The Gods have been kind.....

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#1 Jun 18th, 2016, 23:11
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Having visited quite a few National Parks and sanctuaries, i have realised that sighting a prized wildlife is a matter of luck, patience and perseveration. Getting a vantage point, if and when you are lucky to sight one, having the right lens, catching the right moment, light, angle, etc etc make getting a photograph a matter of divine intervention.

I had always wanted to visit Ranthambhor National park, but had never got around to do it. Ranthambhor is situated in Rajasthan, about 10 kms from Sawai Madhopur. RNP is about 685 kms away from my home, here at Ahmedabad and the choices were to either drive down or take a train, since flight connections were not convenient. (The nearest airport is Jaipur, about 200 kms from the park) June is hot and humid and driving down in the heat would be challenging.
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Accordingly, my friend and I booked train tickets departing Ahmedabad at 2130 hrs and reaching Sawai Madhopur at 0830 hrs the next morning. Perfect!
We reached on time and there was a car to take us to our hotel, where we checked in, freshened up and had breakfast. Safari was at 1530 hrs and the sun was blazing away, with the mercury rising up till 45 C (113 F). The hotel is a comparatively new structure, made to look like an old fort/palace, but with concrete, cement and bricks (and some stone) and not stone and limestone, as was used in the olden times. The structure gets heated up and heat pretty much radiates all over the place. There is no greenery inside the walls and this accentuates the heat. We did not dare come out of our air-conditioned rooms, just braving the heat to go to the dining area for a spot of lunch.

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I must place on record the excellent hospitality, attention and service of the hotel staff. Be it the reception staff or the dining room staff, no detail or request was small. people from Rajasthan are hospitable by nature, but the staff in this hotel really surpassed themselves. The weather however, was not welcoming.
Promptly, at 1530 hrs, we set off for the forest in the blazing sun, with a thin safari cloth hat protecting me from the elements. The hot wind blew at our faces and now we understood why the locals covered their faces with a scarf. It was pretty grim, but the excitement of visiting the jungle overpowered our discomfort. Ranthambhor has 10 zones and the most visited (with better chances of sighting) are from 1 to 4. We were at zone 3 today.

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One of the advantages of visiting the park during June is that there are comparatively lesser tourists. The Indian families keep away due to schools having reopened as well as the excessive heat and the overseas visitors also find the weather extremely inconvenient. The main advantage is that sightings are quite frequent since the tigers prefer to stay near the water bodies.
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There are quite a few natural water bodies and some artificial ones, maintained by the forest department. Most of the natural water bodies have crocodiles and it was quite surprising to see some of them in a tiny water body, which could dry up possibly in a week. When I mentioned this to our guide, he opined that the crocodiles have been known to move away to a different water body over night.
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Last edited by Earthian; Jun 18th, 2016 at 23:17.. Reason: was not able to position photographs in the correct place . 5 attempts...
#2 Jun 18th, 2016, 23:26
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#2
I am a fan of National Parks and wildlife and one of my passions is to take good snapshots.
I do always long to visit some forests and see the life in its wild.

GREAT PICS.......
#3 Jun 19th, 2016, 00:02
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The park takes its name from Ranthambhor fort, said to have been built by Maharaja Jayantha during the fifth century AD. It is a beautiful fort and in good repair even after a millennium and a half. There is a Ganesh temple within the fort and many devotees walk from the nearby villages and visit the temple. Festival days are pretty crowded, I am told. (More about this later)
We proceeded ahead and turned the corner and came upon this magnificent sight:

The heat, as previously stated, keeps away the crowds and we were the first to come upon this scene. There was no jostling, maneuvering, positioning or worming our way in, as normally happens in parks where a tiger gets sighted. We pretty much had the area to ourselves except for one more gypsy. I believe that the morning safaris are the preferred ones during this hot season.





Is it my imagination or is he drooling at the prospect of having lunch? I hope I am not "it".



Nearby was this tree-pie (correct me if I am wrong) glaring at me. Seemed a contender for the angry birds movie sequel, if they make one.


A sambar anxiously scanned the environment. Sambars are said to be the most reliable alarm raisers. A sambar would give an alarm (can be a sharp blast just like a horn) only when it sees the tiger with its own eyes.


The tree-pie has an interesting voice. First time I heard it. Some of the birds were quite bold and came to our gypsy foraging for food. This is a sad state of affairs when the "wild" gets domesticated, so to speak. I was informed that the tigers are quite used to humans too. This subject has been much debated and there does not seem to be an ideal solution.





#4 Jun 19th, 2016, 00:03
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#4
Ooooooooooh!

Of all the game parks in the whole of India, Ranthambhore is my favourite! Magnificent pics!
#5 Jun 19th, 2016, 00:45
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Fantastico...
#6 Jun 19th, 2016, 07:24
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Loved the photos, Earthian! Thanks for sharing them!!
#7 Jun 19th, 2016, 07:52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ViShVa View Post Ooooooooooh!

Of all the game parks in the whole of India, Ranthambhore is my favourite! Magnificent pics!
Thank you, VishVa. Glad you liked the photographs.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sriman Dutta View Post Fantastico...
Thank you , Sriman.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaisyL View Post Loved the photos, Earthian! Thanks for sharing them!!
If i may say so myself, this is just the prelude.
#8 Jun 19th, 2016, 08:14
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Great pics Earthian. Love the prose as well. Thanks for sharing.
#9 Jun 19th, 2016, 08:22
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Originally Posted by Govindpuri View Post Great pics Earthian. Love the prose as well. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you Govindpuri. More to follow...
#10 Jun 19th, 2016, 08:48
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We proceeded down the trail and were informed that a tiger was sitting inside a step well. We gingerly went near the well and peeped in. There she was, cooling off, and not happy at the intrusion.








Suddenly she got up and started coming up the steps. She caught us all unawares, especially me, since I had the 600mm lens attached to the camera (I have only one camera body. Meaning to get another one). Still I fired off for all it is worth...





Is it my imagination or is she glaring at me?
We were quite elated. Two sightings on the first safari! In Bhandhavgarh, I did 4 safaris without any sighting and then I got lucky on the fifth one. Since we had disturbed the tiger and he had gone into the bush, we reluctantly moved on. A short distance away, we saw some gypsies (should it be gypsys - a proper noun made into a common noun?) bunched together and we knew it had to be a sighting.






No way would gypsies bunch together like this for lesser mammals or birds.
Yes, we were spot on. After waiting for our turn, we saw this tiger drowsing in the late morning heat.





There we go again. That deadly stare. Donít know why all these tigers stare at me like that. The tiger was not going anywhere and there were some gypsies behind us and hence we gave way and moved on. By this time I had become choosy and I was not going to take photographs of tigers idling away! Action was needed. Shows how a bit of initial luck can make one change one's spots...er stripes. Rather grandly, I commanded the driver to move on for better sightings. The next hour or so, we aimlessly roamed in the hot sun, with the heat cooling..sorry evaporating what enthusiasm the initial sightings had brought. By 1830 hrs we knew we were licked and decided to head back, with the driver taking the opportunity to put in one sideways stating that a tiger in hand was worth ten in the bush. It did not help when the other members nodded in agreement. So with a hot head on a hot day, we reached the hotel, had a hot* shower, and sat down for some much needed liquid refreshments.
After dinner we went off to bed at around 2330 hrs, eager to see what the morning safari would bring. The combination of heat, lack of sleep (in the train), and the Air conditioner conking off after midnight gave me a whopping migraine and I finally fell asleep after 3 am. Wake up was at 0530 hrs and luckily, I was okay. A quick shower and a cup of tea, and we were on our way to zone 2 to see the mother and three cubs that had been sighted there.

* The water understandably is very hot, even when the mixer is turned all the way to "Cool".

The first day had given us three sightings of three different tigers and our hopes had been high for a similar performance on this safari . Zone 2 is rockier than zone 3 and after about an hour of jumping in the seat with the nearly 7 kgs of equipment banging upon my thighs, our hopes of sighting a tiger, leave alone the mother and 3 cubs , were pretty low.
The one bright spot in the morning was that i was lucky enough to get a shot of this magnificent bird. Oriental honey buzzard. Probably a juvenile. Correct me if wrong.


#11 Jun 19th, 2016, 09:07
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#11
Wow! What amazing pictures, and as Govindpuri said, the narrative is super!
#12 Jun 19th, 2016, 09:10
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Originally Posted by ViShVa View Post Surely you mean Ranthambhore (?)
No, i meant Bhandhavgarh. Last year i had been to Bhandhavgarh, and did not see a tiger after 4 safaris in Tala Zone 1.
#13 Jun 19th, 2016, 09:21
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#13
Thanks. Your photography is amazing! Look at the feathers on that buzzard!

(I'm glad that you posted pics of the circus also! Brings things into perspective too).
#14 Jun 19th, 2016, 10:25
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#14
Really, you are lucky that you have got so wonderful photos of the King.
#15 Jun 19th, 2016, 11:29
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Originally Posted by Sriman Dutta View Post Really, you are lucky that you have got so wonderful photos of the King.
as i mentioned before, the Gods have been kind..
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