Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Wild Chronicles: A Dramatic Expedition Through Central India's Jungles – Part 3

Day 7: The Grand Finale - Kalinjar Fort and a Night in the Wilderness 

Wild Chronicles: A Dramatic Expedition Through Central India's Jungles, Nature Beauty, Forest Reflection, Tranquil Pond, Natural Wonders, Wilderness Escape, Scenic Roads, Wildlife Sightings, Ecosystem Exploration, Outdoor Adventures, Lush Landscape

Nature's Mirror: Where the forest meets its own reflection in the tranquil pond

The sun had barely begun its ascent on the seventh day of our epic journey when Avinash and I awoke with an unwavering determination to explore the road less traveled. It was a road I had ventured upon in the past, but for Avinash, it was an entirely new world waiting to be unveiled. Our anticipation was electric as we ventured once more into the heart of the Panna Tiger Reserve, heading towards the remote village and buffer zone known as Jhinaa.


Wild Chronicles: A Dramatic Expedition Through Central India's Jungles, Nature Beauty, Forest Reflection, Tranquil Pond, Natural Wonders, Wilderness Escape, Scenic Roads, Wildlife Sightings, Ecosystem Exploration, Outdoor Adventures, Lush Landscape

Lost in the Beauty of the Forest, Finding Myself Amongst the Trees

As we delved deeper into the mystical forest, an ethereal serenity enveloped us. The dense canopy overhead whispered secrets of centuries past, and the gentle hum of nature itself was our only companion. Our path led us to a picturesque pond, a haven of tranquility in the midst of the wilderness. Here, a magnificent Pink Stork graced us with its presence, its elegant form juxtaposed against the backdrop of nature's untouched beauty.


Wild Chronicles: A Dramatic Expedition Through Central India's Jungles, Nature Beauty, Forest Reflection, Tranquil Pond, Natural Wonders, Wilderness Escape, Scenic Roads, Wildlife Sightings, Ecosystem Exploration, Outdoor Adventures, Lush Landscape

Elegance Amidst the Waters: A Pink-Necked Stork Finds Solace in the Heart of the Lake

Yet, in this sanctuary, our serenity was abruptly shattered. Two figures emerged from the shadows, one of them reeking of alcohol, their intentions far from peaceful. They demanded money in exchange for our right to capture the stork's image. We maintained our composure, capturing the precious moment, and swiftly departed to avoid any further confrontation, leaving behind an eerie atmosphere.


Our journey forged ahead, and soon we arrived at the mystical landscape of Jhinaa. Here, the Kilkila River sliced through the forest, a natural divider of the land. Despite its seemingly modest size, this river played a monumental role in the ecosystem. It flowed into the mighty Ken River, which ultimately joined the Yamuna and, in turn, the holy Ganga, making Kilkila a sacred tributary of the vast Ganga basin.


The name "Kilkila" loosely translated to "sweetly noisy" in Hindi, a poetic moniker that echoed the river's gentle murmurs. However, it was once shrouded in dark legends. Tales spoke of a cursed river where birds dared not fly, for they would inexplicably fall lifeless. Villagers believed that bathing in its waters would bring forth disease. It was a river feared and reviled.


Yet, in the year 1683, the saint Pran Nath embarked on a spiritual journey to this very river. Against the warnings of the local Gond tribe, he touched its waters with his divine presence. It is said that at the mere touch of his toe, the river's water transformed, adopting a newfound purity. The curse that had clung to Kilkila for centuries was broken, and the river was consecrated as sacred forever.


As we wandered through this hallowed land, we crossed paths with locals, seeking diamonds hidden within the river's depths—a reminder that this wilderness harbored not only rare wildlife but also precious treasures waiting to be discovered.


Quest for Treasure: One Man's Journey to Unearth Diamonds in the Depths of Kilkila River

Our journey pressed on towards Allahabad, where Avinash's flight to Mumbai awaited him the following day. Yet, we couldn't resist a brief detour to the enigmatic Kalinjar Fort.


Kalinjar Fort, perched perilously atop steep inclines and ensconced within treacherous curves, unveiled itself before us. But what greeted us at the entrance was a breathtaking sight—an Egyptian Vulture perched regally on the ancient fort's roof. It was as though this guardian of the skies welcomed us to a realm of untold wonders.


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Guardian of History: An Egyptian Vulture Perches Atop Kalinjar Fort's Ancient Secrets

Within the fort's time-worn walls stood the Neelkanth Temple, a sanctum devoted to Lord Shiva. Its architectural opulence was a testament to the artistic mastery of its creators. Intricate carvings and sculptures adorned its hallowed chambers, inviting us to partake in its spiritual aura. We also paid homage at several other Shiva temples scattered throughout the fort, each a silent witness to centuries of devotion.


As we descended the precipitous slopes of the fort, our hearts overflowed with reverence for the historical wonders we had witnessed.


But the chapter of our journey was not yet concluded. We chose to venture further into the wilderness, towards the Ranipur Tiger Reserve, hidden deep within the Manikpur Area of District Chitrakoot, Uttar Pradesh. The night had descended, and our path was lit solely by the piercing beams of our headlights.


Journey through Wild Beauty: Discovering the Enchanting Scenic Roads of Ranipur Tiger Reserve, Uttar Pradesh.

Within the reserve's depths, we arrived at Markundi Ashram, where we spent nearly three mesmerizing hours. The lush green canopy above, the unseen creatures that stirred in the night, and the winding ghat roads all contributed to a surreal experience. It was as though we had stepped into a world untouched by time.


As we retraced our path toward Allahabad, our conversation turned reflective. We shared stories, laughed heartily, and pondered the possibility of embarking on yet another grand adventure in the not-so-distant future.


Finally, we arrived in Allahabad, and our epic journey reached its conclusion. It had been a dramatic and adventurous odyssey through the heart of Central India's jungles—an expedition filled with unexpected twists, rare wildlife sightings, and a glimpse into the annals of history. The wild had called to us, and we had answered with unwavering enthusiasm.


As the memories of our incredible journey etched themselves onto our hearts, we knew that our passion for the untamed and the thrill of exploration would carry us toward new horizons in the days ahead. The wild had left an indelible mark upon our souls, and we eagerly awaited the next chapter of our wild chronicles.


This marks the grand finale of our dramatic expedition through Central India's jungles—a tale of suspense, wonder, and the eternal allure of the wilderness. We thank you for joining us on this unforgettable odyssey. Until the next adventure beckons, stay tuned for more tales from the heart of the untamed.


About the Author:

Siddhartha Mishra, a lawyer and wildlife enthusiast based in Allahabad, India, continues to navigate the complexities of legal matters by day and explores the wonders of the natural world through his lens and words when the sun sets. His blog bridges the gap between legal discourse and the marvels of nature, inviting readers to discover the magic that lies in the heart of the wild. Join Siddhartha on his future adventures, where the mysteries of the natural world and the principles of justice intertwine in captivating narratives.

Monday, October 2, 2023

Wild Chronicles: A Dramatic Expedition Through Central India's Jungles – Part 2


In the first part of our dramatic journey, we embarked on an adventure to explore the wilderness of India. Our journey began with a flight to Allahabad (now Prayagraj), but things took an unexpected turn when our flight was diverted to Varanasi due to undisclosed issues in Allahabad. The delay left us wondering if our meticulously planned trip would be cut short.

We also learned that our friend Avinash's flight from Mumbai had not even taken off. The pilot and crew were as clueless as we were about whether we should land in Allahabad or wait. After a tense wait, we received the green signal to continue to Allahabad.

Upon landing in Allahabad, we discovered that Avinash's flight had coincidentally landed at the same time. While waiting for our luggage, we faced the challenge of finding transportation to our destination. Finally, an Ola driver agreed to pick us up, but our ordeal continued when we discovered that our car's battery was dead.

After several attempts to jump-start the car, a bus mechanic came to our rescue. We fueled up and began our long drive to Bandhavgarh, maintaining a high speed while crossing the challenging Chuiya Ghati. Despite the delays and challenges, we reached Bandhavgarh earlier than expected.

The day ended with a bonfire and stories from the staff, setting the stage for the next part of our dramatic journey.

Now, let's continue with the second part of our journey:

Day 5: Into the Enigmatic Realm of Kanha

Our journey from the thrilling landscapes of Bandhavgarh to the mysterious realm of Kanha National Park was fraught with anticipation and a tinge of eeriness. We arrived at MPT Sarhi, strategically nestled next to the Safari Gate of the Sarhi Buffer Zone, brimming with anticipation to uncover another facet of India's wild beauty.

Our accommodations at MPT Sarhi greeted us with a direct view of Kanha's lush interiors, casting a serene yet somewhat unsettling atmosphere. It was a scene reminiscent of the pristine beauty we had encountered at Panna National Park, but the aura here was different—more enigmatic, more unsettling.

 As we settled into our new surroundings, an uncanny realization began to creep in. The level of service and overall experience here fell somewhat short of the exceptional standards we had grown accustomed to at Bandhavgarh. It was as though the very air held a whisper of mystery, leaving us in a state of quiet unease.

Adding to the eerie ambiance was the weather, as the monsoon cast a somber and moody shadow over the usually vibrant Kanha landscapes. The rain-soaked terrain seemed to hide secrets in its glistening drops, secrets we were yet to uncover. The once-lively surroundings took on a different persona, one that evoked curiosity and apprehension in equal measure.

Even the culinary offerings, typically a source of delight during our adventures, failed to ignite the same enthusiasm. The flavors seemed muted, as if the forest itself had conspired to keep its secrets hidden from our taste buds. It was a disheartening experience, and we couldn't help but feel that we were intruders in a realm not yet ready to reveal its mysteries.

As we huddled in our room, pondering our next move, it became increasingly clear that Kanha was not resonating with us as we had fervently hoped. In a collective decision, we chose to curtail our stay and set our sights on Satpura for the following day. From there, our expedition would lead us to the captivating town of Orchha and culminate in Panna, the final destination of this epic journey.

Day 6: A Journey from Kanha to Panna via the Unseen Roads

Our journey unfolded like a darkly poetic tale, with an air of mystery cloaking every mile. We bid Kanha adieu, the memories of its enigmatic charm lingering in our minds. Breakfast at Sarhi was an experience best described as "okayish," a reflection of the unsettling ambiance that seemed to permeate every corner of Kanha.

As our vehicle carved a path toward Panna, the sense of the unknown grew stronger. The journey from Kanha to Panna spanned approximately 250 kilometers, leading us through an entirely different landscape. This time, we approached Panna from the Katni side, a route that had remained uncharted and unseen by us before.

The road unfolded like a dark ribbon, winding its way through dense forests, meandering rivers, and an ever-present shroud of mist. It was a tableau of natural beauty, yet one couldn't shake the feeling that we were venturing into uncharted territory, where the rules of nature held sway and human presence was but a fleeting intruder.

 As we pressed on, a peculiar spectacle unfolded before our eyes—thousands of cows lining the ghat roads, like silent sentinels guarding a hidden secret. Their presence added to the eerie atmosphere, as if they, too, were aware of the mysteries lurking in the shadows.

Exquisite stone carvings adorning the Khajuraho Temples, depicting tales of love, devotion, and mythological narratives
Intricate Carvings of Khajuraho Temple: Where Stone Speaks of Love and Legends 🏛️🪨


We were determined to reach our final destination, Clarks at Khajuraho, located some 20-25 kilometers from Panna National Park. However, upon checking in, we were greeted by an overwhelming sense of uncertainty. The question loomed—how should we make the most of our time in this unfamiliar terrain?

Masterpieces in Stone: The Timeless Sculptures of Khajuraho

Masterpieces in Stone: The Timeless Sculptures of Khajuraho

Khajuraho Temples: Where History, Art, and Spirituality Converge

Khajuraho Temples: Where History, Art, and Spirituality Converge


After much contemplation, we chose to embark on another adventure, this time in search of Bagheli or Chandeli cuisine within Panna National Park. Our journey led us to a modest local restaurant renowned for its authentic Bagheli dishes. Here, we savored a hearty and flavorful meal, an experience that momentarily sated our appetites and added a sense of intrigue to our culinary exploration.

With our hunger satisfied and the tank of our vehicle replenished, we ventured back onto the open road, ready to embrace the mysteries of the night. This route held a special significance, as it was the very path where we had previously encountered a majestic leopard during our last visit to Panna National Park. However, the air was thick with uncertainty as we pondered whether the current climate was conducive to such encounters.

As fate would have it, Panna had its own plans in store for us. Just a few kilometers into the journey, a shadow emerged on the roadside, an enigmatic silhouette reminiscent of a dog yet distinctly different. To our astonishment, it was a Striped Hyena, a creature rarely glimpsed in the wild.

The Striped Hyena, a nocturnal scavenger, boasts distinctive black stripes along its back and legs. Known for its solitary and elusive nature, encounters with this creature are exceptionally rare. These mysterious beings are further famed for their eerie, echoing calls that resonate through the night.

With our cameras poised and a sense of trepidation in the air, we attempted to capture this rare sighting. However, the distance posed a formidable challenge, especially in the darkness of the night. Then, in a twist of fate, one of the hyenas decided to grace us with its presence, stepping boldly onto the road. It was a sight akin to the majestic tigers that often cross paths with jeeps during safaris.

 Avinash swiftly started recording, and to our absolute astonishment, the hyena embarked on a mesmerizing 45-50 minute performance, allowing us to capture precious and remarkable footage. For those interested, you can view the edited video on my YouTube channel.

Close encounter with Striped Hyena

As the hyena provided us with the perfect shot, it turned to gaze directly at our car. In that fleeting moment, it almost seemed to convey, "You've captured this on your camera, haven't you?" With an air of finality, it gracefully melted back into the depths of the jungle, leaving us in eerie silence.

We returned to our hotel, hearts brimming with excitement and an overpowering sense of accomplishment. Our minds buzzed with anticipation for the next day, as we contemplated our plans. In our upcoming post, we will unveil the intricacies of our grand finale—how we meticulously orchestrated and concluded our unforgettable journey through the heart of India's wild beauty. Stay tuned for the dramatic conclusion, as the mysteries of Panna beckon!

About the Author

Siddhartha Mishra is a lawyer and wildlife enthusiast based in Allahabad, India. By day, he navigates the complexities of legal matters, advocating for justice. When the sun sets, Siddhartha embarks on thrilling journeys into India's wilderness, capturing its beauty through the lens of his camera and his words. His blog bridges the gap between legal discourse and the wonders of the natural world, inviting readers to explore the harmony between the two realms. Join Siddhartha on this adventure to discover the magic of nature and the principles of justice that guide our world

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Wild Chronicles: A Dramatic Expedition Through Central India's Jungles

Day 1: A Chaotic Start

Our adventure kicked off with an early morning flight from Delhi to Allahabad, now known as Prayagraj. The anticipation of exploring the wild jungles of India was palpable as we headed to the airport. Terminal 3 was bustling with travelers, but we swiftly navigated through thanks to the convenience of DigiYatra. After completing the check-in process, our flight took off right on schedule. However, fate had other plans in store for us. Mid-flight, we were informed that due to an issue in Allahabad, our aircraft would be diverted to Varanasi. The initial excitement of the journey soon turned into apprehension. Our plans were in jeopardy, and Avinash's flight from Mumbai was already delayed. The uncertainty loomed as we waited onboard. The pilot and crew were as clueless as we were, torn between deciding whether to proceed to Allahabad or stay in Varanasi. Hope wavered as we remained on the tarmac, waiting for a resolution. It was a tense and anxious wait, contemplating the fate of our meticulously planned trip. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the pilot announced that the issue in Allahabad had been resolved, and we were ready to take off as soon as the air traffic controller gave the green signal. Relief washed over us, mixed with the excitement of continuing our adventure. But the clock was ticking, and our Property Manager was informed of our late arrival, now estimated to be around 1 AM. The flight eventually took off and landed in Allahabad around 6-6:30 PM, coincidentally, the same time Avinash's Mumbai flight touched down. As we collected our luggage, a wave of relief swept over us. The question of whether we'd be able to proceed with our journey loomed large. With plans to hire an Ola or Uber to continue our journey, we encountered another roadblock. The enormous flight delay had left no available rides. We persisted, continuously trying to book a ride until, finally, a weary Ola driver accepted our request and drove up to 6 kilometers to pick us up. Back home, we discovered a new challenge as my car's battery had drained during our absence. Desperation set in as we contacted numerous repairmen, but none had the necessary battery for a jump start. The chances of continuing our trip seemed to dwindle with each passing minute. However, fate had one more twist in store for us. A bus mechanic agreed to lend us his battery, and with a stroke of luck, the car roared to life. It was already 8 PM, and we faced a daunting 7-hour drive ahead. Without wasting time, we filled up my XUV 300 with diesel, grabbed a quick meal, and hit the road, maintaining a steady speed of 120 km/h. We encountered the thrilling Chuiya Ghati, renowned for its sharp turns and slopes, adding an unexpected adventure to our already dramatic day. As the map indicated a 3 AM arrival at Bandhavgarh, we pressed on without rest, eventually reaching Tala Gate by midnight. With bated breath, we slowed our vehicle to 20 km/h, hoping for a wildlife encounter, but the monsoon had driven most animals deep into the forest. We finally arrived at our accommodation around 1 AM, where we enjoyed a late meal and listened to stories by the bonfire until 3 AM. Our first day had been filled with unexpected twists, testing our resolve and determination. 

Day 2: The Wild Encounter 

As the sun's first rays bathed our surroundings in golden light, I sipped my morning tea, idly wandering around the property. It was then that a voice from a nearby village lady made my heart skip a beat. "Bhaiya udhar Tiger Baitha hai," she whispered (Brother, there's a tiger over there). The possibility of encountering the mighty Jambhol, known for a tooth loss likely due to territorial fights or other unknown reasons, left me stunned. Memories of our first encounter with him while he hunted a cow raced through my mind. This time, I had my GoPro with me, but the footage from that fateful moment had been inconclusive. The GoPro had failed to keep pace with Jambhol's speed, and we were left with nothing but a missed opportunity. Determined not to let history repeat itself, I rushed to get my camera and informed Avinash. However, by the time we reached the spot, Jambhol had vanished into the thick jungles of Bandhavgarh, leaving us with a sense of awe and longing. Our cameras remained unused, and our quest to capture Jambhol on film continued.

Unleash the Wild with GoPro 📷 Can you uncover the hidden tiger in this exhilarating footage

The excitement of the morning encounter lingered as we settled back into our property. We set up our tripods, hoping for another glimpse of the elusive tiger, but this time, we aimed to capture the serenity of the jungle and its avian inhabitants. 
Image of a Knobbed Bill Duck in the lush fields near Bandhavgarh Jungle, showcasing its unique knobbed bill and serene presence in nature.

Celebrating the Beauty of Nature: Knobbed Bill Duck in the Fields of Bandhavgarh Jungle

As night descended and we gathered by the bonfire once again, our conversations shifted to a different topic—food. Avinash brought up the idea of mushrooms found in Salwood forests and termite hills. It was a new interest that piqued my curiosity. Despite visiting Bandhavgarh several times before, we had never ventured into the world of forest mushrooms.

Closeup of a Knobbed Bill Duck's Distinctive Bill in Bandhavgarh's Serene Fields

Grace in Detail: The Knobbed Bill Duck's Exquisite Bill, a Natural Masterpiece

A pair of Warbling White-Eyes perched on a branch in Bandhavgarh, singing in unison."

Harmonious Duets in Bandhavgarh: A Pair of Warbling White-Eyes Share a Musical Moment 
Two Common Mynas with striking black and yellow plumage, sitting on a wired fence in Bandhavgarh National Park, India

Two Common Mynas Perched on a Fence in Bandhavgarh: Nature's Melodious Duets
Two Black Drongos with iridescent plumage, sitting gracefully on a wired fence in the natural beauty of Bandhavgarh.

Two Black Drongos Perched on a Wired Fence in Bandhavgarh: Moments of Tranquility
A Lesser Adjutant Stork, a species of bird, amidst the vibrant greenery of Bandhavgarh's jungle.
Lesser Adjutant Stork in the Lush Green Jungle of Bandhavgarh: A Graceful Presence 🌿

Day 3: A Mushroom Adventure 

Our curiosity got the better of us, and we decided to explore the local markets in Umaria, hoping to find puttu mushrooms and the elusive species that thrived in termite hills. Our search was fruitful, and we returned to our accommodation with a stash of mushrooms, eager to savor these newfound forest treasures. The taste of the mushrooms was nothing short of extraordinary, leaving us in awe of the culinary delights that nature had to offer. The decision to extend our stay by a day proved to be one of the best choices we made. The following morning, we discovered even more mushrooms in the ground adjacent to our property. 

A captivating view of the dense, thriving jungle in Bandhavgarh, showcasing the unspoiled splendor of the wilderness.

Unveiling the Untamed Beauty of Bandhavgarh's Jungle: Where Nature Reigns Supreme
With our newfound passion for mushrooms, we embarked on a small ride, discovering more varieties and encountering the elusive adjutant birds, though capturing them on camera proved challenging. We roamed the nearby village, immersing ourselves in the natural beauty that surrounded us. As night fell, we sat by the bonfire once again, discussing life, future plans, and dreams of retiring in a place like Bandhavgarh. The topic of astrophotography came up, and we were surprised to realize that Bandhavgarh had something else to offer—stunningly dark skies devoid of light pollution. Gazing up, we were treated to a mesmerizing view of the Milky Way, a sight we had never expected to encounter here. A spark of excitement ignited within us as we realized the potential for astrophotography. While we were novices in this field, our determination led us to experiment with different techniques. With a 200-500 mm lens initially in use, we soon learned that it was inadequate for astrophotography. 

A mesmerizing view of the Milky Way galaxy shining brightly in the night sky, complemented by the warm glow of nearby property lights.
Milky Way's Celestial Symphony: A Cosmic Tapestry Illuminated by Earthly Lights 🌌✨
A quick shift to an 18-50 mm lens at 18 mm, however, yielded magical results. We captured the Milky Way in all its splendor, making it a night to remember for two amateur photographers.

A breathtaking photograph of the Milky Way galaxy, revealing its intricate beauty against the backdrop of a moonless, pitch-black night.
The Milky Way's Enchanting Dance in the Dark: A Cosmic Spectacle Beyond Imagination 🌌✨

A solitary tree silhouetted against the breathtaking backdrop of the Milky Way galaxy, creating a stunning fusion of natural beauty and cosmic wonder.
Nature's Nighttime Embrace: The Milky Way Illuminating a Solitary Tree 🌌🌳
Day 4: Onward to Kanha

With our hearts brimming with adventure and newfound photography skills, we reluctantly bid farewell to Bandhavgarh. Our next destination was Kanha, promising a unique experience compared to the rugged charm of Bandhavgarh. The drive was nothing short of scenic perfection. We traversed through dense jungles and rolling hills, each bend in the road revealing a new facet of nature's beauty. However, as we entered Kanha, we realized that this national park had its own distinct character. Our journey through the heart of India's jungles was proving to be a rollercoaster of experiences, each day bringing new challenges and unexpected delights. Stay tuned for more tales from our wild adventure, where every moment is a treasure waiting to be discovered.

About the Author

Siddhartha Mishra is a lawyer and wildlife enthusiast based in Allahabad, India. By day, he navigates the complexities of legal matters, advocating for justice. When the sun sets, Siddhartha embarks on thrilling journeys into India's wilderness, capturing its beauty through the lens of his camera and his words. His blog bridges the gap between legal discourse and the wonders of the natural world, inviting readers to explore the harmony between the two realms. Join Siddhartha on this adventure to discover the magic of nature and the principles of justice that guide our world


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