iPhotograph- Kanha are memories from a trip of a lifetime. Although I didn’t have the best day in photography while there the memories in my heart are better than any photograph I could have taken. Here I walk you through my travel diary.
The Rough Start
@whereisaarti started with tempting me to take a trip to Leh in the middle of a pandemic which didn’t quite work out. I was clearly disappointed but what awaited me in Kanha made up for everything. The trip she introduced out of the blue, I didn’t have many days to think about but it felt like it was the right time. Kash made me happy when she said she would join too instantly. It was my last day at work a day before the trip I was just wrapping up and I had some more work piled up which put me in a bad space and I just didn’t feel right that day. Although I had my bags packed and I was all set I had a sudden binge moment and I felt incredibly low. We reached the airport all cool until we needed to board the bus and I had to go like go go. Now I never have used a washroom in the plane, I can’t bring myself to use the washroom in front of so many passengers. Yes I’m crazy. So now the whole flight and the long drive afterward I had terrible nausea, a splitting headache and my head in a fog while my group was busy leaping and taking pictures. I have to say the drive was so beautiful, endless fields of green. We stopped at a roadside dabba which was fun.
Although by the time we reached Chitvan the beautiful place we stayed at and we would soon discover (also the tallest building in Kanha) I was clearly sick. I couldn’t focus on anything the group I was traveling with was discussing and I finally retreated to the room and stayed there for the rest of the day. My three travel companions came to check up on me and Aarti narrated the funniest story of how everyone crashed including her and everyone forgot about the time. I felt better already. Meanwhile Kash was going nuts looking after me she gave me a pill that worked like magic, brought me dinner to the room, tucked me in and promised to wake me up early for my very first safari. It was rough alright but already had so many charming moments. The room was exquisite felt like home. Now sleep.
Sunrise sunrise, clearly I felt like sunshine in the morning. My sister and I geared up for the Safari. We met our group, our rides were waiting for us. We had some cozy blankets to keep us warm and I already felt like I was in a little piece of heaven. The drive to Mukki gate was beautiful. It already felt like the adventure I had been waiting for all my life. As we reached Mukki Gate at the checkpoint I felt a thrill it was so exciting. Now this is where we were slowly getting to know our trusted guide, Seema and our Rockstar naturalist, Alam. Both insightful and close to the forest. They were going to take us through the most amazing experiences.
With nature all around us we started our drive to the forest a little time away and we already spotted yes some spotted deer. But the experience with the deer was only just the beginning. We spotted pug marks and I was just learning what it all meant but the forest oh it was so beautiful I couldn’t take my eyes off it. The morning light came ever so gracefully I couldn’t remember the last time I was outside so early in the morning. I’m clearly not a morning person.
The Picnic Spot
We drove through right to what was going to be my favorite spot a long patch of fields where the sun streamed magically as if drawing you into the forest and giving you a glimpse of what awaited. We came to a breakfast spot which was the best picnic spot I ever did see. Our picnic was laid out on the bonnet of our jeep and it was a meal after long that I ate not because I was hungry or because I had to but one that I enjoyed. We took some pictures and I couldn’t stop smiling. Where were the tigers you may ask, just around the corner?
Now we started our drive again and this time tracking the tiger became a little intense and we felt like we were close to one. We were split into two Jeeps and our comrades had already spotted one. Seema our guide spotted it and then was clever to know where it would emerge from and our jeep raced through the jungle roads and exactly the way she predicted the tiger emerged. There were deer in the distance the tiger slowly walked to a water hole and lapped some water. Our naturalist gave us a tip to catch it’s reflection as the tiger gracefully walked to the jeeps ahead of us crossed them and leapt back into the bushes. Our first sighting had been a rush and most enigmatic. This was Umarpani. Then we waited. Aarti has a hat with only good vibes sprawled on it and this was a place clearly with just positive vibes every minute felt like gold.
Now what next followed was the entire jungle adventure in one word DJ. Our naturalist Alam took us through some roller coaster rides trying to find her and then all I remember is that we backed up and went racing through leaving everyone behind and lo and behold there on the dirt road came DJ and then I was in love. She came striding through, the light was perfect and I felt like she was smiling at us. She was the most beautiful beast I had ever seen. I thought I might just get down and give her a big warm hug. There was so much peace in her face if I knew peace it was in her face. She just kept walking right at us our friend was in the front seat and was enjoying clicking pictures and being so close. It was as if DJ and I locked eyes it was love at first sight for me. Then she walked into the bushes and I thought I might just cry with joy. I never believed I could feel so one with nature. This was DJ.
A Long Look
After three sightings we had a drive through the forest and headed back to Chitvan. We had another evening Safari to look forward to and already returning with so many memories. We had bonded beautifully in the jeep, had a lovely lunch and couldn’t wait to get back on the jungle roads. We swapped naturalists we had Narein Malik this time. The Lone Ranger didn’t want to follow where the other jeeps were going and took us through a different spot. He had a sixth sense. So here is where we met Neela Nulla and spent a whole lot of time with. Such a superstar oblivious to everyone around. She came out of the bushes took a long walk we could hear the calls of the jungle. So much happened I can’t remember how we followed her but she came in and went out and then again. Soon she went towards a bridge and sat there in a pool, languishing in it. Our naturalist suggested a minute for all the jeeps to see the tiger she was like a teddy bear. She did a slow yawn for us. Again I would have liked to take her home or stay there forever. This was Neela Nulla.
The forest in the Kanha Zone reminded me of my friend from college who was so passionate about wildlife. I now understand what a beautiful experience it is to be so close to nature and animals. The Kanha Zone was beautiful that it took us deep into the forest and we were enveloped with a silence. We would see deer on the way, some bird watching, mongoose crossed our paths. It was like our fellow companion said it felt like the fables we read back in school come alive. There were bridges and streams and sunlight casting a beautiful glow in some places, giant cobwebs and a jackal I fell in love with.
We had our share of excitement with the tigers and we were now just soaking in the forest. We got down at a lovely place for rest and shopped for some souvenirs. This was the center point. It is equipped with a museum and has a fascinating arched installation made from shed antlers of deer, bara Singha, stags and many other horned animals. There are more than 10000 antlers collected since 1969. This spot was so pretty a place straight out of a book.
It was here in the heart of the forest chatting with each other and taking in the forest that the forest left an indelible mark on our hearts forever.
Starry Nights and Treks by the River
The safaris were something I had never experienced but there were more surprises. As we were hanging around the pool I was hanging because I don’t swim. Something magical happened as we looked up at the stars soon the night sky was lit up with the Milky Way and it was most exciting though I wished we had stayed out longer. @whereisarti took the most beautiful picture of us. I felt then that this trip was like a blessing and one that I would cherish forever.
We also did a trek down a river which again was so scenic and serene. Here I said to myself that India has the most beautiful places that have such charm and beauty and that I don’t need to travel far for a magical experience like the one I had.
We wrapped up with a party where we all dressed up like an animal. I was an elephant. In the games that followed we learnt that the place we lived in Chitvan was the tallest building in Kanha.
I wrote this travel diary because I wanted to retain the memories I had of Kanha but Kanha has never left me it lives in my heart forever. I hope you liked experiencing the adventure, iPhotograph- Kanha with me.