Posts Tagged ‘Ranthambore’

Nature as Divine Temple

January 31, 2018

The following is a list of excuses for my failure to blog in recent days:

  • WiFi has been very slow
  • I’ve been busy offering yoga daily (except for yesterday because we were at the tiger reserve longer than anticipated) plus we’ve been on the go, busy taking in all the incredible sights of Rajasthan.
  • WiFi has been very slow
  • The trip is winding down and I am needing more sleep to keep my energy levels up so I can keep going strong until departure on February 3.
  • WiFi has been very slow

I’m posting some photos of our time in Ranthambore National Park.  I know it will take a lot of time to download photos so I will do what is possible tonight.

What I really want to say about our safari outing is that, for the second time ever and for the second time in a row, my group did not see a tiger.  We went out on safari twice, but did not see a tiger.  The hotel was filled with other tourists coming from all over the world as well as Indians touring their own country.  Every person I spoke to saw Royal Bengal Tigers that day or the previous day  Our group was the exception.

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Our first outing was at the crack of dawn. It was very cold and the vehicles are open air.  As the vehicle bumped and bounced along the terribly-gutted pot-holed roads leading to the tiger terrain, I wrapped the provided wool blanket tightly around my body.  Once the sun started coming up over the trees, the air started to warm up and the sun beamed down on us. The light became golden and spilled out over the forest and I felt myself in a holy place. It dawned on me that the forest, with all its birdsong and beauty, is a temple. As the jeep jostled my bones and attempted to rearrange my organs, I looked out at the forest around me and marveled. Nature, I believe, is a divine temple.

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From our jeep, we admired birds, including four kinds of owls, and spotted deer, the blue bull antelope, monkeys galore, and sambar (another type of large deer). Our naturalist guide identified the names of the animals we were seeing.  The morning light was lovely and we saw fresh tiger tracks. …tracks but no tiger.

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Sambar:

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One of four owlets peaking out from the tree.  Not sure you can see one in the crook of the tree:

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When we got back to our hotel after our first safari outing, we met another group from North America staying at the hotel. All 18 members of the group were abuzz with frenetic excitement.  I didn’t even have to ask.  I knew they had seen a tiger on their morning safari.  One of the men, a very cheerful fellow from Toronto, said, with certainty, that we would definitely see a tiger on our second outing.  His optimism was rock solid.

The second outing was in the evening of the same day. This outing was much longer because our guide really wanted us to see a Royal Bengal Tiger.  We drove around and around the bumpy trails, my angry back refusing to keep quiet.  We stoically endured the rough trail knowing that nothing comes easy, especially when it comes to seeing a tiger in the wild

Well, as you already know, we did not see a tiger.  However, we learned all about tigers.  We learned that a female tiger currently ruled this territory we were in and that she had three cubs, two females and a male.  Her cubs were almost two years old.  The mother tiger’s tracks were visible from the jeep, so we knew she was around. Our guide also pointed out leopard tracks near the tiger tracks.

Fresh tracks.

We watched the playful monkeys and the relaxed spotted deer and, when I saw the animals so relaxed, I knew there was no tiger in sight.  There were no forest alarm calls telling us the great predator was in our vicinity.

Relaxed Sambar:

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We saw crocodiles. We saw peacocks. We saw parrots and parakeets. We saw countless birds of all colors. And suddenly a jungle cat crossed our path!  Our guide yelled out excitedly, “LOOK, Jungle Cat is crossing road!”  The jungle cat looked a lot like a large domestic house cat.  Our sighting of the cat was so brief that it was impossible to get a photo.  But, wow, was that exciting!

After much looking through grasses and trees for a tiger, it was starting to get dark and cold again, so we started heading out of the park.  As we approached the cliff rock wall area nearing the entrance/exit of the park, our guide heard the ALARM CALL!  The alarm call is when the spotted deer stand still and bark with their tails straight up.  The sambar also made piercing sounds and the fawns were ready to dart. The monkeys scattered in a panic. Then our guide saw the leopard! Wow. Was that exciting or what?  In no time at all, other jeeps filled with tourists hefting enormous binoculars and cameras with ridiculously large lenses arrived and clustered around us.

The leopard was climbing the rock wall up toward the overhang or top of the rock cliff.  He was very large and yes, spotted.  I could make out its muscularity.  He (or she) was moving swiftly, seemingly defeating gravity, making the climb up to the cliff overhang look effortless.  The leopard was by no means close to us, but we could see it.  The whole experience was breathtaking, completely exhilarating, even if the leopard was so far that my camera would never catch it in a photo.  I just took in its body and memorized what I was seeing.

I still can’t believe I saw an ultra-elusive leopard. What a lucky sighting.

But, wait!  There’s more.  Just as our guide said, “Chalo!” (Let’s go! in Hindi), we drove off a few meters and there was, along the same rock wall, a very large sloth bear.  He was even easier to spot than the leopard, who easily blended in with his/her environment.  By contrast, the bear’s shaggy black fur and bulky body stood out from the rock wall.  I couldn’t make out its snout (which looks like an anteater’s snout), but I could clearly see his body.  There was a jeep full of Indian tourists next to us and all I could hear over and over again was the excited, BALOO, BALOO, BALOO!!! (this is the Hindi name for the Sloth Bear.)

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Enough excitement for one day.  We left the park feeling satisfied with the jungle cat, leopard, and sloth bear sightings.  But frankly, I still felt more than one twinge of jealously as the other North American tourists voluntarily showed me their video footage of the Royal Bengal Tiger who walked alongside their jeep.  Bas.  Enough.  Silly feelings, I know… but I’m only human.  A leopard is no small thing, right? I repeated this to myself again and again as I went to bed exhausted on safari night.

“Ranthambore Fort lies within the Ranthambore National Park, near the town of Sawai Madhopur, the park was the former hunting grounds of the Maharajahs of Jaipur until the time of India’s Independence”

End of a glorious day:

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“Ranthambore National Park is a vast wildlife reserve near the town of Sawai Madhopur in Rajasthan, northern India. It is a former royal hunting ground and home to tigers, leopards and marsh crocodiles. Its landmarks include the imposing 10th-century Ranthambore Fort, on a hilltop, and the Ganesh Mandir temple. Also in the park, Padam Talao Lake is known for its abundance of water lilies.”

Remnants of the 10 century fort within the park.  An antlered sambar sits partially hidden in the left lower corner of the photo:

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Part II: Lured by Rajasthan and Taj Mahal

August 20, 2017

Part II brings you dreamy images of Rajasthan, India.  This tour with daily yoga includes visiting the Taj Mahal in Agra.  Please enjoy the photos.  The photos below were all taken by me except for the first two (the tiger photos).

Journey to Rajasthan, Delhi, and Agra takes place from January 17 — February 3, 2018

This tour is led by Arvind Singh, organized by Kelley McHenry, and offers daily Hatha yoga, which I will be teaching.  In today’s second post, I am sharing a few of my favorite photos from travels in Rajasthan, Delhi, and Agra.  We will be revisiting the places below in the January 2018 travels. These trips to India will be the last I will be offering in India, only because I hope to offer yoga retreats to various areas.

Registration is open through the end of August 2017.  There is plenty of space for you.  View Full itinerary

One of the most exciting places we visit is Ranthambore National Park.  The park is home to the Royal Bengal Tiger.  If we are lucky, we will see a tiger.  The photos below are from a few years back.  These two photos were taken by a tour participant on one of our trips with her lovely Olympus camera (so I call these two photos “Rebecca’s Tiger”).

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Ranthambore National Park and Keoladeo National Park are two of my favorite nature visits on this tour. As of the last count, Ranthambore is home to 34 adult tigers and 14 cubs.  Both Ranthambore and Keoladeo are World Heritage Sites.  Keoladeo is considered to be the richest bird sanctuary in the world.  It is located in Bharatpur and is home to 366 species of birds.  Below are a blend of photos from both national parks:

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And a bundled up Arvind-with-bird-upon-head on an early morning chilly tiger safari outing to Ranthambore:

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Another highlight of the trip is the visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Agra, the Taj Mahal.  It is massive and one of the most beautiful buildings on earth.  Arvind tells the love story behind the Taj Mahal and explains the vision behind the construction of this mausoleum so perfectly.  The first time I saw it, I was so moved by the sheer force of the site before me that I thought my legs would buckle to the ground.  I believe one must see and experience the grandeur of the Taj Mahal at least once in a lifetime!

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When I think of Rajasthan, I see colorful saris, turbans, and the warm faces of the desert people.  It is an otherworldly and welcoming part of India. L1280618

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Where else do you find a “Blue City”, vast palaces that stand out like glistening jewels in a desert landscape, and immense astrological palace observatories?

Jodhpur the Blue City

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Imagine doing early morning sun salutations on the terrace of your hotel as a pink sun rises, awakening and lifting your spirit:

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I love the photo below with cow, auto rickshaw, and outdoor pots and pans.  India is, at times, wonderfully mind boggling.

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I had to do a little climbing to be in this photo.  India is all at once complex and simple, ancient and new.

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While in the desert, the camels await you.  They make a most humorous sound.  The first time I heard a camel, I asked aloud, “What’s that sound?”  A nearby woman answered me in a matter-of-fact tone, “That is camel, madam.”  Look at how the camel is watching me do Ustrasana, Camel Pose.

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India is 1,344,664,943 beating human hearts! 

There is an India population site where the numbers keep augmenting before your very eyes.

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Rantambore: Tiger’s Eden

February 14, 2013
walking away from the pond

walking away from the pond

Here are the remainder of the photos I tried to post earlier.  See previous post for the first five.  So amazing!  Thank you, Rebecca, for taking over on the photography with your long lens!  I feel privileged to have seen the Royal Bengal Tiger in nature in Ranthambore Park!!

She's so fancy!!

She’s so fancy!!  After drinking at the pond, she sat near the jeep and for 45 minutes, we got to observe and admire her!!

A little cry out to her two hidden 9-month old cubs!  Her cry sounded a bit like a cat's meow, very sweet, very gentle.

A little cry out to her two hidden 9-month old cubs! Her cry sounded a bit like a cat’s meow, very sweet, very gentle.

She's so fancy!!

She’s so fancy!!

The tigress turns her head!!

The tigress turns her head!!

She is doing CAT POSE!!

She is doing CAT POSE!!

Here she is preening, doing YOGINIDRASANA!

Here she is preening, doing YOGINIDRASANA like nobody’s business!

She pauses from her preening!

She pauses from her preening!

I hope you never tire from the many various images of this maharahani!

Check out her tongue!! I hope you never tire from the many various images of this maharahani!

OH MY GOD!  We were supposed to be quiet, but my heart was beating so loudly...just watching her!

OH MY GOD! We were supposed to be quiet, but my heart was beating so loudly…just watching her!

,,,

I swear she was looking at ME!!  Later, I heard that everyone was convinced she was looking directly into their eyes!  David took an “aura photo” of her, using an special app on his ipad.  Her aura read BLUE and translated to “TRANQUIL, DESIRING TO COMMUNICATE”!!!

Time for a snooze!

Time for a snooze!

Ranthambore Tiger Reserve!!!!

February 12, 2013

We saw our Royal Bengal Tiger today!!!

Once upon a time, thousands of tigers lived in India.  Today there are only 1700 tigers remaining.  There are 49 tigers living in Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, one of the best tiger reserves in India.  We went on safari twice.  The first time, we didn’t see any tigers, just tracks, though we did see a lot of wildlife, including crocodiles, soft shelled turtles, many birds, spotted deer, and antelopes.  On the second outing, we got very lucky and we saw a very beautiful tiger, a mother of two 2-year old cubs!  She was a beauty!  Arvind has been on some 50 tiger safari trips and has never seen anything like what we saw today.  Our guide, Mohan, also said that in his 10 years of working at the park, he has never seen what we saw today!

What we saw was incredible:

The tiger walked right in front of our jeep, walked over to a pond to drink water, then walked closer to the jeep, laid down, and started preening herself!  We watched her lick her paws, and her entire body.  She made sounds like happy yawns and sweet soft playful roaring sounds.  She reminded me of a giant kitty!  She yawned for us, got up, turned around and laid down in a different position.  She looked right at us, and then she would look around the forest.  We were so amazed and got to watch her for 45 minutes!  The duration of her sighting and the proximity of the tiger to our van was extraordinarily close.  Though I have a very nice Leica camera, I do not have a good zoom lens.  Even so, you will see from the photos in the slide show that I was able to photograph the tiger fairly well because she was so close to us!

Some of the others in our group had cameras with big zoom lenses and they captured better photos than I did. Later, I will post Rebecca’s photos, which are extraordinary!  For now, you can see mine.  View on Full Screen and turn up your speakers.  All photos taken today.

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Rum Party

February 11, 2013

We left Jaipur early this morning and drove 112 miles to Ranthambore, the tiger reserve.  The drive took about 5 and a half hours and we drove past villages and green fields dotted with farmers. I wish I had more time to blog about the drive and today, but my roommate is already trying to sleep and I should also get some sleep before tomorrow’s tiger safari!

I met a man today, Navine from Delhi, who had just come back from seeing a tiger at the reserve!  He had the fanciest camera ever and the photos he showed us were most exquisite!

Please, let us see a tiger tomorrow!

Highlights of today include driving through the villages and jungle, seeing happy faces wave to us on our gigantic bus as we drove along narrow rural roads, stopping at the English Wine and Beer Shop to stock up on rum, whiskey, and wine.  Arvind invited us over to his room for a Rum Party at 7 pm. I went, and even though, I didn’t drink, I had a blast!

India can be pretty intense. I think everyone was in need of a drink!

Oh, and before the Rum Party and Dinner, I led a yoga session on the terrace overlooking the tiger reserve.  It was warm as we practiced our yoga and we were treated to the most beautiful sunset as we did yoga outside!  How will we ever go back to doing yoga indoors?

Tomorrow morning, we will get up at 5:30 am for the morning safari! Daytime temps were 80 today, so I jumped into the pool and soaked in some sun! Night temps can dip to 48 degrees. It will be cold in the morning. The open air safari vehicles provide blankets!

Will post this fun slideshow and off to sleep I go, with a hot water bottle at my feet (courtesy of Dev Vilas Resort!).

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