Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Trip that Wasnt

During this time of year, we take our annual vacation to a forest somewhere. The trend so far has been to go steadily North-wards.

Since our last trip was to Madhya Pradesh, perhaps we could east this time round? We considered the NorthEast, Kaziranga/Sunderbans etc. The plan was rejected even before it had formed. Marxists/Naxals and what not said Mom, too dangerous.

What about the West? Gujarat - Lets see the lions before they all disappear. There was general agreement. All seemed fine and we began the usual extensive ground work that goes into each vacation. Few military expeditions can match my Mom in attention to detail. :)

When all seemed to be ok, we saw a Discovery channel documentary about the Gir Lions. We were most disappointed to say the least. The Gir forest was far from inspiring, being dry and arid. The Lions looked defeated and tired. Compared to their African relatives, ( who always look Majestic and well groomed ) they looked like Third World Lions.

Doubt began to loom large; would we see such sad, unhappy lions having gone all the way to Gujarat? Plan B needed to be in place. How about Corbett?, said Dad.

And why not? So Corbett it was. As is the usual procedure, I scanned Flickr and blogs for trip reports from Corbett. The Web was unable to yield any photos / trip reports of Tiger sightings. The landscape of corbett was lovely beyond question. Many birds could be seen there, but apparently when it came to the mammals, the photos were of chittal and a few misty swamp deer.

Lets combine Corbett with something else, said Mom. Bharatpur in Rajasthan, was the natural choice. We had heard that scarcity of water last year had left many visitors to Bharatpur disappointed. Surely this year, with all the rain and flooding everywhere, Bharatpur too would have got its share? Reports from Bharatpur indicated that the water situation was far from rosy. But while the migratory birds had not arrived in their usual numbers, it was visitable.

While looking through flickr I chanced upon some wonderful photos of Gir Lions. Seen through the lens of Discovery, they looked sad, unfed and unhappy. However here, they seemed in good cheer, not as enormous as their African cousins, but still retaining some princely glory.

We decided not to be biased by the Discovery video and included Gir in our plans yet again. Its final said Mom, Bharatpur and Gir it is. Out came the maps and railway timetables, nearest airports were found and convenient trains were located.
The hotels were decided in both Gir and Bharatpur.

When all seemed ready, we found out that we were landing in Gujarat on election day. This was a big no-no. Our other problem came from the sheer difficulty of getting to Gir. The nearest airport to Gir didnt seem to have any flights landing there, from any where. The only option was to take a over night train from Ahmedabad.

It seems that Gujarat is not too keen on promoting its wildlife destinations, despite the fact that they have the only Asiatic lion species on the planet. And lets not forget the Wild Asses of Kutch. Though asses, wild or other wise can be found anywhere in our country, particularly in our Govts.

So where are we going finally, you ask? We're going to Bharatpur and Ranthambore. Both in Rajasthan - the land where the tourist is king. (With a few stops in nearby cities - Cant leave Rajasthan without shopping !!)

The Gujarat Govt can learn a thing or two from Rajasthan, they even have a train nick-named the Ranthambore Express that allows one to reach the park with minimum inconvenience.

Hopefully we'll have a successful trip, photos and a detailed trip report will follow on our return.


Keshav said...

And what about sightings of cows in Mathura? ;)

Nayana & Dushyanth said...

That she can spot in Blore , why go to Mathura, KK .. ;) .. Al the best Roh. Looking forward for good pics from your trip. Enjoy !!!

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