It was the time when I was on a trip to Ranthambore National Park along with my batch-mates. Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan is a vast natural habitat for tigers.
When we entered the forest, the sun was preparing to set towards the west. A gentle breeze was blowing. There was a pleasant atmosphere all over the park. We were excited to experience something that we had never seen before.
There were four open canters and all were on different tracks. On our way, we saw beautiful birds chirping and swinging on the clump of trees; a herd of deer roaming; rabbits running as if it was their playtime; and the presence of a wide variety of flora and fauna. Everything around us was so mesmerizing.
As we moved into the depths of the forest, anxiety arose within us. Our eyes were eagerly waiting to see the big cat. We were constantly searching around for about two hours, yet there was no sign of it. Our excitement was gradually giving way to disappointment. With each passing moment, we were losing hope of finding any. It was time to shut the gates of the park. So, we were moving toward the exit. Everyone believed that our trip to the national park would be in vain.
Suddenly, the driver received a phone call that someone had seen the tiger marching towards the river. This information was forwarded to all the drivers. We quickly rushed to that place.
As soon as we arrived, the guide made us notice that suddenly the birds stopped chirping, monkeys started signalling each other, and all the rabbits ran away from there. He also warned us not to utter a single word. There was an awkward silence with a pinch of scariness.
There was already a queue of canters in which we were in the last position. All were becoming impatient to see the tiger. After a long time, we saw what we were waiting for! A mighty, majestic, royal tiger appeared from the dark side of the jungle. He moved slowly and calmly, not bothered by the hundred eyes watching him. He padded silently towards the middle of the road and sat in a regal gesture. Our eyes were fixed upon him. It was the first time that I had seen a wild animal so close to me, except for at the zoo. We began taking photographs impatiently.
The darkness began to cover the sky and the frequency of flashes slowed down. The other canters began moving one by one, and at last it was our turn to see the tiger just a few steps away. The forest track was in rocky and hilly areas. All of a sudden, a jerk shook everyone. My friend, who was sitting at the corner of the canter, lost her balance and slipped down from it. She fell just a few feet away from the royal majesty. Our hearts skipped a beat. We were all astonished. We had only one question in our mind: what would happen next? What if the tiger attacks her?
The tiger looked at her fiercely. No one could ever imagine the feeling my friend had undergone. Fear made her motionless. We all lost our excitement and our focus was shifted to this tragedy. The guide acknowledged us not to panic, otherwise circumstances could be more fatal. The situation was so tense that all were sweating, even in that cold, windy dusk.
Now, what we saw was even more frightening! Another gigantic tiger was stepping down the hill. He was steadily marching towards us. As he reached the corner of the road, he roared in a heavy, loud voice. This tiger snatched the attention of the previous one with his voice.
The guide, with the knowledge of his experience, took advantage of this moment. He quickly jumped out of the canter and cautiously brought our friend back inside it. She was fortunate enough to be saved from this catastrophe. We expressed our gratitude to our guide for his bravery and presence of mind.
It was the time of twilight. There was no one left in the park except us. When we were just about to move, one of our mobile’s flashlights got switched on. Tigers are always attracted to flashlights; they make them angry. He exploded loudly and made a jump towards us. We all shrieked out of fear. He chased us for a few steps, ceaselessly. My batch-mates started crying out of fear. The darkness made the scenario more horrifying. After a while, he stopped chasing us. However, we managed to escape from that place safely.
Although the gates were closed, the watchman yelled at us to be so late. Later on, we explained the incident to him, which was nobody’s fault; we were all only bound by circumstances.
This experience was a really adventurous and terrifying one. I still get goosebumps when recalling this incident. But I believe we were so lucky to experience two tigers in front of us, and I will never ever forget this incredible event in my life.