A Tryst With A Tiger

Copyright © Ratish Nair 2020
Copyright © Ratish Nair 2020

Ranthambore is truly beautiful but winters there are something else. As we were driving through the steep slopes & curves of the hilly terrain , the chilly winds and the mist shrouded forests were a sight to behold. We had been tracking a large male tiger’s pug marks which were crisscrossing the jeep tracks .On one side the pug marks looked fresh & then seemed to disappear into the deep woods. Thinking that the tiger had set us on a merry, albeit fruitless chase we had almost resigned ourselves to the possibility of not sighting one . Our safari driver though was onto something. He took a decisive turn to another hilly area almost like he had some tiger sense . Suddenly , he slowed the vehicle down, pointed to a landing covered by brown & golden grass, where to our utter amazement was a gorgeous tiger, lounging in perfect camouflage. He was looking down at us. Countenance regal , stare intense and at ease as if saying , “ Well, well you humans have spotted me.” What followed was an hour of private time with this beast. We saw him gracefully descend the slopes & curves of the uneven terrain with feline elegance . The sight of this beast with his rich yellow orange stripes against the charcoal grey & black rocks ,dotted with drying grass was beyond splendid. The tiger came down to a dry water bed and that’s when we saw the trident shaped mark on his left cheek. Then on, I decided to call him SHIVA. He delivered a catwalk worth more than million bucks & then sat down gracefully in a stream to quench his thirst. His body was elegance personified, scooping water by curving his tongue backward. The silence in the jungle when a predator is on the prowl is deep. The slurping sounds could be distinctly heard. Shiva was at ease, drinking his fill while constantly scanning his territory. Then he came up the slope within a few feet of our gypsy and inspected us with piercing eyes . What followed was a territory marking ritual while constantly looking at us . We sat there transfixed , having lost track of time. After disappearing into the woods once more, he emerged again , scaling the rocks onto the other side. Gliding soundlessly and with utmost confidence , he gave us a fleeting glimpse before entering what the guide informed us was his favourite cave for a siesta. Current news is that Shiva has mated with the gorgeous Noor.Dare we hope that a litter of gorgeous cubs from the mating of these beautiful specimens will grace the royal jungles of Ranthambore? Only time will tell.

1 thought on “A Tryst With A Tiger”

  1. Sucheta Subramanian

    Incredible.. Surely a jaw dropping moment.. described so beautifully.. It’s as though one who’s reading it is actually there .

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