and Saikat went to the smoking zone and Arun and Sourabh Da and me, the two non-smokers headed towards the boarding gate.
Thereafter we waited for the boarding gates to open. Meanwhile we took the sanitization kits and head shield and Saikat took the PPE kit since he will sit in the middle seat and I didn’t miss the chance to take his picture in this attire. Our seat number was 21B and 21C. One was aisle and the other one was middle seat - where Saikat sat and wore the PPE kit and as usual Arun changed his seat from his own and shifted at the side of Sourabh Da. Our flight departed on time at 8.30 PM.
We landed in Jaipur Sanaganer domestic airport at around 10.15 pm. We had to show our covid -ve reports at the airport. Our car was pre-booked, which will drop us to our destination at Sawai Madhopur - which is around 185 Km from Jaipur and it takes around 2.30 hours.
Now we proceeded towards the exit gate of the airport where our car, Toyota Innova ( RI25 TA-9990) was waiting for us and the name of the driver is Vijay (Mob - 9928757573) . He came before time and we started our journey without further ado. The road is quite exceptional.
Sourabh Da was at the front seat since he has a back ache and Arun, Sanjit Da and Saikat in the middle seat and I took the back seat along with the luggages on one side. The driver was good and played some good songs. He drove so smoothly that none of us realized that the vehicle was moving at a speed of 100-120 kms most of the time. Arun asked the driver to play some local Rajasthani song called ‘Kesariya’ and he obliged. Everyone started clapping and dancing and we were really enjoying the journey.
9th April 2021
Now our journey started after the tea break. There were very less traffic as we had heard that night curfew had been imposed, but the dhabas were open. I was enjoying my back seat journey. We reached Sawai Madhopur at our home-stay sharp at 1 am. The name of our stay is Tiger home and it was owned by very well-known naturalist - Mr. Hemraj Meena. It was his home which he has converted into a home-stay and the home had 10 rooms in 3 floors. There was a big dining hall in the ground floor after the entrance and also the kitchen was adjacent to it. Now the person at the home stay took us to the first floor where three rooms were booked for us. Sourabh Da and Sanjit Da stayed in one, we are in one and Arun occupied one room. Our and Arun’s room was side by side and Sourabh Da and sanjitda’s room was just at the right hand from the stairs. There was a huge passage in the middle where a sofa set was there with a centre table and a giant screen TV. The room size was quite big and as also the attached bathroom size.The room has almost all the amenities like table, chairs, decent size cupboard and bed and dressing table and side tables near the bed side. The room had a huge balcony where chairs and centre table was placed and sourabh-da’s room shared the same balcony with us. But we could not make proper use of such a nice balcony as we safaris took most of our time.
Now after checking in everyone wanted to take a small nap as it was already 2.30 am and we were supposed to get up by 4.30 am. I don’t know about others but I couldn’t sleep at all. I unpacked by baggage and I just lied down. Then I got up at around 4.15 am. The people at the home stay served us tea and biscuits. They made very nice tea and served us Good Day biscuits. Soon our safari jeep has arrived. We are supposed to do 5 safaris in total in two and half days.
Our safari jeep was green colour Maruti Gypsy and later on I realized that all the safari vehicles are exactly same - they can carry six people excluding the driver and the guide who occupied the front seats. The weather was quite cold at 6 am in the morning and I wished that I had something to protect the coldness. Me, Saikat and Arun sat in the middle seat and the seniors, Sanjit Da and Sourabh Da were at the back seat. The name of our first guide was Subhas and he was a very nice and humble person and so was the driver.
Day 1 - 1st safari - Morning safari - Zone 3
The road from our home stay to Ranthambhore was marvellous and it was surrounded by hills. We enjoyed the open jeep ride and the cool breeze. We could see some local Rajasthani handicrafts shops on the way. It was around 15 Km journey and the roads are really good. We reached Ranthambhore tiger reserve gate at around 6.20 am. The guide got down from the jeep and did the formalities. The local vendors were selling caps, hats and face masks, which is like piece of cloth that would protect one from the heat of the sun. I asked the price of the caps - they asked Rs 100 for one and another one Rs 300 and some even 400.
Then we headed towards the safari. The forest was surrounded by hills, so the moment we entered the main gate of the forest, we could see hills all around and the Ranthambhore fort as well. It has undulating roads just like the hilly areas.
Now on day 1 of our safari our destination was zone 3. Now the forest has 10 zones : 1-5 are the core zones and 6-10 are the buffer zones. We went to Rajbag zone. During our journey we had sighted varieties of birds and peacock. Usually peacock is one of the most common bird that we get to see in Rajasthan. We spotted numerous Sambar . The sambar is a large deer native to the Indian sub-continent and they are even found South East Asia also. They are usually the victims of severe hunting and favourite hunt of tiger.
On day one at zone 3, we saw T-121 - which is a rarely sighted tiger . Usually the tigers are known with names as well as numbers there in the forest for ease of identification.
In the forest one can spot a tiger site by just following another safari jeep. If you see many jeeps standing at the same spot, you can be pretty sure that a tiger has been sighted. Now we reached the spot and watched its movements for more than an one hour . We clicked thousands of pictures there and I took a video of its movements. She ignored the sight of the humans and sat for a while and then started moving towards the bushes.
Then we headed forward with the desire to watch even more tigers. The tigers have their own separate territories. The guide took us to another territory but we couldn’t find one. On our way we saw Hanuman langurs and we passed by the lake and saw many birds like Bunting, Brahmani Starling as well. Sourabh Da is quite obsessed with birds. We even took a photograph of all us in the jeep in the midst of the forest where the jeep stopped at a place. We asked our guide Subhash to take our photo. I even took his picture as well.
Now each safari was of 3.30 hours duration. So in the first safari we spent almost two hours sighting Tiger and the next one hour we saw birds and crocodiles, owls. Now sharp at 9.30 we had to exit the safari gate or else fine would be imposed on the vehicle. So we left the forest sharp at 9.30 am and that’s how our morning safari ended.
Then we headed towards our home stay. On reaching we thanked the guide and the driver. We reached the home stay at around 10 am. Now on reaching our home stay breakfast was ready to be served in the dining hall at the ground floor. Now here we met the cook Dhanraj Prajapat. He warmly greeted us and was a very jovial person. The table was a huge - 12 sitter. We were five and we were joined by a Mr. Sudhir Shukla - who had come from Bombay and would be staying for near about a month !
Now let me tell you the breakfast menu. It included kharbuja (cut into pieces), bread , butter, mixed fruit jam, potato cutlet - which was cylindrical in shape and omelettes and tea . You can eat as much you want , without any limitation. Everyone was surprised and happy by their hospitality. We had tummy filled breakfast for about 45 minutes and chatted for some time after that. We even asked one attendant who was there with Dhanraj to take group picture of us with Dhanraj. He did that. We really enjoyed talking to him. Now it’s time to take some rest as we didn’t sleep over night and we need to get ready for the next safari in the evening. Dhanraj explained to us what are the options for lunch/dinner and decided accordingly.
We went to our respective rooms and Saikat took a small nap while I couldn’t. Our lunch was to be served by 1.30 pm as our afternoon safari would to start at 3 and we were supposed to leave by 2.30 pm. Now we took our bath and I even washed my clothes and hanged them in the huge balcony. Then we all went to the dining hall.
Actually Arun went before us and had already started taking lunch as he was feeling very hungry. Dhanraj had already told us the ‘lanch’ menuJ. Actually he would pronounce lunch as ‘lanch’J. The food was ready almost 15 minutes before lunch. The menu had long grained basmati rice, chapattis (which were phulka like but were very soft and smooth) , dal fry, aloo ki sabzi and chicken curry, salad, papad and curd. The taste of the food was great and very homely like, especially the dal and sabzi. Chicken curry was hot and spicy (khara masala flavour, as they say) with Rajasthani chillis. It was red in colour. In Rajasthan I saw they don’t use green chillies, rather they use red chillies. Hemraj-ji met us at the breakfast table and Sourabh Da insisted him to come along with us some day for a safari. To our utter surprise he said that he would come with us on that day only for the afternoon safari. We were thrilled on hearing this
Day 1 - 2nd safari- afternoon safari - Zone 4
We got ready after lunch and headed towards the jeep for the afternoon safari with Hemraj-ji our safari guide. We sat in the same position like before . On our way Hemraj-ji informed us about the history of forest.
Now in this safari we went to zone 4 which is also a Core zone. Like the earlier one we sighted sambar deer, spotted deer, peacocks, and varieties of birds and then at a spot we sighted Riddhi tigress (T124).T-124 - Riddhi is great grand daughter of Machli - T 16. Riddhi is daughter of famous Tiger T-84 :
Arrowhead. Arrowhead is daughter of Krishna - T19.
Krishna (T19) and Sundari (T 17) are daughters of world's most famous tiger T 16 (Machli - who died in 2016). By the end of 2014 there were well over 50 tigers in the Ranthanmbore whose lineage is from Machli.
Riddhi is a daring tigress and is trying to establish her territory in the jungle, keeping herself separate from her mother. We spotted Riddhi under the shade of tree and Hemraj ji would keep on telling her history. She had cut her tongue in a conflict with some other tigress.
Now it was time for us to leave the forest as it was almost 6.20 and safari was supposed to end at 6.30 pm. On our way back we witnessed one local wine shop, but we wanted a foreign liquor shop and Hemraj-ji said that there is a shop 2 km from our home stay and he asked the gypsy driver to drop us there and we came back walking. We went to the wine shop and took one bottle Blender’s Pride whisky and one bottle Kingfisher Ultra-Beer for me. Sourabh wanted to have Breezer - that too Jamaican flavour one; but breezer was not available there. Now meanwhile when we were purchasing, Sourabh Da wanted to have sugar cane juice (‘ganne ka ras’ as they say in the local language). It was around 300 meters walking distance from the wine shop. Sourabh Da and Arun went to have it. Meanwhile we had finished purchasing the liquors and we started walking towards our home stay as it was already 7 pm and we were too tired as we didn’t had proper sleep the previous day.
Now we checked in to our home stay and went to our rooms. Then we freshened up and sat in the passage sofa to have drinks. Sourabh Da and Arun also joined us even though they didn’t drink. Sourabh Da had asked Hemraj-ji to play some documentary of the tigers on the TV. While enjoying our drink we witnessed the life history of Machli. She was named as Machli due to the fish like markings on her face and she was named as the tigress queen of Ranthambore. She dominated at the the prime zone within Ranthambore national park. In her 19 years of life (1997-2016) Machli attacked crocodiles, defended cubs from males and managed to survive with one eye. She died at the ripe age of 19 years - which is quite unusual. Typically a tigers live 15 years. When she died gun salute was organized. The documentary was made by Nalla Muthu and his driver cum drive was Hemraj !! It was shown in National Geographic channel and won many prizes. It was documented over a period of 10 years , I think - till the date of its death !
Now time passed by while watching the documentary and then it was the dinner time. Dhanraj came upstairs to inform us that dinner was being served. Now on that day we had ordered for famous Laal Maans(local delicacy, mutton cooked in red gravy) in dinner. Then the dinner was served sharp at 9.30 pm. Arun would as usual go early and start eating. They had served the same thing - that is rice, dal, chapattis, aloo ki sabzi and Laalmaans along with salad and curd and papad. It is "eat all you can" ! We all relished dinner very much and after having dinner we went to our rooms and went to sleep and we set the early morning alarm at 4.45 am, since we had to start for the morning safari the next day.
10th April 2021
Day 2 - 3rd safari- Morning safari - Zone 5
Now on the third day of the safari also we all woke up early, freshened up and had our tea and biscuits. I was the first to get ready and then Saikat and Arun got ready and then Sanjit Da and Sourabh Da was the laziest amongst us all. On this day the water drained out in the tank by the time Sourabh Da went to the bathroom and therefore he could not get ready in time because he was stuck in the bathroom during nature's call !
But any how we got ready by 6 am and boarded the gypsy. On this day the gypsy driver was salim and he welcomed us. Salim said that we should reach on time. In the morning time while going to the safari it was really cold and chilling and both the seniors, Sourabh Da and Sanjit Da wore jackets to beat the cold. Sourabh Da covered his head with a gamchha (towel) . Sourabh da’s look was quite funny. Salim went down from the gypsy to do the entry formalities. Me and Sanjit Da purchased safari caps with Ranthambore tiger reserve embossed on the cap. We bought it for Rs 100 each.
We really enjoyed the ride from the main gate to the actual entry gate and saw the fort and passed by it. The terrain is quite unique. Unlike Jim Corbett (but similar to Kanha) all the gates are the same location. So it is convenient for the tourists. We saw hanuman langurs on our way and they were loitering on the roads in search of food. Now we reached the entrance to zone 5 of our safari . O this day we were supposed to go to zone 4 in the evening. On entering we saw 3 dancing peacocks together, sambar deer and birds chirping and Sourabh Da would start clicking pictures, the moment he saw any bird, he would ask the driver to stop and start clicking pictures from various angles. When we said that let’s go and have to see the tigers, he would say ‘tiger se ghin dhhargaya’J . This was his statement line in the whole safari.
We spotted two tigers (T103 and T112) mating. Now to our utter surprise when we were watching the mating of tigers, suddenly we could saw a leopard that crossed the road at the back side of our gypsy. This was in Bakola area. He had come to drink water from a reservoir there and was returning to its place. He went up towards the hill. I got quite nervous as I didn’t ever saw such sight in my life. I never imagined that I would see a leopard from such short distance. Sighting a Leopard is rare, more so at this time.Since Leopards hunts at dusk. Now, just opposite to this we could see the tigers mating but we could not get a great view of them as they most of the time camoflaged with grass. We had a good view only when they go up occasionally. We couldn’t get proper glimpse of the tigers while mating and it is also generally forbidden not to disturb them at the time of mating. We stayed at the mating sight nearly two hours almost. We could see the other tourist were savouring some snacks and tea or coffee and were waiting to catch a glimpse of the tigers. If this is not enough, while sitting at the jeep at the same position, we saw mating of tiger, road crossing by a leopard and within 10 ft from us we saw Lapwing mating ! Selim at least 5 seconds before the mating, actually told us from the appearance of the birds that the Lapwing will mate! Selim is also a very experienced guide, working since 1989 ; he was initially the guide of Nalla Muthu for 1 month, before they parted ways and then Hemraj took over.
Our gypsy driver adjusted the position of the vehicle going forward and backward so that we can have a better view - since there are at least 7-8 cars who were all jostling for right position. In the mean time Sourabh Da’s cap fell on the ground after getting hit by the branches of the tree. Sourabh Da was worried as to how to get the cap as he purchased it the same day. He even wanted to get down from the gypsy to get his cap, but we all opposed. Now driver of another gypsy watched the whole incident and he was kind enough to say that he would get his cap, without getting down, by adjusting his vehicle. But he did not get down from the vehicle to hand it over to Sourabh Da. He later handed it over at the main gate.
Mating of Lapwing
Taken by us
Taken by us
This picture was taken by a famous company , https://www.toehold.in/ (not by us) , from the same spot, spending the whole day there.
T-103 is Gimel
T-112 is Caduceus, whose mother is Krishna
Krishna (T19) and Sundari (T 17) are daughters of world's most famous tiger T 16 (Machli - who died in 2016). By the end of 2014 there were well over 50 tigers in the Ranthanmbore whose lineage is from Machli.
Tigers are not social animals unlike Lion. They are generally solitary animal. The only social links are those of a mother with her offspring. Tigress reach sexual at 3 or 4 years of age, Tiger do it a little later at 4-5 years. Mating occurs at any time of year, although in regions with tropical climates happens more frequently during the period between November and April, when temperatures are colder.
Females advertise their readiness to mate. A few days before she enters estrus (the time when a female is receptive and capable of conceiving young), the female will scent-mark her range more frequently with a distinctive smelling urine. During estrus, the female may frequently vocalize throughout the day to attract a male.
For the tigress, copulation is a painful act, since the male’s penis has structures like spikes, although the process is repeated several times during the heat period, that is, 5 or 6 days. It is common for a male to mate with several different females during its lifetime as long as he is healthy. Copulation requires the tigress to assume a vulnerable position. During ejaculation the male lets out a sharp cry and takes hold of the lose skin folds on the neck of the female. This exposes her neck to a bite and possible instant death. The reason for the neck bite is to ensure both are in the correct position at the time of climax, but there have been instances where a mistake by an inexperienced couple has led to a death.
After conception, it will take 3 to 3.5 months for the offspring to be born. The gestation period usually lasts these months, translated in approximately 93-112 days. The size of the litter is usually 2 or 3 puppies (although they can be up to 7)
Now we left the mating site as the tigers didn’t come out from the shades of the grasses, but they roared and we could catch a glimpse of one of the tigers but we could not take a great picture.
Now we went ahead and passed by the different areas of the forest. Now in the meantime the driver stopped at a place where we can go to the loo. Saikat took my picture keeping the terrain at the back side, even Sourabh Da also took many pictures as well. We saw king fisher, Drongo, Bunting birds, Snake bird and bulbul as well. We left the spot again and proceeded ahead and we passed by a lake and saw varieties of birds there and Sourabh Da was excited to see so many birds and continued saying "tiger dekh dekhke ghin agaya" J . We also saw langurs there and they would sit like a human being. Our safari ended at 9.30 am and we proceeded towards our home stay.
Now it was the time to eat breakfast and as expected it was served on time. Today the breakfast menu included toast with jam and butter, poha (made very nicely) and boiled eggs and water melon juice along with tea. They served us one glass of juice each and Arun as usual asked for another and he had two and when we asked for two, no more was left.
We all had breakfast and then went to our rooms to take rest. After a while we had our bath and came down to have our lunch. The previous day we had asked Dhanraj if he could make Dal baati Churma for us just for the sake of taste, but he said that it can’t be made in small quantity. So we asked everyone whether they are willing to have it for lunch, Arun and I were willing to taste the local cuisine and the rest didn’t but they agreed at the last moment. So accordingly dal baati, gatte ki sabzi and garlic chutney was cooked for us.
Now lunch was served and it was good. But I didn’t like the baati, I liked the dal and gatte ki sabzi. I even didn’t like the garlic chutney at all as it had the raw smell of garlic. The baati was not cooked well. I just had a bit of it and so also Arun and Saikat. I asked for rice and had the rice with dal and curd and salad, so also did Saikat and Arun. To our utter surprise Sourabh Da relished the dal baati and he was the one who had it the most. Even Sanjit Da had rice, but Sourabh Da didn’t have rice and had only dal baati. We had too much curd and only little was left for Sourabh Da and Sanjit Da. We asked for more curd but they didn’t have anything left. But Sanjit Da is quite sporty and he didn’t mind anything.
Day 2 - 4th safari - Evening safari - Zone 4
Our gypsy came at the right time sharp at 2.30 we started. This time our guide’s name was Guddu. He was a young man but looked very arrogant and aggressive. We started our safari sharp at 2.30 and Sourabh Da started pulling the leg of the driver, like he did for everyone and everyone laughed at his jokes and pranks, but Guddu was a bit serious and he didn’t take it sportingly. Even the driver was also very much arrogant as such. Now we reached the entrance gate and I bought another hat for Rs 200 and so also sajit da for his son. Mine is military green colour and sanjitda’s is white in colour.
Now in this safari as usual we saw all kinds of animals and the guide made us roam with the gypsy for near about an hour and then we got the sight of T-102 - Graffiti S at Zone 4. We waited there for almost an hour.
T-102 - Graffiti S
T-102 - Graffiti S
T-102 - Graffiti S
She was sitting under the shade of the tree which was in Zone 4 and just on the opposite side, we could see another tiger Siddhi T 125 ??? - who is the child of arrow head. She was in zone 5. It was sitting beside a small pond - cooling its body temperature.
Siddhi T 125 ???
Now we were supposed to go to zone 4 and Guddu was worried that, if we strayed from Zone 4 to Zone 5, then the forest officer and ranger might impose fine on them. We saw Mr Sudhir Shukla , co-resident of our home stay, all alone in the gypsy. We clicked pictures of Siddhi T 125 ??? as she was lying down near the water bed. The forest officer was standing there and he asked the vehicles - who does not have permit for Zone 5, to move from there. In the midst Saikat had a mild argument with the driver as the driver was quiet rude and arrogant. But anyways we turned the gypsy to the opposite zone and from there we went for some other sightings. We later learnt that the driver and guide might be fined for going to a different zone.
We went near the lake and saw marsh crocodiles there and spotted many birds there. The terrain in this side is quite unique. On our way we met a forest ranger and he was standing in the middle of nowhere with his bike. Guddu talked to himin local Rajasthani language for a while about other sighting for the day.
We saw T-124 - Riddhi again from a long distance, just beside a stream.
Now again we went back to the same spot where T-102 was sitting . After sometime we saw her crossing the road to Zone 5- which is our no go Zone. Everyone thought that the tigers had the intention to fight but they didn’t. We waited for the roar but she trolled the place calmly and came back to Zone 4 and again lied down under the shade of the tree. Other guides beside our gypsy said that they have no more energy left to fight in this hot climate.
We started for our home stay and Sourabh Da had ganne ka ras,again, near the main gate - which he missed the previous day. No one else had. We asked Guddu, if he could take us to the wine shop as we had to take beer but he refused as they are tracked through GPS and they are apparently prohibited to go elsewhere. They both were quite rude. Then at the turning point of the road to our home stay, Saikat got down from the gypsy and walked to the shop to get beer and I bought one bottle for me. We came back to our home stay walking .
We went to our room freshen up and then had drinks. Sourabh Da had bought tandoori chicken from a shop . We had asked for some bhujia along with drinks which the home stay people served us. In fact evening snacks is part of the deal. Dhanraaj arranged some cold water in a flsk for us and kept it in the unused kitchen on the floor where we stayed. Now after the drinks, we went for dinner at around 9.30 pm. Arun as usual was in a hurry to have dinner and go to sleep.
The menu for the dinner was local fish which we asked dhanraaj the previous day and he willlingly obliged us with the same and he said he would make the single bone fish for us : "rou fish" as they say. We had rice, dal, chapatis and aloo ki sabzi along with curd and salad and papad. We refused to eat chapattis as we were having fish.
Sanjit Da, being a fish lover, had almost 7-8 pieces of fish. We all had one pieces I guess and I didn’t have a piece even, I just had a very little portion of the fish like Sourabh Da. The gravy was quite tasty. I felt that they used the same spices to make the chicken as well as fish gravy. But I don’t know about Laal mans as I didn’t taste it. Saikat said after eating that it does not have the original Laal maans taste.
That day everyone got emotional sharing their ups and lows of life, about their children and all. Sanjit gave some tips to Arun how to bring up his child. More discussion followed after dinner. Sourabh Da initially looked a bit upset and later on it transpired that he was upset because of Arun’s certain behaviour in the morning and he asked Arun that he should learn sharing with others. If you are in a group, you should see whether everybody is getting their share or not. Then things got normal after that. I got even few pieces of advice from a gentleman like Sourabh Da, he asked me to have my own contribution in the family expenses, even if it is small one and also act rudely if anyone asked about not having kids - since it is a very personal matter and there is life beyond kids. And the sole purpose of living is not only to have a progeny - which most people think. Most people's life revolves around a Children. In the process they never live a life of their own and become depressed when the child grows old and have life of their own. He said that one should know how to enjoy their lives and always live in their own terms and not bothered about what other people say. I was very impressed with what he said. I gave sweets to them, which my in laws had packed for us for this trip. The day is over after having dinner and sweets.
11th April 2021
Day 3 - 5th safari- Morning safari - Zone 2
This was our last day and we decided to make the most of it. I had packed my bag mostly on the previous day. Now we got ready as usual after having morning tea and biscuits and departed sharp at 6 am for the safari. On this day our guide was Nagender. Our safari was in zone 2 on this day. Nagender was an experienced person and has been in the safari for the past 15 years and he was working there as a freelancer. He shared his experiences with us. Now on this day also we spotted sambar deer, peacocks as well as langurs and varieties of birds.
After searching for quite a bit we again spotted tiger T-57 - Singsth.
T-57 - Singsth
This one laid down in the bushes. Now let me tell you here that we were the first ones to spot this tiger and others halted at the spot seeing us. Every one of us tried to take snaps, but one could not get a good pictures.
We even spotted the brown fish owl today. Now before this let me tell you that I found zone 2 to be the best one in terms of the natural beauty and roads also. Summary of the other zones (input by my friend Anindaya) :
Zone 3 - Most scenic.
Zone 2 (behind fort rampart) there is a very thrilling ride.
Zone 1 towards the village.
Zone 4 steepest climb. Large plateau on top
While moving around guide explained us the history of this forest as to how this forest used to be the hunting ground of the kings and even queen Elizabeth also hunted there in the year 1961. The Ranthambhore fort is some thousand years old and it has one Ganesh temple also.
Now we had to go back and we departed the zone by 9.30 and reached our home say by 10.15 am. That day we had to check out and leave for Jaipur as we had to catch our flight to Kolkata in the evening. We had asked Dhanraaj not to serve us any breakfast on that day but brunch which he obliged willingly. He had made for us rice, chapattis, dal, potato curry, chicken and salad and he even cut water melons for us. He was very polite, bit effeminate. I didn’t had chapattis on that day but only rice as we had to travel long distance. Now after lunch we paid Mr. Hemraj Meena the balance dues for the trip and also paid Dhanraaj Rs 500, as we all were satisfied by his hospitality. He asked us to visit again. It may not be out of place to mention that you should pay a tip to the guide, if you see a tiger in the safari. Needless we had to pay for every safari !!
I also gave some sweets to Dhanraaj to have it and asked him to share this with others. He thanked me. Now it was time for us to leave the place and we all were depressed, as we didn’t feel like leaving. But can’t help. Now we started in Toyota Innova car arranged by Hemraaj-ji. He had come to see us off and I suggested to take a picture with him, a group photo along with Dhanraaj. We asked the car driver to take a snap.
Before leaving me and Arun even took snap of Hemraaj-ji’s certificate of being awarded the best guide of Ranthambhore. Now we all thanked Dhanraaj and Hemraaj-ji for their hospitality and they asked us to visit again. Now we bid adieu to sawai Madhopur!
We started for Jaipur and every one of us started feeling sleepy as we all had eaten stomach filled lunch. Now except Saikat all of us took a light nap. Sourabh Da was in the front seat, Sanjit Da and Arun in the middle and me and Saikat the back. Sourabh didn’t want me to sit at the back as I chose the back seat on our onward journey as well, but I didn’t have any problem as such.
I gave the idea that since will have some time in our hand after reaching Jaipur, since our flight was at 8.30 pm, so can we explore some parts of Jaipur, to which everyone agreed. Now Sourabh Da negotiated the rate with the driver for two hours, to which the driver agreed. We reached Jaipur at 2 pm and Sourabh Da had decided that we would first be visiting the Gaitore ki Chhatriyan (the burial place of the maharajas).
Chhatri are elevated, dome-shaped pavilions with in Indo-Islamic architecture - Originating as a canopy above tombs. Chhatri are found particularly within Mughal architecture. The most notable surviving examples today are to be found at Humayun's Tomb in Delhi and the Taj Mahal in Agra. Chattris have also been used in Rajasthan and other parts of the Indian Subcontinent by both Muslim and Hindu rulers. Its origins are, however, Indo-Islamic. Sourabh Da as hseen one of the best Cenotaphs or Chattris in India at Orchha.
It was all made in marble and it had the touch of the Mughal architecture as well. The location of the cenotaph is mermerzing. It is located in the foothills of the Nahargarh Fort. At the checking gate Saikat had left his cap with the person at the gate which he returned to him when we were leaving the place. We could see some girls doing shadow dance practice there inside the premises. It was a calm and quite place. I took many snaps and so did everyone and I even took the picture of the famous fourJ (Sanjit Da, Sourabh Da, Saikat and Arun).
Then we headed to another spot discovered by Sourabh Da and it’s called as Isarlat or Sargasuli Tower and from here one can get a panoramic view of the Jaipur city. We halted there and only Sourabh Da ad Arun went in and we three waited for them as we didn’t feel like climbing the stairs. It is a pillar like structure.
Now say within 10 minutes or so, they
both came down and pulling our legs saying that they went up in the elevator
but this is not the actual truth. The truth as they had to climb stairs and pay
Rs 50 too..hahaha !!!!
Now we met a person there and asked him how to reach Hawa-mahal and he said that it is walking distance from that place, but we decided to take the car, since that will be more convenient. The person also gave us the information about Masala Chowk - when Saikat asked about the famous chaat and kulfi joints there. It is also not very far from Hawa-mahal.
We reached Hawa-mahal and everyone was more interested in shopping some local stuffs as the person suggested us, that there is nothing as such to see in Hawa-mahal from inside and one can have a look from outside only. So we did that and visited the shops there. We bought stuffs like bean bags for all of us with Rajasthani handicraft work on it. The shop owner chatted with Sourabh Da in French and Italian and also in Spanish. Since Sourabh da is a globetrotter he has somewhat working knowledge of various languages.
It costs us Rs 200 each and then I even bought or myself a Rajasthani work jacket worth RS 350 which they were asking initially Rs 600. I even bought a couple of bandhni dupattas which are multi-coloured ones and are very colourful.
Sanjit Da went to a shoe shop to get shoes for his son and so did Arun for his wife madhurima. Arun didn’t end up buying as his wife didn’t like the designs which he showed her through whatsapp call.
Meanwhile I ended up buying one on Saikat’s insistence and we negotiated it to Rs 150, though initially they were asking Rs 450. (What a bargaining !!!! :) I asked Sourabh Da to get something for his wife Mohua di, but he refused, saying that she normally doesn’t like the stuff which he gets for her and were never used.
When we were buying stuff, Sourabh da in the meantime went around Hawa-Mahal.
Then after shopping, we headed towards masala chowk. We passed by Akbari gate. Then we reached Masala Chowk. We bought ticket for entry fee worth Rs 10 each. This place was actually a Food Court - with shops one after another and had the seating arrangements at the centre like any food court. I had aloo tikki chhole chaat and Saikat had dahi papdi chaat. Sourabh Da, Sanjit Da and Arun, had matka kulfi first worth Rs 30 rupees, which I had later tried after having the chaat. They all ate chaat after having kulfi. Saikat ate rabdi too. I asked for gola, but since it would take 10 minutes or more to get prepared, so I decided not to have it as we were running short of time to reach the airport. The food is okayish - nothing exceptional. But the varieties are good.
Finally we reached airport and paid the driver his money and I even took the last snap of the Innova car in which we travelled. We waited at the airport for the boarding to start. Everyone spoke at their homes and I gave my phone for charging . Now finally our flight was announced and we boarded the flight. We experienced lot of turbulence at the flight and I just prayed to God, so that we can reach safely. Finally we landed at 10 pm. Four of us, that is Sourabh Da, Sanjit Da and me and Saikat took the same Uber and Arun took another one, since we four had to go to the same destination almost and Arun had a separate destination. Now we dropped Sourabh Da and Sanjit Da on our way to home. We all reached home safely.
An incredible experience comes to an end………….The sighting we had is once in life time thing.