Apr 21, 2014

My Sunderbans Experience

Sunderbans is a strange place!

The mangrove swamp home to Bengal Tiger behaves strangely. Animals usually attack humans if they are disturbed but in case of Sunderbans Tigers they attack humans without being provoked. Their food is humans. That is why it is said: If you see a tiger in Sunderbans, next thing you know is, you are inside its stomach.

There are some 250 odd tigers in these thick forests of Sunderbans. Even if the tiger disappears from everywhere else, it will survive in Sunderbans because humans are easy prey. They have been known to rocket out of the water onto the deck of an open boat and pull a sleeping crewman off by the back of his head.

Another danger that keeps lurking around is the crocodiles. Silent killers, in a flash of second they are off with their food, which sometimes is an unfortunate human.

 And SHARKS! There are six varieties of them swimming around the various islands. They are content with schools of fish, but an absent minded, careless human too is welcome!

The inhabitants there are exposed to swarm of bees too. Our guide narrated the story of a bee swarm 20 ft. long, 10ft. wide advancing towards a steamer. The crew scampered into the cabin and stayed there till the sky was clear.

Ask me if I am happy I didn’t see any of these. Of course! I am! I look for simple joys in life and one of them is staying alive! I am content with the sight of a monitor lizard; some red crabs, a doe and fawn quenching their thirst and an egret basking in its reflected glory!

Sunderbans is less about seeing tiger but more about enjoying the biodiversity of the area. We were taken on several outings in the steamer there; we had food in the deck while scanning the bank for any possible adventurous sight. We were treated with many stories of the animals and human inhabitants of that place, at the end of each story I was glad I didn’t spot any of those dangerous animals.

The only excitement we had was when my husband’s shoe fell into the river. He decided to forget it but the crew turned the steamer back and netted the shoe.

Our World Tuesday

Apr 19, 2014

Faces of India - 158

A face with name and story! He is Niranjan Raptan of Sunderbans. He survived 3 tiger attacks successfully and now works for “save the tiger” and “save Sunderbans” campaign. He was originally honey collector in these islands in his childhood but 42 years back he took up the job of forest guide. 

During one of the trip to interiors of the islands for collecting honey, his uncle and he was attacked by a ferocious tiger of Sunderbans. They both fought the tiger off bravely. Niranjan managed to bring his seriously injured uncle back home. His uncle later succumbed to the injuries, probably due to lack of good hospital facilities then. If you google his name, all stories related to him can be read.

So? Have you met anybody who has survived a tiger's attack?

Faces of India, a series through which I intend to portray the various characters of my country whom I met during my travels. See more here


Apr 17, 2014

Maharaja's Balance, Hampi

Maharaja’s balance; meaning a physical balance meant to weigh the King. The structure looks like three granite beams, one resting on two vertical beams, 15feet tall. The horizontal resting beam is sculpted in a more detailed manner. Only on close inspection the loops to hang the balance are visible.

Materials ranging from food grains to gold and gems were weighed against the Kings of Vijayanagara kingdom; these were then distributed among the poor and needy. I am trying to imagine the riches available then. All was looted by Mughals who invaded from north of India.

Apr 14, 2014

Salty Tea in Sundebans

The Sunderbans trip was a memorable one for me even though we couldn’t spot a single tiger. This often becomes a major disappointment to many tourists and they feel the entire trip is wasted, both in terms of time and money. It depends on the tourists, what exactly they want to do and see there. Chances of sighting a tiger are very less!

The resort we stayed was a well organized one, with good trips arranged to the villages and to the several islands scattered all around. The food spread was excellent, with tiger prawns and crabs. And there was refill till we were full. That is one advantage of going during the lean season. With not much crowd around and just two families we were taken care of well!

Something unique that I tasted there was salty tea! Yes, Salty tea! No, they didn’t add salt to it but the water there is salty so the taste changes. They usually don’t add milk to this kind of tea and it is served when you are being cruised around the several islands through the mangrove forests. May be you can add sugar to sweeten it, but I just let it be and enjoyed the unusual local drink of Sunderbans.

Our World Tuesday

Apr 12, 2014

Faces of India - 157

A localite of Chandigarh, he was visiting the Rock Gardens, the day I was there. While I was trying to get into conversation with another tourist there for a photograph, this young guy requested me to take his photograph too. He stood in style, hands in pockets, a slight tilt in head, a faint smile; it is he who chose this backdrop for himself. I very happily didn’t let the opportunity slip.

Faces of India, a series through which I intend to portray the various characters of my country whom I met during my travels. See more here.