Thursday, March 28, 2013

A walk in jungle

On reaching Satpura National park we were informed that they offer three ways to explore the jungle--- a safari in open jeeps, an elephant ride and a jungle walk. We decided to go on the jungle walk first, the same evening.
Our guide Laxman was at our room on 3.15 p.m. and we walked towards the bank of the river to take the boat. The boat drops the travelers at a particular spot from where the walk on fixed route starts.
At the time we started  the sun was still high and shinning in the sky. The golden ball glittered brilliantly. It’s deep reaching fingers tickled the amazingly blue waters of the river and waves glee in silvery mirth. The  tinkling of countless ripples filled the air with sonorous raptures. On one side of the river the jungle stood in quite a close proximity to the river bank while on the other far off stretch of the trees could be seen shrouded in a haze behind the green ground rolling off for miles and miles. The boat drive was of around 5 kms and it dropped us at the spot from the jungle trek had to start.
Getting down from the boat we climbed slightly rising ground to reach the level of the forest. Laxman had a tranquilizing spray and a lathi with him. We guessed that this must be relatively safer area of the forest, that is why the walk is organized on this side of the forest. Laxman in his solemn voice informed us about the dos and dont's in case of sudden encounter with wild bear etc and that combined with the resounding silence of jungle set the mood of  thrill and anticipation. Every few steps our guide stopped to show us fresh pug marks on the soil on the track we were walking, clawing of the bark of trees by bears and leopards. Even the slightest sounds on the dry leaves covering the ground made us alert. We did see few harmless animals like deer, sambhar, langoors and wild boars and learnt a lot about local trees, plants and variety of grass.

From the boat the jungle looked united, an entity in itself but as we approached closer it started separating- the individual trees, the thickets, the foliage, exotic sounds, spill of sunlight, patches of light and shadow, crackling of dried leaves, snapping of twigs, insects, silences, each of these distinct yet inter-woven.

The cool shade inside the jungle was very comforting. Enough light penetrated through the vegetation to make us see upto long distances but it was not difficult to imagine what an eerie feel it would give once the darkness descends. However at the moment the mellow evening light filtering through the forest touched every leaf, every tuft of grass as if with a magic wand. The tall stately trees stood wrapped in haloed aura and the smaller plants, bushes, grass, the entire thicket knelt before them in complete devotion.

After almost an hour and half long walk through the forest we reached a clearing where an immense water body simmered lazily .The sun glowed on the other side of waters. The forest  on this side stood in revering silence. How we wished to enjoy the beauty of sunset in that panoramic setting but that was not to be. We could not have stayed there up to sun set as we needed to cross the forest while returning to the other side and walking through forest in dark was not advisable. Anyway we enjoyed what lay before us stopping there for few moments. The area was haven for birds. Like solitary thinkers few perched on dried stumps here and there. Others nibbled on the wet mud toddling in groups. In between the flocks of   few others flew majestically setting a harmonious rhythm in the air.
We returned via another route. This  was almost on the periphery of the jungle. The shadows had become darker. Though unseen the shuffling activities deep inside forest could be felt. May be the young ones were being herded to safety after  prancing and frolicking the whole day out, the adults were retracing their steps back to home, heavy hoofs, deep grunts. The pulsating presence of a world so different  yet so near created a strange mixture of feelings of  trepidation and fascination.
After about  8 to 10 Km. walk  we reached the appointed spot at about 6 P.M. By that time the boat too had arrived to pick us up. Lowering ourselves on the boat seats we threw a glance towards jungle. It stood there silent, dark  and closed. 

An ant hill dug by bear to taste the fresh ants.

Chinda grass.This grass is used to make brooms and alongwith layers of Sagaun leaves it is used to make roofs of huts.

fresh pug marks of a leopard who crossed the tract we were walking

Bison with his horns peeled the bark of this young ghiria tree.We were told he loves to taste the bark of these trees as it is very soft.
                                                  our guide Laxman with Sunder.

                                                       Big sized mushrooms

River Denwa---The boat which brought us to jungle
                                                   The water body on the other end

                                              crocodile bark tree---local name saj

The elegant Bhoj patra tree.The bhoj patra on which our rich ancient literature was written
Sugner grass used to prepare brooms.

marks of paw scratches by leopard

                                                The delicate Lavender flower

The Baber grass used to make rope.


Pics   by sunder iyer and namita sunder

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