January 07, 2006
Me and Papa had quite an adventure reaching Bandhavgarh. First, the Air Deccan flight that we had taken did a rough crash landing on its arrival to Jabalpur. Apparently, the tires on one side of the plane exploded during the touchdown. So, although we had a connecting flight which was to go further, we decided to play it safe and to travel further by train. It was enough of a harrowing experience for one day.

So after a journey for which we had to undertake various modes of transport, (a plane, a train, a jeep and then searching for accommodation on foot at the Tala village) we finally arrived. And we found a Tented Resort the name of which I forget. It was being operated by one most interesting character who called himself Rocket Singh. When asked of the reason behind his rather unusual name, we were told that the name started because of some friend’s mischief and then it stuck. He was a most comical character with tales to tell about his escapades in the forests of India. Anyway, we were excited the first day of wildlife hunting but could not spot much. That night, I remember we had a rather strange preparation for dinner. It was a sabzi of Baingan(Brinjal/Eggplant) and Sweet Kaju(Cashewnut). It was quite unexpectedly delicious. We got the recipe and still prepare it at home once in a while.

The next day, we struck Gold. There was a wireless about some range officer having seen a family of 4 tiger cubs and a female tigress on elephant back. We immediately moved there. There were 2 elephants and we took one of them and traversed over the dry bed of a jungle ravine and then up a steep slope. There, in the thick undergrowth was lying one of the male cubs, stout & strong and unperturbed by the fact that he had been spotted. Now, usually Tiger spotting on elephant back is quite safe, but believe me, when you are surrounded by 5 almost full-size Tigers standing at a distance of a few feet, its not. Somewhat to our amazement and discomfort, the cubs were playful and started to stalk us in a friendly fashion. In fact, I had to replace my lens from a 300 mm to a 70 mm to get some pictures ! What happened next...? Well, the pictures cover the entire story !!