Saturday, August 9, 2008

Rajasthan - Day 6 & 7 - Ranthambore

We left Jaipur just after breakfast ... hot aloo parathas (I'll never forget 'Arya Niwas aloo parathas' .... as we call them now) .... served with butter and chutney. Omlette and tea for me ... hot milk for hubby. :-)

This time our driver is the guy who provided much entertainment all through the journey. Thin as a reed, he went by the name of Shamsher Singh. Would not speak at all ... even questions were answered in monosyllables if possible .... he showed all his power the moment he was behind the steering wheel. We guessed the only parts of an automobile that he was familiar with were the accelarator and the horn.

Driving in high speed .... read abnormally high speed .... he would naturally need to honk. So we made the whole journey with one of his legs stuck to the accelarator .... and one of his hands on the horn. Hubby and I, being in the back seat, spent the whole time in helpless laughter. The road being very narrow, everytime we whizzed past a thoroughly shaken guy on a cycle or scooter ... it was difficult to say who was more shaken ... we or the people on the road.

Just before taking the turn towards Ranthambore from the highway, there is a dhaba that sells among other things the most awesome samosas. We had a few piping hot ones just out from the oil .... and I even carried a couple to munch on the rest of the journey .... I love to munch on something when I have a good book to read, or a good movie to watch .... or when travelling. I still pine for those samosas everytime I think of them.


We had our bookings. It was almost late afternoon when we reached. After being assigned to our rooms we went to the dining hall for lunch. A buffet spread awaited us ... veg and non veg. I naturally opted for the chicken ( when travelling ... I have non-veg only in the places we stay ... which are really good ... I never try them at dhabas or other small restaraunts ... if we happen to visit one).

The food was good ... simple and had a home cooked flavour. This place is so remote that they cook only for the guests staying with them .... there is no way they will have people visiting or food or snack.
We spent the evening sitting the the lawns and chatting away. This place has a huge garden and a lawn ... meandering through the cottages and rooms. It was chilly ... and sitting outside was more fun. We had been booked on the morning safari .... which would leave at sharp 6 in the morning. After dinner we bought some T-shirts as souveniers ... that had tigers on them from the inhouse shop.
We got up early next morning and were at the main gate at 6 am sharp. And were kept waiting. One couple had got up late ... so the whole lot had to wait for them. It was still dark and would have been great if we could have left on time. Anyway, the sun was up and it was bright enough by the time we could finally leave. We were on a open canter .... around 15 - 18 people.


After a short drive we reached the main gate of the sanctuary. And it was mela there. There was a long line of jeeps and canters to get permission to enter. Hawkers were screaming all around us ... selling caps, jackets, film rolls .... and what not. It is the foreign tourists they usually target. The racket was enough to put us off ... I wondered about the animals there.
After a wait of another 20 mins we finally were able to move again. The sun was up and it was bright daylight by then. The canter was making enough noise by itself. And the there were families with kids who made so much noise that I started to seriously doubt any animal sightings. And to top it all was our tour guide. Extremely loud and garrulous, he kept shouting and chatting with driver and other guides we passed by.

Thoroughly irritated by now we kept quiet. The guide kept on shouting out names like "the great Indian pigeon", "the great Indian parrot", "the great Indian eagle" .... I was sure it would be just a matter of minutes before he actually screamed "the great Indian crow" ..... :-(

We did sight some spotted deer ... grazing quietly ... and as we were about to click, the guide made loud clicking noises and the shy animal disappeared. When asked why he did that, the man explained that he wanted the deer to look at us to pose for the cameras. Laughing? I was mad by then.

There was a Black buck too .

But that is all. The guide kept pointing paw prints on the dusty road, insisting that we have missed a tiger and its cubs by only moments. No wonder, I thought ... what with all the racket around. By now the sun was beating down on us and we insisted to be taken back.

Coming this far, it was really disappointing. But I was somehow happy for the animals .... especially the tigers. These great beasts are no fools. Why would they come out and display themselves to bunches of noisy humans .... who have no respect for the forest or its inhabitants ? I am sure they were watching us all the time.

Sanctuaries are forests after all. And we should maintain a certain decorum when we are visiting one. The least we can do is to maintain a little silence. How can we expect animals to come out when we make so much of noise .... vehicles plying in and out the whole day with people shouting at each other, cracking inane jokes and kids bawling.

I seriously feel that the govt should stop all visits to such sanctuaries if they really do not want the tiger and lion population to drop. But these are money making bussiness.

After this we went to visit the fort. The sun was mercilessly hot, but not visiting the fort would have made our trip half done. So we started climbing the steps into the fort. Nothing much .... but still is worth a visit.

Walked till the end of the hill and walked down the other side to visit a Ganesh temple. The roads were lined with small houses made by arranging stones one upon the other. People believe that if they make one here, they will be able to have a house of their own.

Walked back again ... the climb was torturous ... but it was a new place and I enjoyed thoroughly.
The ruins of the fort are still there .... so are a few water storage tanks.



Later we returned to the resort. After much debating where to have lunch we settled for the resort again. After lunch we left for Jaipur.

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