A TRYST WITH THE TIGER: JIM CORBETT AND NAINITAL

I had gone to Jim Corbett when I was in the second grade and all I remember seeing is the spotted dear in the Jim Corbett National Park. The guide made us take a few flight of stairs atop a watch house and told me that from here we observe the tigers and the other animals. But again, all we saw after climbing up so high was, any guesses????? Spotted deer, imagine! The last time I had gone in November when only the buffer zone is open to the public which does not house many animals. But this time we hit the jackpot. But let’s begin from the beginning.

Named after famous hunter turned naturalist Edward James ‘Jim’ Corbett, the place is home to one of the fiercest animals on earth, the tiger. Now this time I went in the month of June, when the core region of the park is still open to the public. Last time the hotel we stayed at was pretty cool so we stayed at the same, The River Retreat, a unit of the leisure hotels. But then everything isn’t awesome on a trip. There was a drastic drop in the quality of the hotel. I had thought of staying at the UTDC hotel, right in junction of the core and buffer zone, but there was a clear warning on their website that here in Nov 2010, two ladies were taken by tigers near the river. The food was just barely eatable and it used to have a Tandoori evening, which was included in your hotel rent, even that did not happen.But everything is compensated for the hotel because of it’s location. It is on a river side. Though the river did not have a lot of water but still, it felt nice sitting on those rocks.

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Besides the room itself was awesome. You are given a villa with two rooms, a kitchen and a living area complete with a fireplace and even a rocking chair. It exudes a very typical British glow. The property itself is nice and you can take evening walks in its sojourns. Once after dinner I decided to walk on the road outside the park. Now I walked to the gate of it, there were guards chattering and on listening a bit keenly, I came to know that there was a mad elephant loose i the jungle side. I quietly walked back to my room, waking up at every slight sound of a movement. That day I kept in.

The next morning I booked my safari, an early morning safari is great, not a lot of heat and you can see the sun rise among the trees. Then on the way itself, we saw a huge tusker, an elephant, suddenly I was reminded of last night. Then we moved on, saw deer both spotted and sambhar, which is the largest breed of deer. The the barking deer, it is so cute and  actually barks. Then the driver took us somewhere in the jungle and we sat and waited, till then I clicke dthis bird.

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Then after about half hour, we had given all hopes of seeing a tiger,, we moved into the forest, suddenly came a jeep zooming past us and the driver just said, “Waterhole no “. Our river began driving like Micheal Schumacher and told every jeep we met on the way the same thing and after about 6-7 min of driving at breakneck speed, we and a few other jeeps reached waterhole number 2. Then a few more jeeps trickled in, we waited anxiously and then it got up and walked, majestic and royal in all senses of the word, a tiger. But some idiot had parked the car in the middle of the way the tiger wanted to go from, it roared, a bone chilling sound that still haunts me sometimes in the night. But it was just awesome and seeing the tiger in front of your eyes is much better than watching it at a zoo on Nat Geo. But the roar was unimaginably loud and to some extent petrifying. But it felt like I was on Mt. Everest, after seeing the tiger and then I happily returned to the hotel called everyone I knew and told them “I saw a tiger”.

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The rest of the place doesn’t have a lot to see. There is a museum and a temple. The museum is a nice place, where you can see skeletons of the tigers and some really great stuff like geographical models of the earth and India. map of the reserve and recreated scenes of killing of tigers. Some tigers have also been embalmed and kept with complete detail of death. They have also kept the jetty of Jim Corbett. I couldn’t go to the temple because I had eaten chicken and in India you are not supposed to visit temples after eating any sort of non veg. But I did click a photo. It is also on a river bank, really nice. That was Jim Corbett.

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About 80 km higher in Nainital, place of the seven lakes. But I only went to the Naini lake after which the place is named. I also went to the mall road, candles of Nainital are pretty famous, ate lunch and came back. Very hot and crowded only respite was boating in the lake. Serious;y that was Nanital for me. But riding high on my success in seeing a tiger, I came back to Delhi the next day.

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