1. At Gir Birding Lodge
2. A languorous Sunday morning at Gir Birding Lodge. Gentle and Lazy. I had reached the Lodge after catching a connecting flight from Delhi via Mumbai to Diu. From Diu one and a half hours of exhilarating drive to the Lodge at the boundary of Sasan Gir Park.
3. The spreading wilderness where the magnificent lion roams in regal splendor made me feel insignificant and all-powerful at the same time. Insignificant at the grandeur of the wild and powerful to be a part of it. The conflicting emotions were for my part- exhilarating.
4. The Lodge is in the middle of mango orchards. I was there during mango season. The end of summer, particularly the month of June is the perfect time to celebrate this King of Fruits. Sasan Gir sees a virtual invasion of the mango from all corners of the country. Farmers bring their variety of mango from different parts of the country. The scent of succulence hangs heavy. Tasting the various diversities of the fruit while enjoying the swirl and sound of dance and music in the wild country is an enthralling experience.
5. So is listening to stories and lore of the wild. I met people who understood the wilderness and narrated to me the music and the songs of the wild.
At Sasan Gir, I too could hear the music. The music of the wild. Its songs are ferocious yet tender. Terrifying yet beautiful. The songs of the hunter and the prey. When I saw my first lion walk past, resplendent and stately I felt chills run down my spine. My incredulity at seeing a Lion was heightened by the accompanying rush of adrenaline. Fear and excitement gripped me. Using my camera, I captured as many pictures of the beautiful big cat as possible. Then slowly sank into my seat while the driver and the guide looked on nonchalantly. That day I was twice blessed. I saw a blue bull bound past.
6. We went in further. Driving through the deciduous forest interspersed with evergreen flora, acacia, scrub jungle, grasslands, and rocky hills, I felt I had reached the pinnacle. I had the greatest experience. The experience is one plus ultra.
7. The guide and I strategized and drove past the rivers and streams, in hope of sighting a majestic beast stop by to quench its thirst. The wilderness did not respond. I could hear the howl of a jackal somewhere close but it was not in sight.
8. At Kamleshwar - a large reservoir within the sanctuary we saw marsh crocodiles.
9. Birds chirped madly for a while but no beast came in view. Suddenly, the wilderness seemed empty. We wandered around the wild in hope but were disappointed. There were no further sightings.
10. We drove back the enchantment of the wild settled deep within me. At the Lodge relaxing in my comfortable room over a delicious dinner, I knew one thing for sure I was going to return again and again. I had been ensorcelled by the Wild in the very first experience.