Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better…
– Albert Einstein
On the way to Sariska Tiger Reserve came the famous Siliserh Lake. It took almost 30 mins to reach the junction. The signboard stated just a mile; the diversion took us to the hill lock surrounding the water reservoir…We climbed the thirty odd steps to reach the top of the extended balcony…it’s the place where tourist generally cherish their short stay. Attached is a small bistro. It was his familiar terrain. We arranged the chairs towards the lake and rested for a while…
We were into the cab, by the time the story ended. Off again on the road, to proceed to the famous Sariska Tiger Reserve. All along the road, the boards depicted the approaching tiger’s den. Half way it was the vast stretch of wide-open road. Both ends of the big barren land were two mountain peaks.
It was incredible, as I glanced at the peak.
With no loss of time, he commenced his interesting annotations on mythological tales. He simply can’t resist. He has narrated umpteen times… verbatim was emerging automatically. He directed to the two lofty peaks…it has an equally lofty history attached to it. The King’s only daughter was in love with a peasant son and as the story passed on over years states that, as a measure of his intensity of love. The peasant was asked to tread a thread tied between these two peaks. I had no reason to contest his passionate verbatim. The peasant son managed to do so. King’s ego was hurt; he conspired and eliminated him in a treacherous encounter…momentarily I was lost in the mystery of mythology.
As we drove on I could see the Sariska Palace, it was standing graciously, at the façade of the entrance to the forest presents a grandiose look. …As I stepped inside the Palace, the customary of the Sariska Palace, atypical disciplinary way of erstwhile Maharajas living was vaguely animated within the four walls. White walls and paned windows framed the apparent rosewood dance floor built by the original royal inhabitant. The cushions with ethnic mirror and beadwork embroidery in deep, earthy tones…a vase filled with white spider lilies enhanced the smell of the palace hotel.
The caretaker religiously wore coloured outfit, and spoke in mangled English in a sincere endeavour to uphold the royal ritual. The chef no less in his attire strikes a similar tone to the otherwise dwindling royal convention. As I flipped the menu card of the café, I knew I had discovered the truth; prices were prohibitively exorbitant.
The creaky wooden gate opened into a bounded wild space. I was amazed; the plants grew freely with the randomness and unpredictability of life itself. Creepers with tiny sapphire flower scrambled onto a trellis over the ironclad. Magenta bougainvillea clustered around a majestic gulmohar tree, which rose up in a blaze of vermilion flowers. A flock of mynahs bickered over juicy, yellow fruits inside the leaves of a gnarled wild tree.
Sariska Tiger Reserve, for the Indian with scant knowledge got once qualified with the US President Bill Clinton’s visit. The custodians had to literally capture a tiger, and leave it in the visible vicinity of the dignitaries, to get a close glance of the royal tiger. The road leading to the Tiger Reserve is bounded by rocky hills, barren terrains intermittently marked with wild shrubbery. Momentarily, I felt undermined that Sariska’s beauty of bounty needs foreign qualification for Indians.
With every additional inch inside the Sariska Reserve, there was a telling world. Discovering the unknown, fathoming the forest… The feeling of emerging out of an interminable tunnel was fast engulfing but the light was yet to be spotted. I was subtly getting excited about the unfolding scenes. The forest is parched and brown in summer, but rains had bathed the forest in a radiance of green. Bamboos etched filigree against the sky and along the streams and water holes, trees randomly raised their defiant canopy.
The Sariska wildlife sanctuary was established here in 1955 and taken over under Project Tiger in 1979. More than a quarter century of an uneasy truce reigns. An unfortunate coincident today, only few tigers roam the greater Sariska ecosystem…but why does it matter?