My family on the elephant safari at Jim Corbett National Park circa 1997
This post is written for the theme “26 Places, 26 Memories” for the #AtoZChallenge.
J FOR JIM CORBETT NATIONAL PARK:
Named after the famous tiger-hunter of the early 20th century, Jim Corbett, this wildlife sanctuary is located in Uttarakhand in India. It’s home to numerous tigers, leopards, wild elephants, gorgeous birds and other wildlife. This park is popular with tourists owing to its proximity to Delhi, and the variety of lodging options.
We visited Corbett Park (as it’s better known), many times in my childhood, as it was ideal for family excursions. The trip whose memory I’m narrating today took place in the spring of 1997, when I was 9 years old.
A JOYOUS JAUNT IN JIM CORBETT NATIONAL PARK:
I’d developed a fever as soon as our holiday began, and was in low spirits for the duration of the trip. I slept a lot, and I don’t have any memories of the elephant and jeep safaris we took. I do remember, however, feeling the tinge of disappointment that comes with not seeing a wild-cat when you’ve been eagerly looking forward to it. On our last day there, after finishing the morning safari and enjoying a leisurely breakfast at the Dhikala Forest Rest House, we drove through the outskirts of the park in our own car, a Daewoo Cielo. Back then, private vehicles were allowed inside certain areas of the park premises. I was sleeping in the backseat, with my brother seated next to me, and our parents were seated in front.
Suddenly, I was jostled awake with firm hands. I sat up in a stupor, protesting loudly at being woken so rudely, when I was told to hush by my mother. With one finger on her lips, she pointed to the windshield of our car.
There, in all its magnificent glory, stood a fine specimen of the royal Bengal tiger. He stood a short distance away from our car, looking directly at us. Everything ceased to exist in that moment, except for the five creatures in the jungle and the vehicle that separated them. I don’t remember how long we stood transfixed in that position, but soon the tiger was bored and moved on. We breathed collectively after what seemed like an age, and turned to leave quietly. There are no photographs of this wild encounter, but our memories are emblazoned with this vision, in a way that no photo could do justice. The fact that the sighting happened without any guides or other people present, makes this memory even more magical.
Since then I’ve been on a few safaris and seen many beautiful creatures, but nothing quite matches up 😉
Come back tomorrow for the letter K and another story!
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Wild elephants at Jim Corbett National Park circa 1997
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