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The Vaishnodevi Experience 2023

My first trip to Vaishnodevi was unimpressive. Climbing was hard, and it only served to highlight how badly out of shape I was, while my in-laws managed to cope so much better. Further, I hadn’t quite realized that the cave experience wouldn’t be the same as I had imagined, since the original cave was only opened at certain times a year, and that we only entered a newly created tunnel, one far easier to access, and hence more manageable with the crowds that thronged the mountain shrine. The resulting experience at the shrine, for barely a fraction of a second, hardly compared to what I had expected / imagined / heard about. So, for me, Vaishnodevi was like any other temple, nothing to write home about, something that was reflected (though not explicitly mentioned) in the blog post I wrote then.

Our Trysts with the Tigers at Tadoba - Part 1

“We saw a male tiger crossing the path!” “We saw a female with her cubs!” Such were the exclamations which greeted us on our arrival at Tadoba, by fellow guests who had just returned from their morning safari. From what we heard, it appeared to be their 5th or 6th safari, all within the core zone, and, each time, they seemed to have had amazing sightings of that elusive animal – the Tiger. Ours was a short trip, barely 3 safaris in the core zone, and wondered if we would be as lucky. “Don’t worry, Madam, sightings have been good” assured our driver as well as our guide, as we set out on our first foray into the forest.

Now, before you read further, please do read my previous post – In search of the Tiger atTadoba – to get an idea of our jungle experience, and understand this post in the context in which it is meant to be read.

Getting back to the story, we roamed the jungle, racing to sections where previous sightings had been good, waiting at water holes, hoping the tiger would make its appearance, but it seemed to have other ideas, and not one appeared in our path. Then, as the skies clouded over, the guide’s face clouded too. We were sure it was going to rain, and then, there would barely be any chance of spotting animals, especially the Tiger. While he worried about the baksheesh he obviously wouldn’t get, I began to prepare my son for the possibility that the Tiger would remain as elusive as ever, at least for us.

It was almost time to leave, and our driver, along with numerous others, made a last round of a lake. Spirits were flagging, it was just starting to drizzle, and we were all set to turn, when the guide stood up and pointed. There, on a rise above a gully, a flash of orange and black indicated the presence of the animal we so desired to see. And then, it walked down, and entered the ditch, staying just out of sight. Sighs erupted from across the jeeps; as everyone settled down to wait. The minutes passed, and seemed like hours, as eyes turned to watches, as the penalty for staying inside the forest beyond the allotted time was high.

We had just about given up, and were all set to turn back, when the grasses parted, and the animal moved into the fading light. 

“It is Sonam, the tigress” whispered our guide, and we craned our necks to get a better view as she walked through the tall grass, right to the top of the mound….. and sat down. With the barest glance at us, and all the Jeeps standing around, she settled down, as if surveying her territory.

It took me a few moments to begin clicking, so caught up was I in her regal bearing. She was truly the Queen here. I could have sat there for hours, just looking at her, but it was time and we had to leave. As the Jeeps one by one turned and made their way back to the gates, she didn’t as much turn or look around. Her serenity was an eye opener!

The drizzle turned into rain as we rushed towards the gates before they closed, but we scarcely felt it. We were just too caught up in the moment, glad that our first sighting of the Tigress was so memorable.

Due to the fading light, and my sheer awe at my first tiger sighting in the jungle, my photos of that first encounter are few, and not too great. However, I did manage to rectify that at our next sighting… Look out for the next post for more tiger photos…

This is the third post in my series on my #summertrip 2015, and I hope to take you along with me as I recount stories from my month long trip, which took me across the country. To get an idea of all the places I visited, and what you can hope to read about, click here

Related Posts:
  • On Tadoba

  • On the Summer Trip


  1. Replies
    1. Yes, it was, Niranjan, A bit short, but memorable.

  2. Nice photos... I have been to Tadoba in my childhood... your post reminded me of those memories..

  3. Wow, her coat color and pattern is amazing! I would definitely feel the same way as you - I could gaze for a very long time at the tigress as she lounged in the grass!

    1. Absolutely, Natalie!!! and these coat and colour patterns are apparently unique to each tiger. I just wish we had more time to simply gaze at her.

  4. It's fantastic that you were able to spot the tigress.Great photos.Thanks for sharing!

  5. Enjoyed reading your article.Very well described and great photos as well.The article brings out the anxious moments one spends before the tiger sighting in spectacular fashion.The whole tiger spotting experience is absolutely amazing.It's heartening to know that you had your wish fulfilled.Keep up the good work.

  6. But finally you saw the Tiger. Don't worry for photo. Happiness for sure. Thanks for writing.


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