The very first moment we set foot on the grey foresty roads of Kaziranga, I was impressed with the ‘Animal corridors’. Since I have not paid visits to many jungles yet, this concept was brand new to me.
As we drove through the green blocks on the adjacent side of the road, my excitement for Kaziranga grew.
Located in Assam, Kaziranga is a jungle that is exclusively famous for it’s ‘One-Horn Rhinoceros’. In 1904, Mary Curzon, the wife of the viceroy of India Lord Curzon, only landed in this area to spot the rhinos but was disappointed because she was fooled and could not even spot one.
Adamant on treating her eyes with these ‘One-Horn Rhinoceros’, she put in serious efforts to create their conservation.
And thus began the touristy adventures.
We had a daily ritual during dinnertime on the tour, where our tour manager would recite to us the schedule for the next day.
At Kaziranga, most of us were in the siesta mode looking at our cosy cottages. I had already made plans for some pampering in the jacuzzi (Yes I found a jacuzzi in the middle of a jungle) followed with turning into a sleeping beauty.
But wait a bomb dropped when our tour manager said ‘Congratulations guys! We have been booked for an Elephant ride in the first slot- that is 5:00 a.m. So we meet tomorrow at 4:45 a.m.’ There burst my bubble of fantasies.
After being exhausted, I dropped dead on my bed. I knew it was time to giddy up when the rhythmic chirps of the birds replaced my alarm clock. Thanks to my deep sleep, I almost forgot I was in the middle of a forest.
Our punctuality benefitted us with a field of vision- we saw silhouettes of the king of the jungle with his master on the top against the morning dawn.
Oh and the ambience! There were green scanty trees, rough brown roads and birds being the DJ’s.
We endeavoured our journey to rhino spotting in Kaziranga National Park sitting aback Phaguni, our 20-year-old elephant. It was a rock-n-roll ride as the elephant took-off and landed.
But she made sure we completed our mission of locating the one-horn rhinos.
It was a 30-minute ride, where we spotted white rhinos. With a horn on their nose and a thick grey bulletproof skin, they were preparing for some breakfast.
I was taken by surprise when I found out that rhinos in spite of being herbivorous are aggressive in nature. They are powerful to the extent that they can overturn elephants. (Better not mess with them!)
There came a point when Phanguni and three other elephants, who are the paparazzi of the forest, surrounded the rhinos from all sides just so that we could admire the rhinos more closely.
I almost imagined me telling them in my head, ‘Drop your weapons and surrender now!’
Just when our elephant safari was about to end, we saw nervous eyes with skinny legs playing peek-a-boo with us. Dear, it was a deer!
Owing to the fact that it is a prey species, they have a nibble mind and watchful eyes that are always on a lookout for danger. They were like little children staring at us and then drifting away with their hasty hops.
After all the animal spotting, we bid farewell to Phaguni.
Again in the afternoon, we were booked for a jeep safari because you are too uncool not to drive through a forest. All of us pestered the driver by asking him, ‘Are we going to see tigers?’ All he would say, ‘If you are lucky you will see one’. But we were not so lucky afterall.
A thought struck me. This high demand of viewing a tiger made me realise what a big showstopper he was. What was the fault of the other animals? Shouldn’t they enjoy some attention too?
The whole motto of a safari in the jungle is to enjoy the mesmerising woodland, feel the open wide sky, absorb the calmness and take some back home with you. And that is what I did.
Finally, after my day began at 4:00 a.m., I slept like a pig since we then had to leave for Shillong the next day.
Don’t forget to share your version of the story at Kaziranga if you’ve been.