Ranthambore – My Machaan???

While Bhattsaab (Harish Bhatt) was @ Gular Kui trying to accommodate himself in his nest, Shivraj Singh, the guide who was assigned with me @ Rajbagh Hunting Lodge-1 and the nature guide assigned with Vishal Raina colluded and asked us to stay together @ Rajbagh Hunting Lodge-1. Two of us reached Raj Bagh hunting lodge @ 10 AM with a pitcher full of water, packets of roasted Chanas and Misri. (Raj Bagh fort ruins lie between Padam Talao (lake) and the Raj Bagh Talao. These ancient structures, palace outhouses with arches, broken down rooms, partly standing walls and domes is surrounded by the jungles – Raj Bagh Lodge was especially constructed to facilitate tiger hunting for the royal families)

RajBagh hunting lodge



Shivraj Singh & Myself @ Rajbagh

Fly Catcher

Shrinking Water Holes

We broomed the place under the tomb with a make shift Jhadoo and sat down; it gave us fantastic view of partly dried lake with deer grazing in the marsh. Amazingly there was no Machaan, to tell you the truth we forgot that it was a must at all the locations. Hours passed and we documented the deer and small carnivorous animals. At sunset, the wind direction changed and I could smell very strong tiger urine as and when the wind blew. It began to worry me a bit due to my experience in jungles watching and spotting tigers; I knew we were in the tiger territory for sure. We heard people talking and some people walking towards us; it was the guide accompanied by another forest official; they had come with water and to check on us. The person who accompanied the guide asked where our Machan was; and what he said next confirmed my fears – We had been sitting in the same place for more than five hours now where the tigress (T17) used to rest; it was an obvious choice in the peak Rajasthan summers.

Jogi Mahal

Tiger Bird

My immediate concern as soon as they left was to find high ground to spend the night, so the closest and safest high ground was the top of the tomb itself where we had been for few hours now. I asked Vishal if he could help shoulder my weight to reach the tomb top, he immediately agreed, so the plan was that he would bend against the tomb wall and stand straight when I climbed on his shoulders and I would pull him up when I reached the roof. The plan seemed to work for a while, but as soon as I reached the tomb and tried to find something to hold on to, to pull myself up, God knows what happened to Vishal and he couldn’t take my weight and I came down crashing on the ground landing on my left palm. Vishal had forgotten to tell me that he had a steel rod in one of his hands I was trying to find footing on. Too bad! It was too late to know that.

Lucky Girls & Their Machaan

Two of us in the middle of no where with no means of communication, nothing to defend ourselves in case of a tiger attack…Helpless! The excitement had just started and kept building.

Vishal helped me identify the extent of injury by asking me to move joints; soon my left hand had swelled like a balloon, so Vishal made a sling out of the Gamcha that I was carrying in my bag. The situation had worsened in the sense that Vishal had no prior experience of jungles and the potential danger lurking in the bushes, and now I didn’t want to tell him the gravity of the situation till we had made arrangements to face this potentially dangerous situation we were in. So, we collected timber, dry grass, bushes and leaves to lay at the entry points, our early warning system if you like.

Ruins of bygone era

A bird with a long tail

A Female Koel

We also cut four sticks to make two spears and two torches with timber and dry grass tied with rope made out of bark. With everything set and no machaan or high ground to take refuge onto, we sat in that tomb. It was full a moon night, the swamp was full of activity with Sambhar, spotted deer and strange noises coming from all around in the jungle.

We had almost lost track of time, suddenly we heard some one call us from the distance, it was the forest ranger accompanied by forest officials on patrol to see how things were and everyone was okay. Vishal and I walked towards the entrance of the ruins, some 100 meters from where we were, using the iphone flash light as torch. The ranger asked if we were accompanied by the forest official and had a machaan to spend the night, we told him we had none. Upon learning that we were sitting under the tomb, they asked us to leave the place immediately and accompany them outside of jungle. I assured them that this wasn’t my first time in the jungle, so he agreed to allow us to spend the night there but asked that we immediately vacated the place where we had been all through and moved a few meters ahead under another tomb post on the north; this indeed was the place where the tigress rested during the summer season.

Spotted deer in the marshes

We moved to our new location with the essentials – a bag, water, binoculars, the torches and spears we had made, the good part of this location was it was in the corner and had only one approach, so we blocked the entrance with dry branches and pieces of rock we could find close by, but the bad part was that it was only two feet above the ground and was only 10-15 meters away from the pathway re-enforced by the movement of wild animals including the tiger. Within minutes after we had moved, the tigress moved into the tomb, the strong smell of urine became stronger, we could hear the heavy breathing till early in the morning. I was at least sure of one thing, that we would certainly have the tiger sighting, it was just a matter of time…It was a strange feeling of excitement and fear; to tell you the truth, such a feeling could never possibly be expressed….There was no time to focus on my fractured wrist; not until my dear friend Vishal decided to sleep, he slept like Kumkaran, like he hadn’t slept for ages – Great! Here I was in the middle of jungle with one fractured hand, a few feet from the tigress, no where to run if attacked, the only way to go was 20 feet down into the dry lake, can’t climb the tree next to this small tomb because of the injury. To add insult to the injury, I had to be more vigilant now because Vishal had fallen asleep and wouldn’t wake-up, no matter what; I couldn’t go no where, never been so helpless and angry; “He is not to go to jungle with us ever again, I kept telling myself….

Another beautiful bird

Raj Bagh

T17's Route

The morning came, we cautiously moved to the tomb, the idea of catching some sleep had just crossed my mind, I heard distress call of sambhar deer, I was certain that the tiger was in the territory, I ran with my binoculars and asked Vishal to rush to the outpost where we had spent the night (right, where Vishal had slept the whole night) and told him the tiger was close.

A sleeping Vishal

We had just started to scan the area, suddenly this huge tigress came with her tail raised, stood only a few feet away from us, it couldn’t get closer than this on foot…WOW!! Fantastic!!! I closed Vishal’s mouth and asked him to look in that direction and be absolutely quiet! Everything I had gone through had paid-off!!!!

And Finally, T-17

T17 - Taking a bath

We spent some time on one of the branches of the banyan tree and moved to another watch tower, in another corner of the ruins, after a while. I was sure the tigress would come again. Sure enough, she didn’t disappoint us, and came walking through the same door we used a night before to collect dinner that the forest officials had come to deliver. I was wondering what would happen to us if we had not decided to change the spot to spend the night. Seeing T17 from a distance of just a few feet on foot froze us completely. The feeling was just out of the world and cannot be explained. I just don’t have the words to explain what kind of thoughts were running in my mind. We were both sitting on the watch tower absolutely motionless for about half an hour watching the queen marking the territory with her huge claws on tree…Finaly the Queen left. Soon the forest vehicle came to pick us up and they dropped us at point where I could see Harish waiting for us… I guess you know what happened after that if you have read Harish Bhai’s post…

Click here to read Harish Bhai’s post.

And here’s one last wonder:

Simply unforgettable…….

31 Comments

  • SilentSoul says:

    ???? ?????????? ?????? ??.. ???? ? ??? ???? ???? ????? ?? ??? ?? ?????

  • Mukesh Bhalse says:

    Inam,
    First of all, Welcome to ghumakkar.com.

    An extraordinary example of bravery and thrill. The narration and photographs both deserve appreciation.

    The photo of Vishal clearly shows the surgery mark on his hand, I can understand how painful it would be for him to take your weight while you were climbing.

    Keep traveling…………..keep sharing.

    • inam says:

      Dear Mukesh,

      Apprecite your kind words, glad you liked the post and saw the pics closely. :)

      I sure will share my recent travel experiance to Ranthambore.

      Inam

  • Onil Gandhi says:

    wish i was there on the machaan too. well done….

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Welcome aboard Inam.

    It can’t get any closer than this. Just like you, I am out of words as well.

    Just a trivia, if you are fond of books then please read ‘The Life of PI’. Its a fictional novel of a boy who is out in the ocean in a boat with a Tiger. Its an amazing read. You wont be disappointed.

    Ghumakkar is lucky to have folks like you coming here and sharing your experiences.

    • inam says:

      Thank you! Nandan

      Indeed! it was too close. I still get goose bumps when I recall the moment….Can never forget how Vishal’s face turned pale…I will search for this book and read.

      Inam

  • Vibha says:

    Nail-biting story Inam! You are very courageous to be on such close quarters to the tigress voluntarily. :) I am glad you were rewarded with such a brillliant sighting. Such a magnificient animal indeed!

    And we are indeed lucky to have you share your story with Ghumakkars. Do keep coming back!

    • inam says:

      Vibha, this couldn’t have been possible without Ghumakkar…Appreacite your help…

      To be honest, I was extremely happy, super excited and super scared, can’t tell which emotion overdid the other…very few people get to experince what I experienced..

      See you around…

  • Welcome to Ghumakkar Inam with a BANG ………………..On target.

    ??????? is the one word to describe your post .Very beautiful pictures of all the great living beings

    Please give your camera specifications ?????????????????

    Thanks for giving us the post which was full of thrill and adventure . For many days Ghumakkar.com was longing for that.
    And Vishal Vishal and Vishal . I don’t have words to describe that but a very extraordinary miraculous event full of thrill………………

    One question ” In the beautiful picture of great Tigress , Although not clear I can see a collar in her neck . Can you throw some light on that if you know. ”

    And finally that video of the snake. he seems to have some sort of relationship with you . Staring continuously .

    Keep writing these kind of posts on Ghumakkar.

    • inam says:

      Thank you for liking the post! Vishal

      I forgot to mention that I didn’t carry a camera then, these pics were taken with the iphone. Extremely happy to be able to add much needed Adventure & Thrill TADKA to the flavour. :)…This is T17, one of the most camera friendly tigress ever known; yes, she had a radio collar for a while to track her territory, and the news is that the collar has now been taken off and she is pregnent. T17 wasn’t conceiving so vets suggested that the collar be removed. Oh, this snake was so alert, it moved it’s head with my movement, half of the video was lost because I hit the stop key in excitement.

  • Kavita Bhalse says:

    ???? ??,
    ???????? ?? ???? ?????? ??.
    ????, ?????? ?? ???? ?? ?? ???? ????? ????? ?? ???? ?????. ?? 1 ?? ??????? ???? ?? ???? ??????? ???? ?? ?????? ????? ?? ???? ???.

    ????? ?? ??? ??? ?? ???? ?? ????? ????? ????? ??????? ?? ?????? ???? ???? ????? ?????? ?? ?? ?? ???? ??.

    • inam says:

      Kavita G, Thank you for liking the post, glad you liked it.

      Watching the tigress on foot so close was once in a life time experince.

      I am happy that you were able to experience the moment through this post, I am humbled.

  • Harish Bhatt says:

    Welcome to Ghumakkar Inam Bhai…

  • Stone says:

    Awesome stuff buddy!!
    It can’t get better than this. Unbelievable.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • SilentSoul says:

    ???? ?? ???? ???? ???? ???? ????? ???? ?? ???…

    ?? ?? ??? ??? ??? ??

    ???? ???? ??? ????? ?? ???? ??? ???
    ???? ?? ???? ?? ??? ??? ??? ????? ???

    • inam says:

      ????? ?? ???, ??? ?? ??? ?? ???? ????, ????? ?? ??????? ?? ????? ??? ????….?? ?? ??????? ?? ?????? ?? ??? ????? ????

  • JATDEVTA says:

    ?? ??? ?? ???? ?? ????? ?? ??? ???????? ?? ???? ???, ??? ????? ???? ?? ????? ????? ?? ?? ???? ???? ??? ??? ?? ???|

  • Vipin says:

    Inam bhai, first of all a warm welcome on Ghumakkar !!!

    A jaw dropping narration furnished with wonderful captures especially the queen of the show T 17 and the snake. This is really a risk taking adventure of its kind all on the mercy of the God and your courage……please keep me in for the next animal census……thanks for sharing and keep writting……….

    • inam says:

      Thank you! Vipin

      Incidents or I should rather say opportunity like this one is sheer luck..I am extremely happy I was the chosen one for it…

  • ??????? ?? ?????? ???? ??? ……….?? ????? ???? ??? ?????? ???? ?? …………????? ?? ?????? ???? ????? ??
    ??? ??? ??? ?? ????? ???? ???? ??? ?? ????????? ????? ………..???? , ??? ?? ?? ?? ???? ???? ?? ???? ?? ?? ??????? ??????????

  • ashok sharma says:

    great adventure.

  • Welcome Inam. And what a entry .. all time blockbuster. Kudos to your courage that even after broken arm you insisted to stay there.

  • Siddhartha Kulkarni says:

    Dear Inamcongrats for your life time achievement which others can dream only. I want to know if there is any special permission is required to spent night at reserve forest area? Please share the information for the benefit of other ghumakkars also ..thanks

  • Inam says:

    Dear Siddharth,

    First, apologies for not being able to respond soon enough..I am glad I saw your note well in time, the month for animal census at Ranthambore is in May, so hardly any time left, please feel free to contact bhattsaab @ 99119-16591.. Best of Luck

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