I got to know about the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve by my father Mr. Vinod Goel – an avid wildlife photographer. On August 2010, I decided to go there in monsoons. I had packed my bags for 10 days and was up for my new adventure.
I had one thing clear that I will try to capture maximum moments of “THE CIRCUIT FAMILY” – Tiger family, whom I had seen in my last trip, back in April, 2010. I reached Tadoba in 10th Aug, 2010. From the next day, my experience in the trip had already started to allure me. During the trip I was accompanied by my travel guide and driver Samir and Kailash, my other travel guide who are an expert and wildlife fanatic.
Leaving no moment to slip out of my lenses, I tried to capture some real moments of the family who were all together in 4 days of my 10 day trip. I feel blessed to witness the emotion and exceptionally beautiful moments – this little ‘cubs’ were having in the midst of lush green meadows with drizzling background. Below is my detailed synopsis of my trip.
Day 1, Aug 10, 2010
I reached Tadoba and decided to stay with my very good friend Mr. Suleiman’s Baig (Owner of a Homestay in Mohurli Village, Tadoba). I prepared myself for my safari, checked my camera equipment, discussed about the last sightings of the Circuit family with my driver and guide. I discussed my plans with them, sorting out on how we will proceed in our safaris.
Day 2 – Aug 11, 2010
My second and third day went about finding myself the best accommodation, besides, my trip in Tadoba started with amplified excitement. The morning was a scenic beauty in green and filled with the fragrance of wet soil. I left for my first round of the safari. I was being accompanied by my travel guides – Samir and Kailash, like previously mentioned they are the fearless locals residing in Mohurli village. When I planned my trip, my sole thought was to capture innumerable shots of the Circuit Family. However, when you plan to do something in the jungle, well, it never goes as planned. Jungle is full of adventure and is completely unpredictable. So was this family!
All day long, I yearned for them to give me their sight, but they didn’t. I knew they were in the forest, hence I kept on looking for them with a hope. Meanwhile, being on safari, I made the rest of my time, inhaling the beauty and clicking the best shot possible of numerous other animals and insects. In the evening, I prepped myself for another thrill ride in safari. Ultimately, I was also hoping to get a Tiger sighting. Interestingly the jungle ranger gave me some entertainment. Apparently, their gypsy was stuck in the narrow lane of the safari route. The lane en-route to the safari is quite difficult, especially at the time of monsoon. It gets clogged with water and the road becomes all muddy, hence, leaving you stuck in the middle of the Kacha road. Offering them a helping hand was the only option for our gypsy people, hence we were bound to leave them at the entrance gate all the way back. During this time I saw two Dholes (wild dog) in the midst of bushes, hiding behind and looking for a point direction – maybe in a lookout of their meal!
While we were gradually passing the route, finally, the Lord had blessed me with an amazing sighting, which I was praying for from the time I was planning for the trip. Yes! I did get a sight of the royal beauty, sitting peacefully in the wet grounds of forest near meadows and trees in Mohurli range, near water hole no 9. All I could do (my reflex) is to click as many captures that I could. The first glimpse is still afresh in my memory. As I was looking at him, I saw 1 cub no more than 9 months of age. He was not there for too long, giving me his sight, he took his leave and hid himself behind the long tree in the forest.
I also saw an impeccable creature – our National bird – Peacock. He was swaying himself in the midst of the rain, quite a view I got. I clicked as many pictures that I could. With the background of grassland; dancing peacock, well you can very much imagine how magnifying that view could be. I retired for the day with a hope of seeing them the next day!
Day 3 – Aug 12, 2010
I woke up with a fresh start and went for my third safari. It was all full of raindrops and the surrounding was filled with earth fragrance. One knows it well, unless in the presence of such beauty. I saw few birds and some plantation. I saw Sambar Deer, Serpent Eagle and Spotted Crocodile. But I did not see any Tiger. Samir encouraged me that, let it be in nature. When we will see something it would be breathtaking. After the morning safari, I got back to my accommodation (which was still not up to my comfort).
After breakfast, I shifted myself to the resort ‘Saras Resort’, which was really nice and so were the staff there. One of the spookiest things, during the entire time of my resort was that I was only one who was staying there. The resort exactly has 6 rooms and a dining hall. And I was the only guest decided to stay my entire trip in the particular resort. It stands out to be an advantage for me, since I love peace. During monsoon period, there is not much of tourism who flocks here, hence it makes it less crowded.
I had my lunch, figured my basics and rested for some time. In the evening, I geared myself for a hopeful safari ride. But then, in the jungle safari, you should never lose hope. You never know, when and where you witness the beauty of flora and fauna.Of-course I didn’t get another glimpse of the tiger family who is famously known to be ‘Circuit Family’.
But I had a goosebump experience; with no light in the village and heavy pouring of rain, thundering voice of the lightning really got me high. It was really exciting and at the same time, it spooked me a bit. I captured a few moments of that lightning and thunderstorm. I might sound crazy, but it was really funny and scary to sit all alone in the resort and capture the nature going wild in the midst of wilderness. I came back to my resort, and dozed off soon post supper time.
Day 4 – Aug 13, 2010
I started with my safari. Samir and Kailash, constantly egged me towards different sighting of plants and birds and their nest. While our safari gypsy was moving slowly, all of a sudden Samir whispered (which was quite loud!) – TIGER! I couldn’t believe my eyes that I witnessed the Circuit Family. They were bigger than what I had seen them last time in April of 2010. There were two female and two male cubs playing along with each other. Out of the 4 cubs, one male cub was quite mischievous, he would do something such as hopping from one place to another, pranking his fellow siblings, coming across the road and then again hiding back behind the bush. He would especially catch lots of attention. So were the other cubs.
Now that I mention this, I feel, mother Tiger had complete faith on our gypsy that she let her cubs play blissfully without her presence. I believe I saw only one time, and no more after the morning safari.
I returned happily back at my resort, rested and waited eagerly for my next ride in the evening. When I went to the safari, I wasn’t saddened because I felt quite content from the morning adventure. I came back to retire for the day, and felt quite happy that finally, I see my days in the trip fruitful.
Day 5 – Aug 14, 2010
My day started quite mischievously. The soft drizzle of the rain and the birds chirping their melodious way. It was beautiful. I got ready and freshened up and started on with my safari of the trip. As I looked around and embraced all the energy in from the earth land. It’s quite soothing to be in a place nothing else matter. You just feel to offer gratitude for all that Mother Nature has given to you.
Our gypsy moved slowly in the morning because it was quite challenging task to steer the wheel in a muddy and sloppy area. But fortunately during the time, I saw the same cubs. One of the most magnificent sight that I witnessed along with fellow members in the gypsy – Female cub watching over to a different direction from the branch of a tree. It was one of a sight that I truly feel blessed to be able to capture. Right from the moment of keeping one paw to one of the lower branches and then slowly climbing upon the locks was something to awe about. It was truly beautiful. She would have been there in that standing position for almost 2.5 seconds, which was enough for me to capture such a shot! Following, her brother also trailed her and then they both started playing with each other. Teething and pawing one another, and playing with the water. I count it as one of the best moment of my entire life, and also feel large in life having to see such an insight of their little private world.
While we were photographing them, Kailash saw another gypsy coming. Well, they were the first gypsy full of wildlife photographers. I saw the first gypsy in my whole trip, now! We all greeted each other, helped hands in finding some good shots and then we moved on.
We began with the safari and suddenly we saw a barking deer in front of our gypsy. He was just twirling around in search of fresh food and grass. But he stopped, twitched his ear and looked towards us. Within a fraction of a moment, he was running towards the other end. We wondered why, but then we knew instantly. He called out. Quite loudly. We were quietly sitting in our car, waiting for the next move. And then, we saw the majestic cub walking in pride by the sideline of the long bushes. Now, you can imagine why the barking Deer, ran from his place the first time! It was a scene more like what we see in the T.V series on National Geographic Channel. Watching these cubs completely unaware of the real world, sometimes feels good. You feel, when they don’t disturb us, why should we? I returned from the safari feeling all content and happy about the day well spent.
Day 6 – Aug 15, 2010
I had woken up with a smile on my face; feeling relaxed and rejuvenated being present in the woods. It was all me and nature. I made sure all my equipment was cleaned and ready to get some fabulous shots. I got ready and had chit chatted with the resort staff. Yeah, beside me, there lived four more people in the resort! Sounds spooky and fun, isn’t it. Well, it definitely was.
I believe as far I can recall, the evening of my fifth day was the only time that I saw the cubs visible in the narrow lane and the bushes. They were not as cheerful or best of their playful mood, since they have not hunted for a time being. I could figure it out by looking at their weak belly. They were exhausted and did not engage themselves into much of activities.
The best I could do was track one species at one point of time and make the best of the documentary through lots of pictures that I could click.
I still recall, I saw the Circuit family – cubs for the last time in my life. In Nov’ 2010, one of the cubs died, who was Circuit, under whose name the entire family was famous for; and the rest moved to a different area of the Tadoba. As per the sources, no sightings of these cubs anywhere, after April 2011. The tigress was still seen near Jamni village (Tadoba Range) however, no cubs were ever seen.
The Last Days – Aug 16 – 21, 2010
Till the time I was there in Tadoba, I saw life instances and livings of varied species and it feels wonderful. Getting them see from the close angle in their habitat is something beyond explaining. During my stay in the rest of the trip, although I did not have any Tiger sighting, but I did see Gaurs, Dholes (Wild Dog), Marsh Crocodiles, Langurs, Barking Deer, Sambar Deers, Chitals, Grey Jungle Fowl, Indian Roller, Flora – Gloriosa Lily (the state flower of state Tamil Nadu), Mushrooms. Other than that, the rest of my day passed capturing the beauty of Tadoba Tiger Reserve in terms of plantation and forest.
Kailash showed me some more birds around that place such as Brown Fish Owl – a beauty of nature. He also showed me a spotted owl. I returned back to my place to stay, only to have meals and rest.
The last day of my trip, as I packed my bags to leave, I was feeling relaxed and composed just like a still water, thinking to myself about the entire stay in Tadoba. I collected lots of memory with me (that included having only Dal and Jeera Rice every day of my stay in all of my 10 day trip in lunch and dinner – that’s a perk of being a strict vegetarian) and I returned home, sharing my wonderful trip and experience with my loved ones.