Eye of the Tiger

The forest is filed with sounds and silence. We wait with patience and faith, for the giant cats to make an appearance.

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Fresh pug marks overlapping the jeep tire tracks…it was here a few minutes ago

A barking deer announces her entry and a deathly silence engulfs us. An ancient fear, familiar to our ancestors arises within us.

There is a rustle in the thick elephant grass and some movement. She makes a regal entry walking towards the water, her kids tagging along.

Maya has made an appearance with her cubs.

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She looks up, towards the convoy of jeeps, her eyes piercing us. We watch her from a distance, the air heavy with anticipation of her next move. The shutter bugs go berserk trying to get a good shot.

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She knows she is being watched but ignores the attention. Her cubs are oblivious to the crowd and continue prancing around the mother.

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Maya steps forward to take a drink from the pond. Later she settles into the cool mud and looks at her children playing.

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Seeing the tigers up close is priceless, and makes the visit to Tadoba a unique experience.

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Tadoba Andhari Tiger reserve is one of the best places in India to watch the royal tigers in their natural environment.

Prepare to be in awe and fear in the presence of some royal company.

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Tadoba is a big attraction for wildlife photographers and enthusiasts who would like to see the animals and birds in their natural habitat.

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Located in the Chandrapur district of Maharashtra state, it is the biggest and oldest national park in the state.

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Two lakes, dominate the forest, Kolsa Lake and Tadoba Lake which offer a good chance to spot the tigers.

An open top jeep safari is the best way to watch the tigers / wildlife / flora and fauna of the forest.

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The jeep safaris are organized twice a day, from 6am to 10am in the morning and from 3pm to 6pm in the afternoon. A forest guide and driver will accompany the visitors in a pre allotted jeep.

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The safaris occur in the core and buffer zones of the forest.

Well marked roads define the core zone and the tiger spotting occurs in the usual places that the guides are aware of.

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The buffer zone is a wild card; the roads are dusty and filled with thick vegetation. An adventurous and bumpy ride in the buffer zone can lead you to surprises at any bend or turn.

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While the tiger is the main attraction at Tadoba, the forest also has a rich variety of birds and other animals which are equally interesting to spot.

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Croc sunbathing, surrounded by Herons

The sloth bear is shy and makes a rare appearance.

Sambhar and deer are common residents in the forest and are found in abundance.

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Besides the animals, Tadoba has a mind boggling variety of bird species which would delight any birdwatcher.

Kingfishers, raptors and eagles, peacocks found in plenty, drongos, Indian rollers, blue jays, herons, bee eaters and many more birds call Tadoba their home.

Aaah…flying ducks, now these you don’t see everyday ­čÖé

Officially known as the lesser whistling ducks (which by the way, fly)

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Green bee eater

Can you spot the birds?

A yellow bird on the tree top is unknown, but well hidden in the branches.

The fallen leaves have cleverly camouflaged┬áthe savannah night jarrer, a nocturnal species who feeds off the forest floor. I think we have interrupted its siesta time ­čÖé

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Kingfisher

The emerald green forest too is a nature lover’s paradise.

An insta worthy scenery greets the visitors as they drive across the forest. The fields of never ending elephant grass, thick bamboo vegetation, shimmering lakes, deciduous trees and tequila sunsets make up the landscape of Tadoba.

Best time to visit

The park is open from October to early June. It is closed every Tuesday.

How to book

It is recommended to go with a group if you are on a budget as individual safaris are expensive. Book the safaris in advance.

Here is the link for booking the safaris before your travel.

http://www.mahaecotourism.gov.in/Site/Common/OnlineBooking1.aspx

If you are travelling with a group then the group organizer will do this for you.

Where to stay 

Stay with the locals in the nearby villages. It will help their economy.

There are homestays in the nearby villages which offer clean and comfortable stay and some awesome local food. Checkout TripAdvisor.

Tip: Book your stay near the safari entrance gate to save some time. Moharli gate in Tadoba has a high chance of tiger sightings.

How to get there

The nearest city is Nagpur. The roads are good and it takes around 2 hours to get to Tadoba.

Nagpur is well connected to major cities via road, rail and air.

After thoughts

While tiger sighting should not be the only reason to go to Tadoba, the song below was my inspiration for this post ­čÖé

It’s the eye of the tiger, it’s thrill of the fight.┬áRising up to the challenge of our rival. And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night. And he’s watchin us all with the eye…of the tiger.

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