In Ranthambhore, I saw my first Tiger, but it was in Bandhavgarh National Park in the Chakradhara meadow that I was able to click my first decent Tiger photograph. After a three-hour of safari in the Tala zone when I could see nothing, we descended to Chakradhara. This was a meadow of hope in the 90s. When you didn’t see a Tiger anywhere else, come and park yourself here, and in some time one was sure to see a Tiger. That evening during my Tiger Safari in Bandhavgarh National Park, I arrived and stood there
Waiting, time was running out and with every passing second, our heartbeat was also increasing. When the setting sun showed as a great ball of fire, was resting on the rim of the Bandhani hill, a Sambar belled just below Shesh Shaiyya. The Tiger was on the move, and there were just few moments before he would step out in the meadow, while there was still sufficient daylight for taking decent images.
My eyes were getting dilated with the dimming of the light. Repeated glance on my wrist watch as it seemed the time was flying fast, sun was going down faster, my heart beat the fastest, and Tiger in an entirely different time zone, the slowest of the lot. For no gates were to close on him, he was at home. And then emerged, from a clump of bushes a head projecting forward. It paused, surveyed the area in a moment, and he looked towards me. My mouth opened aghast, my words failed me as my vocal chords froze, nostrils forgot to breathe, only the Tiger moved and my eye balls. Time stands still when every drop of blood racing through a rapidly beating heart is tingling with excitement.
He stepped out of the bushes, the huge body in a rhythmic motion, like a composition of Mozart. And then he roared. The effect was startingly instantaneous, the meadow came alive. The Chitals gave an alarm call, the magpies, babblers and thrushes, everything around chattered, and the hearts of the deers in the meadow shattered. Excitement with me had reached the stage when the whole of my body was trembling, and the throat was dry. The King, least bothered about his surroundings continued his walk from left of me to the right. The frantic alarm calls of the Chital deer echoed. Chital ran off to save their lives.
The Tiger, still not bothered continued to walk, and roared once more. The deep throated roar generates a chill, a fear, but in my case it was cessation of fear. The whole atmosphere was electric. His roaring continued and he entered the bush on the other side roaring. It seemed as if he was searching for a mate.
My guide kind of shook me out of daze, and said, time out, and time up. Leaving the spot with a heavy heart. Thus ended my first safari in Bandhavgarh. A thrill still fresh in my mind after 23 years.
Are you looking for an adventurous tiger tour in Bandhavgarh? Take a look at our Bandhavgarh tour package of 6days/5nights and enjoy the adventures of nature.
Sharad Kumar Vats
Born and brought up in New Delhi, it was Sharad’s childhood passion to play cricket for India. While on a holiday in 1990, he saw his first tiger. Little did he know that this one sighting would immerse him into a realm where forests and tigers were all that mattered.
Sharad’s experiences as a wildlife photographer have inspired him to observe the tiger’s behavior for over 30 years and motivated him on his own journey as an entrepreneur. He started Nature Safari India Pvt Ltd, with a focus on “Conservation through Tourism.” to align himself to the mission of saving the regal species and repopulating them in India’s forests. In 2006, he set up one of India’s premier jungle lodges in Kanha National Park.
Sharad believes that there are many lessons to be learned from a tiger that can be applied successfully to leadership—both in business and in life. Here’s a new book by Sharad Vats on management and leadership skills to learn from a Tiger.