'Almost magically, we suddenly saw the magnificent beast.'
Name: Ranveer Phukan
IMAGE: Chota Bheem at the Bandhavgarh National Park. Photograph: Kind courtesy Ranveer Phukan
In December 2022, I had visited the Bandhavgarh National Park as part of my company retreat which included a two day safari.
Day 1 saw us enthusiastically waking up at the crack of dawn, before setting off for a 4 to 5 hour safari in the Magdhi zone.
Of course, sighting a tiger is never easy, and to no surprise, although we saw a lot of other animals including sambhar, neelgai and a whole lot of birds, the great predator remained elusive.
On the following day which was the second and final leg of the safari, we woke up to rain and miserable weather.
Despite this, we still set off early in the morning for the Khitauli zone.
We were quite pessimistic about our chances of spotting a tiger due to the weather and indeed there was some grumbling amongst us since we had to leave our warm beds!
Sure enough, apart from the usual deer, there was nothing much too see for the first couple of hours.
Quite irritated with the weather and lack of sleep, I was silently cursing, thinking that we would be better off calling it quits and heading back to our resort.
Almost magically (and perhaps inevitably!), in less than ten seconds after that thought, we suddenly saw the magnificent beast come from around the corner around fifteen to twenty metres ahead, ambling straight towards us.
All my grumpiness and sleep immediately vanished as the thrill of seeing the tiger made me forget everything else in that moment.
The guard sitting next to me in the jeep whispered that his name was Chota Bheem (his father was apparently the OG Bheem!)
The moment he saw us, Chota Bheem (like most tigers) immediately turned left and walked away into the thicker vegetation.
He seemed as though he was looking for a quiet spot to take a nap and his satisfied demeanour certainly seemed to indicate that he had just had a really good breakfast!
And then just as abruptly as he had appeared, he decided to exit stage left, leaving us in awe of his brief cameo appearance!
SEE: Chota Bheem on the trail at the Bandhavgarh National Park. Video: Kind courtesy Ranveer Phukan
The Majestic Tigress
'She gave us umpteen opportunities to click her.'
Name: Dhananjay Phalke
Location: Pune, India
IMAGE: A tiger quenches her thirst at the Ranthambore National Park. All photographs: Kind courtesy Dhananjay Phalke
I first sighted a tiger in summers of 2012 in the jungles of the picturesque Ranthambore National Park.
Since then I have sighted 65 different tigers in over 100 safaris in India. But my best image was captured in March/April 2021, during the peak of second covid wave.
This was during a full day safari in the Magadhi zone of the Bandhavgarh National Park.
The sun had just risen, and ours was the first vehicle to enter, as we were on a full day drive.
The driver and the guide just took us to the spot where the majestic tigress named Dotty was with her 4 young cubs of may be 2-3 months.
She gave us umpteen opportunities to click her.
Sharing here my favourite with all 5 in one frame.