Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sariska – The land of Tigers

Scientists say that when you are travelling with the speed of light, the time slows down. But in my opinion, you don’t have to go that far, the time slows down when you Travel, irrespective of the speed! And this phenomenon of slowing down of time is directly proportional to the randomness of your trip, and the company of friends you are with!
It’s not a theoretical statement; it’s what I have practically experienced and if you are a traveler, I am sure you would agree.

The Plan was to visit Sariska Tiger Reserve in Alwar, Rajasthan. We were seven of which I knew only 2 in the beginning but that unfamiliarity vanished the moment “Magic Moments” was opened (I hope I need not elaborate on that!). The train dropped us at Alwar in the dead of the night. Athough initially we thought of spending the rest of the night at the station but unanimously trashed the idea and searched a budget hotel.  All our plans of goofing around the entire night were scrapped the moment we stretched ourselves on the bed!

The next morning we headed straight to Sariska Tiger Reserve. It was around an hour long bus journey from Alwar bus stand.  We hired an Open jeep and from there began our expedition to the Tiger Kingdom. But since we didn’t had a formal appointment, the king didn’t bother to meet us. But he was courteous enough to send his prime minister, Mr Leo Pard to welcome us!!! We bought batteries from a shop near a temple in the middle of the jungle which activated the dormant photographer in all of us. We clicked monkeys, Langurs, antelopes, foxes, birds, mountains, trees and what not.

Sariska is not a big forest so in 3-4 hours we were done with it. The next place on our list was Silised Lake. Unfortunately there wasn’t any public transport connecting the two places. But travelling golden rule 101 says that “if you can compromise on comfort you can reach anywhere in the world”. We adhered to this golden rule and took a lift in a truck loaded with gunny bags. Since there wasn’t enough space in the driver’s cabin, four of us sat on the top, over the gunny bags! The wind blows your mind away (literally!) and makes you practically deaf! The truck dropped us at a diversion from where the Lake was 4-5 KM ahead but we didn’t get 2nd time lucky and had to walk all the way! And I am glad that we did walk and enjoy the scenic beauty in a laid-back manner rather than zipping away. It’s the same difference as there is between sipping the wine and gulping the wine!

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Silised Lake - The territory of Crocs

Silised Lake is slightly elevated from the road so that you can't see the water till you are really close as if trying to maintain the suspense till the very end; something a reality show anchor does while announcing the name of the winner. But when you finally see it, you know it's worth it. It is a beautiful rain fed lake surrounded almost entirely by Aravali hills with a palace hotel touching the lake on three sides. The Boating facility is provided by the hotel at a fee of Rs 200 for 30 min. Without losing much time we hired two Pedal-boats.

The lake was so beautiful and water was so clear that my urge to swim in it only grew stronger with each pedal. But there were two things which were holding me back – a Notice which read “the lake has Crocodiles” and my friend Lokesh, who was hell bound not to let me swim. I could convince myself that it would not be that risky to swim for a while but to convince Lokesh was proving to be next to impossible. I kept losing my clothes while persuading loki but when I realized he is not gonna budge from his stand, I got up and dived in ! The water was very cold but I hardly felt it at that time; the adrenaline rush was so high! I started with back stroke but the further I was going from the boat the more insecure I was feeling; after all the warning on the notice board was also somewhere in my mind.

My reasoning was - even if there were few crocs; they wouldn’t be swimming right in the middle. In the afternoon they must be resting somewhere and it should take them more than 5 minutes to spot me and reach there! Therefore, at least for 5 minutes, I am safe. But reasons don’t work on heart and it was beating like crazy. Whatever time I was in water, I was anticipating a Jaw coming from somewhere! But when I started swimming back to my boat, it kept on receding away from me. I was wondering if my friends want me to remain in water till they get some real “entertainment”!!! Finally I touched base and raised my hands to express my elation! It was a great feeling and I am not that good a writer to be able to capture and express it through words.

By the time we finished our boating, the weather became windy. Huge waves developed in a hitherto came lake. Rains followed the wind and then the magic happened. We could witness two extremely beautiful rainbows, one over the other. If the order of colours (i.e. VIBGYOR or ROYGBIV) determines the gender of a rainbow then one was Male and the other was female and I don’t know who was on the top!!

We clicked a lot of photographs in the backdrop of the rainbows risking getting wet in the rain. The Nature’s spell was over soon but we were left spellbound! We had a hot coffee and some ‘pakoras’ at the rooftop restaurant of the palace and bade adieu to this magnificent lake. A gentleman helped us to reach the railway station within time (but at a price). The train was few minutes late and stuffed with people way beyond its capacity. Though we had confirmed tickets but for the next 3 stations we were hanging at the doors because we couldn’t swim across the 'human sea' between us and our seats! And when we finally reached our seats, they were already encroached and we had to sit on our own seats like guests!!

But as they say, nothing lasts forever and this roller-coaster weekend trip to Sariska also came to an end with the train reaching my station at 10PM in the night. Two of us got down there while the other five went on till Delhi Railway Station to extract the full value of their tickets!!!

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