The name of the reserve comes from the name of god “Tadoba” as prayed by the local tribals in the region and the river Andhari which flows through the forest. TATR (in short) spread across 1727 sq. km is one of the oldest and largest Tiger reserve in Maharashtra and is also called as “The Land of Real Tigers” for the high chances of sighting tigers and the population of 90+ big cats.
Accomodation can be at various home stay kind of resorts or at Maharashtra Tourism Resort. Safari is by Gypsy and needs to be booked online only (60days prior booking is advised). The safari is allowed twice a day at morning (6am-11am) and evening (3pm-6:30pm). Our stay was for 4 long (yet short) days which included 7 safaris (Republic Day’s morning safari was a bumper).
For more info, visit: official site
All planned, we 4 friends started our journey from Bengaluru at 3.45am on 24th Jan 2018. The road journey saw few chai stops and breakfast en-route Hyderabad. While the less traffic roads boosted our happiness, lack of good lunch pitstop kept us hungry (thanks to home made delicacies, we didn’t starve). We reached Chandrapur at 4pm and consoled our growling tummies with some soft and tasty pizzas from Dominos! 😛 Finally we reached Tadoba main gate by 5.20pm. We stayed at Waghai Resort at Moharli village near core forest gate. The stay and food were pleasant and staff were hospitable.
25th morning, we set out for our 1st safari and the eagerness to spot the big cat kept growing as each moment passed. The cold (pretty cold) weather made the eagerness more exciting. But to our misfortune, the morning as well as evening safari showed us no tigers 😦 (something like a dry day a drinker would feel like 😀 ). 26th being the Republic Day, morning safari was available for only spot booking and only 22 gyspy allowed. Standing in queue at 2am (for 6am counter) in such chilly weather was tough, but having not spotted a single tiger, pushed us against all odds. We were in line and got the tickets!!
We entered the forest with much more prayers sent above to the sky (and accidently leaving back a friend’s vintage phone at the room 😀 ). Not sure if the Gods heard our prayers or the jinx of leaving behind the phone helped, we spotted Devudoo female with her 2 sub adult cubs crossing the road (joy just turned into tears, or may be the chilly morning doing its job). We roamed around for sometime and then got to hear a call near Maya’s territory and rushed there. Wow, she was walking in the stream (dry path) towards the water hole and also marking her territory. Leaving no time wasted, reached the water hole and waited for her arrival. There she came with all her might, inspected the place, drank enough water and gave us a show for 15 looonnggggg minutes. No wonder she is known as “The Showstopper of Tadoba”. Delighted with such treat, we returned back to the resort.
From then on, no safari was dry (we didn’t even think of taking the friend’s phone again 😀 ). We again spotted Maya in the evening trying to hunt a Sambar. The Hunt was very exciting, but the deer got alerted due to presence of many people being around and hunt went futile. The wait for her was everlasting.. Yes, a wait of 2hours, as we were sure a big cat being in the vicinity.
27th morning was a very quiet start across. Finally near Jamunjodi was a langur call. we waited patiently for more than 20min to watch the parade of Choti Tara and her 2 cubs. they gracefully walked while Choti Tara ensured safety of cubs by staying close to the gysys’ until the cubs walked towards the lake. Later the entire morning they spent lazing around the lake.
Having seen Maya, Choti Tara and cubs for quite a long time, we fixed our attention on Sonam at Telia lake. 27th evening passed quite movement less, only to hear langur calls at 5.20pm. Patience is one big factor a wildlife enthusiast has to possess. At around 5:50pm, we heard few growls and immediately went near the fire line to spot a cub of Sonam playing around, while other 2 cubs and Rocket (Sonam’s son from her previous litter, who is still with her and being a very good brother for these cubs) were hidden behind the bushes. Sonam wasn’t around as we were noticing some movement elsewhere dense in her territory.
Thus ended our safari is the core zone and we were heading to Devada buffer zone on our final safari the next day morning.
Devada buffer extends from Sonam’s territory till Devada village on the buffer line. We were eager to spot Sonam with her cubs, but she wasn’t having the same feelings for us. 😛 The buffer safari of Devada extends till Agarzari lake on the Agarzari buffer safari zone. The morning at the lake was peaceful, misty and hazy sunrise made a lovely environment. Birds flying around, Gaurs enjoying the morning sun, grazed and drank water happily. We looked around and a shine against the orange rays of Sun, got us glued. There she was, Madhuri… The big mother of Telia (who left the Telia territory for daughter Sonam) and currently has 2 cubs. Sitting patiently behind the bushes and waiting for the right moment to hunt the Gaurs. It was a fierce hunt session that we witnessed. Madhuri was trying to hunt a gaur and another feral gaur was chasing her away. While the hunt was turned down, the grace of Madhuri being just few feet away from us gave goosebumps!! Literally 8-9ft away she walked thrice.
Filled with all the eye-eye stares with these big cats, we returned to the concrete jungle, with no mood. Below are few images from the encounters. Many more yet to be unpacked, but let me treasure them for a later date!
Growling out and adios!