Heavy downpour. Power failure. Powerful wind banging your doors and windows making it feel like one of those horror movies made by Ramsay brothers in 1980s. An open manhole and your leg slips inside it while you are carrying a heavy backpack on your shoulders and trying to find a way to walk in the pool of water called road. Certainly not the best way to start any trip.
While holding my paining and bleeding right leg and arguing with an auto driver for fare, I was wondering - for what on this earth, am I traveling to a faraway place in this condition?
After all, you must be either a FOOL or an EXTREME ENTHUSIAST to travel to one of the hottest part in India in the hottest month of the year! Aha, before you label me, let me tell you I had company of another such 21 fool or enthusiastic fellows on my trip to the Pench Forest Reserve :-)
Pench is a special place. You may not have heard about Pench but I am sure you must have seen / read Jungle Book stories and love this chap called MOWGLI. Rudyard Kipling was inspired by Pench forest to write his write Jungle Book". Hence, this place is rightly called “Mowgli’s Den”. Aare chaddi pahen ke phool khila hai phool khila hai :-)
So starting at 10pm from Hyderabad, it took overnight journey to reach to Nagpur (a place, where normal temperate in summer is around 45 degrees centigrade). After having crispy Wada for breakfast along with Gulab Jamun (as one fellow traveller from Denmark described - "Sweet Round Balls" :)), it took us another couple of hours by cab to reach Pench.
Before the trip, we were informed that Dr. Abheek Ghosh, a medical professional and a wildlife enthusiast will be assisting us on this trip and sharing his knowledge with us. Now it's not your fault if you imagine Dr. Ghosh to be the one wearing a round panama hat and khaki clothes, having grey/white hair. However we all were ZAPPED to see a dashing young guy sporting a goatee to be Dr. Ghosh! It took a little while to come out of our imagination and for the reality to sync in :-)
The journey from Nagpur to Pench ended once we spotted out resort just outside the core forest. Well we had a collective sigh of relief as AC refused to work in most of the cabs we had.
Now you do not have a better occasion to realize how slowly time moves when you are waiting in dormitory to kill time with help of bunch of ceiling fans to fight 42 – 44 degrees of heat. Yeah after dumping our luggage and having welcome drink, to sit, talk and kill the time was the only productive task we had. After all, we had to wait till 4.30pm before we can venture out in the Jungle. Dare we go early, we would have returned roasted! Mummmmaaaaa…..
Well while resting in dormitory, I had fun playing with 2 cute little girls who were hell bent on spoiling my life until I say “Girls are better than boys”. The story does not end here - as even after I said that, they continued their play (throwing pillows, tickling etc). Why? The answer I got was – “Because girls are better, they can do whatever they want...” :-)
So after talking, eating little spicy food, drinking ample amount of water and playing with 2 kids, at last we stepped out of our resort to “feel” the jungle! WOO HOO! After all, this is the moment we all were waiting for! To venture into the wild to meet the undisputed king of this jungle - THE TIGER!
Moments. There are moments which soothe your entire existence. There are moments which mesmerize you… Which leaves you spellbound… Takes your breath away (and I am not advertising any deodorant product here you stinking pig :-)). Moments, which make you realize that all the hardship and pain were worth for just this one moment! In our two days at Pench, we came across so many such moments!
The moment we entered into the jungle in an open jeep, the world around us changed - COMPLETELY! It’s just amazing to know that on the same earth, just few hundred kilometers away from where we live; there exists such a different world with entirely different landscape, creatures and rules! Oh yeah, the jungle has its own rule and better you follow that or...
Let’s venture into the jungle now…
<--more to come in next post….-->
©All rights reserved with Mihir Rawal. To re-print or re-use, prior permission is required from the author.