Monday, 6 January 2014

Enchanting Madhya Pradesh - On the forest trail

The days passed slowly as the stress built up. I was yet not sure whether all the planning we had so painstakingly carried out would materialise at all or whether we would have to unceremoniously cut the trip even shorter - Enchanting Madhya Pradesh - The planning.

However, things started to look brighter in the very last week prior to travel. I was eventually told at work that I could be away till the 1st January and even returning on 4th January was now a possibility. However, it was now too late to change the bookings, though we still hung on to the train tickets for the 4th return - just in case.

The trip begins 

Our train was to leave at 11pm from Howrah. My niece had been to her Spell Bee Mega Final and was very excited as she had secured third position at the national level. Seeing her gleaming with joy, all the replanning felt worthwhile.

The train left on time. We were travelling by the Jnaneshwari which a few years back had met with a severe accident, and the trauma lived on. Thankfully, our journey was uneventful, though we were returning on the same train. The arrival at Bilaspur was on time as well. We were met at the rail station car park by our driver Santosh and his very distinctive purple coloured Tavera. Santosh turned out to be a big, cheerful guy with a loud laugh. It was comforting to have him accompany us through the trip.

Achanakmar

We were booked at the Sal Valley Resort in the village of Keonchi. The resort is about 7kms from the Lamani gate of the Achanakmar forest. Once in Madhya Pradesh, the Achanakmar forest is now part of Chattisgarh. The tigers of the central India forest belt have been thriving in the very important Kanha Achanakmar corridor spread over 38,000 sq km. The numbers are gradually going up and we were later told by our forest guide in Kanha that poaching is not a hazard in these areas. As there is no support from the locals, the outsiders are unable to gain illegal access to these forests. For the locals, these forests are their lifelines and they protect it. People working for the forest earn a lot of respect in these areas. Forest guide and safari driver jobs are high on demand. The forest is expanding as well. The core zone is taking up more buffer areas and the buffer zone is moving further out. Such endeavours are never possible without the support of the people. This was a very welcoming news in a world where worldwide deforestation is a major concern.

From Bilaspur, as we moved towards Achanakmar, the terrain started to change. The plains gave way to the hills and natural Sal forest was replacing the Teak plantation. We had lost network connectivity on our mobile phones and was informed by Santosh that only BSNL worked in these parts - we were isolated from the world. We cruised through the twists and turns amidst scenic greenery, indeed a very pleasant ride. Since leaving Bilaspur, there wasn't much traffic either. At almost every turn we were greeted by large families of monkeys bouncing gleefully all around us and had to be severely honked aside. I am not projecting any political preference, but BJP governance has definitely understood the benefits of developing better roads. After a couple of hours drive we were stopped at the first check-point of Achanakmar forest. Santosh was from Jabalpur and had not been to Achanakmar before. He took the directions to our resort, which was another 20 Kms further on.

We went past the Lamani gate and reached Keonchi village. Our resort was on the Pendra Road, another kilometre from the village. Sal Valley Resort offers a rustic lifestyle in its village hut style cottages with matching decor. There are huge cow bells outside the door which are to be sounded to call for room service. My niece was having a gala time hanging on to them.
The purple Tavera parked at Sal Valley Resort. The Amarkantak plateau visible in the background

We were greeted by Mr Sohan Singh Rawat. He is originally a naturalist from Garhwal but was currently filling up the position of the manager who was recuperating after suffering a severe stroke. Sohan, or Sonu as he preferred to be called, was an extremely helpful and cheerful guy. Even while working as the manager, his passion remained as a naturalist and he was eager to share his knowledge.

At the resort
Preying mantice

We had a vegetarian lunch at the resort and lazed away the afternoon on the grounds in the pleasant sun. It was a place begging for an idle life. We did realise though that we needed to do something before the day ended. There was a forest covered hillock just beyond the fields behind the resort which offered a pleasant walk. Sonu suggested we could go on that and sent along a very quiet man named Dashrath with us as a guide. It was indeed a pleasant walk amidst the Sal forest, but without a guide, very easy to be lost. The forest undergrowth was formed by 'Vana Tulsi' which literally translates to Wild Basil. The drying flowers spread its incredible aroma all over the forest. It took me a while to register where that ethereal fragrance was coming from till I noticed the smell on my hands. I had caught on to the smell when my hands had brushed on the shrubs.
The hillock of the nature trail
On the walk
Looking back across the field
The almost setting sun
Through the forest
The forest
By the time we  returned through fields of Tuvar dal, it was already dark. The temperature was already starting to dip close to single figures. We met one of the hotel staff at the school beside our resort. He was collecting his kids, a boy and a girl from the hostel attached to the school. They stayed there after school and he took them back to his village about 5 kms away in the evenings. It was heart warming to see the simple village people realising the importance of education, even for their girl child.
We had a lazy tea in the open restaurant.
Evening Tea at the Restaurant
As dark descended, the sky exploded with stars, interrupted only by the lights of the resort. It has been a long time since I had seen a clear sky like that. My niece was excited as she finally could see Orion in its full glory, even the sword visible. I ventured out with my father for some star hunting, but soon escaped back to the resort scared by the pitch darkness. We had our dinner and went to bed early. We were taking a jungle safari early morning and needed our sleep after the overnight train journey.

All six of us were up and ready for the safari at 5:30am sharp. It was bitterly cold and we would be travelling in an open-top four wheel drive Gypsy. Just like all forests in Central India, it had to be a petrol driven vehicle having off-roading capabilities. We had covered up as much as we could to keep away the biting wind that would hit us in the open vehicle. The Lamani gate was 7 kms from the resort and Dashrath was our driver. The Gypsy sped through the empty roads we had taken the day before. In the darkness, the road through the forest appeared very different from what it was in broad daylight. The Gypsy headlight was piercing through the pitch darkness. Only a couple of vehicles crossed us en-route. We got our permits at the gate. A couple of guards were keeping themselves warm at a small bonfire. They said that the weather was unusually warm for this time of the year because of the cloud cover in the past week. We thanked our luck!
It was still dark when we arrived at the Lamani gate at about 6am
Our guide for the day was another quiet and pleasant man named Kanhaiya Lal. We were the only ones taking the morning safari today. Not being a popular stop for tourists, there are no more than a couple of safaris in a day he said. Even during the peak tourist season, barely more than five safaris make it in a day. It was almost like we had the entire forest to ourselves.

I had read that Achanakmar was a beautiful forest and was not disappointed. Mainly comprising of Sal and bamboo, the trees grew picturesquely in the hilly terrain. The safari path veered off the main forest road and we were moving into inner parts of the forest through less trodden undergrowth. Our guide pointed out a few Cheetals or spotted dear, almost camouflaged in the forest undergrowth in the darkness of the early morning hours.
Spotted deer
For the rest of the path, there wasn't much apart from pea fowls scuttling away at the sound of our approaching vehicle. The fog was casting a magical spell to the surroundings and we were enjoying the forest in silence.

Kanhaiya lal asked us to slow down by a dusty patch of road. The foot guide had earlier found a tiger pug mark and had kept it covered. With 26 tigers in that huge forest, it was unlikely we would actually come across one. The forest department had placed cameras at key tiger crossing points and this is how they monitored them. It was the job of the foot guide to come down for the films, armed with an axe.
As we returned to the main forest path, a huge bison was blocking our approach, glaring at us. We stopped at a distance as the beast slowly made its way into the forest. A calf and an adult behind it was watching us too. They soon followed the bigger beast, speeding across the path as they went jumping through the foliage. The curious calf stared back at us for a few more minutes before disappearing into the undergrowth.
With the path cleared, we made our way to the watch tower. It was a steep climb to the top. From here we could see the densely covered Satpura range all around us as the sun shone on the tree tops. We spent a few moments there, before starting for the Saheb Pani Stop Dam. Not much happened on the way apart from Kanhaiya Lal ji spotting the pug marks of a sloth bear.
Looking down from the watch tower
Sloth bear pug marks
Our guide Kanhaiya lal on the left and Dasharath the driver on the right
The Saheb Pani Stop Dam turned out to be a quaint water reservoir. I would have assumed it to be a natural water body but the name suggested differently. Our guide insisted it was natural and during the British rule, the Sahibs used to come down here and put up their tents. The beauty of the place was breathtaking. The water was dark and calm, working as a huge natural mirror. During the summer months, the animals come down here to quench their thirst and hence a good place to spot even tigers. In the winter months even without rain, there is enough precipitation to help the animals, so they rarely came around. We were in no hurry and lingered around the place. The sun rays were filtering through the leaves of the dense forest. In the calmness I could hear the dew droplets from the trees. Even my chatterbox niece was enjoying the beauty. I will let the pictures speak the rest, if they can do justice that is.
Sahib pani panaroma
Difficult to spot where the reality ended and reflection started
Time to leave


It was about 9am when we were back at the Lamani gate. We thanked Kanhaia Lal ji and decided to warm up at a tea stop. The owner of the tea stall was a school teacher and would be closing the shop as soon as the bus arrived. His kid boy was a happy bundle of joy. It was a long wait as the water took its time to get heated on the forest wood fire, but worth the wait as the wonderful smoky tea that was served. I couldn't help having a couple.
Dashrath had offered to take us to Mandwa rani, also called Mai ka Mandap, after we returned. The place was at a distance of about 6 kms from the resort and accessible either by foot or by off-roaders. Legend has it that the rivers Narmada and Sone were to get married here. However, Narmada's friend, a rivulet named Johila tricked Sone who gave in to her flirtations. This angered Narmada and she left the Mandap, furious, and changed the direction of her flow away from Sone. She has since remained unmarried growing an apathy towards men. This is the myth behind Narmada flowing west to the Arabian sea instead of the normal flow to the Bay of Bengal. She cursed everything and everyone gathered at the place for the ceremony and changed them to rocks.

As for reality, at Mandwa rani, there is a beautiful waterfall on the river Amravati beside which is a cave where the wedding ceremony was supposed to have been planned. Narmada is worshipped here and the place has now been developed into a picnic spot.

However, as we returned from the safari, we were told that another group from the resort had already booked the Mandwa rani trip and so we had to wait. They took longer than expected to return. By the time the tourists came back, it was too late for us to take the Gypsy as it was going on an afternoon safari and the other petrol Gypsy was out for repairs. We were left with a diesel Mahindra jeep which didn't have four wheel drive capability and needed to be push started. I would have loved to walk, but we were travelling as a family. Sonu stepped in. He had promised us a trip to Mandwa rani and didn't want our day to be wasted. He sent Dashrath off to the safari and himself took us on the drive. Given the workload he was under, this was indeed a generous gesture from him. Sonu warned us that even if it could feel dangerous at times, he was a skilled driver and would take us through. That is the reason he had opted to come along as Dashrath would have been unable to drive on these terrains without four wheel drive capability. We soon found out why we needed an off roader. All we had was a dirt track through the Achanakmar buffer forest zone. We were going through river beds and climbing steep inclines and all on a jeep without a four wheel drive. It was impressive stuff!
The incline was much steeper than it appears here
Crossing a river bed
Sonu kept chatting in between the million phone calls he was receiving. He had been at the resort for the past 6 years and as a naturalist his job was to accompany the forest safari. No wonder he did not want to miss the chance of being in the wild again, must have been fed up with his desk job responsibilities. In those days Mandwa rani was a rustic beauty. He is a trained rock climber and came down to the place quiet often. There weren't any tourists in these parts and neither were there the stairs to aide them. It required deftness to get down to the cave clambering on to the rocks and hanging on the tree roots. The place has been developed into a picnic spot in the past couple of years. As we rode on, his trained eyes kept on spotting birds obscured by the leaves and trees.
Mandwa rani on this particular day was very busy, prowling with kids. Normally the place is empty Sonu had said. It was just that a school picnic was in progress just before the Christmas holidays.
The girls were ready to pose even without being asked

We went down the stairs to the cave led by a Sadhu baba. Previously the Amravati river used to flow over the cave but in due time it had changed its course. Man had further helped by building a concrete barrier. Only a trickle of water now passed through the cave. The cave was supported by a huge stone column. Though it didn't look or feel like wood, Sadhu baba mentioned that the log had been brought in by the water during a storm and it got stuck there. Sonu later said that he had not seen it 6 years back and must have been put up as a support to stop the place from caving in. Guess this is how a myth is built around a place.
 
Sohan Singh Rawat with his ride
The drive back was equally interesting with Sonu's driving as commendable. Though the jeep had to be rolled down the hill to be started up, the battery had already drained. We returned for a late lunch of tender chicken curry. As all of us had overeaten, we decided to go on a walk to Keonchi village, about a kilometre away. We went into the shops selling local produce and bought some raw honey. I have never tasted such strong honey before. As we opened it back in our cottage room, the place was filled with its flowery fragrance. A single spoonful was enough to heat up.
On way to Keonchi village

It was another cold and clear, starry night. My brother stayed out photographing the constellations as we all went to bed. We were leaving for Kanha next day.

Kanha

Santosh had slept in his dear vehicle. That's what he always did on a trip even if comfortable rooms were available, he said.

It was Christmas day and we were travelling to Kanha. Kanha is about 200 kms from Keonchi and would take us a relaxed 5 hours. We started after breakfast and was targeting to have lunch at Kanha.

As we left Keonchi we passed the turn that would have taken us to Amarkantak. Amarkantak is only about 25 kms from Keonchi and we would be soon returning there in a few days as the last stop in our trip. To reach Kanha, we would be travelling another 80 kms to Dindori from where the road bifurcates. We would take the road to Mandla and from there to Kanha which is another 50 kms away. As we sped through the beautiful stretch of road, the terrain changed from hilly to flat land. The Amarkantak plateau disappeared in the distance. There were miles of arid land spreading out to the horizo. We passed villages with names that had a poetic ring to them. Some very familiar - Gorakhpur, Rampur but mostly uncommon ones Kinchouri, Rusa, Garasarai, Pindori, Tilaipani. Village life went past, women balancing wood stacks and water containers on their heads, sometimes the daughters helping them out. Boys were playing cricket in the pleasant winter sun. There were village fairs selling local produce. Free range chickens were selling at exorbitant prices but for Santosh these were the best. The poultry bred ones didn't come close to the flavour he said. He persuaded my father to buy some, but after some bargaining, my father gave up. He wasn't too keen to buy these very young chicks, barely into adulthood. Instead, we got some fresh fish from Mandla. They were from the morning catch at the Bargi dam in Jabalpur. Santosh had pre-ordered them.  
Caught in traffic
At the village fair or haat
A few kilometres after Mandla, Santosh left the National Highway and took the old road to Kanha instead, a twisty, turning and narrow stretch of road. It would save us about 7 kms he said. However, any oncoming large vehicle meant we had to get off the road. We reached Kanha in the late afternoon, delayed by our en route stops. We had been booked at the Kanha resort by Mr Vinod. This resort was owned by his company MP Holidays. It was located about a couple of kilometres from the Khatia gate in a quiet part of the Mocha village at the edge of the forest. We were later told that it was quite common to see wild animals just outside the fence. The boy at the reception mentioned he had seen bears and black panthers while sitting at the reception itself.

After another late lunch at the resort, we went out on a forest walk trail accompanied by a guide. The afternoon jungle safaris are closed on Wednesdays. However they still have the walks open. It was a quiet walk from the Khatia gate in the buffer zone. We had already started late and the gate closed at 5:30 pm, so it was going to be a short one. However, our guide decided to return half way as he said he had heard warning calls of a Sambar deer. Apparently a tiger had been seen at the gates the evening before. There wasn't much about the walk, though in the waning daylight, it was feeling a bit eerie. I enjoyed sitting by the watchtower for a bit before returning.

Once back from the trail, our next worry was about acquiring tickets to the core zone for the next morning. It might be possible to find a local who would wait in the queue for a price. The tickets would be given out only to us and not to any representative. Alternatively, one of us needed to arrive very early at the gates and queue up. The counter opened at 6 am and gave out 20 passes plus any cancellations that might have happened. The problem was, if a VIP turned up, they might take up the whole chunk leaving nothing for us. We were really impressed by the honesty of the locals. There weren't any touts doing brisk business. They had everything out in the open and any doubts about their honesty would offend them.

An early start in that cold was not at all appealing. We decided to drop the idea of a visit to the core zone and instead enjoyed our evening tea at the Kamlesh dhaba. Our fish had arrived here earlier, brought in by Santosh and was being prepared for dinner. We chatted with a family who were staying at the Baghira lodge, one of the premium places to stay within the forest. They had been to the safari for the past 4 days, mornings and evenings but the tiger was still elusive. They were giving it another try the next day before they left. We wished them luck.

After an early dinner we started back for the resort. On our way back Santosh seemed to take our thoughts on driving in the dark very seriously. For some brief scary moments, we were hurtling in the pitch darkness, not at all my idea of fun!

At about 3:45 am my brother knocked on the door. He had already managed to wake up Santosh by literally banging on the window as he was not responding to his ringing mobile. He had decided to try out his luck. I called him up after about half an hour. He was in the 9th position in the queue. We would still leave at 5:30am. If he got the tickets, we would enter the core zone, or else would have to satisfy ourselves by visiting the buffer zone. Our driver Siraj Khan arrived with his petrol four wheel drive Gypsy. He was the replacement driver as our designated driver was off sick. Our breakfast of Aloo parathas and bread toast was packed with us. We didn't order for them, but was part of standard practice at the resort on a safari ride. It was a nice gesture, even though it was not complimentary. The hotel staff told us that unless a VIP came in, our chances of getting a pass was definite. They were impressed by my brother's will.

Khatia gate was a busy place in those early morning hours. People were queuing up for tickets and Gypsies were waiting for the gates to open. My brother was still in the queue. He had reached at about five minutes past four and within the next 10 minutes a huge queue had built up behind him. Another 15 minutes late and he would have been pushed out of any chance. We got tickets to the Sarhi zone. Though not the premium zone, tiger sighting is still a possibility here and additionally, this is supposed to be the most beautiful of all four zones with beautiful forest streams flowing through.
Queuing up
The Kanha core forest area is divided into four zones - Kanha, Kisli, Sarhi and Mukki. Of these, Kanha is the premium zone, though sightings is common in Sarhi and Kisli as well. The Khatia zone where we went on the walking trail the previous afternoon forms the buffer zone. With a tiger population of 196, sightings are quite common. In summer months, they come around water holes while in winter, they are spotted on the forest path as the dews make the undergrowth too wet for them to walk on. The forest is also home to the Barasingha, the hard ground swamp deer that was once almost doomed for extinction but is now reaching a healthy population of over a thousand. This is the only place in the world that holds this particular species of the deer.

Our guide for the day was Mr Satish Singh Gaur as we set off on the safari 6:30 am. At the very start of the ride, a few bison greeted us near the forest path. But it was too dark to see them properly in the shade of the forest. Dawn was just breaking and the fog was still lying low.
As we moved from the buffer zone to the Kisli gate, the forest started to change. The trees started to grow closer and the undergrowth grew denser. As we veered left towards Sarhi, the forest comprised mainly of short bamboo growths. Unless the animals came out on the path, it would be impossible to see them in there. Siraj spotted leopard pug marks on the path. Leopards and sloth bears were the least spotted animals, our guide said. As we moved on, we saw signs of human habitation in what once had been the buffer zone of the forest. Large meadows were left behind as tribal villages were relocated to the newly created buffer zones. The forest had started taking over the open land. In the core zone, there were no plantation or cutting down of trees. The forest was allowed to thrive naturally.
Peacocks
Indian swallow
We saw a couple of Sambar deer on the path, but they soon disappeared soon in the forest alarmed by the sound of the Gypsy in front of us. Siraj drove deftly through the forest. It was impressive how he was managing to spot tiny birds while manoeuvring the difficult terrain. As he went over a dusty patch, he stopped. He had located fresh pug marks on the path that had walked over tyre tracks. He put the Gypsy on reverse and followed the marks till they disappeared in the undergrowth. Another Gypsy soon joined us. They had heard warning signals of the monkeys near the area. We waited there, hoping the tiger to reappear. However nothing was happening so Satish and Siraj decided to move to the path across the undergrowth to see if the tiger had moved in there. Unfortunately, there wasn't any.

The cat and mouse game continued. After the tiger pug marks, there were fresh tigress pug marks. The female pug marks were much closely spaced than those of the tiger.
We had not yet spotted any of the owners of these markings, but I was enjoying the experience. All these guys were doing was paying attention to what the forest was saying, hearing the sounds, looking for signs. However, despite their best effort, the majestic beast remained elusive. We spent well over two hours on the trail of the tiger. The sun was getting stronger and our chances were reducing fast. Siraj stopped again and waited as he heard warning cries of monkeys. However, again nothing appeared so we moved on. Later we heard that a few wild dogs had been spotted in the area and hence the warning signals.
We stopped for breakfast at about 9am. The other Gypsies had started to stop as well. There wasn't much luck around. It was the busy tourist season that was driving away the tigers. With vehicles running around they seemed to have moved into the tourist free zones. Siraj stressed how good it is in the summer months. This is when the tourists leave and the real animal lovers visit. As we finished a hurried breakfast, we got news that one of the Gypsies had some luck at one of the canals we had passed earlier. A male and female were mating and were hovering under bushes by the canals. They had caught a glimpse as the tigers sped across the path. Siraj immediately bundled us in the Gypsy and we were moving. We were back to splashing through the forest streams.
We hovered around the area as the clock ticked on. Sometimes the spotted deer were calling out which kept both Satish and Siraj interested. Eventually the deer calmed down. It looked like the tigers had moved away. A barking deer could be heard at a distance. Unless I was told, I would have believed that to be a dog. The barking continued and Satish and Siraj were discussing where the tigers might have gone and where we should head for next.
The wait continues
Finally even the barking deer stopped. Both our guide and driver were visibly disappointed. Seeing their helpless looks, we assured them that seeing the tigers was not the only thing we came to Kanha for. We just had a day in Kanha and we wanted to see the forest as well. That is the reason we were visiting the forests of Central India and had included Achanakmar in our itinerary. They were glad to hear this. They told us stories where people had challenged them for not being able to show them the so called 'promised' tiger and even called them cheaters. We had no reason to accuse them of being lax with their responsibilities. We had seen how passionate they were. With renewed interest we moved to a different part of the forest, breathing in the refreshing forest air, enjoying the scenery and spotting a variety of wildlife as we went.
A few Sambar deer at the river 
We reached open fields and were greeted by a herd of Barasinghas. It was their mating season and some of the males had dressed up their distinct looking horns with dried grass to woo the females. There were mating calls all around and the bucks were chasing their probable partners. It was like an episode straight out of National Geographic. We stopped and watched. There were no other Gypsies in the vicinity, maybe they were still chasing tigers.
We returned to the Khatia gate at about quarter to noon. We did not have much luck with tigers and had to be satisfied with their pug marks and scratch marks on tree barks. However, I had really enjoyed the tracking game the guides and drivers were playing. They had undergone a course at the start of their career. Their experience had further honed their skills. It really surprised me that even without seeing the tiger in its natural habitat, we could have enjoyed the forest so much. The forests here are indeed beautiful, enchanting should be the right word. The Sarhi zone we were in, has forest streams criss-crossing it which makes the place even more picturesque.

As we were saying our good-byes and exchanging phone numbers, Siraj and Satish both stressed that we should return during the summer months, especially in May. The chances of sighting are much higher and they would also ensure they are around for us. Siraj called me up after we had returned from our trip to wish us a Happy New Year and reminded us to return to the forests in May. I think, we should give it a try.
Siraj on the left and our guide Satish ji with my father
We were well past our check-out time and had to hurry back to our resort. We were leaving for Jabalpur after lunch. The hotel staff were a bit worried about the next guests arriving, but still allowed us another hour to freshen up. We tried our best not to inconvenience them.

We lingered around the beautiful resort after a light lunch before leaving for Bhedaghat.
Packed to leave the Kanha resort

Trip digest

At Achanakmar pre-booking of safari is not required. Hiring a Gypsy costs Rs 2000.
The jungle safari, including fees for guide, cost 1400 with a maximum of 6 persons excluding driver and guide. Outside vehicles are not allowed in the forest.
There are areas in the forest which may have higher wildlife sighting in recent times, so better ask at the gates for one of these routes. We were told about a scenic waterfall deep in the forest, about 30 kms from the Lamani gate, which may well be visited.

Mandwa rani is accessible from Amarkantak as well. It is a longer trip but the roads are less adventurous.

For Kanha, it is always better to pre-book. The same is true for Bandhavgarh as well. Online bookings may be done at http://www.mponline.gov.in/Portal/Services/Forest/FinalForest/foresthome.htm or through travel agents. Identification details of everyone on the trip is required for the booking.

The walking trail costs Rs 50 per person and Rs 100 for the accompanying guide. Ticket to be purchased at the gates. It is normally a pleasant, uneventful walk.

The premium Kanha zone is higher priced than the other three. Including the cost for guide, the total came to Rs 1550 for us for the Sarhi zone. The Gypsy rent was an additional Rs 2000. As like all forest safaris, a maximum of 6 persons excluding driver and guide can be accommodated in a Gypsy. Only registered vehicles are allowed in the forest.

Expect Vegetarian food in Madhya Pradesh. Finding Non-vegetarian food is extremely difficult in these areas. 

2 comments:

  1. Well, again an enriching reading experience and visual treat as well...4 deers snap is the cutest one..expected one snap of the author/photographer atleast.. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Sohini. Am making slow progress on the rest of the trip but am hoping to finish off he trip soon.
      About photograph of the photographer - maybe later :-)

      Delete

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