26th – 28th December 2010
I get a week off during Christmas. So, I need to go somewhere!! This time I thought of visiting wildlife sanctuaries in Central India. With a map in hand, I started looking around the places near Nagpur. Tadoba National Park in Maharashtra drew my attention. It was not as popular as some of the “hyped” forests in Central India. The nearest railway station to Tadoba is Chandrapur which is well connected to Bengaluru!! What else I need?
It was then I faced difficulties. Information about Tadoba was limited and not of much help. It was then I found Shalik
from his blogs. A wildlife enthusiast, he helped me all the way to make my stay at Tadoba memorable. Accommodation and Safari bookings were done in a jiffy.
We boarded “Jaipur Express” from Bengaluru at 2PM. Though the train started an hour late, it promptly dropped us at Chandrapur 8:30AM next day. Chandrapur is known as the “City of black gold” thanks to the oldest coal mines nearby. The city also houses India’s largest Thermal Power station. Several Paper mills and cement factory are in the town. It is very hard to believe that a wildlife sanctuary is thriving near such a place!!
|A coal mine near Chandrapur
MTDC resort at Mohrali was 25km from Chandrapur. It just took less than an hour to reach the place. Being next to a lake, the place looked cool. Since all rooms were occupied, we had to wait till 12 noon. While my daughter became busy in the kids playground nearby, I spent the free time to shoot the butterflies that were numerous.
We were provided rooms at 12PM as promised.
The rooms were very clean but same cannot be said about the restaurant. The menu had limited choices and there was always a chance that the waiter would refuse to serve.
“We cannot give you one plate. You need to order for two!!”.
“We cannot give you four parathas. Only two can be served”.
But on the positive side, the staff were not rude and most of the times helpful. (BSNL was not reachable there and I made few calls using their reliance phones!!)
Forest department allows vehicles to pass inside the forest between 7AM to 11AM and 2PM to 6PM (Timings may change in summer). There is also a rule to allow only 27 vehicles in a slot. Hence it is a must to book the Safari in advance especially during peak season. I saw few people who couldn’t get a chance to enter the forest and had to spend their time inside their hotel rooms.
The afternoon Safari started on a silent note. The cheetals were first to be spotted. There were few crocodiles in marshy areas.
The real show was started by a ruddy mongoose. A nice creature by itself, it posed for quite some time.
We also spotted few yellow legged green pigeons. It was the state bird of Maharashtra which I was not aware of.
The sun was going down when we reached back to the gate.
It was very cold in the morning and my daughter refused to get up. I go to Safari alone.
The forest was alive that day!! A lot of pug marks of a leopard and Tiger was found. That was encouraging and we started looking out. A sirkeer malkoha was shot during this time.
As we were waiting at a location to hear any alarm calls, a Jeep suddenly rushed at a high speed. That was an indication of a Tiger presence!! For next 10 minutes, our Jeep driver drew as if he was participating in a race. The 7-8 Jeeps moving at high speed resulted in cloud of dust but none complained.
As we stopped on the lake side, a grand spectacle enfolded in front of us.
A sambar deer popped out of forest cover. Its face was terror stricken. Following him was a hungry Tigress. On reaching the lake shore the deer had no option but to jump into it. It did the same and started swimming.
A crocodile was watching all this. But surprisingly it remained a mute spectator. But the Tigress was hungry. It was annoyed by the action of the sambar deer. She took some time before jumping into the chilled water. By that time the deer reached the other end of the lake and jumped into the forest. The tiger swam across the lake and followed the deer into the forest.
|The tiger looking annoyed by the deer escape
|Thinking what to do
|Finally jumping into water
What happened later was unknown!!
|Crossing the lake and rushing into the forest
I had seen Tigers few times but never in action. This was much more than I expected. I had seen these things only on TV and now it had occurred in front of me. All this happened just in less than 30 seconds.
The trip to Tadoba was an experience to remember for long!!