I will apologize to my readers in the very beginning of this account. This was a solo adventure. Neel and his mother was back home at Kolkata as we were supposed to again travel together within a few days of this trip. But, nevertheless I could not resist the temptation of sharing this adventure with you all just because it was such an amazing and thrilling discovery.
Again, there was a wedding, this time at Bhopal. My return flight was from Indore, late next night. So I had almost one whole day at my disposal. The devil within me started to google places around Bhopal which could be paid a visit when I suddenly came across an article which mentioned Ratapani. It was mentioned that Ratapani is a very remote tiger reserve 45kms from Bhopal, hardly visited by any tourists and hence it still is nature untouched. Eureka !!!
I hired a zoomcar ( once again ) and got upgraded to a Hyundai Verna! Good start I thought! Except it was not. 5 kms into the drive, one of the front tires got punctured. Trip got delayed by half an hour. However , It took me another hour to reach Ratapani tiger reserve entrance gate. It took me 5 minutes to find a guard who was having his brunch and the entire ticketing office was empty. He was surprised to have a visitor on a Monday morning but was happy to issue me an entry ticket for Rs. 300. I asked him which way to go, and he said to drive along the nonmetal road and it will lead me to a picteresque waterbody amidst the jungle and a watchtower and even a forest bungalow ! Wow, i thought!!
And hence I started my drive. A few minutes into the jungle, I realized mine was the only vehicle inside the jungle, and I was the only tourist for the day!!! I rolled up the window panes , with a mixture of thrill and anxiety ! I drove inside the forest for almost 30 minutes to reach the forest bungalow, another 20 minutes to the waterbody and the watchtower. I will not express it in words, rather pictures and videos will perhaps justify the experience for the readers. Just one spoiler , I could not see any tiger or even any pugmark, though the guard inside the forest bungalow said they get to see them pretty often ( at least once in a week ). Nonetheless, it was a discovery worth cherishing and letting people know. Take a trip fellas!
- view from the forest guard’s quarter
Nearest Railhead and Airport: Bhopal , approximately 45 kms from Ratapani
Accomodation: Ratapani forest guest house, to be booked through Dept of Forest, Madhya Pradesh
For a more lavish experience, you can check Ratapani Jungle Lodge HTTP://ratapani.com/
and Ratapani Range Retreat http://www.ratapanirangeretreat.com/