Rudhrani Singh Jodhpur 

 

It was in that still moment i realized, nature is the true mother in every form. 

 

    The night was very still, very silent till we heard the monkeys hoot in hysteria and the night came to life. 

We walked towards the darkness from the comfort of our tents to get a closer look at the story playing outside.

With nothing but a chargeable spotlight, which i may add was very powerful. We tiptoed are way around the bamboo plantation.

It was then when I saw my first black bear cubs in the wild , sitting under a small thorn bush , on an ant hunt I presume and putting 'teddy' to shame , the little guy went on grunting and digging , but the mother was still not in sight , believe me when i say that's not a very good sign . The cry of the monkeys went louder and seemed closer. My insides felt a frozen shiver, "dogs!" oh thank god just dogs. Before i could take a sigh of relief the image of what i just saw came flashing back. I had definitely seen the dogs but they were running, running for their lives. We sat still not letting a breath escape and then we all went cold with fear and in that very moment between fear I felt such an extreme jolt of excitement it confused me.

    Their eyes shone when they caught the light, lifting their camouflage they came walking right into the open. "This is our land" 

With perfect spots and a perfect rhythm the panthers walked towards the waterhole. 

This magnificent beauty and the now dead silence made me feel truly blessed, there is no place else i would have wished to be at. 

My solo thoughts were broken by the sound of cracking twigs followed by something that sounded like thunder. "The mummy had arrived”. In all this fast and slow action the bear cub went out of sight. We were all in the middle of what was turning out to be a war between the panthers and an angry mama bear. They hissed and sneered then roared with thunder strength. It all looked to me like a well directed play with perfect sound effects and spotlight focus. My father pocked me with his finger and pointed towards a burrow. "So that's where the cub is" is thought aloud and got a clot on my head. The very first rule of the jungle, 'observe with absolute silence’. With my words causing no harm we went back to watching this act of nature. 

    It all fell silent again the panthers took their time to get a fill of their drink. The mama bear seemed to be at ease. She went and sat at the mouth of the burrow which conformed that the cub was in there somewhere, she watched the cats play then finally retreat. After the big cats have gone and other small animals came to the waterhole the cub came out followed by very small puppies. I was beyond amazed at how nature worked. The dogs that have come running from nowhere were near the burrow too. Mama bear was digging at the same spot we had spotted the bear cub at first "ant hill", this time i said it in my head and grinned. The puppies went back into what I’m sure is their home followed by their mummy and the bear cub stayed very close to his mother. 

    We sat there for a while watching then walked back to our tents. 

Soumya Mukherji

Have you been ‘Leopard Spotting’ on your trip to Jodhpur ? Surprised, don’t be. On my recent visit to Jodhpur RIFF which by the way was awesome, I was whisked away by a close friend to Bagheera’s Camp. A comfortable three and a half hours drive from Jodhpur, passing the famous Bullet Baba’s Temple (look it up on Google if you don’t know about it); it’s a serene place in the rural heartland of Rajasthan.

We drove through semi-arid terrain and closer to the camp the panorama included unusual rock formations which are the Aravallis, one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world. If you are lucky enough to be driving down on a moonlit night, the entire scene is bathed in soft light reflecting off these granite mountains.

The campsite is spread over a vast area which includes two lakes, few villages and of course interesting wind eroded hills. I was promised leopard sighting when we went on our early morning safari. Being unlucky with games throughout my life I was pessimistic. We woke up before dawn, fitted our vehicle with a spot light and within twenty minutes reached a hill where there were supposedly leopard with cubs. We passed another vehicle coming from the opposite direction and its passengers, by the look on their faces had been just as unlucky as I was with all my previous game drives. Suddenly we stopped. My tracker standing with me at the back of the pick-up truck was pointing somewhere near the top of the hill. For the love of god I couldn’t figure out what he had got so excited about. Then after thirty-second of staring into black space, I saw a head move. There were not one but three leopards sitting on the rocky precipitate. These beautiful animals were gracious enough to sit in plain sight for nearly half an hour before getting bored with us and moving on. I unfortunately don’t have a telephoto wildlife lens, so my capture wasn’t world-class. On the rest of the drive we passed through villages and villagers going about their daily lives. The villagers are friendly, know your host, and welcome you into their homes. Saw the dam, which supplies water to most parts Western Rajasthan and at the lake spotted birds and crocodiles basking in the early morning sun.

I would be lying if I said that leopard spotting isn’t going to be the biggest draw for the camp. But the camp is so much more. The permanent structures on the camp site are the typical olden day’s hunter’s lodge. Right in front is the smaller of the two lakes, a protected breeding ground for birds as well as crocodiles. The tented camps (Shikari Tents- not pitched on my sudden whirlwind trip) are on the other side of this water body. Water is life and scares in this part of the world. The two lakes make sure that this region is an annual stop for migratory birds, the first flock of which I saw on my return back to Jodhpur. Don’t expect a swimming pool or a Jacuzzi, it’s not possible here. But expect complete relaxation, good food (vegetable are grown either on the campsite or nearby village farmland), wildlife spotting and great hospitality. I would suggest spending at least two nights here to enjoy the tranquility of the place.

So why not put a little adventure in your next trip to Jodhpur…

Soumya Mukherji

  

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