Wilderness Visited – Bandhavgarh National Park

My Story:

There was a sound. A babble of waterway or breeze passing the trees. Maybe a little of both. I lay in the Government rest house room wondering when the eagle’s call woke me up. With the wilderness just a few meters away, I was pretty excited to start my first ride towards the wildlife. The morning safari was full and so I awaited the noon safari.

It was a chilly December noon. I took a close look at the surroundings. Bandhavgarh was dense. I called for help when I saw a huge bird with many colors. The caretaker (Chatur) came rushing and whispered – Kya hua madam?? (What happened madam?). I pointed my finger up without saying anything.

He laughed – Vo to haanbil hai. My friend came and explained to me that it was a Hornbill. It was my first time. This bird was really huge. It had a beautiful beak and many colors over it.

An open gypsy was hired. After passing through few lakes and spotting few elephants, we decided to move towards the top of the hill. The driver (Gulab) stopped unexpectedly. He asked us to keep pin-drop silence while pointing one finger on his lips and the other down the hill.

A silky brown creature was moving in the bushes. It was fast. Even before I could recognize, it was gone. Gulab spoke – dekha aapne, lomdi thi! (Did you see? It was a Fox!) I had not seen it. I wanted to see it. I was thwarted. He added – Badi mushkil se dikhta hai, aapko kaise nai dikha! (It’s not easily spotted, how couldn’t you see?)


We moved on. No one spoke anything. In another five minutes, the gypsy again came to halt. Here he was. The tiger! Looking chivalric and walking regally in the woods. It sat down for few minutes; as if it knew it was my first time.

I enjoyed the sight. Few minutes passed and he was gone. We didn’t bother to start clicking yet as we knew Bandhavgarh was well-known for tigers. After visiting all the spots, we drove back to the rest house.

Chatur told us stories about the Tigers, their behavior and also showed us some awesome pictures clicked by foreigners. He had framed one picture that he had clicked with the Discovery team. He said he was very fond of it. And I thought in my mind – who wouldn’t be?

We were ready for our next walk tour. Chatur gave us the snack packets to be eaten at the Central Point area. We were 6 people now. I was lucky enough in the noon to have the leisure of enjoying the walk with my friend and Gulab. We moved on. {Sadly people didn’t know that they were supposed to keep quiet when waking in the forest. They talked and giggled}.

We stopped at a lake. It was a place where the tigers and other animals came for water. Two hours passed. And we only saw vultures flying. By now there were another 4 jeeps in line. We all waited. There was a sound of the dry grass crackling. We all went silent. It was a snake, black and fast. Gulab told us that it was a pregnant snake and wouldn’t hurt anybody. And before he completed his sentence, the snake was gone far from sight.


In another one hour, we started moving to another place. A driver from another jeep informed us that they had seen a tiger near the watchtower. I requested Gulab to take us there but he denied saying that it was the main zone where tigers have actually attacked people. It was late too according to him.

We went back to the room. The night was fun. Some locals danced for us. Food was good and alcohol was served too. By 2200 hours it got really dark. While talking to Chatur, we got to know that he had walked in the woods and spotted a big tiger.

He didn’t know to climb trees either. He dramatically described his experience of the luckiest escape of his life. I simply asked him one question knowing that the reply would be a denial – would you take us there? He started laughing and didn’t say anything for another minute.

He started nodding his head and I couldn’t believe it. My friend was pretty skeptical of going there but it didn’t take much to convince him. 

Bandhavgarh National Park

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