December 4, 2013
November 28, 2013
It was a long drive from Bandhavgarh to Panna, but we were in at the right time to witness a wonderful sunset over the Karnavati river (better known as Ken). The round ball of orange painted the sky in a riot of colours and the shimmering river glowed in its reflection. Numerous birds flew in large flocks against the back drop making it all the more dramatic. Indeed, a sight to behold! We were at Ken River lodge, an ideal setting with the charm of hunting lodges set amidst the wilderness of Panna. The surreal vista from its dining area is bewitchingly picturesque. The lodge also receives visitors who come all the way just to enjoy a lovely meal by the encapsulating river side.
|Dining by the Ken|
|Parakeets and doves|
|A lazy crocodile|
|Into the national park|
As we drove ahead, the naturalist pointed out bear claw marks on a couple of trees which had bee hives dangling on its branches. Parakeets, both alexandrine and plum headed were seen quite abundantly while a changeable hawk eagle perched restlessly on a branch. The numerous streams that we crossed over added to the beauty of the landscape. At one such crossing, we almost mistook a snake with its protruding head, for a piece of wood. A closer look confirmed that it was a water snake. More spotted deer and langurs were sighted before the jungle opened up its vastness with the thicket giving way to open grass lands. Ken river winds its way through the park and we had a small break near the bank of it with magnificent vistas. We lunged forward on the mud paths back into greenery in search of anything and everything wild. A shikra perched high on a branch was the first sighting after the break, shortly followed by a sambhar deer that was grazing happily before looking up at us for a moment. A wild boar and its playful babies were seen loitering on our way back and they gleefully posed for us without a fuss. A serpent eagle flapped its wings as it flew over us and perched on a stump.
|Changeable hawk eagle|
|The expansive Ken|
|A boar family|
The next day began quite early and the morning drive to the national park was greeted by numerous birds like copper smith barbet, jungle babbler, crested eagle, white vultures, plum headed parakeets and a lonely peacock. The route was a different one this time and the jungle engulfed us as the jeep drove deep into it. No langurs or spotted deer this time. It was just the silence of the mist wrapped jungle. The jeep slowed down suddenly and came to a halt. Our naturalist had heard an alarm call of the monkeys and the lazy morning turned into an exciting one as we waited with bated breathe for the wild one to arrive. The naturalist was sure there was a wild cat amidst the bushes as the monkeys kept repeating the alarm calls with their eyes fixed on the ground. And then within a few minutes the wild one appeared leaping across a couple of rocks beneath the trees. A leopard it was! We saw it only for a few seconds before it vanished again into the bushes. The alarm calls never stopped and the wait continued. The deep gorge next to the bushes and rocks made it tough for the leopard to go across and the only option for it was to cross the path we stood on. We waited for long but no sign of the cat. We then moved ahead a couple of meters and waited patiently. We were all looking in one direction when the leopard quietly had begun crossing the path behind us. Luckily someone pointed out and we saw the majestic creature, as shy as a newly wed bride cross the mud path in front us and then into the tall grasses. It did look up for a second or two before hiding itself amidst the grass and then went up deep into the forest. That was undoubtedly one of the wildest ways to begin the day. It was also my first leopard spotting. The excited wildlife enthusiasts moved ahead and spotted a female nilgai, not very far from where the leopard lurked. Another gorgeous looking creature which was not quite bothered about our presence.
|Leopard hiding amidst the grass|
|A pair of Nilgais|
The wild drive into Panna national park ended with a few more bird sightings, as the tall teak trees welcomed us back to civilization. I loved Panna for its absolutely stunning landscape and the plethora of avian fauna it offers to wild life enthusiasts. The leopard sighting early in the morning is something I will always love Panna for. Raneh falls, Pandav falls and Ken Gharial sanctuary are the other interesting spots of interest in and around Panna. The ideal time to visit Panna would be from march to june when wildlife sightings would be quite high. But if you want to enjoy the verdant greenery and landscape, october to february would be the apt months.
Signing Note- Wilderness at its best...!!
Location- Madhya Pradesh
Nearest rail head- Khajuraho (30 Kms)
Nearest airport- Khajuraho (30 Kms)
I was in Panna national park on an invite from Pugdundee safaris.
November 23, 2013
November 20, 2013
November 9, 2013
Yes, I did not spot a tiger at Bandhavgarh! The national park at Bandhavgarh opened before me a plethora of fauna and flora, that the famous tigers of the region seemed like the least of interests. Had I gone with the mission of sighting just the tiger, I would have definitely missed out on all the other vivacious creatures, the lovely engulfing greenery and the gorgeous landscape. I was advised by many keen wild lifers to enjoy the jungle rather than chasing the wild cat. If you are lucky, you will definitely spot one. If not, do not miss out on other species. If all that you want to see is a tiger, then the zoo nearest to your place is the ideal destination.
During our stay at Kings Lodge, we started exploration of the jungle with a nature walk. The naturalist from the lodge who accompanied us was quite knowledgeable about the various species of plants, butterflies, birds and introduced us to a few of them. The place had a fairly thick foliage with lots of bamboo, asparagus, lantana with beautiful tiny flowers and mahua trees from which the local alcohol is made. The naturalist also pointed out the local and botanical names of most plants. Though am not able to recollect the names, it sounded wonderful and took me back to my biology classes. A large pond with lots of water lilies looked spectacular with the hues. On a very lucky day, I was told there are chances of spotting a stripped cat quenching its thirst at the pond. Avian fauna was aplenty and the colourful butterflies were fluttering all over the place as we trod on the narrow trails. Dug ups by wild boars were seen in quite a few spots and the naughtiness of monkeys were ubiquitous. We walked deeper and spotted a white necked stork in the distance. As I was capturing it on my lens, a few parakeets flew past my head squeaking as they went, followed by a red throat fly catcher. We spotted more avian fauna like macpie robin, indian robin, spotted dove, egrets, red vented bulbul and much more as we explored the wonderful countryside surrounding the Bandhavgarh national park. On our way back, we were greeted by a huge herd of cattle which were being led home by herdsmen from the nearby village. The huge round orange ball of setting sun made for a magnificent landscape. It was almost dark as we were driving back to the resort when suddenly a jackal crossed our path. First spotting of a wild animal in Bandhavgarh and that got me excited. However the smart fellow was too quick to be captured on my lens and disappeared into the nearby bushes.
|An interesting tree|
|White necked stork|
The gate opened and the jeeps lunged forward into the vastness of the jungle. The mud path snaked its way through the greenery and the mist engulfed the tall grasses and the broad deciduous trees. All eyes peered in search of anything wild. We began with a visit to Sheshaiya which has a big statue of Lord Vishnu in a reclining posture along with a Shiva linga and a statue of Brahma. There is a green pond right in front of it and followers believe that a river by the name Charanganga starts from here. The place is undoubtedly one of the most serene points inside the national park.
|Giant wood spider|
|A naughty langur|
|A pretty pair of spotted deer|
After refreshing with a cup of coffee and cookies which we had carried, the search for that elusive tiger began again. I too wanted to see a tiger in the wild, but that however was not my sole purpose of the safari. So as others chased the tiger, I enjoyed the greenery, the colourful birds and butterflies that flew over us and the spotted deer and monkeys that popped up from no where. Suddenly the jeep stopped. Our naturalist heard alarm calls from monkeys and then the excitement grew. We waited with bated breath for the stripped one to enter the arena. There was more hooting and alarm calls going around. Surprisingly we spotted a couple of deer grazing away happily a few meters away. False alarm calls, said the guide and we proceeded further. Had it been a genuine call, the deer would have leaped ahead in a flash. We did find a few pug marks on the way and also waited at a water hole which was supposedly frequented by a male tiger. No signs there too. The sun was shining bright and beautiful by the time we made our drive back to the gate with a few sulking faces on board. That was a wonderful drive early in the morning, sighting so many wonderful birds and animals along with some gorgeous greenery and landscape.
|A pug mark|
|A grey hornbill|
|The expansive landscape of Bandhavgarh national park|
As we left the resort the next morning, we passed by the british couple who were returning after their fifth safari. From their facial expressions, I could make out that the tiger had still eluded them. I seriously advise all visitors to enjoy the drive, sighting all those gorgeous avians, mammals, rodents and many more that the forest offers along with the luscious greenery and magnificent landscape. To top all these, if you sight a tiger, undoubtedly it is the icing on the cake. Bandhavgarh is wilderness at its best and the ideal time to spot wildlife would be during the summers when the tall grasses die out, the trees become leafless and the animals wander in search of water. I wish the tourism authorities promoted Bandhavgarh as a national park rather than just a tiger country.
Signing Note- Get engulfed by wilderness in Bandhavgarh...!!
Location- Madhya Pradesh
Nearest railhead- Umaria (35 Kms), Katni (90 kms)
Nearest airport- Jabalpur (190 Kms)
P.S.- I was in Bandhavgarh on an invite from Pugdundee Safaris.