Kanha’s last forest corridor before touching Pench

The national park at Kanha was humongous. With the complete dedication of time, resources and commitment, this rambling forested region will take a die-hard visitor far more than a month to even cover fifty percent of this undulating tree laden land. Every time we drove out, we could make out with our evolving knowledge in biology or botany that we were witnessing a variety of landscapes and woodland. 

The roads, the trees, the meadows changed. Somewhere we found tall hillocks right of the dirt roads, covered with trees that were entirely different than what we had seen a day before in the same area.

An elephant, subdued with age, and chained by humans stand as a mute spectator as we drove past Kanha forest"s fast-diminishing forest cover by Gautam Lahiri
An elephant, subdued with age, and chained by humans stand as a mute spectator as we drove past Kanha’s fast-diminishing forest cover

We continued our quest for more as we ate the remaining miles that spaced us out from the forest fringes which had given way to towns and habitation. 

The dirt track that meandered through the forest exposed us to dense forest areas, unlike the flat grasslands we had seen earlier.

The sun glowed high above us and the deep and dense forest hung over the lower ridges of a knoll. As we turned right into the forest, darkness enveloped us as the trees blanked off the sun completely at Kanha forest by Gautam Lahiri
The sun glowed high above us and the deep and dense forest hung over the lower ridges of a knoll. As we turned right into the forest, darkness enveloped us as the trees blanked off the sun completely

We were mesmerized by the extent of contrasts that this forest had to offer. No matter how much we drove through the forests for hours, we never got tired. The view of two lone Gypsies driving up front slowly through a narrow corridor of the forest gave us that element of acute elation. 

The insatiable expectation to see the unseen. 

The forests closed inwards over the narrow road as we relentlessly drove through the Kanha forest's amazing woods by Gautam Lahiri
The forests closed inwards over the narrow road as we relentlessly drove through the Kanha’s amazing woods

At places, the forest was very close to the road and a fear of a sudden appearance of a leopard perched on a tree branch kept us on the edge. We would not even have the space to turn around or drive in reverse. We would have been sitting ducks if it had pounced on us. Not long before our thoughts made us think deeper, the ever-changing land presented a couple of rock-strewn streams that ran along the road.

The Gypsy increased her engine note and the driver continuously changed to lower gears. We were traversing an incline.

The Gypsy hugged the stream bordered dirt track, only to enter another hairpin bend and an incline at Kanha forest by Gautam Lahiri
The Gypsy hugged the stream bordered dirt track, only to enter another hairpin bend and an incline

The streams were fed by the groundwater and clearly were not part of any torrential river system. There were dry patches too which we crossed.

Dry to semi-humid undergrowth was reminiscent of the water that had flowed through these areas. Now bare and polished rocks of the bed could be seen staring at us.

The Gypsy's engine yelled as the vehicle roared over the dry stream bed at Kanha forest by Gautam Lahiri
The Gypsy’s engine yelled as the vehicle roared over the dry stream bed

We wanted to feel the forest, hear the sounds that reverberated every minute through the trees and echoed over the open spaces. Even with the sun in full bloom, ensconced in total security provided by a car, the presence of trained forest guides, the long bellowing or sometimes, shorter squeaks, the culmination of forest sound suddenly made us numb with fear. The fear of the wild.

Our ears warmed and there was an adrenaline rush which we could feel as our bodies shivered. We stopped the vehicle and waited a full ten minutes, appreciating the vastness and quietness of nature. 

A slice of sunlight through the tree opening lighted up the forest floor. Our anticipation ran as wild as the shades of the color and shadows around at Kanha forest by Gautam Lahiri
A slice of sunlight through the tree opening lighted up the forest floor. Our anticipation ran as wild as the shades of the color and shadows around

Our driver was a very considerate man and smiled at us. He kept us with our request to stop at places and let us savor the rich beauty and silence.

We kept on our pace of romancing the forest and after traveling the last four kilometres the broken wooden gate loomed ahead and the road through it took us outside the forest.

The last leg of our Kanha tour as we met other vehicles who were returning or making their way to explore Kanha. If I had the steering wheel under my control, perhaps I would have made a U-turn to disappear back into the wild at Kanha forest by Gautam Lahiri
The last leg of our Kanha tour as we met other vehicles who were returning or making their way to explore Kanha. If I had the steering wheel under my control, perhaps I would have made a U-turn to disappear back into the wild

We snatched ourselves from Kanha’s enticing grasslands and headed for Pench national park. The plan was to touch and go over this specific wilderness, briefly before heading back to Nagpur.  Pench is located south west of Kanha and is not as big; however, had enough wild firepower to attract any natural lovers.

I got back into the Hindustan Ambassador and felt all my own driving elements coming back after three days of being driven and gunned the engine to drive about one hundred and ninety odd kilometres to reach Pench. 

Ambassador awaits on the Kanha's dirt track with its nose towards the Kisli gate entry through which we catapulted our way to Pench near Kanha forest by Gautam Lahiri
Ambassador awaits on the Kanha’s dirt track with its nose towards the Kisli gate entry through which we catapulted our way to Pench 

Maintaining an average drive speed of eighty kilometers an hour, we took about three hours to reach Pench.  By the time we reached, the sun had well past its prime and had started its westward homeward run. 

We traveled about four to five kilometres in the forest as it was getting dark before we came to a spot where we met a lethal feline within an iron fortress.

Forests do not look too different if they exist in the same vicinity. Pench's forested horizon ablaze with the setting sun at Kanha forest by Gautam Lahiri
Forests do not look too different if they exist in the same vicinity. Pench’s forested horizon ablaze with the setting sun

My excitement was bursting at its seams, as I was able to capture a leopard, infamous for killing twenty humans and now lived its remaining life in captivity. Love of human blood changed its life. 

Even today as we had seen, if someone approached the leopard at close quarters, the cat bared its yellow white teeth and showed aggression as if it was in the wild, ready to strike.

The leopard in captivity known to have wiped out a complete family. The cat stalked its human preys for three years before forest officials were able to capture at Pench forest by Gautam Lahiri
The leopard in captivity known to have wiped out a complete family. The cat stalked its human preys for three years before forest officials were able to capture

For lunch, we came back to a restaurant that had murals and paintings that depicted the famous characters of Jungle book by Rudyard Kipling

It was here, he wrote the book after falling in love with woods around him.

The Pench officials made a very friendly restaurant rendered with the painting of 'Mowgli' the famous Jungle Book boy character at Pench forest by Gautam Lahiri
The Pench officials made a very friendly restaurant rendered with the painting of ‘Mowgli‘ the famous Jungle Book boy character

We were almost on the verge of winding our brilliant forest excursion of Kanha and Pench. What we learned will remain with us forever. Forests are always to be respected. It is us who are the trespassers and not the wild animals. 

By way of technical power, we reckon we become the so called demigods who take it for granted that animals can be driven to submission and handled with ruthlessness. Instead of using our inventions to drive against them, we humans can be far more effective if we use them to help them flourish.

We headed back from where we had come, to the concrete jungle of Nagpur and beyond. I envy the Gypsy drivers parked on the road as they would continue to see and touch the lovely, wild life of both Pench and Kanha by Gautam Lahiri
We headed back from where we had come, to the concrete jungle of Nagpur and beyond. I envy the Gypsy drivers parked on the road as they would continue to see and touch the lovely, wild life of both Pench and Kanha

Replete with wild memories, I started the Ambassador to cover the two hundred and fifty kilometres of winding roads, briefly touching the Pench and spearheaded south west to reach Nagpur.

Hope the readers love the wild national parks and play by their rules and not enforce their own rules.

These wild animals are majestic and supreme, should prevail for our next generations to see, feel and glow in their delight.

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