You are driving, meandering along Ranthambhore National Park’s network of tracks that enable you to see what the area has to offer and suddenly your jeep stops, pugmarks! Fresh paw-prints dot along the track and it takes you back to when you were 5 years old and playing “Connect the Dots” where the end prize could be a beautiful female tigress. As you follow the trail of breadcrumbs, the impressions left behind by a tigress’ recent presence, you yourself come away with an impression that these tigers prefer to walk on the track, rather than the scrub to your immediate left and right where it seems to be more concealed.
Whomever you come across in India, be it on the shores of Chennai, or around the narrow alleys of Chandi Chowk, or even deep within the snow capped mountains of the Himalayas, all will be able to recognise the peacock. Partly to do with why the peafowl is the national bird of India is that they can be seen all over the country, their presence is unavoidable. At Jawai, it’s no different. every corner you turn, five run off to the concealment of the prosopis juliflora, every hill you climb, ten frantically flap their wings in frightful flight, every valley you traverse, the unmistakable shrill cry of twenty resonates through the scrub. In short, peafowl are ubiquitous throughout the area. Although their colours and plumage are majestically magnificent, it isn’t a huge surprise to come across one while out on our drives…. well, until now.
The Farm at SUJÁN The Serai nestles in a corner of the camp, bordering soft hillocks and mellow bui scrubland. The poultry (all local desi species) dashing about in the daytime, from the adjacent coops and the occasional mooing of indigenous Tharparkar cows from their rattan-covered sheds, leaves you in no doubt of the location of this patchwork of green hues, in the middle of what is the Thar desert ecosystem. The lettuce abuts the tomatoes who blithely bend over home-grown spring onions and garlic in the golden light of a sun that can belong only to Jaisalmer.
A couple of nights ago a rare lunar event called the “super blue blood moon” dazzled us here in Rajasthan and many others around the world. Here in India, this event was scheduled to occur just after sunset which made it all the more vivid and magical to see with the naked eye. Our JAWAI skies are without a doubt pretty mesmerising on a daily basis, however what we were about to see was something truly spellbinding. To our west we had a beautiful red lit sky painting the rising moon in the east in a warm, fire burning red. So what exactly is a Super Blue Blood Moon other than a bit of a wordy wonder?!
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.
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.
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.