Link to Previous Posts in this Series
As we’d started our day quite early I started to feel a bit sleepy & hungry. The plan was that we’ll proceed to Gulmohar Resorts in Viratnagar have a quick bite, rest for a couple of hours and be back in time for the afternoon safari. The Resort was approx. 25-26 Kms from Sariska Forest Office.
Another disturbing development happened in the meantime. The villagers had started to gather around the entry gate and were threatening to blocks vehicles from entering the forest. We could see a lot of police presence around the area too. The forest officials too, weren’t sure whether they would allow the afternoon safari.
Gurudutt told Hari Singh that whatever decision is taken, which was scheduled to be taken around 2PM, he would let us know.
If it was decided that the park was closed for the evening, we thought that we would continue towards NH8 from Viratnagar, exit at Shahpura and continue towards Delhi.
At approx 2:15PM we received a call from Hari Singh and it was good news. He said that they(Forest Officials) would allow the vehicles to go in a convey. Wasting no time we started back towards Sariska at 2:17PM and were at the Forest Office at 3:00PM. The protesting crowd had increased in numbers. Being a little weary we inquired how would the vehicles enter the park when the main entry has been blocked.
Here the DFO had a trick up his sleeve. There’s another entry to the forest from behind the Reception Center and Staff Quarters of the Forest Office. All the vehicles were told that they should go from there and it was a direct entry into the jungle, smart move in my opinion.
We went to a big water body, Karna ka Baas and saw many variety of birds here. Don’t remember their names now and as they were quite far off for the comfort of my puny little zoom lens, so I didn’t even attempt.
Thereafter we visited a number of watering holes in anticipation of spotting a resting tiger but were disappointed.
At one of these watering holes ‘Tarundi Watering Hole’ I spotted this ‘White Breasted Kingfisher’ and managed these shots.
It was 3:59PM we decided that rather than trying to spend our remaining time roaming around the jungle it would be a better idea to try our luck again at the ‘Ghaakna Watering Hole’ the place where we saw ST3 in the morning and bide our time there.
Enroute we saw this male Cheetal ‘Spotted Deer’ and really liked his antlers. Quite magnificent I think.
This one was eager to be clicked & I happily obliged
So was this one
And these as well
This fellow was busy getting his ears cleaned by a bird perched on his head. I couldn’t clearly see the bird but if I remember it’s a ‘RufousTreepie’.
While the female waits in turn
We reached the Ghaakna Watering Hole and met the tracking party of ST-3. They said that she hasn’t moved since morning, though they didn’t have any visual on the Tigress. The last sighting was the one we guys had seen in the morning. Also the ‘Radio Collar’ on ST-3 had become defective and wasn’t working.
The forest officials believe that ST-3 is pregnant so they don’t want to take the chance of shooting and sedating her to change her collar. However I learn’t from Gurudutt and Hari Singh that the Forest Officials have been narrating this story since the past couple of months and if ST-3 was indeed pregnant it doesn’t appear visually.
We were again joined by 4 more gypsy’s but all was quiet. We waited there for a long time and by 6:00PM the other vehicles left, we however waited for some more time. Just in case.
The time to exit the forest was 6:30pm and 10 mins before we started to move towards the exit and came out at 6:30PM.
The route for the Evening Safari
2013-04-21 Sariska Evening Safari – Google Maps
Time for a group picture.Picture courtesy Gurudutt B.C.
Left to Right: Harbeer (my brother), Gurudutt, ShahidBhai and Yours Truly.
It was time again to brave the rear seat of the Bolero. On our return journey we came via Alwar- Tijara- Bhiwadi- NH8- Manesar- Gurgaon.
At Bhiwadi be halted at Haldiram for dinner. As none of us had eaten lunch we were all quite hungry.
From Bhiwadi we took the ‘Dharuhera- Bhiwadi Bypass Road’ and joined NH8. After moving a couple of Kms on the highway we encountered a major jam about a couple of Kms before the defunct Bilaspur Toll. We were stuck here for a good 40-45 mins. When finally the vehicles started to move forward it was discovered the 2 trucks had broken down one after the other and that too on a diversion.
God knows when this mess of NH8 will be sorted out.
Map of our return Journey
Sariska to Gurgaon
Finally we made it to Shahid Bhai’s house at 11:45PM. The moment I got off from the Bolero, I was like NEVER NEVER EVER AGAIN.
If I’m again given a choice of traveling in a Bolero or cancel my trip, I would prefer not going than to having endure traveling in a Bolero again and that too in the rear seat.
I’ve done Delhi -Ahmedabad 4-5 times, a distance of a shade less than 1000 Kms for 14-15 hours at a stretch. I’ve never felt this tired even then. Hell, I even traveled from Delhi to Bhuj 1230 Kms for 22 hours straight but this 330Kms To and Fro to Sariska on a Bolero beats all that. The moment I sat in my vehicle I started to feel a sense of touch and feeling coming back on my bums.
To wrap it up, it was a fantastic trip nonetheless and Myself and Harbeer thoroughly enjoyed it.
And if it wasn’t for Gurudutt and ShahidBhai it wouldn’t be half as much fun. Thanks very much guys for making this trip. We thoroughly enjoyed it.
Till the next trip. Bye for now
In front of Gurudutt’s gear I felt like not even taking my camera out of the bag but still I braved it.
Gurudutt uses Nikon D800, D300 – 24~70, 105, 70~200 (all f/2.8 ), 300 f/4, TC-14E-II and yes he was carrying all of it. In front of his gear, I was using a Canon 550D with a poor man’s zoom lens EF-s 55-250.
While leaving the forest office other guides told Hari Singh that ST3 had been sighted early morning and we made a dash for that location. Reached there in no time and started to bide our time and trying to remain as silent as we could. In the meanwhile other vehicles also learnt about this sighting and in no time we had no less than 7-8 vehicles at that location.
We didn’t hear any alarm calls nor saw any pug marks. Suddenly the guide from another vehicle parked near the watering hole started gesturing us and pointed at something.
I thought that I couldn’t be so lucky to sight a Tiger within 30 minutes of entering the jungle. We moved our vehicle closer and could see ST3 cooling in the water about 50 feet or so from the road.
Immediately I heard something like an automatic weapon going off but was glad to see that it no gun but was the shutter from Gurudutt’s Nikon D800. Wasting no time I managed to capture a couple of shots but then all hell broke loose.
The other vehicles started not to come near but RACE to our location as we had the best vantage point and I witnessed something that I’ve never seen in any of the other parks.
The tourists started climbing out of their vehicle (which is surely forbidden), calling for each other loudly TIGER—TIGER—SHER—SHER—TIGER. If that wasn’t enough they started crowding around our vehicle and to top it off started climbing onto our Gypsy shaking it like mad.
There was this one old woman who must have been like 65-70+ years old and if left to herself she would have taken like 5-7 minutes just to climb out of the vehicle on her own. But in the commotion I saw her spring out of her vehicle which would put Olympic Athletes to shame and sprint towards our Gypsy. All this while the guides and the drivers kept trying in vain to tell the tourists to go back but they wouldn’t even listed to them.
All this was too much for the Tiger. She (ST3) waited for a couple of minutes and then decided to move away from this place. Giving us a final glance she (ST3) started to move away from us into the thicket of the forest.
Had she decided to charge at the tourists, I’m sure that she would have covered the distance in under a minute and the tourists wouldn’t even have had a chance to run back to the safety of their vehicles. It would surely have resulted in an unfortunate incident.
Here are some of the shot I could manage of ST3
I wished that had the other tourists showed some patience and more importantly brains we would have seen ST-3 resting there for a long time, but alas. We decided to try our luck again and as can be seen from the GPS log we thought that we could intercept the path which we thought ST3 was taking and went to the back side of the watering hole. Waited there in anticipation for a long time but nada. I think that she(ST3) had enough of the commotion for a day and was done for with reveling herself.
GPS Track on Google Maps
2013-04-21 Sariska Morning Safari – Google Maps
You’ll have top zoom in the above link.
A screent shot of the above as below
Hari Singh our Guide inquiring from the other Guides whether any other sightings were reported
Thereafter we scouted other locations, watering holes, trying to locate pug marks etc.
Saw these Peacocks at a watering hole.
Male Spotted Deer
A small bridge in the forest
A group of Sambhar Deer resting under the shade
I think this one must have been injured in a fight with another deer. His left ear is cut from the outer edge
This fellow kept licking himself. I couldn’t see whether he was hurt or what. I waited for quite a while if he showed me his face but he didn’t oblige
Finally we made an exit from the forest gate at 10AM. Spotted this bird (don’t know the name) trying to catch butterflies for breakfast at a butterfly buffet of sorts.
This one must have had his fill at the buffet as he came down to have some water to wash down what he had.
to be continued…
This Sunday 21st April 2013 myself accompanied by 4 more guys we visited the Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary. Having visited only 2 other Tiger Sanctuary before this, it was my first visit to Sariska.I’ve visited Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand and Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan. Surprisingly Sariska is the one which is closest to Delhi was never on my radar. So when I came across this travelogue from my friend Gurudutt, I in some corner of my mind started dreaming that I would be visit Sariska someday in future. Since the day I saw the travelogue I am a big fan of Gurudutt’s photography skills and the dedication with which he keeps visiting Sariska throughout the year and keeps his travelogue up-to-date. Adding fuel to the fire was travelogues by Dhiraj Kapoor and his fantastic photographic skills as well.
Though Gurudutt visits Sariska quite often somehow I never was able to accompany him on one of his travels. Sometimes the date’s didn’t suit well but most of the time I was too damm lazy, however the inclining to visit didn’t die out.
It was last week that I saw on Gurdutt’s thread that he was planning to visit Sariska on Sunday 21st April 2013 I saw an opportunity and got in touch with him. We’ve known each other for quite a long while having interacted on Social Networks and various forums but had never ever met each other in person nor spoken over the phone. So much so that we didn’t even have each other’s phone numbers. Funny thing that happened was when he called me on Friday 19th April 2013, I picked up the phone and greeted him like I knew who was calling. Gurudutt was surprised that I had his number but I told him that his number appeared on my phone through software by the name of TRUECALLER.
So we finalized that we would leave early morning on Sunday as only three of would be going we would leave in one vehicle. The third person to accompany myself and Gurudutt was Shahid Ahmed another common friend who I knew from my off-roading circle of friends.
I came home and when I told my plans to my brother, Harbeer, he too was interested. So now we were four people Gurudutt, Shahid, Harbeer and I.
The plan finalized was that me and Harbeer would pickup Gurudutt from Gurgaon at 3AM, then proceed towards Shahid’s place on Sohna Road and latest by 3.30AM start for Sariska.
21st April 2013
The night before I got my gear in order. Camera charged, Memory Cards emptied and formatted, extra memory cards packed, Tripod, GPS charged and emptied of previous tracks, binoculars, etc.
For this trip I’m using a Canon 550D along with Canon EF-S 55-250 f4-5.6 lens. It was the only lens I could afford at the time I bought it a couple of years back.
Called up Gurudutt informed him that my brother too would be accompanying us, understood the location to his house so that I don’t waste time trying to find it in the morning.
In the morning of 21st Apr’13 or I should say the night of 20th Apr’13 me and Harbeer were in our car at 235AM and started for Gurudutt’s house. We were there at 3am and found Gurudutt waiting at the gates of his building complex. Immediately we started for Shahid’s house on Sohna Road and were there in no time. Shahid Bhai was too waiting for us and it was decided there that we would take his Bolero for the journey to Sariska and back.
God only knows why none of us objected to this but we left behind four perfect and comfortable vehicles behind 3 Scorpios (2 belonging to Gurudutt and 1 to Shahid) & my Landcruiser. I think for me it was the excitement of visiting Sariska for the first time that I didn’t even think about this decision. More on that later.
We were now accompanied by Shahid’s driver as well, Rajesh, and were a party of 5.
Left Sohna Road at 3.30 AM and decided to take the Sohna- Nuh- Firozpur Zikra- Alwar By Pass and then Sariska route, a distance of 165Kms.
There were ‘n number of speed breakers on this route and the last stretch of 30 odd kms is in a bad condition, resulting which we reached the Forest Office only 10 minutes to 7AM having originally planned to be there by 6AM. The reason for the delay was Rajesh was driving at a comfortable speed of 60-70 KMPH and the last stretch of 30 odd Kms, being double lane boken roads delayed us by quite a bit.
Good news was that Gurudutt’s guide Hari Singh was waiting for us at the Forest Office with all the permits and paperwork in order as well as the vehicle. Wasting no time we all got our gear out of the vehicle and hopped into the waiting gypsy and made an entry in the forest at 7AM.