Friday, August 17, 2012

Janmashtami, it could be last for pilgrimage.

This year Janmashtami was a very low profile celebration in Bandhavgarh. Pilgrims were allowed to go to temple only up till mid day and they had to return before sunset. That was routine even in previous years.
Bandhavgarh witnessed heavy rain on Janmashtami night and morning. Pilgrim rush was low in the morning but increased by 10-1030 AM. But it was too late for many. Once the forest deptt shut the gate at 12 Noon may of pilgrims were looking for an alternate temple to prey. One local person Bramhan by caste just saw the opportunity and started the prayer under Banyan tree near Tala gate where a Shivling is based on a platform. Within minutes he was performing the duty of a priest. That was a great excuse for many pilgrims to offer their prayer. He console many souls.
What I found this year was that there were not more than 5-7% devotees in the crowd rest were picnickers who came here to visit the park / temple because it is free. Most of them were trying to go through shortcuts and trying to have bath in the park. They thought it is a good theme park but were controlled by watchman. I walked with my wife Kay and had to literally (physically) teach the lesson to minimum 3 boys. I came back with a broken umbrella.
I doubt things will be the same next year. Gopalpur pool is not even half full.Chakradhara still looks dry. No Kaans flowers in Chakradhara this year and nor at Thauni. No Tiger was seen by pilgrims this year. It was more or less dry. I didn't see any Chital either. Langur and Chital alarm calls from Ramtalaiyya were probably for Vijaya and her cubs. 

Tala in monsoon.

Tala is a Tourism village. Most (99%)of the families survive on income from tourism industry. Even the people who work as daily wage labour find tourism related work.
 One morning in july second week I just went through Tala village. Most of the shops are closed. Samosa's are not made till 9 AM Vegetable shops are closed since July 1st due to park closure a day before. No Gypsies queued up at main road near barrier or in market.
Village looks very relaxed.
Shopkeepers stop buying new supply in mid June. A huge stock will be complete loss for next 3 months. Small items such as Cornflakes is out of stock in monsoon while in summer one can buy muesli cereal here. Villagers has to rely on Umaria 35 km or Manpur 13 km for vegetables. One shopkeeper found Tala a better option than district town Umaria so he shifted his shop to Tala where he gets business only for 9 months.
If tourism stops the life of these villagers will stop automatically. They wont find any alternate job that easily. Here their savings were high. Living at home and whole family working locally is beneficial to all. Some families have 2-3 people working as guide. Young university pupil find easy job as guide to work in summer and winter holidays. One of them is all set to join the clan, if don't find any other job. This is an easy option, he said.
All these happy living are going to vanish with closure of Tourism industry.

 This is how Tala village will be till 16th of October. Almost dead village without tourism. Think about these Chat thela,s. Poor people has to spend more money on all the decoration and painting again.
But the best was this Tiger who was leaping in air to look for Tourists.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Python surrounded by Peafowl and Lesser Adjutant.

Tala zone in summer is a nightmare for Tourists. We entered the park and saw all the jeeps on that route queued up for a glimpse of Vijaya who was sitting some where behind the grass opposite siddhbaba temple. We pass it coolly to pass some time in Siddhbaba meadow or Gopalpur. What we saw at Gopalpur was a flock of Peafowl along with some Lesser Adjutant making noise. A python must have come for a drink in the morning and got his timings wrong. All these birds attacked on him. He curled up initially but when a Lesser Adjutant pulled his tail he decided to move back to a safer place. This is the time when we started photographing him. Peafowl were interested but scared while young Adjutant were very  interested in attacking on him.
Python, even though it's small but still a very big prey to tackle by Peafowl or Adjutant Stork. Slowly slowly Python found the way to a safe place in a bamboo clump. 

Why locals gets menials job in Hotel Industry.

This is a big question. Many people complaint about this but hardly ever try to understand it. In-fact one cant understand it until you face it. Same question I asked the local Hoteliers and one of them told me the truth. I agree with him and I also have the same opinion about them. Hoteliers claim that 70% of their staff is local. Yes it will be because 70% jobs of total staff strength are always goes to lower staff that comes under House Keeping, Kitchen and Restaurant-Room Service. (Waiter, Kitchen helpers, sweepers Gardner's,watchman etc.) Rarely locals are employed on managerial posts.
Major complaint against the staff is about their habit of holiday. A simple function at home is more important for them than their job. Other thing is their loyalty. They never respect their own work. That's the reason for complaints in House keeping and Restaurant. Never follows the working guidelines. Booze and smoking are hard to give away.
A hotelier wants smooth operation of services at his place. He doesn't wants any hassle in his business. Management wants staff to be present on all working days except their weekly off day. 
So in nutshell I want to say that people show lots of sympathy with the villagers and think they are very simple and honest people while the reality is altogether different. One can realise it only by facing them. 

Tigers in Buffer zone of Bandhavgarh National Park

A part of sky on eastern horizon was bright blue this morning. I thought this could be a good day to explore the Buffer Zone area of Bandhavgarh National Park. Tala village was still a sleep. No reason for them to be up. Most of activities in Tala village dies on 1st july morning. Dhaba's dont open in the morning and neither the samoasa's are fried till 0930 - 10.00  in the morning. After passing the park road junction on main road I saw a glimpse of something yellow behind the bush. I said to myself that it can't be here so to clear my doubts I just turned left and to my surprise surprise, yes he was there. Quickly I lift the camera took a picture to move on.
Jungle has become lush green. Every pit in the jungle has turned in to a perfect water hole. Spotted Deer are all scattered here and there as they don't have to face any competition for food for few months.  I heard some alarm calls between Siddhbaba and Thauni. If it's not a leopard that this could be Vijya, Bamera or Mukunda male. Spotted deer , Langur monkey and Muntjac calls were confirming the presence of a predator. I left after I heard calls moving further away. Thauni meadow has turned in to a good habitat in the monsoon. We saw not one or two but three male Spotted Deer preaching. They are all in rut.  
Bhadrashila pool has attracted lot of birds in the monsoon. Black Ibis must be nesting near by as they are collecting nest material from the pool bank. 
Badhaini hill looks very close to Mahaman village. This village comes under buffer zone. Village dogs are chasing doves and other birds in the field. Some boys are playing near tamarind tree. there is no sign of any tiger movement here. No pugmarks but a tiger is standing on a platform.
I just went to Khitauli and believe it or not I photographed another Tiger there.
So when you will see these pictures you will realise that these are the Tigers we see at present in Buffer zone and they are there all the time.