On the way…
We readily agreed when Chandan, one of our friends invited us to Dudhwa Tiger Reserve Forest. Another friend Agni and his parents also got excited at the idea. 5 of us from Delhi started our adventure trip. We drove down the NH 24 and crossed Ghaziabad, Hapur, Bareilly and Palia. Met Chandan and 2 of his friends at Lakhimpur. The group, comprising of members as young as 16 and as old as 60, was all game for adventure.
Where we stayed…
The accommodation was arranged at Forest rest house located within the core forest area. Its location, beautiful huts and warm staff made it a good place to stay. The Forest Department provides for accommodation inside the Park at Dudhwa, Sathiana, Sonaripur, and Kila.
Day 1 was spent getting to know the place. The Reserve located in Uttar Pradesh is covered with thick sal forests, extensive grasslands and wet marshes that harbor a wide range of wildlife including tiger, leopard, Swamp deer, Rhinoceros, Cheetal, Hog deer, Sambar, Wild boar, and around 500 species of birds and fishes.
Successful rehabilitation of Rhinos, Fire line maintenance and Hispid Hares sighted recently are some interesting pieces of information we gathered.
Wildlife at its best…
We headed towards Sonaripur at 7AM for the Elephant safari with guide Baddal. We were mesmerized by the sight, sound and scent of fresh morning.
The tall Saal trees whispering to the clouds above gave shelter to thousands of birds. As we walk pass the uneven green carpet enchanted and captivated, we heard the sound of dewdrops falling on the leaves, resulting in rhythmic music – the music of wild Dudhwa.
Up and down, here goes the Elegant Elephant …
A sudden turn and we were enthralled to find ourselves in the middle of a midnight’s summer dream – the filtered beams from the hidden Sun caressing the grasses, and the golden spotted deer, a group playing around a huge tree. We were lost in this fantasy land.
And there… A mother Rhino with her little one. What a sight it was!
Silent and yet so dynamic, beautiful and yet so dangerous – this forest is a universe in itself.
After having Lunch we headed towards the jungle again. While driving on the dusty path Gulab narrated to us the story of Dr Singh who was attacked by a Tiger sometime back when suddenly he asked us to stop the car.
The King of the jungle – Royal Bengal Tiger with its majestic beauty and unparalleled grace was lying down on the path at about 50 yards!
My body became numb, breathing accelerated and heart started pounding. We kept observing Him quietly from distance. We enjoyed the sight for some time and then moved little ahead to have a closer look. And then He moved. I could feel the trance of fear in the air. The King got up and started scratching the tree trunks. He was marking His territory. It was the time for us to leave Him alone.
Moving on… on the same dusty path, cutting the tall grass on both sides, at one point we found ourselves in middle of nowhere – The path disappeared and the grassland vanished. We were in front of a huge water body, home to thousands of wildlife species.
We heard the sound of dry leaves rustling and were shivered to see a full grown python slipping away to the muddy water just at breath distance, a little further the Kingfisher pounced on the little fish at back drop of blue jungle river and our blood froze for a second to see a full grown alligator lying motionless on the bank.
As the Sun touched the horizon the forest changed its color. We felt proud to experience the surroundings with all its incredible habitats, slowly changing its flavor from the.
The mystic Night…
Wildlife video at the campus auditorium set the mood of the evening, dinner with sight of the glowing eyes of spotted deer in darkness around us complemented the experience. At the cozy comfort of wooden rooms under the blanket we slept with howling of jackals, roaring of leopards and unknown whispers, only to wake up in the shivering dawn at the gentle knock of the punctual staff smiling with a cup of morning tea.
Thrilling and beautiful, mystic and yet so dangerous –Dudhwa had an appeal of its own. It was a wonderful experience!