The magical Kumaoni hills are alive….and real…just as you are.
The side we stayed on was verdant, dotted with small farms full of fresh carrots, radishes, chives and cauliflowers. The other side was a steep cliff…the river binds the two sides in a harmonious blend, completing the story.
Sometimes we’d spot black Aeonium (a first in my lifetime), sometimes a startling Bulbul singing a lively tune. We sleepwalk through this dreamlike beauty that abounds everywhere…not sure if we are awake.
The children gather pretty rocks…naming them, we gather memories...hoping to wake up with them every day.
I grew up with a generous dose of Jim Corbett’s bravery - my home in Calcutta is still lined with Jim Corbett Omnibus and as a child I would sleep only when my father read to me from them. I fought sleep as my father declared –“Corbett just spotted two glowing eyes in the dark…. sleep now!”
After some frantic negotiating and desperate pleading he would read two bonus pages and I’d fall asleep eventually, somewhere between two piercing green eyes and a treacherous mountainous forest terrain that makes chasing the truant one impossible.
But almost nothing really prepares you for the real journey. When you reach Corbett National Park, you can almost feel the air getting thicker with the mysticism of the omnipresent tiger; you will feel her green glowing eyes on you, even when you don’t see it.
The allure of the jungle is so intense, so impervious that we could feel it from our balcony - full of sights, sounds and smell of the dark woods.
The trees look different, the trail looks more rugged, at times the place is aglow with bright sunlight and at times the foliage gets so thick that you can hardly make out if it is morning or evening.
Hidden away in this foliage was this humungous Tusker…quite oblivious to our intrusion. He stood there majestic – staring at us through the leaves.