Visiting a Tiger reserve was always on my bucket list and I had to skim through a list of those in India before I could actually prepare my travel plans. In my travel preparations, I collated few stats and figures about the Indian tigers and the kind of reserves they now live in – protected and conserved from the human inhabitants in their wildlife setting. I had to choose between the big five Tiger reserves of India – Bandhavgarh (Madhya Pradesh), Kanha National Park, Tadoba, Ranthambore National Park and the one I finally picked – Jim Corbett National Park. I captured an outlandishly exuberant experience at Jim Corbett National Park that filled me with joy and sorrow alike. Why this distorted feeling?
The day I arrived at Jim Corbett, I decided to lodge myself into a cottage resort at Jim Corbett. My cottage was among the top 10 Jim Corbett resorts in the jungle circuit, offering good food and dining experience with a protected boundary from the wild outdoors. When we stepped out, the Jim Corbett shed its ruthless avatar onto me. It was dusty, hot and humid – I could sense the dryness in the air and almost feel a tiger sniffing me from a close range. The only thing keeping me sober was my belief in God and the faith in the armored vehicle I was traveling in. Next day, I wake up with a heavy foot and head. The excitement of wanting to see a tiger in wild left me exasperating for a real treat. Jim Corbett resorts have this usual morning ritual – treating the guests with fresh juice and salads to keep the energy levels intact. The sweet drink did its magic in no time. I pounced onto my camera and tried to see what I captured the previous day. I think I was close to a tiger den.
I left, and traveling into barely an hour’s drive from my Corbett resort, I saw a tiger dashing like a track runner pouncing on a jungle goat. Boom, gone like a ghost! I could not find a trace of where the tiger vanished with its unlucky prey. I checked with my guide. He told, “Yes Sahib, that was a tiger… it was a very fast adult male tiger called RAANI. She has three cubs.” I was ecstatic. We traveled close to the nearest water body. We waited again patiently hearing the Indian Fish Eagle and sambhar deer squeaking in the jungle. RAANI was right there – she had a good meal.