Shikari Shambu’s and Jim Corbett National Park :)

I am back after a wonderful 10 day trip to the north. The whole week preceding the trip was hectic with all the shopping for the yatra, turning 26 and winding up work for the 10 day bliss. There we were with our bags packed, travelling from different parts of the country to Delhi… our common meeting place for the great Indian Yatra.

The 1st leg of the journey was the Old Delhi station where me and S waited for the others to come with our luggage and theirs too coz moi decided to go shopping and meet up with a friend while we had half the day left in Delhi. Before I proceed any further I need to introduce my dear friends the two photographers D and Mite, D’s hubby and my darling hubby’s ex-roomie Srags, Krishna aka RGV, my bro in law RGV’s assistant J, my hubby darling S and moi!

The Old Delhi station was like any other big city station; sea of humanity, long queues that can drive you mad and people who are extremely RUDE! We had to go past a long line for the security check with people trying to push their way through. Between all this they had a baggage screening counter for which all u needed to do was go and stand somewhere close to the line and u will get pushed right through:P… all I remember is throwing my bag in and running to the other side only to find RGV in a heated argument with the lone security guard manning the screening counter… pelting abuses at him in English for throwing his laptop bag down.. and there on and on he went till the guard looked up and told him “Sir Hindi mein baat karo!” and there stood RGV taken aback and considering he was still pissed he resumed with whatever little he knew in Hindi :).

On reaching the platform was when we saw the number of luggage that each if us carried, 15 pieces and 7 of us! 🙂 and that is how it was gonna be for the next few days at any point everyone is to count the luggage and people lest something or someone got left behind! 😀

The train was as usual late and we whiled away time on an already overcrowded platform. There was ample scope for self entertainment with the police trying to make sure that people were in and not hanging out of an already overcrowded train, a wife making her husband comfortable on the platform and pressing his head and putting him to sleep :).After successful 45 mins of killing time, Ranikhet Express arrives on the platform right behind us… yes yes there was prior announcement so all we had to do was turn pick our bags and dash for the compartment:) .

Once comfortably settled the excitement began to slowly settle in… discussions ranged from whether we would see the tiger, RGV’s fluorescent Chaddi (shorts), photography D clicked a few pictures also 😀 and general tp stuff…we were extremely tired to be discussing anything else for the night with people slowly making themselves comfortable and catching some sleep for the Jim Corbett adventure! 🙂
Ramnagar/ Jim Corbett National Park: We woke up next morning as the train pulled into the Ramnagar the station… first impression it looked something straight out of Sholay…deserted!! for a min you would imagine a dacoit to jump down from his/ her horse 😀 and go off with u 🙂 For 5 am in the morning I do have a wild imagination:P The station was pretty small but well maintained and as we walked out we were extremely excited to see our ride waiting for us, two Maruti Gypsy’s . For us the journey is also as important as the destination itself, hence we knew that nobody was gonna miss a chance to make the most of it 🙂 Thrilled to bits we piled up the luggage and off we went into the jungle the cold breeze waking us up &.

We stopped at Sun Bird guest house and settled on the bed and the chairs in the room while the offices at Corbett opened to take necessary permission to enter the jungle. I comfortably made space on the corner of the bed and decided to sleep while the others sat around yapped, tried to catch some sleep and munch on the goodies in the bag packed by Srag’s mom! 🙂

Model one at the SunBird guest House- Ramnagar

The husband sat right behind me and decided to do some channel surfing and entertain the crowd and he decided the best thing for us to watch would be the Grammy Awards. And mind you they were extremely painful with god knows what they were trying to sing :). By then dawn had broken and we decided to step out and walk up to the nearest tea shop and settle our rumbling stomachs to hot cups of tea, aloo parathas and omelets.

Now in the distance we noticed that RGV sir had begun shooting. Initially we thought he was just capturing the sights and sounds of the sleepy village town only to realize he was busy trying to capture shots that could be used for “Chal Diye” a song from Coke Studio. So his first model was J who kept walking this side that side and everywhere possible: P then me and hubby also walked hand in hand like any romantic couple…adding to the 1st few shots and thus was born RGV! 🙂

Sati Breakfast- order on request- Ramnagar

The b’fast didn’t take long to disappear we polished it off and trust me that was one of the best b’fast that we had in a long time: D and after some general tp with the children waiting to catch their school bus, we got ready to head to the government office to get the necessary permits for the stay and safari.

the little children-waiting for their school bus 🙂

another set who willingly posed for Mite 🙂

Finally after the long wait & with a slight drizzle, the modern age Shikari Shambu’s set off on the trail of the elusive tiger which we knew was gonna be one hell of a task spotting coz for one we were visiting off-season two it was raining. We stayed at Gairal the guest house was about an hour and a half away from the main entrance of Corbett. The drive was brilliant lush greenery, beautiful views, birds chirping and the Ramganga’s crystal clear water making its way through the scenic forest.

The woods are lovely dark and deep.Jim Corbett National Park

We reached the government guest house a cozy place on the banks of Kosi. The rooms had the bare minimum, were decently well maintained and anyways we knew we wouldn’t be needing more. Considering it was almost lunch time and we were hungry as always we decided to freshen up, feast on the yummy lunch and head out for the 1st round of the safari 😀 the Shikari Shambu’s set out with the cameras to shoot the wildlife… (No no we didn’t plan on doing a Salman Khan: P) some trees, birds, the river, mountains and most importantly the tiger if we spotted him.

our Gypsy and D at work 🙂

Now the jungle rules during the safari are quite simple, no making noise, no deos or perfumes, no smoking, no flashy clothes that will disturb the environment. Following this to the tee was our RGV sir he wore military colored clothes so that even if the tiger comes he won’t be visible 😀 Our driver had already told us that since it’s raining spotting animals would be konjam difficult. But all was not lost and we had a relatively successful evening spotting deers – Sambhar, spotted deer, barking deer and wild boars. The husband managed to dose off right through the safari… be it any mode of transport I just dnt understand how he can fall asleep !! 😛

RGV @work the many angles n perspectives

It was just amazing how beautiful the entire place was… you would not feel like saying a word to each other all you would wanna do is breathe in the fresh air, admire the nature, the beautiful animals in the natural habitat.

Spotted Deer..Jim Corbett National Park

Crocodile Point

Papa Sambhar 🙂 Jim Corbett National Park

Highlight of the day..pug mark 🙂

Our drive almost came to an end at around 5:30 pm coz we were required to head back to the guest house by dusk. D and Mite got some amazing shots of the beautiful animals and RGV sir got many shots from different angles high, low and pan and had his subjects walk up down and round and round! :P.
The Shikari’s didn’t get to meet the elusive tiger but we managed to spot a day old pug mark… content that probably day 2 we might get luckier and the beautiful cat might just give us his darshan.Dinner, rounds of antakshari (nt too loud) by the candle light we were ready to crash as we had to leave the next day early in the morning if we had to catch the elephant safari.

Day 2 started quiet gloomy coz it poured the previous night and there was a steady drizzle so we decided to checkout from the guest house and head to Dhikala.RGV was busy shooting through the hole in wall 😀 one of his many perspectives:) On the way to Dhikala we managed to spot a herd of elephants some with huge tusks and a baby elephant all happily grazing away and also spotted some animals we had seen earlier.
Now Dhihaka is one of the most popular spots in Corbett; located at the edge of the broad Patli Dun valley through which the Ramganga flows in numerous channels.

Happy Jumbo enroute to Dhikala

Baby Sambhar..check out the pose 😛

Dhikala offers an uninterrupted panoramic view of the valley, with the Kanda ridge in the backdrop and overlooks Dhikala chaur (one of the largest remaining grasslands of the Park) and Phulai chaur. By the time we reached Dhikala it was already 10 am and being extra unlucky we never got to ride the elephant due to the rains. The men had interesting sights awaiting them when they reached, a bunch of girls were staying at the guest house who added to the scenery. 🙂

An important activity if visiting Dhikhala is a safari through the grasslands. With two guides one each in the respective jeeps the safari had now begun. The drive through the grasslands was beautiful and we were hoping against hopes that the big cat graces us with his darshan. Our guide explained and helped us in spotting the lovely birds, peacocks, langurs, barking deer, and deer with beautiful velvet antlers, vultures and all you could wonder was there is so much to marvel at & imagine how much time god would have invested in creating these creatures. 🙂

D, Srags, Mite and RGV had a lovely time clicking away in the shutterbug haven while I made a mental note to plan an African safari :p .The tiger remained elusive and with heavy hearts made our way back to the base. The first jeep returned with us ie.the couples with the other jeep nowhere in sight.

langur@ Dhikala

Clint Eastwood as named by Mite @Dhikala

A melancholy song on a winter morning@ Dhikala

Waiting..Vultures @Dhikala

Mama Sambhar

While we waited the bunch of girls we had seen during b’fast were getting ready to leave and being young girls they were generating a lot of interest around. It had started drizzling & heading for cover we chanced upon an interesting & absolutely entertaining chat…not like we were listening just we caught two words from the conversation “he felted himself ya”! There that just did it…the four of us burst out into peals of laughter wondering if these chicks had any idea what they were saying!:P If we thought that was bad the next one blew us off our feet it went something like this “Khan Bhaiya come come…please come bhaiya! 😛 now you can imagine our expressions & the direction of our thoughts “Bhaiya bhi bolte ho aur come bhi waah waah 😀 ya perverts I knw :! 😀

After all this we realized that the second jeep and the people never returned, we decided to wait for a bit and even assumed that they might have found the tiger and RGV sir might be directing it :P. A good hour later we were getting worried and sent our driver with a guide to search for these guys while we waited it out. Again no luck now even our search party seemed missing and finally another half hour later everyone returned. They just got caught in admiring nature and climbing to the view points that they lost track of time 🙂 we were just glad that they returned and had a good time. So finally after paying the guides we were ready to head back to the main entrance and from there to Ramnagar for Nanital.

Epitome of grace and Poise @Dhikala

It started pouring heavily and we bid our final goodbye to Jim Corbett where the next driver and our ride waiting to take us to Nanital. The Shikari Shambu’s did not get to see the tiger but we did get to shoot some lovely pictures, discover that we had the potential to act though RGV thought we were lousy modaaalas 😛 and be one with nature! there aint anything more fulfilling than this 🙂

P.S.these pics have been contributed by Mite..and you are by all means allowed to enjoy but kindly refrain from copying them 🙂 should u need them kindly mail me or leave a comment.. 🙂 and all credits/praises for the pics will duly given to the photographer


365 days and the journey still continues :)

“Never go on trips with anyone you do not love”- Ernnest Hemingway

A trip is all about the experiences, the little memories you make all through the way & this is what my husband probably had in mind when our 1st wedding anniversary trip was being planned. Coz he loves me , to have planned this special journey with me!:)

Right now if you ask me, I have no recollection of how we came to agree on the bike trip but all I knew was that this was something he wanted to do and game I was for it!
There was nothing more exciting that I looked forward to than this trip becoz all I wanted it to be was a trip that both of us would remember and something through which we could relive 365 days of madness that our life has been:)

Being married to S was nothing short of an adventure and every trip that we undertook has been nothing less of it either. On a warm June we set out to explore Pondicherry, on his sweetheart (read Avenger)* & that trip turned out to be one of my best to the place coz he had booked us into a lovely resort close to Auroville, with all essentials for a night stay packed without my knowledge into a little back pack. I loved the way he had thought through the whole thing and never let me even get the faintest of idea of what he was upto…so now you get the drift of where the second trip is headed..;)

This month with our anniversary being the highlight, S wanted to make sure that nothing would spoil the journey… and hence the chosen destination Munnar. I haven’t been there and was looking to walk through the tea estates, enjoy the view of the lake, and a walk through the clouds. So all set we decided that our sweetheart* would be packed and sent to Madurai and us to follow on the night bus.
Bags packed, the phone calls home informing them about the journey, we set off, to wake up at the temple city of the south, Madurai. We weren’t quiet prepared for what awaited us in Madurai.. the fact that we assumed we would get rooms on arrival like royalty was soon broken into a million pieces. So the next best thing to do was to find the railway station and wait it out till we could pick up the bike. We freshened up at one of the relatively decent looking hotels and headed out for a quick breakfast, picked up the bike and headed to destination Munnar or so is what i thought.

This was the route that we took Madurai-Vadipatti-Batlagundu-Vatlagundu-Perumalmalai-via palani route-Ganeshpuram & finally reached Elephant Valley resort
All through the drive we passed through mountain, plains, fields, rash drivers, curious onlookers ( probably at the sight of me) and also ear marked the Dindigual Thalpakattu Biryani as a stop over luncheon spot on the return leg of the journey.

All through the ride on NH7 the mind was put to rest, there was no work pressure, there were no phone calls, no worries abt this or that.. what I didn’t know was that the Ghat roads would take my breath away.As we started the climb the curves kept getting better & with each climb the drive keeps getting better for the man behind the wheels and for the pillion rider a chance to take in the brilliance that nature had to offer.

We stopped for breaks that included stretches & photo sessions and antakshari.. which included changing the letters so that we could sing whichever song we knew.. all the while thinking a few more hours and i would reach Munnar.. as we kept finding our way asking the locals for directions, I came across this signboard which said Elephant Valley and that’s when S asked if i have any idea what it was… prompt came my reply, it’s probably a place where they keep people of my size 😛 ( so much for my ability to crack a joke on myself). this got S worried as he would tell me later he just assumed I had seen right through the surprise and played all along knowing where we were headed! 😀

Soon on the last stretch we stopped to ask a local about Ganeshpuram and he just rattled all the major landmarks and gave away the location of the elephant valley! S’s face said it all and then i figured out we were headed there and yet again S told me we were only halting for lunch. Soon we reached EV and I was told we were going to spending the next two days here and that too on the tree house. Seeing my shocked expression S thought I was unhappy about the surprise and didn’t wanna stay there.. but all that happened to me was that I was overwhelmed and was coming to terms with the situation.:)

The walk to the tree house was long..we trekked across coffee plantations, a hanging bridge and the sight of the tree house was breath-taking! the interiors were done up beautifully with the sound of the river adding to the experience of living in a tree house. tastefully done up without harming the environment , it taught us also not abuse nature and live in harmony with it! And the best of it all was exploring some of the property on horse back! 🙂 N S who on a regular day cannot wake up before 8 am woke up at 6:30 am to watch the sunrise and bugged me out of bed, that was the effect being in the lap of nature had on him! 😀
Once settled, we headed out to explore Kodai and to check out shopping and eating places that we had heard so much about.Slightly crowded but the ride leading upto the city was breath-taking.. for one it was chill and two the deep gorges, the tall tress, the mist. clouds all added to the beauty of the ride. We did the usual touristy stuff, walk around most of the place, go around the kodai lake which is huge and beautiful, Coakers walk which disappointed me as I didn’t get to catch a glimpse of the city that lay beneath. 😦 lesson learnt: never go there in the evenings when it’s all misty!
A sleepy city that Kodai is apart from the regular touristy stuff there ain’t anything much to do so we manged to cover most of it in a day and half.We discovered an awesome Tibetian restaurant & a pastry shop with awesome cakes, bun & what not!!

Both me and S were extremely sad that our two beautiful days of being so far away from civilization was coming to an end.. each hairpin curve down, all we could think of was why do good things come to an end so soon.

Our last pittstop was at The Gateway Hotel a sprawling property on a hill with a bird’s-eye view of Madurai, which again had a beautiful driveway leading upto the property making up for the view of the city that i missed at Kodai. 🙂 after a cup of steaming hot coffee and a light snack we headed back to parcel our sweetheart back to Chennai and wait for the bus home!
Indeed it was a well deserved break and a good one at that.. on this trip I learnt that driving the ghats/ Nilgiri stretch keeda in S would never many ever trips we do and he prefers silence unlike me who would love the complete opposite . S would keep giving me surprises and I would never see thru it. N lastly I could never tire from having him as my better n bitter half 🙂

So this one blog is for us.. for this adventurous trip we took.. for days when either of us are low, for days when life hands us the lemons we’ll have this to read through and the millions of pictures i clicked! happy anniversary.. love you.. always! 🙂

I leave you guys with a few pics.. some of my fav from the trip 🙂 in no particular order

Hope you enjoy them