And that’s exactly what my just concluded Uttarakhand trip seems to have done to me – turned me into a storyteller of sorts! 🙂
In my earlier post on bucket lists, I unequivocally announced that travel was a high-priority item on my list. So here I was, earnestly planning a trip with family for the past 2 months, carefully chalking out various aspects like applying for leave from work, no. of days, the place to go to and so on. We finally zeroed down on Uttarakhand as our getaway ‘coz of the diverse locations and unique experiences it promised to offer. And we were certainly not disappointed! 🙂
So we set out on a train journey to Delhi, crossing state after state, overlooking picturesque scenes from the window, playing cards on the way and having a 12-hour long carefree sleep at night! The vacation we had been yearning for quite a while had FINALLY begun!
Our first destination was the Corbett National Park in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand – a fun-filled 6 hour drive from Delhi. It was an uphill drive along supremely winding ghats displaying spectacular views of various bird species, lychee and mango trees overflowing with fruits and a delightful combination of soulful music and dance numbers blaring out of the car stereo. The heart was excited, the spirits were high! We stopped by for some kullad wali chai and paneer parathas at a dhaba (cheap yet sumptuous and super tasty food is the best part of these North-Indian dhabas).
We finally reached our abode Hotel Tiger Camp and were immensely pleased with the cozy cottage, the rustic ambience, the bamboo coffee table on the porch and the densely planted mango trees in the hotel grounds. The hotel manager told us they don’t keep Televisions in the rooms to maintain the jungle-like feel of the place. But then, who wants a TV when you have such vivid surroundings and an extravagant dinner buffet with live music waiting for you?!?! 😛 Dinner was certainly a lavish affair and sound sleep followed.
Next morning was the much-awaited safari into the oldest national park in the country. Our jeep was waiting for us at 5.30 AM right in the hotel premises and with cameras charged and minds excited, we set off to explore the park and the animals that resided within. This national park, unlike the Gir forest and Ranthambore national park, is a sub-tropical forest full of deciduous trees, complete with white pebbles and artificial water reservoirs built for animals to support them when water is scarce.
Our guide informed us that the park spans across a total area of approx. 1300 sq. kms having a tiger population of 160. The zone that was allotted to our jeep had approx. 7-8 tigers (8 out of 160? Not encouraging, eh?)
Our first spotting was that of the famous spotted deer or Chittal, followed by the Sambar Deer and the Barking deer:
Deer is indeed a very beautiful species though they may not be appreciated as much as their other jungle inmates, mainly due to the abundance in which deer population is found across the country.
Our next sightings were some pretty enchanting birds:
We then witnessed a gorgeous sunrise from the middle of the forest. A truly divine experience!
And just when we were proceeding to our return journey out of the forest and seemed to think it was all over, we suddenly noted tiger pugmarks and decided to follow them. And just a few meters of following the tiger trail, THERE she was – Her Majesty in all her grace – the elusive Tiger (Tigress actually)! It was a treat for sore eyes – barely 5 feet ahead of us!
We followed her for a full seven minutes, observing her patrolling ritual and spray marking, completely awestruck and overwhelmed!
And then… she FINALLY turned around and gave us a full view of her face!
We could barely believe our luck. It was a huge task controlling our excitement, going click-click-click with the camera and admiring her beauty, all at the same time!!
Amidst all the action, I silently made a mental note to sit with myself with eyes closed and re-live the entire episode in my mind to let the whole thing sink in – Corbett definitely turned out to be a fulfilling experience!!
We returned to our hotel, all smiles, to carry on with our onward journey. What a morning we had! 🙂
Phew! After this extremely detailed account on Corbett, to make it lighter on your eyes, I shall cover the remainder of the trip in my next post.. 😉
Till then, Cheers folks!