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Wild Adventures at Nagarhole

This happened sometime during the month of December. My friend, Bheemsen, a software nut, and me decided to hit it off to Nagarahole, a wildlife sanctuary 230 kms from Bangalore for a day to get away from it all.

We actually started out a bit late and ended up reaching the sanctuary at three in the afternoon after a good five hour drive in the Gypsy(a 4x4 vehicle). But we were in time for the safari ride into the park. We were seated in a miserable van, which had no proper seats.

It shook so badly throughout our trip that I ended up shooting an entire roll of film with double images. That apart, the other sore point was that we missed out on seeing a large tiger by a few minutes. The earlier van had a huge family and they probably had made such a din on seeing it that we had to contend ourselves with just its huge pug marks.

We hadn't made reservations for the night and were told that the rooms were full. We were advised to drive through to the other side and stay overnight at the nearby village's lodge. We decided to try our luck the same route we had come through because we had seen a few cottages near the entrance. This was a good 20 kms off (the one we were suggested was just 5 kms away) and we hoped it would give us a chance to see some more wildlife. We had to hurry a bit as it was near closing time and so made a dash for the gypsy. We came across a group of elephants that we had seen earlier during our safari.

We passed them and then came across a huge gaur (Indian bison) which had muscles rippling all over his entire frame and I can tell you that he could easily put Salman Khan to shame. We were in awe because his body was glistening in the lights of the gypsy. As he moved away we continued our journey further up when Bheem hurriedly whispered that there was a huge tusker on his side. I didn't want to startle the animal, lest he considered using us for target practice. So I kept going further till we came to a spot where I could turn back to have a look at him.
I was so engrossed with Bheem's narration of this magnificent mammoth that I didn't look ahead. And when I did, the beam from the headlights showed a huge tusker staring directly at us just about 10 metres away. It's tusks were so huge that they were literally drawing maps on the ground. He was blocking our way and I didn't want to play 'who's chicken', so I backed away slowly but steadily. One good thing that we did, or didn't do was scream. I have encountered many elephants at close range, but this one was the closest and the biggest.
From inside the Gypsy I could hardly see his head. We headed back towards the other side without even daring to breathe for sometime. As we relaxed, we laughed away the fear in us. We didn't get to see the tusker that Bheem had spotted but soon we came back to the herd by the roadside. We waited for sometime and as they moved away, we slowly went past them. They had stopped and were eyeing us warily. A few more metres away and suddenly from behind us we heard a loud trumpeting. Instinctively, I floored the accelerator, and then looked back only to see the reassuring sight of the herd moving away. We had had enough excitement for one night.

But that was not the end. As we neared the ranger's office, we saw a checkpost which we hadn't noticed earlier and it was shut. We waited there for a few minutes with the engine running and the lights on but there was no one in sight. We didn't want to spend the night in the open, especially because of the excitement that we had had. So Bheem got out and saw that there was no padlock on it and pushed it open for me to pass. We then moved on to the village we had been told about earlier but we had another 5 kms of the park to cover.
As we neared the end of the park, I noticed a jeep by the side of the road and around ten to twelve people near it. Bheem thought they were having car trouble and they signalled us when we reached them. It was then that I realised that they were park rangers and watchers and they were wielding guns and sticks. They inquired as to what we were upto and after listening to our story warned us, albeit humorously, that they were notified of a vehicle that had jumped a checkpost and were hoping we were poachers. It was probably disappointing for them to find two harmless idiots who were chased away by elephants. We reached the hotel without any further incident and had a thrilling story to tell our friends the next day.

A story from Suraj at Wildly Wise

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