Thursday, March 4, 2021

Bandhavgarh: Down The Memory Lane on The Mountain Top

Kuttappan, Nair, Vital, Shukla, Thakur all the names come alive when reminiscence strikes. On first visit to Bandhavgarh National Park and a Tiger Reserve I was hooked. "This is it!"I said to myself. Since then nth number of visits have followed and continue till this day. The characters named here were associates that turned the dream safaris into a reality in the tiger land.   

Whence you get the first glimpse of the mountains driving on the road to Tala from Umaria you feel like the paradise is right here. It is!


Bandhavgarh is more than a tiger reserve it is hill resort and cradle of an ancient tribal civilization. The numerous tell tale signs of ancient India, forts, caves shelters, idols, temples all spring a surprise as you journey into the wilderness overgrown with herbs and shrubs, tall trees and grass. 

Nevertheless a perfect ecosystem, the mountain rivers add to the sheen and glamour of this panoramic wilderness in remote India. The drive in the undulating terrain created by geological upheaval from the day Earth was born has created an amazing tapestry that mesmerizes on very first sight. The  inaccessible heights remain as they were since the time of creation chiseled to perfection - the shapes and size - by indomitable forces of nature.   


Romance is instant, the hustle bustle of big town is left behind once you reach the confines and absolute calm prevails in this amazing wilderness home of enchanting animals and birds. 

Whence you visit the structures in the park especially Shesh Shaiyya time comes to an absolute halt. The only living element besides you is the cool mountain breeze that brushes past you gently. The picturesque spot is a visit to witness esoteric emblems that have been seamlessly inserted in the surroundings such as to create oneness with nature. Modern architecture fails in this respect.  The grove is a blessing for the parched with aching limbs, and I lie down on the parapet of the encircling wall  and fall  in deep reverie. 



What do you do whence you come across the esoteric? 

You simply imbibe in absolute silence to enable your sensory apparatus to grasp and digest. Almost fairy tale atmosphere prevails at Sesh Shaiyya the resting place of Lord Vishnu where he sleeps as a twenty feet reclining idol carved out of igneous rocks. Lying listlessly, the structure crowned with Sesh Nag (Cobra) is frozen in time awaiting resurrection perhaps. Nevertheless fed by the mountain river Charanganga the magical liar comprises of an algae layered pond and fern covered rocks on the mountain side. Lichens, fungi and algae create a colorful mosiac in the surroundings like an artistic creation. The patterns on the rocks and idol amidst tropical greenery simply spell binds. The place dwells absolute tranquility and peace. 

The only buzz of activity is the humming of birds and bees an occasional bird curdling roar of the tiger. Then silence prevails...you can imaging the hoofs of horses as soldiers climb the tortuous ascent on the way to the fort at the top of the mountain. The cool ambiance of the  place and water all around provided succor to tired soldiers returning from internecine wars. 

When you climb the fort, the World fades into a distance and everything appears alien till you reach the idol at the precarious edge of the mountain. Idol looms large on the edge of the mountain weathering the winds. One look and then you realize that the World is real and ruled by celestial entities. Imagine!    

All alone amidst tall grass and azure blue sky above the pathway seems to be road to Nirvana. Be careful tigers and leopards lurk around the bushes. My nerves rattle and mind is in delusion but I keep pumping up ahead in the rising heat. I am searching for my photographer friend. And there she is from distant land of Germany.

The fort is in shambles with broken walls as evidence but the large reservoirs created more than 2000 years back survive. So does the temple dedicated to Ram, Janki and Laxman. The place littered by broken structures...they are nevertheless captivating religious artifacts...Hinduism is a colorful religion and so are the paraphernalia and the rituals associated with the practice. It is all evident here at top of Bandhavgarh Mountain in the premises of the ancient fort.

A gift to brother Laxman by Lord Ram an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, the fort is aptly named as such (Bandhav = brother, Garh = Fort). A fort for brother Laxman and true to the heavenly stature in essence the fort is very much alive. A pujari (Hindu Priest) walks for eleven kilometres through absolute wilderness to pray in the land of the tiger. Stoic, unruffled  by the big cats, snakes and predators he has been conducting prayers ever since the erstwhile Maharajah of Rewa inducted him into the holy service. 

Zoomorphic idols of Lord Vishnu in various animal avatars are the object of extreme intrigue for the uninitiated not familiar with Hinduism's existential philosophy. The vast expanse of the place makes you feel tiny like a spec in the Universe. An eagle flying overhead its call ricocheting across steep cliffs creates a picture of heaven as we climb down the mountain.

*Note the fort is out of bounds now but you can drive up to reclining Vishnu. You will need a safari permit for Tala Range. Bandhavgarh is accessible by four hours drive from Jabalpur Airport in Central India or the State of Madhya Pradesh.                               

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Uday is a blogger and offers Seo + Content For Digital Marketing Services. 

He teaches digital marketing (SEO) in Jabalpur.

He freelances as a naturalist/birder at Kanha National Park. He loves to write on travel. 

He can be contacted at: 

pateluday90@hotmail.com

09755089323                 

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Watching Tiger in a Romantic Getaway

I could barely believe my eyes the paw marks were large enough to confirm the sightings. Just before my curiosity drew me to the spot where I was watching birds, few men had looked down and then passed nonchalantly ahead. 

Doopgarh Pachmarhi 

I was not in a tiger land, I was at the edge of Pachmarhi Township buzzing with tourism activity. It was early in the morning I was on trip with my clients whence I met Puneet the ambitious owner of a busy resort named Golf View.     

Tiger Pug Marks

The trip was supposed to be a test to prove my birding skills, and we were on foot. This was against the advice Puneet stressed upon. In the rugged landscape of steep jagged cliffs draped with tropical greenery and the serene ambience of Pachmarhi my favorite hill resort in Central India, I decided not to be on a noisy vehicle.

"Birds shy off the jeeps and this is no way to spot avian," I said. " I am ready for a long haul". The resort owner said nothing. He ordered his jeep to follow us at a distance.     

Pandav Caves

The spirited terrain is uniform the sudden eruption of cliffs at short distance can be jarring at first sight for the uninitiated but nevertheless soothe the surprised nerves. Outside the town limits the activities come to a stop (visit was in off season) and the World comes to a standstill as if frozen back in time.  

Pachmarhi accords a feeling of an esoteric charm whence you are alone and the geological formations mesmerize at one gaze. Impressive by all means the panoramic spread at steep heights cannot be encountered anywhere. You have to see to believe.   


Being a wildlife sanctuary and now part of Satpura Tiger Reserve the resort is a heaven for wildlife enthusiasts as well as holiday makers on spree. The place is popular as a romantic getaway with cold winters and not so hot summers. Couples arrive here in large numbers to initiate and get familiar with conjugal life in the cool, salubrious confines of the resort with plenty of spots for complete isolation. 

Some of the old hotels and bungalows date back to the British Raj in India and stir reminiscence of the era of Raj a turbid rule nonetheless full of romantic grandeur created by the Sahibs. 

Rest House

Crowds wash off fun of being in an enchanting place hence off season visits are rewarding still.  After a demanding and a lack lustre trip to Satpura Tiger Reserve Pachmarhi was a whiff of fresh air. On very first day I heard Malabar Blue Whistling Thrush, the refreshing long drawn sonorous song is unforgettable. Nothing beats it even a robust breakfast with delectable menu. 

We stopped for a while, the big cat paw prints were fresh but I believed it had gone past from the spot. A couple of days back it had been seen by many near the very spot. It was an ageing cat pushed off by a rival perhaps. 

Golf View Hotel

Stunned by a predator so close, I hesitantly decided to carry on with the walk. But it was short lived. The next warning was that of the sloth bear which I was told can surprise you in the bush. They can deliver nasty scars when alarmed.              

We continued on the jeep. Panoramic spread of hills enshrouded in green, and the jagged bare outcrops are everywhere but each with a differing countenance. You can never tire out believe me.  

Landscape STR

Mesmerized to hilt we continued towards Dhoopgarh which literary means a fort draped in sunshine. Yes this is the highest spot in Central India. The drive goes through nerve wrecking steep and acutely twisting curves and you need to hold yourself calm. The deep ravines support tropical herbs and shrubs nourished by gentle sunlight that enters the inaccessible valleys, and the cool confines. Some of the exotic herbs found here have medicinal properties yet  undiscovered. Botanists revel in exploring these inaccessible dangerously steep places in the resort.

Pachmarhi Forests

At the top of the hill sits a rest house lost in a bygone era. This was the place for revelries during the Raj. Now visited out of curiosity by love birds and the ubiquitous tourists it is a pointer to British architecture in India. The structure that the British built  exhibited grandeur in simplicity they are enchanting without fail and blessed with quiet ambiance difficult to find in the modern architecture. No esoteric carvings no domes. 

As we roll down the hill memories of past visit surface in the bewildered labyrinth of my mind. The town once a place steeped in serenity was busy catering to crowds of rancorous tourists and the single roads full of cars and smoke. Most of the old hotels face stiff  competition by new arrivals but still retain their esoteric charm.  I used to love visiting the bar at Old Block in the evenings. 

Thanks to the notification the town is unable to expand. Mercy! Out beyond the town limits there are plenty of geological formations and wilderness full of birds and wild animals. The big mammals are elusive but the natural formations are not at all disappointing.  


We did not see the tiger but nevertheless it was memories springing back of days whence I used to visit with my extended family members.  

Pachmarhi Hill Resort is at five hours drive from Jabalpur Airport, and little less distant from Bhopal Airport the Capital City of Madhya Pradesh. Reserve your accommodation in advance and schedule the visit in summers with a bit less of a crowd. Do not worry summers are tolerable here. 

A number of MPTDC hotels with good enough location and modern amenities are the best accommodations to seek. But book well in advance. 

Read Pristine Pachmarhi

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Uday is a blogger and offers Seo + Content For Digital Marketing Services. 

He teaches digital marketing (SEO) in Jabalpur.

He freelances as a naturalist/birder at Kanha National Park. He loves to write on travel. 

He can be contacted at: 

pateluday90@hotmail.com

09755089323

Author

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Tourism Development: Lesser Known Destinations in Madhya Pradesh

 Madhya Pradesh Profile

Being the second largest State of India, Madhya Pradesh or MP is covered to large extant by forests with good crown cover and destinations that are ideal for ecotourism. The state is culturally rich with iconic monuments created by erstwhile ruling dynasties. The indigenous tribal culture dominates the hinterlands and is equally robust and colorful with impactful cultural ethos and some spectacular architecture and artisanal industry.

Kundawara Forest

MP is well known as a tiger state thanks to a large number of protected areas notified as National Parks, Tiger Reserves and WLS. With scenic locales and impressive wildlife comprising of mega fauna and flora,  birds, reptiles and butterflies, the State promises tremendous ecotourism potential. It is not only the major tiger reserves that attract tourists but hill resorts and places with rich architecture and lifestyle do as well. The State is rich in geographical features with diverse terrain in which major rivers like Narmada, Son, Chambal as vital life support systems enriching societies and culture as they flow towards their final immersion.      

MP is diverse, politically stable, safe, and has sound infrastructure in terms of roads and highways. Tourism is being conducted since decades and has brought International fame with overseas tourists throbbing year on year in ever growing numbers. However the tourism potential is much more than is evident, with greater reach and development in lesser known destinations it will lead to an economic bounty in terms of revenue, increase in employment with emphasis on empowering local communities and thus culminating in better conservation and preservation of our heritage wealth.

Rani Durgavati Wildlife Sanctuary 


Lesser Known Destinations in Central India & Development

Just as the title portrays unknown, undiscovered destinations with tourism potential abound in the State. With focus on few major destinations the potential is not being properly utilized. In order to develop and attract tourism an innovative, broadminded and committed approach is a prerequisite.    

Developing tourism in lesser known destination calls for greater vision and effort aided by planning and strategic actions in a calibrated manner keeping potential, size and remote distances in mind. 



Some Points to be Noted Are:

       A) Study & Highlighting  

 

1)      Highlighting Potential Destinations

2)      Making A Feasibility Study

3)      Listing in Preferential Order

4)      Core Focusing of Key Features

5)      Initiating Development & Funding 


B) Preferred Destinations – Action

6)      Development of Road Infrastructure

7)      Re-engineering Assets Present For Utilization

8)      Enhancing Destination Potential

a)      Conservation Initiatives

b)      Institutional Empowerment

c)      Training of Local Work Force

 

9)      Bolstering Safety Measures

10)  Establishing Additional Recreation Venues

a)      Ecotourism/ Heritage Museums and Interpretation Centers

b)      Canteens

c)      Encouraging Heritage Shopping

d)     Encouraging Tribal/Local Performers

e)      Encouraging Local Artisans

f)       Inclusion of Nearby Interesting Spots   

11)  Establishing Hospitality Infrastructure     

a)      Encouraging Hotels & Resorts

b)      Encouraging Home Stays

c)      Facilitating Small Restaurants/Dhabas

d)     Encouraging Travel Service Providers

e)      Enhancing  Financial Facilities

f)       Creation of Viable Land Banks

g)      Single Window Clearance

h)      Adequate Security Measures

 

12)  Propaganda on Global/National Scale

 

Tourism Development A Holistic & Non Conventional Approach

Encouraging Private Participation

India as a country has instituted tighter administrative controls over all its heritage wealth and to some extent potential destinations. Though stringent rules and regulations are a must in case of sensitive places like the conservation units, the same approach is followed in case of imperishable heritage wealth and ecotourism centers sans indicator species.

The tighter institutional control has to be done away with in places with imperishable heritage wealth and ecotourism centers in non protected areas. And this calls for private participation in order to increase innovative approach, funding and supervision.

Cave Paintings 


 

Benefits of Participatory Enterprise Model

Inviting Private Enterprises & Business Houses

 

A participatory enterprise economic model (PEEM) will result in better infrastructure development, innovative/diverse tourism practices, investment in and development of public properties facing neglect for better utilization and preservation.

Initiation of private participation will lead to greater exploration and enhancement all venues of recreation and experiences for visitors leading a holistic approach to nature/cultural tourism.

PEEM will lead to availability of greater funds and managerial capabilities due to induction of experience and skills through diverse staffing.

Inherent Benefits 

In case of MP distant spread of niche tourism will lead to reduction in crowd pressure on popular tiger reserves and hill resorts. Greater exploration efforts will lead to discovery of unknown heritage wealth for better preservation and conservation initiatives.

The benefits will roll down to local communities as well which is essential for a poverty ridden country and states.  Revenue generation is vital for the State Economy. And a proactive broadminded approach towards tourism will lead to crucial revenue generation.    

Amarkantak

Some of the Potential Destinations Under Scope

 

1)      Amarkantak  Biosphere Reserve

 

Origin of Narmada & Son

Spiritual Importance

Includes Achankamar Tiger Reserve

Amarkantak Hill Resorts 

 

Potentia:l Wildlife Tourism & Walking Holidays

 

2) Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary 

   

Tiger Translocation

Slated for Cheetah Translocation

Easy Access From Jabalpur Airport/ Sagar Town

 

Potential: Wildlife Tourism

 

3) Rehta Pani Tiger Reserve

 

Bhimbetika Cave Paintings

Easy Access Bhopal (Capital)

Potential: Wildlife Tourism    

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Uday is a blogger and offers Seo + Content For Digital Marketing Services. 

He teaches digital marketing (SEO) in Jabalpur.

He freelances as a naturalist/birder at Kanha National Park

He can be contacted at: 

pateluday90@hotmail.com

09755089323

Author



Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Sunderbans Quintessential Tiger Country

Divided between India and Bangladesh the estuary is called as Sunderbans on both sides. It is an amazing mix of land and aquatic habitats where the tides rule the roots. The emerging aerobic roots are the highlight of this ecosystem that gets full of slush in low and is completely submerged on high tide. 

In Hindi Sunderban means beautiful mangrove forests, beautiful yes but one of the most difficult terrains on Earth. Life here is a tough prospect, the delta that eventually merges into the Indian Ocean. Slush, poodles emerging aerobic roots like daggers and thick canopy always hamper movement but offers great camouflage to the predators be they the tiger or the deadly salt water crocodile.     

Bengal Tiger

The term Bengal tiger originated here. The mangrove forests belong to West Bengal State of India and hence their proliferation first noticed here named then after the State. This happened during the rule of British in undivided India. 

Today more than two hundred tigers survive in this delta a confluence of three rivers namely Ganges, Meghna and Brahmaputra. These are the lifeline of this ecosystem and eventually merge into the sea. 

Adapting to ever changing environment is a constant struggle and hardship especially for the tigers. Though the incidence of man eating is higher here not reason is attributed to the phenomenon. This could be due to the intrusion of humans in the thickets for homey collection and fishes which invites attack due to closer presence of the big cats while many attribute it to salt water. Well no exact reason has been found out but nevertheless intrusion is being prevented and steps are being taken to ameliorate. 

Sunderbans National Park is a protected area in Bengal and is also notified as tiger reserve and a biosphere reserve. Tourism is organized here in twenty percent of the area. Subject to rules and regulation the activity offers good chance of sighting big cats and large number of mammals and reptiles that live here. The reserve is home to a large of avian species and a paradise for birders. 

A miss-mesh aquatic system of rivers, creeks and wetlands the habitat is strikingly different from other tiger habitats in India. Four tourists the access point is Kolkutta the Capital of West Bengal from here two hours drive is required to reach the National Park. A cruise is an ideal way to explore this aquatic system. 

For wildlife enthusiasts the boat safari in Sunderbans is the only way to experience it.  There are many tour operators who organize the safari for visitors. The excursions can be booked online as well.        

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Chambal River Tours

Stretching to a span of almost one thousand plus kilometers Chambal River is a tourist’s paradise. Once famous for killer bandits living in the sandy dunes aside the river this region was once a frightening travel prospect.  Horrifying tales of vengeance, vendetta and loot emerged in Indian newspapers. The dreaded bandits killed many people every year pristine yet backward this hinterland has been transformed miraculously thanks to tourism and development that follows.    


The waterbody cuts across three large states of India from Janapav in Mohw in MP to submergence in Yamuna, Uttar Pradesh after flowing through the State of Rajasthan.  The long river is one of the least polluted entities among the aquatic systems in India and yes the wildest. 

Chambal region known for its faunal assemblage on the shores, and two crocodile species, Gharial and marsh crocodiles, Ganges Dolphin, number of turtles, fish and reptiles. This is a tourist’s paradise fore sure and yet few visit the remote confines of the river famous for boat tours and wildlife. 


Most of the visitors to this paradise which has been notified as sanctuary are from foreign lands they are keen birders. For the assemblage of avian species is as impressive as the wild animals on the shores. The dunes,  shores and the flowing waters all combine to form an impressive spectacle and home to vast number of avian species. The targeted bird is of course the Indian Skimmer which arrives to nest here but other species do not lack in the charm. The sand lark, painted stork, Bonelli’s eagle, osprey, wooly necked stork, chestnut bellied sand grouse, Indian eagle owl, bar headed geese, river tern, black bellied tern, Brahminy Duck, sarus crane, are few stars that enamor bird enthusiasts.      

You can see the lone hyena, jungle cat, wolf, occasional leopard, jackal to name a few animals that inhabit the salient confines of this hinterland. 



Best way of experiencing the enchanting landscape of Chambal is on boat tour. The looming sandy mountains, steep cliffs, small islets upon waters, green fields, quaint hamlets, and the surging waters of the river create a striking symmetry comprising of natural objects under the yonder blue sky. As the boat goes past the small islets can be seen full of the crocodiles and turtles. The clear water is like a mirage full of dainty aquatic creatures. The calm shores with still waters maintain serenity throughout the ride.  

On the boat you dwell in a surreal world an ethereal experience that is far removed from ours. Lost and stunned you wish the ride would continue forever. The boat is a motorboat and offers two and half hours of safari on the river. One of the best experiences in India it is near Agra. From here the drive to the shore is 90 km. The enchanting Chambal river safari is organized by Chambal Lodge at Bah. Bah township is 70 km from Agra. Another option is at Dholepur in Rajasthan organized by MPSTDC this is less costly but a shorter ride and not so engrossing.  Dholepur is sixty kilometres from Agra. From New Delhi the city of Taj Mahal is two and half hours drive.           


Saturday, November 21, 2020

Travel to Bandhavgarh National Park in India

Bandhavgarh 

Situated in Highlands of Central India Bandhavgarh is a paradise and a tiger heaven. Wrongfully credited with sightings of first and only white tiger in the World, the destination was contiguous with Sanjay National Park nearby in Sidhi District its rightful birthplace. 


This tiger reserve nevertheless is one of the most prolific breeding grounds for the big cats. It is a land of upheaval with a tortured terrain charismatic and densely forested.. Bare faced steep cliffs jut out of the earthen womb as huge surprise. The lofty land mass create deep glens and marshy plains where mountain rivulets invade...they are the life line of this diverse ecosystem that supports myriad of lifeforms. The big cats prefer to hunt in the marshy grasslands which slow the movement of the herbivores. 

The National Park is ideal for animal and bird watching with the focus on the tigers. There are more than twenty two mammals in the park besides large number of reptilian species and birds. Ideal for wildlife holiday the destination also provides recreation and excitement on tour. Experiencing remote India has a calming effect with serenity and picture perfect ambiance all around. The forests are home to peace and silence and the feel is exhilarating.      


There is a little known secret of this destination. Ancient civilization that thrived since more than two thousand years back has left tell tale marks in form of a fort, temples, pool and numerous structures that confine themselves to the Tala Zone. Created by tribal and dynasties that came to rule now and then the architectural splendour  is like a cynosure in the deep jungles devoid of modern urbanity. The fort is out of bounds for the tourists but Sesh Shaiyya a reclining statue of Lord Vishnu is worth a visit. It is small pool under a grove that contains the statue and numerous trickles emerge from the fern infested slopes of the mountain that inundates. It is an esoteric experience the place where the tigress often breed. The River Charanganga emerges from this mountain and flows down to the plains creating a spectacular biodiversity hub. Time stands still in these confines as if frozen for eternity.            


                                                       Shesh Shhaiya

On the way to the park at Umaria about 32 km you will also come across a 10th century temple with telltale architecture of ancient Central India. The acess to reach Umaria and then Bandhavgarh is through Shahpura Township eighty km from Jabalpur Airport. The township is famous for plant fossils dating back 60 million years. The Fossil Park is situated on the way to Mandla and houses a museum or a collection of fossils along with a cafeteria. This is an ideal stop for freshening up and to explore the fossils. 

Jabalpur to Shahpura via Kundum drive is safe and pleasant along  the scenic surrounds, teak forests, green fields and quaint hamlets situated in between the mountains. The rows of dhabas or eateries provide hot snacks and meals to the travelers. They are small and hygienic places  some with toilet facilities to facilitate this long journey.      


Albeit there is not much need to make a stop nevertheless a cup of tea on the way is refreshing as you will encounter many little shops selling this wonder brew. Most of the purchasing of essentials should be done at Jabalpur with flights connected to New Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkutta and Mumbai. The rail head too is well connected.       

A short holiday of at least two nights should be organized, and permits should be booked in advance at MP Online Portal. Entry in the core zone is not permitted to those without a permit. There are number of wildlife resorts for accommodation which you can book online. These accommodations provide you with good food as well which includes Intercontinental and Indian.


Safaris are conducted in early morning period and then in the late evening. The excursions are conducted on open jeeps and canters. On foot safari and off roading is not possible at Bandhavgarh Reserve.  

For overseas visitors on tiger safari in Central India it is best to contact a tour operator. The packages available take care of all the bookings and journeys beside being economical. Group travel is the best means to travel on package tours organized for wildlife watching and birding.     

The package tours also include travel to Kanha National Park at a distance of five hours via Shahpura from Bandhavgarh. Kanha ia a popular tiger reserve and much visited.  

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Big Cat Tours in Highlands of Central India

Bandhavgarh is situated at the confluence of Vindhya Range and Satpura Range. This region is called Maikal Hills where Achankmar in Amarkantak Hills and Kanha National Park near Mandla all tiger havens, converge here. This region constitutes one of the finest tiger landscapes in India.


This incidentally is where River Narmada originates besides Son. Son moves towards the Ganges basin and merges into the Ganges River. Narmada traverses almost seven hundred kilometres to merge into the Arabian Ocean at Bharuch in Gujarat.


Throughout its journey Narmada flows in between amazing geological formation the forest clad hills and valleys and some magnificent gorges like at Bhedaghat in Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh. Once lifeline of contiguous forests Narmada and its tributaries now inundate fragmented forests in the Highlands of Central India. Hill Resort Pachmarhi and Satpura Tiger Reserve too are part of these magnificent hill ranges and home to the big cats as well. The forest clad hills make Madhya Pradesh the most forested in India and is referred as the Tiger State.     


These highlands once perfect ecosystems teeming with wildlife have been vividly described by Capt Forsyth in his book named “Highlands Of Central India”. He was a pioneer in discovering many geological formations and wilderness that prevail during his time. Much still remains fragment but well preserved. Bandhavgarh, Achanakmar, Kanha and Pench are the prime tiger reserves that have been turned into protected areas for tiger conservation. Pench and Kanha once contiguous were the settings for Kipling’s Jungle Book a story of Mowgli the wolf child. This is a wonderful tale woven by Kipling creating a classic using both facts and fiction.  


The majestic animals still roam in the reserves albeit in reduce numbers and the panoramic features described by Forsyth can still be witnessed here albeit in bits and pieces. Much subjected to biotic and abiotic pressures the reserves are holding grounds thanks to the  management and the conservative initiatives supported by Madhya Pradesh And Central Governments under the aegis of Project Tiger Program. 


Tigers are the prime attraction and the keystone species of these realms. Their numbers after years of depredation are thankfully increasing year by year. This is attracting lot of wildlife enthusiasts, photographers and filmmakers to visit the reserves on safari and expeditions. Holiday makers make a bee line for these destinations in Central India for safari holidays. The main attraction is the tiger but the biodiversity supports enchanting mammals, birds, reptiles and insects. The floral diversity too is extravagant with amazing botanical evolution and tall stands of Sal and Teak are the main hard wood. The mixed forest species and bamboo abound intermixed with the hard wood, shrubs and herbs. 


Thus Central Indian Highlands are the focus of big cat tours in the State of Madhya Pradesh. The popular reserves are Bandhavgarh, Kanha, Pench and Satpura. These tours can be extended further to other reserves near and far.              


Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Kanha National Park A Tiger Photographer's Delight!

The majestic beast lay stretched on the jungle road, rather half of its massive frame was on the path under the direct sun, and the rear end was under the shadow of the bush. Excited, I made a near fatal error and persisted. 



We had inched a shade too close to the massive beast as I delivered sermon to unassuming but nevertheless excited guests. I have never seen a tiger in my life one of the guest had informed me as we crossed over into the park. I wish for lot of photographs he had informed me on our first meeting at Courtyard House in Kanha. As a naturalist I expect you to deliver.      



And here was one lying right in front, unassuming and not at all threatening. Extolling the virtue of this majestic beast that lives in the myths and dreams alike, I was immersed in the dialogue and failed to notice the  twitch. The next whence I looked at him straight I noticed the warning....it was too late. 

It was all over in seconds. How could a beast so huge lift himself effortlessly and strike with lightning speed simply defies the law of gravitation? All I could see was a massive flash of yellow passing in front of the jeep and a deafening roar which still rings. The trepidation was instant and I was wobbly all over. 

"Reverse!"  

Fear writ large on my countenance! The tiger could have with one swift strike aimed right taken slabs of meat from my body. "A few kilos..." was all I could hear from the guide as pandemonium struck and we backed off. Or he could have wrenched my head off...I began to surmise the worst, pacified by the increasing distance from the beast in the bush. 

Some lovely images my guest who had never seen a tiger in his life remarked. "I would like some more photos! Totally out my senses I could but just stare at him. Unbelievable. He sat calm and composed a camera with a huge lens on his lap. 

Mukul Yadav
"I am sorry the big cat is not used to humans and the jeep. We will stay away." After some time we tried to return on the guest's insistence but the following jeeps warned us to stay away. Rightly so.  

I was totally unnerved. Well it happens you learn from mistake, never venture close to big cats without gauging their temperament. Like a gentlemen the beast did not harm me and was satisfied with the warning. For some time the new entrant charged on number of jeeps till he got used to the introduction. He had arrived from a non tourist zone and had not seen the jeep before. 



There is another similar incident but for later...    

With right guidance a photographer has ample opportunity to film or capture images of this magnificent predator at Kanha National Park. There are more than hundred tigers in the park. Before you begin to consider this animal as commoner loitering on the wilderness infested pathways you must know these big cats are most elusive. This is the character of the beast and requires lot of logic to track them. They are a challenge to your sensory apparatus and understanding of behaviour and your patience.   

Safari Jeeps

In the torturous terrain of deep glens, tall grass, a cryptic maze of vegetation and dense forests the big cats find easy camouflage and space to hide. Tiger tracking could often be frustrating experience for the guests and the naturalist as well. That is the character of this animal.  

Rare and endangered, it is flourishing at Kanha. Year on year visitor numbers are increasing on quest for the magnificent beast. A large chunk of wildlife photographers arrive here at the tiger reserve to capture award winning images. 

Male Tiger (Paul Fear)

Kanha's tiger  landscape is a paradise with panoramic settings, frequent tiger sightings and exciting adventures. Amazing variations in light conditions are available to enhance effects in all seasons with equally striking backdrops. The destination is well suited for photography and film making in India. The efforts have to be made within rules and regulations set for safaris on open jeeps in the park. For going beyond the rules for photography/film making one needs to have permission from MOEF India and PCCF of Madhya Pradesh. 

Courtyard House Kanha

The park is well endowed with tourism infrastructure and accessibility and accommodation is good. For booking tiger safari at Kanha you need to plan in advance. There is a limit to entry in the core zone of the park hence book permits in advance.   For tiger photography long lenses are not required but it is a matter of choice, in my opinion 300mm critical focusing lens with bean bag is enough. An option of full day safari is also available which though costly suits the lensmen very well. 
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Uday works as freelance naturalist at Kanha. He also provides SEO Service and website contents in English. Uday is a blogger and loves to write on tiger conservation, environment and wildlife in general. Uday teaches Internet Marketing in Summer Holidays.

Contact: pateluday90@hotmail.com
09755089323

Friday, May 29, 2020

Add A Healing Touch to Post Pandemic Resort Experience

Post Covid Hospitality & Travel

Be it tiger safari, sightseeing or cultural experience the visitors expect a lot. Yes lot of warmth and care and in post covid-19 travel, lot of hygiene and SOPs in place. Whether it is a budget lodge or a high end resort the new normal is to prevent coronavirus infection.    



This calls for intense hygiene most of the premium hospitality businesses would feel offended by this statement. But believe me this is hygiene with a difference it includes paraphernalia like mask and gloves. The thermal scanner is here to stay. As the new normal lays stress on hygiene, personal care cannot be neglected. Frequent bathing, regular hand wash with soap or sanitiser has become not a practice but an imperative. How can you as a resort staff keep the property clean & disinfected, and not self cleanse often?



The lodges have been burdened with lot of extras as regards chemicals, clothing, cleaning and washing paraphernalia. The new normal may be a fun spoiler a bit  if you experience the social distancing it imposes, and thus prevents get-together and partying...the feeling of being safe is itself exhilarating with the chances of infection peeking in from unknown quarters completely negated. 

Courtyard House Kanha
Those willing to wager travel in this period would be brave souls willing to leave the sanctity of their homes and experience the World like they did before. This is a short of a community initiative or lending a helping hand these are the clients which should be treated with hand in gloves literary speaking. They would expect greater warmth and care while the SOPs post pandemic would be an assurance. They are here to revive the hotel industry.




Hence true travel professionals and accommodation providers would pay heed to this. In the post covid hospitality paradigm disposal and scant use has become the norm. Although this goes against the principles of economic use, prevention of infection from one guest to another is a practice that carries weight age now. Greater.

Disposing of desk and bathroom accessories that cannot be cleaned or recycled has to be done without hesitation. This applies to all the paraphernalia that guests before departure may have come into contact.

The contact spaces with the reach of wandering guests, hosts and the staff need frequent sanitation using the disinfectant. The luxury suite, or rooms, bathrooms, balconies, sit outs and passages all need to be disinfected frequently. Even the library books and reading tables need a dose of disinfectant. There are lots of chemicals that are going to be used. This use of chemicals is not a good or Eco-friendly new normal, but as long as the contingency prevails that practice remains.



Travellers not in group will have to be kept at a distance at the coffee table and dining. Even during safari or excursion sharing cannot be possible. The guest distancing norms are set as post pandemic SOPs but the imperative lies with the guests themselves.



Organising the best stay experience which is sound and safe is the way forward now. Offering the best thrills and frills during the heritage or nature experience is imperative for successful operations. Deliver the best to the guests not only for a perfect holiday but for their social media content and memories that will last a lifetime.
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Uday is naturalist, a writer and loves to blog on travel and wildlife.
He provides SEO Service and Website Contents in English.
He Teaches Internet Marketing in Jabalpur in Summer
Contact: pateluday90@hotmail.com
09755089323