I recently visited Panna and Bandhavgarh in MP India with Pugdundee Safari. For this sky watch I present sunsets from jungles in Mp, India.
At Panna I stayed at Ken River Lodge and at Bandhavgarh the King’s Lodge of Pugdundee Safari. The Ken River Lodge’s dining deck is right by the Ken River. When I got back from the evening safari it was dusk. If I would have gone to the room to fetch my tripod I knew even the last light would have faded. Thankfully the deck had a wide ledge on which I placed my camera to capture the fading light over the Ken River. It was a beautiful sunset that day but when it was actually happening I was inside the Panna National Park.
Sunset, Ken River Lodge, Panna, MP, India
Panna National Park as of now is not too commercialized. It is a beautiful park. As of now there are fewer vehicles so there is no zone system, you can go anywhere in the park. Whether you see the tigers or not is immaterial. If you like jungles I would say go to Panna National Park, before it becomes too commercialized.
Sunset, Bandhavgarh National Park, MP, India
The second national park I visited was the Bandhavgarh National Park. I had two safaris there one in the evening and the other in the morning in the Magadhi Zone. Bandhavgarh is known for its tiger sightings! But not one came out for me! It is very popular with tourists.
I got to hear a lot of stories about the Supreme Court rulings for the National parks in India. The park guide on the evening safari was of the view that there were too many jeeps in Bandhavgarh and the courts decision to reduce the numbers was a good one even though it impacted his earning potential.
Everyone was unanimous that the parks could be more tourist friendly. As of now the closing times are 5.30 even though the sunlight remains for about 45 minutes more. People felt that the evening safari timings could be increased so that the tourists got a better experience.
What do you think? Could Indian National parks be made more tourist friendly?
This post is part of Sky Watch Friday. Do check it out. It is addictive.
I was sitting at the dining deck of the Ken River Lodge (on invitation by Pugdundee Safaris) after the evening safari at the beautiful jungle of the Panna National Park in MP India. My eyes felt good as they had seen a river, so much greenery and wild animals, birds and butterflies in the jungle.
Grey Francolin, Panna National Park, MP, India
By the time I reached back to the lodge it was getting dark. All the guests were slowly converging on the deck for their dinner. None of us had seen a tiger and yet all the groups were involved in their own animated conversations, till someone decided to pay loud music on their cell phone, right in the middle of the jungle. And that loud music prompted this post. So why do we go to the jungle? Here are the types that I could identify. If you think I have missed out on someone do add them in the comments.
The City Brats: These days experiential holidays are a rage. Pardon me but I don’t know what they exactly mean, for me every holiday is an experience. But apparently trekking is an experience, jungle is an experience and so is rafting. So these city brats decide to go to the jungle. Only they are very mystified why the lodge doesn’t have high speed wifi and where is the air-conditioning? It would not dawn on them that they are miles away from civilization and procuring everything is an effort. They miss their own brand of marmalade, or whatever else they eat. By now they might be left wondering what is about this experience that others rave about? I try to maintain my distance from them and it is not difficult as they never manage to get up early. But I get pretty annoyed when they try to play loud music on their cell phones. Usually one of the serious natives (see below) come to our rescue to hush them up!
The Tiger Shooters: You will find them in every jeep. They are the ones who go to the Indian jungle to see just one thing- the tiger. They may find the most beautiful beautiful bird literally staring in their face but they will look the other way. The butterflies can be seen in the garden and that giant spider? Why should they even bother? Now there are two varieties within the tiger shooters. And when I say shooters I mean shooting with a camera. There is a nicer breed which is simply interested in tigers or other big cats. They really do not care watching other things but they respect the jungle, big cats are their personal preference. They also know tigers can’t be sighted on a whim on their very first safari. One gentleman once told me he doesn’t like bird watching because he has a poor eyesight. Tigers are easy to spot for him!
Then there is the second variety that wants to see the tiger, only the tiger, on their very first safari. If it does not happen the naturalist is an idiot who is out there to fleece them. They can get angry about the money they wasted while coming to the jungle when they can’t spot a tiger. I have a suspicion that they can safely be merged with the city brats. I suspect the tiger or nothing is also the group that thinks playing loud music in a forest is a done thing because it is so quiet and boring out there!
A Sambar Deer at Panna National Park, MP, India
The Jungle Dabblers: This is a group that lives in a city, tolerates the city somehow till they can run away to the jungle next. They go bird watching in their measly cities. They can name the common city birds easily. They like all things jungle. They want to see the tiger but they accept that it cannot be produced on anyone’s whim and fancy. It goes without saying that they also enjoy the jungle a lot. But they are not the natives. Whatever commitments they have in the city, it keeps calling them back. They say bye to the jungle with a heavy heart, with a promise to come back again at the first opportunity.
The Serious Natives: You can spot one from a mile. The male of the species usually sport a beard. They would wear the proper jungle attire all the time. Their conversations are animated, they love their forest and they try to live by it. Some of them are pretty young and become naturalists with the lodges. These young boys (for usually they are boys only) are not scary. The jungle dabblers can get along well with them. But the more serious natives (usually the bearded ones) have such a fervor in their eyes and such a forbidding look about them that they scare away the dabblers. They seem to be frowning at everyone and everything who is not following the proper jungle etiquette. And they define what is proper in a jungle! But they have their use. More often than not they are the ones to tell the city brats to keep that cell phone on silent mode, let alone playing loud music on it. They are the ones who would hush that screaming girl when 14 jeeps full of people are waiting with baited breath for that elusive tiger.
So why do you go to the jungle? Which type of jungle dweller are you?
I recently visited Panna and Bandhavgarh in MP. These days as soon as I sit in a car I fall asleep. But the previous night I retired early (read no internet in the room) and I woke up quite fresh. Hence I was not falling asleep in the car. It was difficult to pass time, within 20 minutes I was wondering how to pass those long hours? But after a while we were we were mobbed by cows on the road. It happens sometimes in the city too but this was really a big herd.
It took us some time to get out of this cow jam. If the school bus would not have come, I think it would have taken us much longer to get out! The school bus driver and the helper were the pros, they must be doing it daily! They got out within no time leaving the cow herd behind!
After 25 minutes I asked the diver if he had music. That is the song you here while we were trying to clear the cow obstacle. When we reached the driver thanked me for letting him play music! I was surprised as I had equally enjoyed it!
Mobbed by the Cows in MP, India
We were actually stuck in this jam for much longer than what you see in the video. It was after a minute or two that it dawned on me to make a video of being stuck with the cows. It is so much fun when you are on a vacation.
Panna to Bandhavgarh is about five and a half hours drive. It is a single lane road with traffic coming from both sides. My diver was a careful one and I was very thankful for it. At no point he indulged in rash driving. In the end it was fun being mobbed by the cows.
I am aright now at Ken River Lodge in Panna, still tiger less. But many other sightings. Tomorrow I move to Bandhavgarh. Let us see if my luck changes there. But here are some of the sightings from the day.
I think I saw the most butterflies in my life ever! I did a 2 hour walk on foot and it was full of birds at butterflies. This was behind the lodge and not in the main national park.
Spotted Deer Family
Then there was this spotted deer family inside the Panna National Park and if felt as they wanted to look straight at the camera! I was so happy with their posing attitude.
Stork Billed Kingfisher
Soon after my arrival I sighted this Stork Billed Kingfisher. It is my first sighting of this bird. And sighting a new bird is always such a thrill.
Crocodile in Ken River, MP
This crocodile was my first sighting. The Ken River Lodge is right next to the river. When I first spotted it I thought it was a log of wood. So I asked a lodge employee to confirm and they said yes I was indeed watching a crocodile. My zoom was packed in my bag and I had time to take it out and then click, the crocodile remained in view for quite some time.
I will round off this post the jackal sighting I had in the evening safari at Panna National Park. There is more (but no tiger still) but I don’t think I have connectivity beyond Panna. So more when I come back.