Our dark DiwaliSarita Ravindranath takes a trip to the jungle, only to find out that real beasts live in citiesI
t had been our darkest, quietest and best Diwali ever.
We spent an evening under the stars listening to birds we didn't know existed. We saw that rare sight: a single female elephant away from her herd. We looked for leopards, and watched stray peahens, a confused sambar
who didn't seem to know where he wanted to go, an angry bison charge at something in the distance.
We drove through the pitch-dark roads, wondering what lay beyond the trees.
The driver who took us through the core forest area of Bandipur, and then through the paths of Masinagudi had a flair for the dramatic. He gave us our bad-Hollywood-movie moment when he drove us to land's end to a deserted temple, famous because this was where forest brigand Veerappan and his gang would pray -- in the middle of the night, once every month.
That night, however, the only ones offering darshan were wild boars and bears, and all we could hear were some scary, wild howls.
He asked us to get out of the jeep, and promptly switched off the lights. A valley lay before us, the temple barely visible beside us, and beyond we could see the hills that separated Tamil Nadu from Karnataka.
It was easily one of our driver's favourite haunts. And once we got used to the darkness, we could see why. Image: A road in Bandipur, the former shooting preserve of the Maharajas of Mysore. Bandirpur covers area of 266 km and adjoins the Mudumalai Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu. Image: Praveen Dwarkanath. Any unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.
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