A few days ago, JAWAI and the rest of India celebrated Diwali with characteristic gusto. Occurring on the cusp of summer and winter Diwali is also a reminder that winter is coming and it is a game of droves as the cooler temperatures attract a whole range of birdlife that migrates to Rajasthan, and Jawai. Predators, waterfowl and other kinds come roving to the Jawai Bandh and its surrounding scrubland. So here is a list of some of our favourite winter visitors:
As the opening of Ranthambhore National Park’s nears ever closer, the excitement heightens as we are soon to be back in the forest catching up with our felines & friends.
Like a popular book ending on a cliffhanger torturing the captivated readers as they wait for the sequel, so too do the seasons in Ranthambhore- as the park gates close during the monsoon months and the forest and all that lives and grows there have some private time away from safari enthusiasts & globetrotters from around the world.
“…Some of the best years of my life were entangled with her life. We had shared some very special moments together and I felt her loss just like I feel the loss of anyone I am close to. Memories flood in, the earliest of which date back to 1997. It was autumn, and Machli was a few months old when I spotted her prancing behind her mother at the edge of Rajbagh, a ruined summer palace in the heart of Ranthambhore. Her mother was a favourite of Fateh Singh, the former field director of the park, and he told me then that she would be a star. It was he who coined her name Macchli as her mother had a fish-like mark on her cheeks that became the daughter’s signature feature.”
Valmik Thapar, “The Macchli I Knew” 28th August 2016
Last week, Ranthambhore National Park closed for the season. Our blog this week shares some snapshots of the end of the summer. The last week was an exciting one, in terms of sightings and images, and the incredible interactions we witnessed. Days before the annual closing – for the monsoon – we received news that Brat, (T19) had been spotted with a new litter of four cubs (her third litter). We cannot wait to see her and her brood once the rains have abated and Ranthambhore is ready to receive visitors again, come October. The residents of the Park now await the monsoons and the dry foliage is almost creaking for rain. We leave you with a few images of some of the resident tigers, taken on our last drives into the Park.
“We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope.”
– Wallace Stegner, 1980
Summer Visitors and Some Residents
In the second part of our series on birds, our blog this week looks high and low amongst the canopies and undergrowth of Ranthambhore’s forests in the peak of summer. May and June are invariably the hottest periods of the year in Ranthambhore and as many trees lose their leaves and the grasses shrivel and retreat in the heat, few creatures of the forest bother to stir unless they absolutely must. Not so with our feathered friends. Summertime sees an influx of some migratory birds to Ranthambhore who are currently here to escape the chill of the hills, from as far away as Central Asia. Other, residents – such as our male peafowl – develop such outrageously brilliant plumages, they forced Charles Darwin to splutter, “the sight of a feather in a peacock’s tail, whenever I gaze at it, makes me feel sick.”
One of the most delicious and satisfying itineraries available to travellers in Rajasthan over the next two weeks combines the languor and ease of palace life in Jaipur with exhilarating, adrenalin-pumping thrills in Ranthambhore National Park, just three hours away. Join us, as we to and fro between SUJÁN Rajmahal Palace, Jaipur and Sher Bagh, Ranthambhore on a visual merry-go-round this week.
Temperatures in Ranthambhore typically reach forty-five degrees Celsius in May. A particularly unfriendly summer temperature occasionally crosses the fifty-degree Celsius mark and becomes a natural limiting factor for over-growth. Waterholes become scarce and trees like the Dhok, drop off their leaves to ration their moisture levels. Rock surfaces – scattered throughout the park – emit a furnace like waft each time a breeze sweeps their surface and you can feel the heat stroke you, as you drive past them. Animals and birds appear panting and their movements become soporific as they spend time in the shade of evergreens or the oasis that are formed around perennial waterholes; clusters of Jamun, Ficus and wild mango trees, all daytime shelters for creatures of the forest. The wonderful thing is, Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve has several ‘belts’ of such oasis’, tucked away in its folds. No matter how high the temperatures soar, these are the spots you should drive to, and here’s why.
Bisalpur Hill, close to our camp JAWAI resembles a steep mountain in the lower Himalayas and has been the home to many Hindu priests and wild animals over the centuries. The ancient Ashapura Mata Ji Temple which is situated half way up the hill, overlooks and is believed to guard the entire Bisalpur Village that lies beneath it. Many pilgrims from all over the country come and pay their regards to the mother goddess at this auspicious temple. On the other side of the hill you are met with stunning views over the agricultural fields & rural farmland below, interspersed with the faint sound of the water being pumped from the irrigation wells. The daily routine of a small rustic village can be witnessed close by. Read More Oh Lakkad Bagga! The Striped Hyena