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

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