Tantalizing Tadoba

Imagine yourself living in a big city like Nagpur surrounded by acres of lush greenery. Don’t believe it-well, take a look at these pictures. They were taken at the ‘bungalow’ of a friend in Nagpur who is a ‘forest officer’.

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They even have a jack fruit tree. When we went it was full of fruits.

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We happened to be in Nagpur on the invitation of our friend to visit Tadoba National Park which is also a Tiger Reserve. It is situated about 155 kms from Nagpur in the state of Maharashtra.  Chandrapur, the nearest town is about 45 kms.  It was the end of March and the road side was lined with the ‘flame of the forest’ trees or palash as they are known locally.

Palash- the Flame of the Forest

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We entered the park from Moharli and the drive from Moharli to Tadoba through the forest was enchanting. Mahua trees were flowering and the air was heavy with their intoxicating scent.

The road less travelled

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 We stayed at a Forest Rest House which overlooked the Tadoba Lake and afforded an excellent view. We got up early in the morning, when the sun was just rising in the eastern horizon, for a walk around the Rest House. But the jungle folks, too, rise early. The birds were in a chatter-some mood,  some cheetals were out for an early morning drink at the lake and a snake bird was already drying its feathers after an early morning dip in the lake.

A view of the lake

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There is a legend about Tadoba. It is said that Tharu, a tribal chief  was killed by a tiger here. He is worshiped  in a small temple on the lake front.

Temple of Tadoba

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The forest is ‘southern tropical dry deciduous’. It has an interesting variation in elevation and vegetation. Teak, bamboo, tendu, palash are some of the common trees found. Tigers, bears, cheetals, sambhars, gaurs, wild boars etc are the common species of fauna found in the park.

Monkey business- a Langur

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But like every one else, we, too, wanted to see a tiger. And he did not disappoint us. There he is among the bamboo thickets. The picture you see in the header of the blog is also of the same ‘gentleman.’

Shy creature- a Tiger

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A herd of Indian gaurs or bisons were foraging on a grassy plain in the afternoon. Gaurs have an interesting feature- white marks on their forelegs which appear as if they are wearing white socks.. This particular fellow seems to be a loner. We saw it when we were returning in the evening and the picture is dark. One of its horns was broken -perhaps in a fight with another male.

The lone ranger- an Indian Gaur or Bison

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The  ‘big and dark and beautiful’ sambhar or ‘Rusa Aristotetlis’ is found commonly.  John Eyton called it the Philosopher Stag because ‘he is something of a philosopher; shy, but trustful; slow to stir, and apt to blunder when he gets up, like the philosopher at the tea-table; a trifle absent-minded; contended, with simple tastes.’

The philosopher stag- a Sambhar

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Kenneth Anderson, well known shikari and author of real-life jungle stories, called wild boars the most courageous animals in the Indian jungle because ‘when he turns to fight he will fight to the death.’ According to him he has ‘intelligence and muscle, and the heart of a fanatical warrior.’

The gutsy warrior-a Wild Boar

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The national park is not on the usual tourist circuit. As a result, it is not crowded like other popular reserves. It is a pleasure to take a safari in such a serene and untouched part of the jungle. But it is a matter of time before commercialization catches up with it. Till then, let’s enjoy the bounty of nature.

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