Generally, vultures get a bad rep and perhaps we have Disney to blame for always portraying vultures as the baddies in all our childhood favourites of Jungle Book, Robin Hood and Snow White to name a few.
Into the New Year and Ranthambhore seems to have come alive with promises foretold. Dispersing tigers, ungulates in their dazzling winter morphs and a host of birds – migratory and resident – all go to demonstrate that the forest is flourishing. At Sher Bagh, successive guests, some expert photographers among them, have had an incredible run at capturing this moving feast over the last couple of weeks. In the coming weeks, our guest blogs will feature more of their work, in their own words but for now, we bring you a snippet, a mere taster, of why Ranthambhore truly is the beating heart of India’s wildscape.
Seeing a leopard is and will always be a momentous occasion for anybody who experiences JAWAI. Seeing two adult leopards together is such a rare occurrence that we all are left, sitting in the jeep, with an expression of total bewilderment. You can then imagine all our faces when on one granite outcrop we had witnessed three adult leopards together.
The forts and palaces of Rajasthan are examples of the most spectacular architecture symbolising dynastic power and built as strategic military defences by the proud rulers of this region. For modern visitors they represent the grandeur and opulence of the Rajput courts, their legendary wealth, their turbulent history and their readiness to find and embrace death, if defeated. Some of the largest forts in Rajasthan have seen bloody battles, long sieges, intrigues, jauhars (immolations) and sometimes, defeat. Since the region is strategically located along India’s western frontier through which historically important trade routes passed, it was constantly under attack by forces intent on entering North India, right from the time of Alexander the Great.
Some of the rock formations that you see when you take a drive around Jawai are astounding and it’s hard to believe that only through weathering and erosion have these rocks come to be the shape they are now. No rock, no boulder, no hill is similar. Through millions of years of wear both above and below ground this granite rock seems to have been sculptured by someone with the same skill and imagination as Constantin Brancusi. Jawai has a dramatic landscape and these intrusive igneous rocks are the centerpieces that contribute to these regular breath-taking moments. Therefore, as you catch your breath, here are five of some of the best from Mother Nature’s collection:
“The day lies so still
Long grasses of a summer passed
don’t nod to acknowledge the season
Winter’s rest before autumn’s fall complete
An air replete with hue’s and calls as keen birds feast
And starlings gather atop the ash black leaves that chatter
To motion bare branches still.”
Miles Richardson, A Blackbird’s Year
Even in major cities (like Mumbai) you hear tales of leopards roaming the streets in search for a quick bite. India, with its vast population, has many animal-human contact, occasionally with an unpleasant outcome. There are areas though that boast a positive and peaceful relationship. Jawai stands as an epitome for mature understanding between man and animal.
The myth of the creation of the camel is dates back to Hindu tradition. Parvati, the goddess of power and the consort of Lord Shiva (the supreme god who creates, protects and transforms) was waiting for Lord Shiva to finish with his meditation. To pass the time, Parvati was playing with the clay and mud where she sat and had moulded an unrecognisable five-legged animal. She marvelled at her creation that she asked Shiva when he had returned to breath life into her clay sculpture. Shiva had originally rejected her proposal as he believed that no place would be habitable to this penta-pod and therefore by giving life to the animal he would not be able to protect and sustain it. However, Parvati persisting and persisting, Shiva had granted her wish.
For centuries, Ranthambhore and it’s fortress have been a space for historic contest. Two conflicts that stand out were Alauddin Khilji, the Sultan of Delhi’s siege of the fort which began in 1299 and ended in 1301 and the Mughal emperor Akbar’s conquest of the fort in 1568.
As a Ranger in the Field Team, a lot of what we talk to guests about is the beautiful Jawai landscape that hosts both temples and wildlife, but the happenings on the ground in between these granite hills has as much of a role to play in this unique region.