A continued chapter from Jaipur…
I was to leave my hotel at 5am as the train was to reach Jaipur station at 5.40am. I had requested my hotel manager to send any of their staff along with me to the station. It was a 7-minute walk from the hotel and I thought it was unnecessary to book a cab or a rickshaw for this. Though the manager agreed the previous night, he showed no intention of sending someone with me when I was checking out, and thanks to my ego, I didn’t ask him again either. So I walked through the alleys of Jaipur wrapped up in warm clothes with my face covered so that people can’t judge me as a girl from distance.
The train was on time, thankfully! For the first time I was traveling a long distance in a general compartment outside West Bengal, and boy, there was no one except me in the nearby seats! I took the window seat and threw open the windows to experience the morning breeze. After a 3.5-hour journey, I was at Sawai Madhopur. This time, my hotel manager was kind enough to send a rickshaw for pickup.
I caught up with some sleep after breakfast as my safari was scheduled at 2.30PM. The jeeps for safari pick up tourists from different hotels before heading to the National Park. As I waited for my jeep to arrive, the manager of the hotel took me through his small souvenir shop and promised me to have laal maas cooked for dinner! 🙂
The safari began at about 3PM, and by 3.30PM, we were inside the Park. I was quite sure that I was God’s special child and there was no way I would be deprived of a tiger sighting. Felt more so because it was Valentine’s Day and I was optimistic of a date with the Tiger 😀
As we waded through the bumpy roads in the forest and sighted dozens of deers, birds etc etc, an old Aussie fellow in the jeep mumbled to the guide, “I’m least interested in deers and birds now. This is my 5th and last safari, all I want to see is a tiger!”
Hearing him, my hopes disappeared in thin air. Will I have to spend my V Day without a date even this year? As the time drew closer to the exit time, our search got more intense. However, as luck would have it, we failed to spot one. I was disappointed and angry with God but that’s how wildlife is. And I guess that’s why people say, shooting wildlife is the most difficult job as a photographer!
The next morning I had to leave for Ajmer/Pushkar. Though there were vacant seats on canters and my manager was willing to do a last-minute arrangement to have me on board in one of them, I chose to explore the rest of Sawai Madhopur instead of going for the safari.
I requested the hotel jeep to take me to the Ranthambore fort which is one of the biggest in Rajasthan, before the break of dawn as I wanted capture a sunrise timelapse. The route to the fort lies through the National Park and my hope hadn’t abandoned me that I might just end up seeing a tiger. There were dozens of peacocks strolling around the fort and monkeys jumping over my head. Everything but a tiger!
The driver accompanied me as I scaled the fort quickly to avoid missing the Sun breaking out. Both of us were gasping for breath by the time we reached the top but we were on time! I captured a series of shots of the sun rise over hills next to the forest and then headed to the three-eyed Ganesh temple, which you won’t find anywhere else.
If you are wondering where the images are, let me disappoint you. I accidentally formatted my camera memory card without copying the files and didn’t even realise it till I reached Bombay and sat with rest of the images 😦 Yeah I spent 1000 bucks on a jeep to go and shoot, and I forgot to copy the files! That’s me, a careless lass! Those who know me, are welcome to abuse me in the comments. Never mind, the memories are with me and will never be formatted! 🙂
My train to Ajmer was delayed by 5 hours. My hotel manager was considerate enough to let me stay in the hotel, free of charge. He was extremely helpful even in finding a good camp stay at Jaisalmer. Thanks Mr Mahendra Saini for all the help! I strongly recommend Saini Guest House, if you want a peaceful budget stay at Sawai Madhopur. You will receive all kinds of assistance from this man!
Next stop: Ajmer and Pushkar!
… to be continued