Jungles and India have had their stories intertwined for ages now. Mythical stories of demons in dense forests of India from tales over 5000 years old to valorous hunters tracking man-eaters in thickets of the these wild forests, tales in this land abound. Once what was the private hunting ground of the Maharajahs of Mysore, today the protected tiger reserve of Bandipur offers a lot of opportunities to see animals in the wild. On a weekend, we spent driving onward to the national park nestled in southern India flanked by picturesque rustic beauty of the un-urbanized India in the form of quaint villages are bustling hill stations.
The sanctuary skirts the national park of Mudumalai in the state of Tamil Nadu, while Bandipur is in Karnataka. Driving along these parts it was quite a unique sight to traverse from one state to another, briefly even touching Kerala. Not only do the languages change rapidly, but also the food and customs. It is fascinating to see how diverse the country is. As we drove along the hilly parts of Ooty to stay at a resort for a night in Mudumalai, on a morning safari we had already driven to Bandipur. We had witnessed the blue of the western ghats (Nilgiris as they are called, literally translated as blue mountains), the dense growth of the jungles, the rich green pastures of the landscape fed by the recent monsoons and typical slow life of the heart of India – its villages.
It was hard to spot tigers. These evasive beasts are so royal that they offer a glimpse at the rarest of rare moments but I was happy to see the grand elephants in the wild. Indeed, these parts are in fact home to the largest population of elephants in South Asia. The spotted cheetal deer, monkeys and peacocks are typical representations of the wild natural beauty of India and we were not disappointed. Perhaps, the beauty of these places are the rich skies and the hues of the morning sun they bring along, as the first rays of sunset kiss the misty mornings away as the villages on the fringes of the jungles awake to their daily routines and the animals as if in congruence make their way either in solitude or in a group in the morning dawn cutting across the jungles.
When we made our way back to the buzz of urbanization, my heart still yearned for the call of the jungles. Another trip is in the cards for sure. I hope I catch the elusive pride of India – the royal tigers the next time around.