Tiger Zinda Hai!

It was a lazy morning for me as I was woken up by a hard tap on my wooden door. Gagan was already waiting for me to get up. It was 8:30 am and I was yet to get dressed. My camera kit was ready, as I had polished all the lenses in the night. “Let’s shoot a mini-documentary.” I looked at Gagan. “Yes, we can take shots of the resort with the pool and then the entrance. I have booked a jeep that will take us to the nearby villages and forest areas. I have to take you to the Mani Bagh temple. It is a Shiva temple and has the same carvings as the temples in Khajuraho.” Well, guess that was the bait.

I was up and ready after a quick shower. We had a leisurely breakfast of poached eggs, juice, coffee, toast and aloo bonda to get the gastric juices flowing. Then we started our drive towards the villages through the forest area towards the temple. Gagan was shooting all the way from the back seat of the jeep, as we needed more footage. I would fall asleep at times, as it would get hot during the afternoon. I did explore the walls of the Mani Bagh temple and captured some photographs of carvings depicting lovemaking. Yes, this was Kamasutra on the walls. I gave my regular monologue here and spoke about the temple and the carvings it depicted.

The nearby villages have a local market with shops selling most household and FMCG items. You will find shaving creams, soaps, cigarettes and coke. There is a branch of ICICI bank and only one ATM near the branch, which is out of money most of the time. So make sure you bring enough cash if you are coming to Bandhavgarh. The network is a bit slow in the resort but after a five-minute drive, you can get the Airtel network and can use the internet.

We meandered through the market area and hit a smooth jungle road. We were in luck as I saw a group of black-faced langurs jumping up and down on trees. Right behind them was a family of sambar deer.

We were back by 4 pm and had our lunch – paneer, rajma, bhindi, curd and rotis that were perfect for me, as it will keep my tummy in check. To escape the heat, I took a dip in the pint-sized pool at the resort as Gagan told me details about the forest and his work for NGO. “There are 20 mammals and 350 bird species in the Bandhavgarh forest, and guys like Tansen and Kabir have stayed here.”

The night was upon us and the sun was about to set. I, for one, walked back to my room happily, as we had a great day of exploration. I was also excited about the next morning safari.

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