I had been planning my visit to Tadoba for a long time but could finalize it only after almost 8 months and to my joy I was not going alone this time; unlike past, my wife – Radhika also joined me for this trip. I was more joyful that I could manage this trip taking her along with, just after 20 days of our marriage and visiting Tadoba with my wife was a dream. Though I am thankful to my college friend – ‘Ashutosh Mishra’ for he had invited us at his wedding which was planned to take place at Nagpur – The Tiger Capital of India.
As soon as I had received Ashutosh’s wedding invite which happened in Dec 2015, I started planning for this trip, combining it with a visit to Umred Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary, which is only 55 Kms from Nagpur. This particular sanctuary got famous overnight in June 2013 because of a male tiger ‘Jai’, who had come here from Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary which is around 110 Kms from Umred Karhandla. Since then, I had a keen desire to visit this not so known wildlife destination – which finally happened.
As I was sure, that my trip will get fixed this time and I would be surely visiting the places I had planned, I called up my friend and naturalist Samir Sheikh, to get latest information about these wildlife destinations. He suggested to only visit Tadoba, as there were 2 Tigresses, namely Sonam and Maya. Both having 3 cubs, who were around 4-5 months old then.
Visiting Tadoba with my Wife – during this trip, I had planned to go for two safaris in Tadoba keeping them as Morning safari on February 6th, 2016 and Evening safari on February 7th, 2016. And planned for one safari in Umred, keeping it in the evening of February 7th, 2016. I had been visiting Tadoba since 2010 and out of all my 18 trips. This had been the shortest.
The excitement of Visiting Tadoba with my Wife begins on the evening of February 4th, 2016
I along with Radhika, left for Nagpur on the evening of February 4th, 2016. We started our Journey from Delhi by train.
February 5th, 2016
We arrived at Nagpur in the morning hours of February 5th, 2016, the Ashutosh’s marriage was planned. We stayed at his place which was enjoyable. We went out during the day and ate Poha and samosas at the Kasturchand Park, I liked Samosa over the Poha – Yes I am a foodie. In the evening, we went to Haldiram’s for some snacks. Halidriam’s is widely spread and a very good place to have snacks, complete meal. In the late evening, we enjoyed at Ashutosh’s wedding.
February 6th, 2016
We left for Tadoba at 10:00 am in the morning, reached the Irai Safari Retreat in Mohurli village around 01:00 pm, after quick check-in, we took lunch and left for the safari. We entered the Jungle through the Mohurli gate, Our naturalists – Samir and Kailash accompanied us for the safari. As we entered the Jungle, Kailash said, ‘Bharat bhai, chaar din se sighting nahin hui’ (there has been no sightings since past 4 days). I smiled looking at him and said, let’s do our survey round today and enjoy the beauty of the Jungle. After exploring the Mohurli range, we entered the Tadoba range. I was a bit nervous as to how Radhika would perceive this visit, as it was her first ever safari in jungle. I was very much positive and had high hopes that we would get to see the King of the jungle. We all kept providing knowledge to Radhika, shared our past experiences and could also show her different species of birds – Black Red Start, Chat, Oriental Magpie Robins, White Breast Kingfisher, Painted Stork, Little Cormorant and a few more…
We were also lucky to spot a huge marsh crocodile on the banks of Tadoba Lake. After this we came to Mohurli range specially to check water holes in search of animal. We went to an area called Jamun Jhora and got to see a male gaur (but from a distance) and herd of gaurs. We waited for almost 15 mins for them to come to drink water at the water hole, but they didn’t turn up.
Telia Dam Tadoba
We also went to Telia lake (Telia dam or Dharan) where we found 4 more vehicles and got to know they heard tigers growl. We also waited along with them and enjoyed the sunset at the same time. Being there, we heard chital’s alarm calls and got very excited that now we would get tiger sighting as the tiger could come in open, but sadly, it didn’t happen and we had to return as it was already 05:30 pm and safaris end by 06:00 in the evening and we only had half an hour more to reach back to the exit gate.
While on our way back, we saw, chitals, sambar deer, barking deer, hanuman langur, male gaur and sighting of Sloth bear along with its 2 cubs (which just ran away as they saw us), we retired for the day, enjoyed the chirping of birds from the deck area of our tent at the Irai.
After our safari, we got to know that few people spotted tigress Maya along with her cubs at Ain bodi waterhole in Tadoba range. I also felt that the bird life which used to be in abundance there in winters had decreased gradually.
February 7th, 2016
Telia Dam Tadoba
In the morning we entered the park and explored Mohurli range (Telia Dam), found pugmarks of cubs, their mother Sonam and father Bajrang. After waiting there for some time we left the area and went to Tadoba range and found few vehicles on chital road, and there she was Maya – sitting on road.
Luckily she was facing our vehicle.
Tigress with cubs
Tigress gave beautiful shots
Tigress in Tadoba
In sometime after giving us beautiful shots, she stood up, marked her territory by urinating and went into forest looking for some prey, she was in search of food.
Tigress urinating and marking territory
She then came towards crocodile breeding centre, then crossed Panchdhara and went towards Tadoba campus. We went to that side and waited for 10 mins, but she didn’t turn up. We went towards lake side and again waited.
In the meanwhile, got to know that early in the morning few people saw her cubs crossing the road near Ain bodi waterhole which was roughly around 3-4 kms (through forest) from the place we were present.
We predicted that there could be two possibilities, first tigress will hunt and then will bring cubs to feed and then no one will get to see them during this safari then. Second, she will go back to cubs and then again cross the road towards water hole – Ain bodi and may hunt later. In the interim, Radhika saw some movement in the bushes and said that there might be a tiger. And it was her; she came and marked her territory, and scathed also. Then she walked on the road before disappearing into forest.
We then went to Ain bodi where cubs were inside bushes, we waited there and after an hour Maya along with her cubs came on the road walked little towards us and then went towards waterhole.
Tigress and cubs went in the bushes
We left the area it was already 9:15 am and we were to go to Karhandla. We were very lucky to see one Dhole (Wild Dog) near Pandher Pauni Waterhole no 1. We got to know from other tourist gypsy which was there, that there was a pack of 8 wild dogs who chased a spotted deer and deer entered in the water and crocodile took an advantage and hunted down that deer. What a sight it would have been!
The Iora Green Resort
Later, we came back to resort at around 11 am, had breakfast, packed our stuff and checked out and at around 12:15 pm and further left for Karhandla by gypsy. It was a 2 hr 30 min drive. We entered in the sanctuary by 03:00 pm. It is very small sanctuary with an area of only 189 Sq. Km (constituted on 29 June 2012), which got very famous since past 2 months. Currently there are only 13 tigers, 9 cubs, 3 females – UK T2 (Chandi), UK T3 (Fairy), and UK T4 (Rai) and one male tiger – UK T1 (Jai). We didn’t have tiger sighting in our only one safari that we had planned but by then had a fairly good idea about the sanctuary. It has got 4 gates – Karhandla, Pullar, Gothangaon and Pauni and 3 tourist ranges: Umred, Kuhi, Paoni. ‘Karhandla’ and ‘Pullar’ gates serves the Umred range. Gothangaon gate serves the Kuhi range and Paoni gate serves the Paoni range. Karhandla gate is the nearest to Nagpur (60 Kms) and is the best gate. Paoni is least visited and currently tigers are shy in this part.
Our Safari got over at 06:00 pm, after the safari we had local snacks – Kachha chiwra with onion, chilies mixed in oil, in Northern India Murmure and then went to a resort lora Green Resort (Bhaiji’s resort) located around 7 Kms from the gate to have tea and plan for our future visits. The resort is newly constructed and is a private property.
The Iora Green Resort
We also got to know that Umred town is famous for local Saoji’s (Saoji or Savji) style of food. Saoji food is famous for its very hot and spicy flavour. There are also lines of Saoji bhojanalays (restaurant) in Nagpur which are very popular in Maharashtra but local people claim Umred has better taste than Nagpur. Our naturalists from Tadoba went back to Mohurli, while I along with Radhika, packed our cameras and left for Nagpur at 07:00 pm by a cab as we had to board train for Delhi at 09:00 pm. Unfortunately we couldn’t taste Saoji’s cuisine this time. By the time we reached Nagpur it was already 08:00 pm and we were hungry, so we went to ‘Haldiram’s Thaat Baat’ restaurant which serves mix Thali with Rajasthani, Gujarti and North Indian cuisine. This place is undoubtedly one of the best place to have vegetarian food and that too very fast. Finally our lovely and joyful trip came to an end and we left for the station and boarded our train for Delhi. Visiting Tadoba with my Wife was like a dream come true!