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Ranthambhore: A World Untamed

By Anamika Mukherjee

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. Everything around us is brown, and dry, and dusty. The heat is still subdued – it’s only a few minutes past 6 a.m. – but holds promise of blistering fury later in the day. The landscape is awe-inspiring. Jagged, rocky outcrops rise several hundred feet from the valley floor, with steep, impossibly high steps of stone carved into their faces. The rock edges look razor sharp, indicating a bloody end for anyone unfortunate enough to fall on them.

This is where the Aravallis meet the Vindhyas, slopes meet cliffs, bare rocks meet lush greenery, and – hopefully – where I meet tigers.

We four passengers were bouncing along in an open-top Gypsy along an un-tarred road: my parents, husband Amit, and I. In the front sat the guide and – behind the wheel of the ten-day-old jeep – the driver.

Getting There

It had been a taxing journey getting this far. Amit and I started by air from Bangalore at 4 p.m. on Friday and since then we had mixed at random highly unequal proportions of sleep, food and travel. In Delhi Amit’s father met us at the airport, with a car and driver. We went straight to the railway station and met my parents. We bought ourselves a rather expensive combination of paratha and sandwich for dinner at the spanking new food plaza and then headed for the train, bidding farewell to Amit’s father along the way.

We settled ourselves down as comfortably as possible in two upper and two lower side berths – not a very practical proposition for Amit and my father, who are not of a size and build conducive to being folded into a 5’x1’ space.

At any rate, it was only a matter of a few hours. It was past 11 p.m. when we retired, and at 3 a.m. we were duly awoken by the train attendant, who warned us that our station was nigh. It was 3.30 when we stumbled off the train on to a comfortingly familiar-looking noisy, crowded (well, considering the hour), brightly-lit platform. A car was waiting for us and a scant half hour after alighting from the train I was stretched out on the hotel bed, trying to catch up on my precious nightly complement of sleep.

A futile exercise, as I well knew: At 5.30 a.m. when I was still deep in my dream, we were woken by a firm knock on the door and an unwelcome voice announcing morning tea/coffee.

An hour had passed, and by now we were all wide awake, riveted by the landscape and shaken by the incessant jolting of the jeep on the rough track.

Though we were on the lookout for any interesting animals that wandered our way, I, for one, was just dying to meet some tigers. Spotted deer were the first to cross our path, but these were less than exciting; I had seen so many of them in earlier safaris in another national park. A tiger, now, I had glimpsed only once before, and that all too briefly: I had not even a single photograph by way of documentary evidence of that encounter.

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Ranthambhore on the Map

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Comments and information welcome. Write to anamika dot mukherjee at amukherjeeworld dot net
Copyright 2008 Amit and Anamika Mukherjee. All rights reserved.