Sunset at Bandhavgarh

“Hey, come over and watch this. It’s the sunset over the forest.” Gagan called out to me excitedly. I had barely come out of the pool and was wet all over. On top of that, I had a camera in one hand and a cucumber sandwich in the other. Yes, it was a round orange ball, the sun, as it set over the forest in the neighbouring horizon far across the paddy fields and several watering holes. A clear orange ball spreading its red and orange hue through the blue and grey sky. I watched it for some time all still. At times, I would walk towards it but it would go even farther as if to tease me. Still, it was a treat for the eyes – so soulful and full of vibrant light as it slowly set into oblivion.

The season of ritual and prayer is upon us and the villagers have gotten busy singing bhajans to appease Goddess Durga. There are pooja pandals all over this place. You can hear the cacophony at night as some villagers offer prayers. You can hear the chants of the poojari. The whole atmosphere of the forest reverberates with the smell of spiritual fervour, something so untamed that the forest adds to the wildness of the experience. The sounds of arti mingle with the sounds of night owls and bugs. The forest adds its own mystic to the whole thing. The villagers and tribals have a special dance for these poojas where men dress up in women attire and dance around a bonfire. The villagers worship the snake and Shiva Linga alike. However, it is the aloofness and serenity of the forest that attracted me and kept me here much longer than I had planned.

It has been almost ten days now and I just want to be here more and more. My diet has improved, I get up early, I read and write more – it is as if I have expanded my awareness by being one with the forest. I sleep in the afternoon, swim in the evenings, go for safari in the morning, then go for village rides with Gagan while video filming my journey. In my room, I read and just drop my mind from any worldly distractions. The many books and tourist tales from the staff keep me in good cheer and the average villager is intrigued by my presence.

Most of the time, we talk about how to promote this place and what we are going to see and shoot tomorrow.

The silence of the resort was broken today with the arrival of new guests from the local area and more will follow. It will keep the staff busy and I might not get the attention from my hosts as much as I used to. But, that’s ok, I am happy being with myself, contemplating what it would have been to be in the times of Adiyogi. The healthy collection of books in the Tigergarh resort keep me occupied. Yesterday, I lay all afternoon. At times, I would stare into the bamboo shoots smoking and sitting on the wooden chairs outside my room. The garden lights switch on in the evening helping one to find the way from the room to the dining area. I do some emailing and net surfing before dinner. Most of my writing is done during the day. At night, I just dream, dream to stay one more day in these forests.

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