Divinity, Goddess’s fight! ?
Venue: Ranthambore, India.

11th June 2015

After few hours of ride from the airport, passing through shrub lands and common landmarks, I knew, i was inching towards Ranthambore. The morning sun ensured I was mentally prepared for the absolute summer spectacle that would follow for the next few days. Far across, few Camels pushed their way into a patch of a shade that actually didn’t offer any shade but some respite from the killer rays of sun. Village peasants with their colorful turbans had ventured out to catch up on their day’s work. Women folk carrying water pots from a near-by well, hurried, perhaps, for a busy day ahead. A typical morning routine as I knew, it would be minutes before i get into my hotel. And here I was, once again, in the land of Tigers! Ranthambore!
I was so tired, all I could think of was immersing myself in a ice filled bath-tub, forgetting my camera or tigers or anything else. I opened my eyes only to pull on the sheets as the air cooler was far too cold in the room. What an irony to a suffocating summer?

It was the month of June. Just a week before the annual ritual of monsoon rains. Around 3:00pm, I set out in my jeep with every bit of excitement and eagerness for my tryst with big cats! It was very hot! Blazing hot! The only way I can express the intensity of the harsh summer was to imagine myself holed up in a heated oven! 46 Degree Celsius. I set out in the jeep only to be hit by the very warm air but it was pleasant compared to the sun rays that burned me all. The brown forest had a very earthy feeling all through. With the merciless sun spraying and spewing fire all over, the sheer excitement of Tigers and some thing new, pepped me up. It was unusually hot as my jeep climbed the rough terrain. I was sweating big time, getting dehydrated- being out under a killer sun was very unforgiving. At one point in time, all i did was to bend my head to get some respite from the harsh elements. I could get myself back into the game around 430 pm when some one shouted - There is a tiger out there! We went ahead up the road and saw few jeeps parked out there. There he was… He was right in middle of a bush up on a small terrain off the road. This was on the edge that led to a narrow slope deep down the hill. It was virtually impossible for any of us to go in there. Also as the tiger moved into the narrow road; that was the end. I couldn’t see him at all. I didn’t even take out my Camera. As the sun drifted down, all the jeeps that were with us, scattered and moved on. There weren’t any other clues nor news, so decided that we stay-put out there for some time. The air had suddenly got much cooler and i looked above only to see clouds running towards us. At times I wonder the pace of nature, it does beats us every time. Within the next fifteen minutes, the whole park was filled with shadows and in no time, i could hear few thunderstorms, hitting behind the hill that we were at. Hastily, I pulled out my raincoat and ensured all my gear was well protected.

For so many years, I have been watching so many documentaries about the onset of monsoon and rains lashing out in Ranthambore. Deep inside, I was overjoyed. I was anxious now, not for any tigers but to get drenched in the rains, standing in middle of the park! The light drizzle became much bigger with thunder and lightening screaming all around! The open jeep just ensured, we were dripping in full flow. We drove towards the south side of the park and was welcomed with full-throttle rains, so harsh that it hit the bonnet of the jeep with loud thuds! Small and big tributaries in the park, the sound of thunder-storms became bigger and louder. For a minute, I wasn’t sure in which part of the park we were in. The sound of hard rain became much louder and louder as the wet wind screamed past my ear, every now and then. For sometime i couldn’t open my eyes as the monsoon rains was hitting me right from the front. Wind blew so much that the trees and its branches were
sashaying all around. I saw some spotted deer enjoying the sudden splash of rain even as it shook the water off its body, every time. There was this huge Honey Buzzard, taking refugee in a big branch but couldn’t do anything than just enjoy nature’s extremes. After half an hour or so, the sound of rain came to a grinding halt. Phew! What a season! The best of my experience and finally I was in Ranthambore during Monsoon!

i eagerly waited for the sun to rise. I eagerly waited for me to get in! The morning sun shone with all honesty as the golden light soaked the entire forest that had turned partially green. The roads were damp, patches of green every where. The wetness on the leaves still could have been felt! Some of the plants and tree branches still hand few rain drops that shone like a diamond or like a star in the brightly lit forest. The rays of the sun pierced through patches of tree branches lighting up the forest floor. Far across this peacock danced to get his mate’s attention even as this kingfisher looked around a small puddle for its forage. It was unusually a quiet morning when we drove all around before getting into the RajBagh area of the forest. We drove past the historical fort anticipating some action but it was again, empty. I looked up to see the sun playing hide and seek and the shadows spread itself on the forest floor short and wide. We inched few yards ahead and someone in the jeep almost screamed, Tiger! After which it was absolutely silence! Hush! These were Krishna’s (T19) cubs, two females and a male seated in a triangular position just ahead of us. One of the female tiger (Arrow Head) cubs got up, walked past us, sniffed around before heading back. There was this unusual stress and storm building up I thought. All three tigers were looking at one another, off and on. I could sense something was brewing.

Lightning, Arrow Head’s sister watched her all the time, making a frowning face. She wasn’t happy but closed her eyes. Arrow Head watched her younger sister all through and stood up silently without a noise. The shadows on the floor almost vanished and the tender breeze took a pause. I was looking at these tigers breathlessly. Even on a cold, tender and chilly morning, I was sweating. I held my camera to take my position. All the three tigers were around 15 meters from my jeep. My heart was pounding and beating loud enough to disturb the cats! I was telling myself, this is it! Something gonna happen now! And I watched Arrow Head getting into a stalking posture, slowly and steadily walked. Time stood still when she got close. Very close to Lightning who was sleeping without a care and clue! And momentarily, Just one push from her paw to her younger sister’s face – Battle began. It lasted 10 seconds. Those 10 full seconds when this battle was fought and their brother watched curiously from a distance. The forest echoed with their roars that was loud enough to deafen my ears instantly. Both the sub-adult cubs stood up and growled, battling for supremacy. In one such split second, these sisters were united even in their fight! I could see one body with four legs. Divinity! To me it seemed like a Goddess in action. Goddess of the Forest! And it was over! Both went back to their places but the battle was fought and won by the elder cub, Arrow Head! All these happened few feet from where I was. My hands trembled like a leaf, but yet was steady! I was sweating with joy, accomplishment, contentment, surprise and anxiety. I couldn’t believe what I saw and photographed. I looked around - I wanted to scream! I scrambled for my camera and checked the images I had taken. I was smiling ear to ear!

A once in a life moment for me. 

undefinedexif Details

Canon Gear, 70D, 70-200 USM, ISII, 1/1600, f2.8, ISO 800