Sitting across the Kosi River, I watch the sunlight dancing in the river, the water splashing over the rocks. Surrounding me is the Jim Corbett National Park, part in Uttarakhand and part in Uttar Pradesh. This Corbett adventure is part of Club Mahindra‘s travel blogging trips across India, and I feel privileged to be part of it this year. Three days ago, six of us bloggers arrived at the Club Mahindra Safari Resort, with dreams of looking a tiger eye-to-eye in India’s oldest tiger reserve. As we watched the sun rise over Kosi from behind the mountains that morning, we didn’t know that we’d leave seeing a lot more.
We’ve spent a chunk of the day in the jungles of Corbett, praying for a glimpse of the elusive big cat, thanking our stars for a rare sighting of the Yellow-throated Marten, and marveling at the magnificent colors of the Kingfisher, the Woodpecker & the Chestnut Bee-eater. I’ve rediscovered my love for the wilderness, but I’m equally glad to be back in my apartment; it is not everyday that I’m pampered with riverside luxury.
I lounge in my balcony a little longer, charmed by the tirelessly flowing river, then reluctantly give up my spot for a discussion on India’s biodiversity with Mr S.Karthikeyan, the first Indian naturalist I’ve met. I’m transfixed as he displays figure after figure, and picture after picture, of the lives we never think about. That night, he catches a little beetle crawling along a wall light, gently but firmly overturns it, and asks us what a cockroach does when overturned. Struggles, I think to myself, ducking my head close to it. Much to my surprise, the little guy leaps in a high back-flip and turns itself upright – a flipping beetle, it’s aptly called! Smiling, I think he too could be a tiger in an alternate universe.
As the sun starts to fade away in the evening sky, I stroll along the river, past the swimming pool, and into the gardens where the grass is still glittering in the fading sunlight. They remind me of the gardens we saw surrounding Jim Corbett‘s winter home; the National Park is named after this British hunter who saved many a villagers by hunting man-eating tigers & leopards, 50 and 250 of them respectively, to be precise! I imagine Corbett’s lifestyle back in the 40s, when his humble two bedroom house must’ve been surrounded by dense forests with only a trail leading up to it. I imagine the nights he must’ve sat out, looking for his victims. A shiver runs down my spine as I see a cat staring at me from the path ahead, and I calmly make my way back to where my blogger friends are furiously photographing the orange sky and its reflection on the water.
As the air starts to get chilly, we camp ourselves under the stars and watch the artists of the region perform a Kumaoni version of the bagpiper. Every now and then, we look up from our delicious traditional Kumaoni meal and catch a shooting star, until the moon reveals itself from behind the mountains, and hogs all our attention. Following a string of after-dinner conversations & desserts, I walk back to the coziness of my room, convinced that ours is a lucky generation to enjoy the comforts of modern-living amid the charms of nature.