Sunday, 20 November 2011

Maya's trip to Bandhavgarh


Trip to Bandhvgarh
Travelling
My brother and I had decided to go to Bandhavgarh. Bandhavgarh is a reserve forest with very high tiger density and you have a good chance of seeing a tiger in its natural habitat.
                              To travel to Bandhavgarh, we boarded Kamayani Express to Katni at 12.40 on 22nd June 2011 from Kurla terminals. Next day we were supposed to reach at Katni station at 11am but we happened to be 45 min late. We took Inova which was already booked by Tiger Trail resort for us. We reached the resort at 1pm. The journey lasted for two hours. Travelling for one hour on road we felt very comfortable and journey became smooth while the next hour the road was very bumpy and rocky not well established reason is its near to jungle. There are severe restrictions from forest department for building smooth road to restrict the speed of the vehicle. The speedy vehicles can cause accidents of animals crossing the main road. The Tiger Trail resort is 10 mins from Bandhavgarh gate. To reach resort we have to cross small stream. The journey was very hectic but when we have reached resort it was refreshing and surroundings are scenic. The resort Manager welcomed us and informed us about lunch and gave us keys.
                                 Our room was cosy hut like cottage, with all amenities like AC, Fan, two beds, fireplace, cooler. Toilet was with bathroom and washbasin attached. You have to inform room service to start boiler to get hot water. Resort provides two small soaps and two small bottles of moisturizers and herbal shampoo. We took bath and then proceed for lunch. They served us chiicken as non-veg dish and cauliflower-potato bhaji  chapati and jeera rice as vegetarian dish. Food was delicious.
Cosy hut like cottage at Tiger Trail Resort


                          The manager told us to get ready for 3.30pm Tiger safari. We got ready with camera and raincoats as sky was showing some rainy clouds. Safari jeep came exactly at 3.30pm it was a Maruti jypsy most powerful and perfectly right for rocky and bumpy roads. We boarded the jeep and reached at park gate at Tala zone exactly at 3.45pm.
Bandhavgrah                       
In Bandhavgrah there are three zones first zone is called as Tala region which is the famous zone for sighting tigers other two zones are Khitauli and Maghadi. While coming towards Bandhvgarh, Tala and Maghadi regions are on right side of Main road and Khitauli region is on left hand side. Tala region is rocky and bumpy you can see bandhavgrah fort and Vishnu temple from bottom of hill. Although there are no official records to show when the fort were constructed, It is estimated to be some 2000 years old, it has been referred to in many ancient mythological books. It was taken over by the bhagels in 13th century who ruled from Bandhavgarh until 1617, after Maharaja Vikramaditya Singh moved his capital to Reva. It was deserted in 1935. Tala zone has various  routes. ‘A’ route crosses the Chakradhara meadow. ‘D’ route passes through various spots like Mirchiani, Banbhehi. ‘B’ route is rocky and hilly which passes through Banbhehi, and Sita mandap. ‘C’ route passes through Jhurjhura Rajbhera meadow and cris-crosses the Magdhi region at Mahaman point and comes back through chorbhera.
Safari Jeeps at Tala gate
When we reached Tala gate there were 15 safari jeeps from surrounding hotels and resorts full of enthusiastic people standing at the gate. The Safari bookings were done previously along with bookings of resort. For bookings you need to show your photo identity card and you should carry your photo identity card when you are going inside park gate. The mobiles are not allowed. At gate we were allotted rout and we get one naturalist who guides us inside the jungle. All vehicles have to abide by the given route while travelling inside the park, this is done to avoid over crowding on single route causing animal disturbance. We were allotted A route for going and D route for coming back. A route passes through Sitamandap on the way to Mirchiani. While coming the D route passes through ‘Chakradhara’ meadow. It was bumpy ride. The road was full of rocks and close to boundary wall of park.
        On both side of the road you will find dense forest. The vegetation is chiefly of Sal forest the Sal tree wood were used for slippers of railway track. Bamboo is found throughout the jungle. In between you will find Arjuna trees with white bark it is a medicinal plant whose bark is used in cardiovascular drugs. The Mango trees are also common with full of green mangos. There are few trees with rectangular stripes all over its body similar to crocodile skin. They are called as crocodile trees.
Tigers of Bandhavgad
      Tala region has around 25 tigers. Magdhi has around 8 tigers in all bandhavgad tiger reservoir has around 59 tiger. Tiger have their territories demarked. Banbhehi hilly path is the territory of banbhehi female tiger who has litter of 2 cubs 3 month old. Mirchiani female has two cubs one female and one male. They are now fully grown up tigers about two and the half years old and have started living separated they have said to have attacked and killed two men outside the park. Jhurjura female died last year in a tragic accident with patrolling vehicle. She had two cubs now they are being kept under fencing as they would not have survived the death of their mother. Mahaman female also has four grown up cubs and has started the process of separation with them. The cubs have started killing for food independently as it was evident that they had killed a samber across the road in Khitauli. The largest territory is occupied by kankati female named so as her ear is cut. She lords over chakradhara and chorbehra area which forms a large part of the Tala region she has had no cubs yet. There are three male tigers in Tala region most famous being B2 he is now 14 years and has become old and weak. He has been loosing his territory rapidly to the new Tala male. Now B2 is seen only in the Mirchiani region counting his last days. Rest whole Tala territory is being patrolled by new Tala male or Bamera male. He is a huge tiger in his prime and lords over Chakaradhara, Chorbhera, Jhurjura which is a large part of Tala region. The third male is Bokha. He is active in mahaman and Magdhi zone. He also lost his territory to the new male during the last fight he has.              
We went quite lot inside the park keeping our fingers crossed for sighting of tiger. While travelling we could see lots of spoted deers and wild bores grazing. We came near a part of jungle were on both side of road there were lots of Bamboo trees. Suddenly my brother saw a tiger sleeping. The driver Guddu yadav took the jeep back and positioned the jeep so that we could get a proper view of Tiger.
Sleeping tiger

Mirchiani Female in relaxing mood
It was around 4.30 pm tiger was relaxing. It was a siesta time for a tiger. Initially we thought that it is big old male tiger B2 as he had been spotted in this area 2 days back. As we could not see tigers face initially as it was sleeping with its back towards us. After a while a few more jeeps came and it was a group of five jeeps watching the sleeping tiger. Suddenly tiger got up and turned his face towards crowd. All were mesmerized by his looks. All photographers were geared up with the SLR cameras and digital video cameras to catch that majestic looks of tiger. The tiger was in its own world and was just 10 meters way from us. Suddenly tiger got up and started walking across the road. The sight was very exiting and I took a chance and clicked a wonderful video of that majestic walk. Then suddenly he turned walked towards its original place and sat. The naturalist was watching him very closely; they are skilled people they can recognize the tiger looking at their face. The naturalist told us that B2 face has more black spots under his mouth. This is not a male tiger but a female tiger, i.e Mirchiani female.


Different moods of Mirchiani Female


 It was time to return so we came back with sweet memories of Mirchiani female. When we came back the tea was ready we became fresh and then had the tea and biscuit. The dinner was served at 8.30pm.
Female Samber
On 24th june 2011 we got up at 4 am by the time we became ready the   jeeps were ready for safari. It was slightly raining. In morning park gate opens at 5.15am. It was refreshing as rains were drizzling .The jungle was lush green. That day was the day of grazing animals. Every 10 min we could see chetals, boars, sambers. Suddenly we saw a female sambar along with its little one trying to eat leaves. The sambar (Rusa unicolor) is a large deer native to southern and southest Asia. Sambers have larged rugged antlers the brow tines being simple and beams forked at tip so that they have only three tines. The antlers are typically up to 43inch long in fully adult individual. As with most deers, only males have antlers. The skin is anything from yellowish brown to dark grey in color. Samber prefer the dense cover of deciduous shrubs and grasses.
Suddenly driver stopped in between and told us that he has spotted a wild boar but we could not recognise as it was caemofledged with a dry tree and standing like a statue suddenly it moved and we could catch him in a photo. The wild boars (Sus Scropa) is a spices of pig generation part of biological family Sucdae. The body of wild boar is compact the head is large and legs are relatively short and fur consist of stiff bristles. And usually their colour varies from dark grey to black brown. Adult male develop tusks. They do not have necks as they walk straight. 
Two male chetals with their antlers munching below the tree
Then we saw two male chetals with their antlers munching below the tree. Chetals (Axis) are also called as spotted deer. They have pinkish fawn marked with white spots and their under parts are white. It sheds its antlers annually. The males are larger than female. The life span of Chetal is around 8-14 years.
Then we passed a meadow where there are lot of grazing animals and birds, such as Adjuctant storks, Peacocks, Kingfishers. It was time to come back to gate while coming back we saw jackal and barking deer.
Kingfisher
The naturalist and drivers are very expert in locating tigers; they have their own theories to find tigers. They assume the location based on pugmarks and alert calls of deer and monkey and other animals. Alert calls are nothing but the calls of animals after sighting tigers to alert other animals. We have decided to go to Maghdi region, we took pass at gate and went inside suddenly our naturalist saw fresh pugmarks of female tiger, it was going towards right hand side of road we thought the chance of sighting female tiger was very high. The naturalist according to his theory told us that we should go back along the road to see whether the tiger has crossed that stretch of jungle. We took our jeep back we could not located the pugmarks, so driver and naturalist thought that the tiger is still inside that stretch of the jungle, so we parked our jeep where we have located the pugmarks. At that stretch there was a water reservoir. The lots of birds were seen. The frogs were making sound giving signals of the heavy rains. We were there for one hour but there was no sign of tiger so we went back. We got a tip that tigers are seen crossing main road from Tal region to go to Khitauli and sambar was killed at Khitauli. Next day we have decided to go to Khitauli   if not for sighting tiger but to see dense forest. It was raining heavily. We could not see any thing so we went to dhamadhama camp where elephants are trained, and came back. On 27th in evening safari we saw Kankati female tiger eating shikar when we were about to finish our safari. On 28th we boarded a HAVADA EXPRESS. IT WAS 1HOUR LATE AT KATNI STATION. With sweet memories and adventures experiences we came back to Mumbai.


Painting of Bandhavgarh tiger by Chandrashekhar Bhat