While the legendary Machhli (T16) is celebrated the world over as the quintessential queen mother of Ranthambhore and global concern over her advancing age and failing health has reached obsessive and hysterical proportions, there is another Grande Dame that is quietly writing her own chapter in the history book of Ranthambhore tigers.
The twelve year old Gayatri (T 22) is the mother and grandmother of star attractions, Ustaad (T24) and Sultan (T72) respectively. Fairly large for a female, she is a shy and elusive tiger, and now not seen very often. Gayatri currently traverses the Lahpur and Chinndali areas of the park.
If you are fortunate enough to sight her, you will see that she exudes an elegance and powerful femininity reminiscent of her namesake, the Maharani of Jaipur. Gayatri is now in her ‘golden years’ but I would like to believe that old age is not a weakness- it is the strength of survivorship and triumph over life’s many trials and challenges.
Given the dominant nature of her progeny, it seems her legacy will be more than a footnote in the shadow of the superstar, Machhli.
Written and photographed by Abhinav Dhar.