We did a quick trip to Sariska Rajasthan over the extended weekend. This was the first time in 2014 that all three of us traveled together! I took Chhavi out and Seshadri took Chhavi out, I went out and Seshadri went out but somehow the dates never coincided for the three of us. And more often than not I was the guilty party! But we finally managed to go to Sariska for a peaceful vacation.
In all our visits to Sariska we have stayed at the RTDC’s Tiger Den. It is a simple hotel but right at the edge of the forest. The best part of the deal is their huge lawn from where I do my armchair birding. Sometimes I manage to catch butterflies too, on my cell phone!
It goes like this. I usually sit in a chair in the lawn, basking in the sun. Then a bird will come close by and I click a picture, usually without getting up from the chair. Sometimes they do force me to move a bit to get a better angle. By the way, did you notice the blue sky?
The best part of this vacation was the sunshine. There was no fog at Sariska. Chhavi could sit in the lawn and play with mud and other kids, while Seshadri and I were just too happy to laze around reading books.
All the pictures up to now have been clicked in the hotel premises. Now what a luxury it was to click so many birds simply by sitting in a hotel lawn!
And it is not that the birds come for a fleeting second and then go away. They keep coming back, looking for food. Having said that, no one can sit in the lawn and eat anything because of the monkeys. There are just too many monkeys around. They don’t come nearby unless you have something to eat. So all the food items have to be consumed indoors, unless you wish to share it with the monkeys.
Then I took a short walk out of the premises of the hotel and found this Shrike in a tree close to the road. It gave me only one opportunity to click the pictures! And then it vanished protesting further inside the overgrowth.
There were a great many yellow toed green pigeons by the road but they took a thorough dislike to my presence. They flew in droves to far away trees. So, managed to get this one picture on my puny 75-300 mm zoom by cropping ruthlessly.
Chhavi and I did a safari in the national park. This was the send visit to the jungle for Chhavi. She was having a conversation with other girls (working professionals) in the canter and in some context she told them, “I know because I have been here before!” Seshadri refused to budge from the hotel. He anyway has seen a tiger in Sariska on his first attempt, a trip he did solo. We didn’t see any tigers on this trip. But there was this group of painted storks with rudy shelducks for company!
Then there was this lonely black winged stilt going around in the lake in search of food. The lake is a very scenic spot in the middle of the forest.
And I sign off the travels of 2014 (only theoretically because some of the tales are going to spill in 2015 as well) with Chhavi trying to feed a jungle babbler at Sariska.
Tiger Den Sariska is a Rajashtan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC) hotel at Sariska, Rajasthan. Chhavi and I stayed there on our trip to Sariska Tiger Reserve. It is a budget hotel. The non AC room cost us 1700 Indian rupees per night. It is reasonably clean. The staff was entirely helpful throughout our stay.
If you watch this video, I have attached a small clip of Chhavi making a video at the end. She saw me talking to the phone while making a video and it became her favorite game for quite sometime. And as to her, “I am a photographer …” amen to that!
The hotel is right next door to the ticket window of the Sariska Tiger Reserve. From the backyard of the hotel, there is a shortcut to the ticket window, which the hotel staff will gladly show to you. So, location wise this is one of the best places to stay.
The Room: My room was not fancy at all. It had an old TV (Reliance cable connection) with a barely functional remote. But Chhavi and I have no complains as she could watch her cartoons and I could watch some old Hindi movie songs when she would fall asleep. The room and the linen were clean, so was the bathroom. They only gave a small soap but I had anticipated it. The towel in the bathroom was clean too. It was just quite basic. If you expect anything fancy in your room, you would be disappointed. If you are looking for a clean and a basic hotel, this is the place for you.
Open Spaces: The hotel has plenty of open spaces. It is ideal for kids to run around. It has a few swings as well, though they are rickety and old. I spotted many birds within the hotel compound, peacocks roam around as well. It worked for Chhavi and I as she could run around unhampered.
As Chhavi managed to color a white towel during our trip to Pushkar, so I was extra careful this time. One of the instructions to her was no food on the bed! She started eating her chips on the windowsill! On the last day I took her colors to the bathroom when I went to take a bath. I didn’t want the bed sheet to become multicolored this time!
The Food: The food was according to a set menu. Most of the times I did not know what would I get for my meal. But they served it in generous portions, a variety of vegetables, daal and both roti and rice. Breakfast one day was puri bhaaji and the other day paratha on demand. However, I wish the dining room covers were cleaner. They were full of stains and are in a need of wash seriously. Other than the hotel, there is only that small canteen where you can get things to eat. There is nothing around for miles otherwise. The canteen stores all the usual junk, from chips to Maggi and everything in-between. As the hotel is almost in the middle of the jungle, there are a lot of monkeys around. So the hotel will not serve any food in the lawn. It makes sense, otherwise the monkeys could become a complete nuisance. or the other way round, we could be a complete nuisance for the monkeys.
Overall, I will stay with them again for their location and safe feeling I had with them. After all it was only Chhavi and I who were staying with them and it is not so common in India. The entire staff never showed any undue curiosity and when we were walking off they told us, “do come again ma’am and stay with us.”
I was happy Chhavi didn’t color any linen or bed sheets this time! When I would ask her not to do something in the park the staff would always side with her. They would tell me to relax and let her run free. The hotel has the highest occupancy rate on Saturday and by Monday there were only three other people than us! I didn’t get the Sunday Shatabdi tickets, so I had to stay till Monday. With Hindsight it was good, I could happily stay one more day at Sariska!
Chhavi and I recently went to Sariska Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan. This is the first daughter-mother trip of 2014. I hope we are going to do many more trips this year. We had a good time. This post is a collection of birds from the area.
We stayed at the Tiger Den which is a RTDC hotel. Right at the hotel there were so many birds. Tiger Den is a budget hotel. It is also the Rajasthan Government hotel, it is right next to the park.
While I was clicking this
Brown Long Tailed Shrike with my camera, Chhavi was clicking the same picture with my cell phone. We both would click a picture and then take a stop closer to get a better shot. I have to give her some credit, she was quiet as a mouse and didn’t alarm the bird at all. This picture was also taken at the hotel.
Peacocks are so common at Sariska. A few would roam around the hotel itself. That was a great source of fun for Chhavi. She would try to strike a conversation with them!
The spotted owls were pointed out to us by our young guide Ajay, deep inside the forest. I think all the owls wanted was to sleep and not a jeep full of gawking people. But we were quite a distance away and after a sleepy look they couldn’t be bothered less!
The tigers at Sariska are collared. So there is a point where all the jeeps converge to hear about the wireless reports. The treepies at that spot are so used to human being. Along with bulbuls and jungle babblers they demand food and besiege every new jeep on arrival.
So, some people feed the treepies with their hands. Chhavi gave them wafers but from a distance. I was happier with the camera than trying my hand at feeding them!
Finally this bird was also trying to fly in the hotel corridor. I am wondering where to take her next!