Jul 11, 2012

Back on Memory Lane- My first encounter with Sherkhan

When I say my 'first' encounter- it was few years ago. First time is always special! It was month of August and me with friends planned a trip to Kyatadevara Gudi Wilderness Camp- A unit of Jungle Lodges and Resorts Limited, Karnataka. Located in the heart of Biligiri Rangaswamy Hills (BR Hills) wildlife sanctuary the resort arranges for different wildlife activities.


When planned we had a big group which reduced to only two as the day arrived. Me and my friend took a KSRTC bus to Chamarajanagar  from Bangalore which stops at the gates of this resort. We reached at around 1:00PM which was right time for lunch. At the front desk we were informed about safari timings and optional activities. I was all excited about my next two days in the wilderness! 

That afternoon we went on a jeep safari and with us were a family with two boys of age 8 and 6. Well, I did not see any animals- as the woman of the family was teaching her sons some Kartikeya stotra (a verse in sanskrit praising Kartikeya- a warrior god) at top of her voice on a jeep safari. Leave alone tigers or elephants even a crow didn't appear to add to my wildlife experience!! My very patient friend was still having hopes and straining his neck looking around. 

Well, as soon as we returned I went to the front desk and poured all my frustration of not being able to sight even a wild boar or a dog. They listened to me patiently and gave an option to go on a trek in the forest! Next early morning- me, my friend, a guide from resort and a guard from forest department left in search of Sherkhan (the name of a tiger in ever popular The Jungle Book). Our forest guard was well equpped(?) with a machete and four small fire-crackers which only make noise no fire. I was a little bit iffy about that arrangement. As naive I was ... spoke about tiger, tiger and tiger all the time! 

As we got deep inside the forest we passed interesting trees and rocks. The spotted deer families welcomed us with startled yet beautiful look. Gaurs were all around. At one place there were huge boulders, one was quite huge. Our guide casually said a tiger was sighted at the boulder few days ago. And we went around the boulder to pass it ... couple of minutes later, when we were may be twenty feet away from the boulder we heard a growl right behind us! It was loud ... it was ... powerful ... it had authority ... and the whole forest around me echoed ... it echoed in my ears ... it echoed in my heart ...

At once all four of us turned around to see a full grown male tiger majestically standing on the boulder we just passed! It was alert ... the whole scene was dead silent. When the king speaks no-one else even breathes! My heart was thumping, I had goosebumps, my palms and feet went cold and I was shivering. As I watched that wonderful creature I remembered my parents and siblings. That was the first time I had not informed my folks about my trip. That was the first time I hadn't said a bye to them and they had not wished me a fun journey. All of a sudden I remembered all gods! Next, moment I tried to control myself ... remembered my Mom saying ... person who dies of tiger attack will be born as king/queen in the next life, well I was going to be! 

The forest guard told us to stick together and we did! I was standing close to the forest guard holding his arm. Few hours earlier that day I had made a face for the sweat stink from him!! Now, it didn't bother me much. I was now only bothered about the smell of tiger's teeth in case it ends up eating me. You know? The guide and the guard, both were tribals and definitely could save themselves from the tiger. My friend was definitely faster than me and tigers are smart choosing their prey. Everything was going on in my mind in fast-forward because I thought that moment was the last in my life! 

To my horror the tiger jumped down! I realized what this means- the heart getting stuck in the throat! Forest guard was telling ... don't run stick together ... my feet were nailed to the ground ... the beautiful cat growled again ... this time little softer ... before moving away ... vanishing in the green ... in that usual majestic style ... now there was movement around. There was noise of birds and whisper of the wind. The forest guard asked ... Madam Huli nodidra? (Did you see the tiger?). Yes I did! I said ... in my mind ... with my mouth shut! All three of them laughed at my dazed state! 

Well, those 2-3 minutes were memorable! Later we saw a sloth bear and families of elephants. When back at the resort I was normal ... called my Dad and told the story! For the first time in my life my Dad yelled at me! :) Well ... If you ask me ... this was my unforgettable travel experience! BR Hills is a popular hill station in Karnataka and jeep safaris are very common. Doing something that is uncommon is key-to-fun!

This was my story ... I am fortunate enough to have seen tigers. I wish we do enough to save tigers that our coming generations too will have an opportunity to tell similar stories!!

p.s. The tiger in the picture is definitely not the tiger I saw for the first time. I took this picture in Kanha National Park- Madhya Pradesh couple of months ago.
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Scrapbook- A Travel Blog by Kusum Sanu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

8 comments:

  1. Thats an exciting and terrifying experience. Close shave, huh?

    http://rajniranjandas.blogspot.in/2012/07/night-safari.html

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  2. That was spine chilling almost a bone crunching experience ! Glad you survived - otherwise we would be missing a beautiful blogger :)The picture you have posted is a magnificent specimen - he looks so majestic,calm,serene and royal. Thanks for sharing this great and memorable adventure !

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the post! Yes, these cats are truly magnificent!

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  3. OH MII GOD!! Kusum, my thumb nail is too bits! You have expressed your emotions so well, that I actually imagined myself in front of the tiger. But what an magnificent encounter. You know you took the risk, and it paid you well, but please for heaven's sake never go away without informing your parents. Somewhere reminded be of 127 hurs, where he thinks about his parents! And that pic, well it speaks for itself. But you are one adventorous woman! Kudos!!!

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    1. Thanks Jenny, sorry about your nail :) Yeah, after that trip I have never gone without informing my parents. Wow! 127 hrs was something! In that area one doesn't have to get stuck under the rock, to freak out! Miles and miles you don't see another soul!

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