"....the trip was organized very well and the commitment and care shown by you and your team was exemplary!...." - Vishnuteerth Agnihotri - Bangalore
"....I enjoyed the trip thoroughly as it was very well coordinated and all care taken by you and your team. I would love to be part of another trek with you folks ASAP....' - Srini - Bangalore
"....It was a great holiday for us. Thanks again Tushar and to all your colleagues especially Sunder- for all your efforts. Regards - RP, Shimoni, Inika and Soumya. - Delhi
"....I really enjoyed the trip. Greatly appreciate the efforts and care you have taken in organising the whole thing. Both Sunder and Kemchand were wonderful as guides...." - Murali K - Bangalore
"....Thank you so much for the wonderful arrangements made for us. The places were really serene and untouched and ideal for a getaway from the city madness. Your arrangements were completely professional and ensured our trip was tension-free. I have been on similar trips to other places, and I can confidently say that what you did was better than the best that could be done in those really remote villages! I hope we meet again on another trip and repeat this great experience! Thanks - Ashwini - Bangalore
"....You were so generous with your time and hospitality during our stay, and of course the Rajasthan trip was outstanding in every way. We're home to snow and cold, but with warm memories of our fascinating and incredible trip to India. Thank you for giving us such a memorable experience....Kathleen Lohr , Columbus , USA
"....amazing time we had at Ranthambhore..we truly appreciate your great efforts in planning and executing this trip for us...." - Param Sidhu - COO - Intech Hotels - Delhi
"....thank you so much. We had a wonderful time. Look forward to doing the kumaon belt soon...." - Jessica Singh - Delhi
"....thank you for organizing such an amazing trip to Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Pushkar, Ranthambhore and Agra. The great birthday celebration you organized for me in the middle of the desert is possibly the best I have had....cheers...." - John Lohr, US
"....we were very impressed with all your arrangements and frankly the trip went off well beyond our expectations..i will surely recommend you to my friends. Please do keep us updated on more trips...." - Angelika Kafel, Komorniki, Poland
"Great trip and great arrangements. Your team especially Sunder Singh, Tara singh, Narayan Singh and Shakeel were fantastic and took good care of us. Regards - Utkarsh Singh - Marketing Director - IPL - Mumbai
....we all had a wonderful time especially the food inside that dense forest was simply superb. We will definitely travel with you again...." - Anand Dhandh - Gurgaon
Ranthambhore National Park - A travelogue by Bindu Nambiasan - Delhi
Two straight weekends spent working in a far flung corner of Pune with hardly any access to company beyond the "strictly professional". I almost felt like a martyr. The halo of self-sacrifice had just begun to form when the redeeming phonecall came through.
Our motley crew was taking off again! So when I landed in Delhi on a Friday night, the adrenalin was already pumping. In spite of the sleep deprivation, we, my husband and I, joined the others at the Nizamuddin Railway station. We were 10 in all. Krits, AJ, Ashish, Shikha, Manisha, Chan, Suri, tenzi, Kandy and I. The destination was to be Sawai Madhopur! Sawai Madhopur is what the station closest to one of the country's most renowned wildlife sanctuaries is called. Ranthambore! And we were covering this distance to see the venerated tiger in his "as natural as possible without wetting yourself" surroundings and no bars. Or should that read, "No Holds Barred".
Finally after about 6 hours we arrived.
We were received at the station by our friends from Silver Stripe Outdoors and bundled into a jeep and off we went to the hotel. Let us not forget that the tiger is the National Animal of India and has earned the respect of the world audience which promptly makes a beeline to any part of the world that houses it. Ranthambore therefore is quite the international hub.
We dumped our luggage in the hotel and quickly scurried back to the "topless" buses. At least the boys were grinning. And off we went.
The drive is smooth till the road turns right and up ahead is the proud arch that proclaims "Ranthambore National Park". Oh I almost forgot! The guide! Worth a mention definitely! She was a wisp of a girl who would give the proverbial iron lady of yore an education. She ruled! She greeted! She spoke! All bilingual! "Sit Down", "Stay quiet", "I will have the bus turned around" etc. etc. We almost spoke the same language!
Anyway, the "topless" trundled along and lizards and alligators and occasional deer were spotted. (Pun intended and Chan that line is dedicated to you!) All too soon we got accustomed to the forest from the presumed safety of the "topless". So would we see a tiger? When was the last sighting? Which sections of the jungle was filled with more possibilities? How long does it normally take etc. etc. The dust flew and I imagined it settling in unimaginable crevices. The kind of fine dust that requires a scrubbing. My white vest was being dyed a safari brown as I watched.
Amidst all these random city-like thoughts, I realized that the "topless" had come to a halt on a hillock. "Yahaan sher hai". Kahaan? Kahaan? The driver and the guide peered into the green thicket far away. I had no idea what they were looking at. Anyway, that was enough for the heavy duty photography equipment to come out. Krits, Kandy ..all on standby. My desperate yet cynical eyes swept in the direction and the smirk was suddenly wiped with Chan whispering in my ear. "I see it! I see it!" Now I believed. After all that Discovery Channel viewing I had managed to absorb some basics. The setting seemed just right with green dense ground cover, an expanse of water that could possibly pass off for a lake even in summer and to top it all the delicious sambar (the four legged variety) grazing along the borders. Which tiger could say no to that!
Suddenly as if an in-built survival mechanism had been triggered the sambar began to run in all directions. Just as I trained my eyes in the direction that Chan's finger was pointing at, HE shot out of the bushel and I saw him give his dinner chase. He sprinted and the sight can compare to no other that I had ever seen. The dust rose in the distance as the sambar ran in an ever widening arch. As he ran, the tiger zoned in one of them, aided by instinct that has been forged over the years into his genes. I stood rooted to the spot in the grips of terrifying respect and scant aware of anything else but that sinewy body that worked like well-oiled machinery. Might I add that among all the cameras in the "topless" not one had been pressed into service. As the dust settled, the driver did a quick detour and circumvented the hill, expertly guiding the topless to the opposite incline. As we arrived at the crest, the vehicle stopped and there amidst the gorgeous green grass, he sat panting. Obviously, the surefooted had escaped en masse and with it, his prospects of a meal. He panted with his tongue out and blinked at the shard of sunlight that caught his fur. It was beautiful! Not a word was whispered. We were soon joined by some other jeeps and one in particular caught our attention. On the back seat was sprawled Valmik Thapar. The tiger stood up and after a performance for the cameras sauntered off into the thick bush. The sun was setting and as we all settled into our seats, I realized that the best was over. Everything else after this was going to play "second - fiddle" to this! The evening was spent in the pool at the hotel, splashing and drinking and making conversation.
Dawn broke again and once again we headed to the forest. Dawn breaking in the forest is just so different, the transition so vivid, the change almost tactile from nocturnal to diurnal. The "suddenly stage shy" cicadas bowed out to the high notes of the birds, an occasional yawn here and there and stirrings among the ungulates brought on by the fast changing complexion of the Indian Summer. I settled into my seat, quite sure that that the show was over, we had seen the tiger and today was to strictly be "second-fiddle" day!
As we leisurely chewed up the dusty forest road I thought of the ease with which the tiger had struck its pose for us. I had read that the numbers had increased in Ranthambore and the government policies having prioritized the tiger had perhaps made him all too comfortable in the presence of humans in the forest. The jeep rose and dipped and rose again along the forest tracks and I turned around to catch the forest whizzing past. We slowed a little to negotiate a turn and as if out of nowhere, the sight presented itself in a clearing in the thicket, one fully grown tigress and her two cubs playing in the periphery. The mother sat a few feet away casting a wry but watchful eye over her kids, now and then. Domestic bliss, Ahhh! They barely batted an eyelid at the staring visitors who were gawking at the magnificent presentation. Just as we followed their every move, I turned around to see another tiger walking casually towards the jeep from the rear. The hair on my neck stood on end and I consciously wiped out conjured images of the bundle of power sprinting and lunging straight into the jeep. He walked towards us and just short of a few feet, sat down and cast a lazy glance at the frenzy he had just caused.
Today was no "second-fiddle" day, of that I was sure. Today was full blast clarion call. We all looked very happy and satisfied, also hungry. We headed back to the hotel in exhaustion and after brunch visited the local shops. Predictably they stocked everything from t-shirts to caps to books, to mugs, to postcards, to every other imaginable souvenir that had to do with Ranthambore's claim to fame, the tiger.
Make no mistake; Ranthambore is not just about the tiger. It is also about the sambar, the langurs, the birds, several thousand spotted deer, blue bulls, chinkara gazelles a veritable smorgasbord of hoofed delight. But the truth of the matter is that when somebody travels to Ranthambore, they take the trouble to do so, to see the Tiger!