Riding through a Tiger reserve

CC image from Wikipedia

CC image from Wikipedia

On the Road to Ooty from Mysore, one will have to go through the Bandipur-Madumali
National park road. What got me so excited about the ride through the
Bandipur reserve was the minute possibility of being face to face with the majestic
creature of the forest. Although the name, Bandipur/Madumallai tiger
reserve is misleading, owing to the fact that your chances of meeting a
tiger is as slim as snowing in the thar desert, it still is an amazing experience.
The sight of lesser harmful animals and the feeling of a thinning
boundary between man and animal helps to keep you thrilled.Naturally speaking, Bandipur and Madumallai are
the part of the same forest, but the different names are on account of
different state governments(Karnataka and Tamil Nadu) being in charge of
the areas. It seems stupid that something which nature has ordained has
been divided by man. Coincidentally, the vegetation of the two areas are
much different. While Bandipur is populated with bamboo shoots and sparse
grass, in Madulmallai grows taller trees and the forest looks more
denser. Even the terrain is much different; While Madumallai has wider
roads with more of a highway feel, the latter has very narrow roads
with almost no space between the flora and the road. Entering into the tiger
reserve in a bike, we had a one point agenda, to spot a tiger or to
prevent dissapointment, at-least any other wild animal. The right and left
side of the road was divided between the two of us and we set out with
(expectations) in our heart. As soon we rode into the archway of
Bandipur, we started to feel a certain kind of calm. Although there were
considerable vehicles on the road, the chaos of a normal high way was missing and

every one was hornlessly cruising at a leisurely pace, thanks to

the speed limit. But deep within I was mildly dissapointed, as I was expecting
this to be a dense forest where the tress would shadow darkness
during broad daylight. Forget tigers, no wild life would dwell close by
. Just when I was about to give in, on my patrolling side of the road
I glanced a group of deers proudly lying down dangerously close to the
road, as if they were totally ok sharing their space with the
disgusting humans. I quickly yet quietly poked at my friend who was
riding, but he seemed lost in the tranquility and took a good 10 seconds
to respond, the time by which the deers where out of sight. I swore at
him for not being attentive and we rode on with bamboo shoots towering
around us from both sides. Our entry into Madhumallai was marked with a
kind of forest office junction and a sudden change in the forest. Here,
we spotted an elephant near a water source, it probably was tamed by the
forest guards although I did not find any chains. Entering into
Madumalai, we came across a water hole besides the road, where stood an
antelope looking angrily at us. It was probably irritated at
the trespassing by the humans and in protest or as a sign of asserting
its territory stood motionless. I would have been fooled into thinking
it was a statue, If not for the slight tilting of its head just before I stole the last glance.
That was the last We had any glimpse of animals apart from a few
monkeys. On the return journey riding out of Bandipur, I was saddened as
I was not even close to spotting a tiger. But I had hope that won day I
would come back and be face to face with the Majestic creature of the