Kinarwah Chronicles

In the pursuit of wildlife, fantasy is a constant companion.  With ambition as its close ally, the mind goes about weaving dreams at every corner, and causes the heart to wistfully sigh when they don’t come true.  

One such long-nursed dream was to see a tiger at Kinarwah, the manmade waterhole at the fringe of a village on Route D of Tala, between the Banbehi nallah and the Rampur Junction.  

This patch of land, once owned by Ajit, a guide, was a beautiful setting becoming of a royal court.  Lined by tall sal trees and short jamun bushes, there was shade aplenty for a weary cat to rest in, but in the evening the site glowed intensely golden to the whim of an angular sun.  And its proximity to the vehicle track lent it perfectly to photography – all in the mind’s expansive neighbourhood of dreams.

Until that morning, when Vikas slowed down as always upon approach and the heart quickened from my first ever sight of a tiger at Kinarwah.

The Banbehi female, lying side-on, slowly lifted her head to examine the callers, but finding the sight familiar, retired it halfway, back to proper recumbence.  

She had two-month-old cubs then, and so was understandably restless.  After a few minutes she abruptly sat up and looked intently backwards.  Then, she rose and left a gaping void at the waterhole by dismissing herself into the bush behind, before shortly emerging back on the bund and crossing the vehicle track ahead to go to her cubs, not knowing that she had just stepped out of the neighbourhood of dreams into the arena of reality.

And my eyes had finally met with what the mind had for long foreseen.

Banbehi Female at Kinarwah, Tala, Bandhavgarh, © Santosh Saligram

Shortly after, she rose from her repose, walked on the bund, and crossed the Rampur Junction road as well as the Banbehi Road to probably where she had left the cubs.

Banbehi Female at Kinarwah, Tala, Bandhavgarh, © Santosh Saligram
Banbehi Female at Kinarwah, Tala, Bandhavgarh, © Santosh Saligram

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