We all search for that place that can bring you inner peace. That can be the place to sit outside on the steps of the verandah, gazing into infinity, eyes closed in reverence. For us that place will forever be the wild, stunning jungles of India. Their whispered stories are our salvation.

Morning Mist in the Forest with its early risers

Morning Mist in the Forest with its early risers

A beautiful patterns with the Antlers in the morning light

The beautiful patterns of the Antlers in the first morning light

As we drive off from the functional Nagpur metropolis airport the vistas around us begin to change.  Mundane suburban buildings and stores metamorphose into dusty village roads and green verdant fields replace the concrete expanse slowly bringing peace within us. Trees line the roads and the often-seen piles of rubbish are replaced by piles of leaves and twigs.

Sunsets in the forest are always special.

Sunsets in the forest are always special.

The Bamboo Safari Lodge

The Bamboo Safari Lodge

The warmth in each room is so endearing

The warmth in each room is so endearing

Serenity in the backyard

Serenity in the backyard

Nagpur mornings are chilly in the winter but the afternoon air is warm, like a balm to the senses. We first visited Tadoba Andhari Tiger reserve 6 years ago and have waited too long to be back , but our much anticipated 2nd visit is about to commence. The tigers of tadoba beckoned us and we have arrived to see them in their home. The Bamboo Safari lodge where we stayed in Tadoba is only 7 kms from the Kolara gate, and it’s a beautiful property, a prime example of how rustic luxury and a jungle soul can be merged perfectly.

It's exhilarating to see the beast in the center of the green foliage

It’s exhilarating to see the beast in the center of the green foliage

The piercing eye of the tiger

The piercing eye of the tiger

The cute Tiger Cub; Mother's not that far!

The cute Tiger Cub; Mother’s not that far!

All males need rest! Afternoon Siesta time for Chota Matka of Tadoba.

All males need rest! Afternoon Siesta time for Chota Matka of Tadoba.

The kids had their own villa, and the thought of no hovering parents around to dampen their joy was plain, if unflattering, to see. We had booked for jungle safaris morning and evening on all days, and were very excited because the sightings in the Kolara buffer and core zone have been happening so frequently. Usually waking up the offspring, way before dawn breaks, especially in the winter is tough. Nagpur gets to 3 to 4 degrees centigrade in Tadoba and the chill is accentuated by the open jeeps in which we ride. Here however no complaints are made, the kids are up, and ready in layers as soon as the alarm rings every morning, a testament to how much they love riding on the gypsy into the forest.

The is more to the forest than a Tiger Sighting. Wild Dog's Extremely rare to see.

The is more to the forest than a Tiger Sighting. Wild Dog’s are extremely rare to see.

Even more rare is sighting a Wild Dog while whistling

Even more rare is sighting a Wild Dog while whistling

Obviously we all pray every morning at the tiny idol near the Kolara gate that we may be blessed by the tiger sighting. Once the pressure of sighting the tiger is out of the way; we focus on the rest of the forest; its landscapes, water bodies and the other flora and fauna.When the animals are resting we focus on the birds.

When the animals are resting we focus on the birds.

Tiny ones that are difficult to spot but a pleasure to watch.Tiny ones that are difficult to spot but a pleasure to watch.

And while they hunt for food, the water creates some neat illusions

And while they hunt for food, the water creates some neat illusions

Their colours so bright!

Their colours so bright!

Such a wonderful contrast in broad daylight

Such a wonderful contrast in broad daylight

Yet there is so much more to see in the deep, sometimes dark, sometimes bright expanses of the forest around us. We and the kids have been to a significant number of tiger reserves around India and this particular routine is very familiar to us. We are good at waiting and watching the cycle of life unfold in the  jungle around us. As we wait near a pug mark, or listen acutely trying to discern an alarm call, our minds totally focused on our immediate surroundings, it is tough not to be at peace.

The leaves are a filter to sky

The leaves are the filter to the sky

The fruits borne by the forest.

The fruits borne by the forest.

The pathways of the jungle. Ever so peaceful.

The pathways of the jungle. Ever so peaceful.

Just us in the middle of the forest

Just us in the middle of the forest

It teaches you much, the forest, patience and to wait, to enjoy solitude, to respect uncertainty, to cherish a rare sighting, to master disappointment when the animal eludes you and above all to learn fortitude and acceptance of the way the wheel turns. It even helps you write a few good lines when your hearts get soaked in its spirit. Our trip was like always, a revelation of the simplicity of true joy.; made more valuable because our children cherished it too. They insisted that we must come back soon and we are very happy to oblige!!!

The Forest-scapes

The sounds of the forest

Sync with my heart beat

The sweet cacophony of the cicada

Along with other wild strangers I meet 

The rustling of the leaves

The ashen aged bark of the trees

The ruddy forest pathways 

Whisper a million stories  

Let me fill my lungs with this fresh air

Let me take a flight with the birds

Let the aroma of the wilderness intoxicate me

Let me lay down here and be a part of this forest 

Where the filtered light of the sun  keeps me warm

By Ali Tunkiwala

(With Textual Contributions of Bhakti Tunkiwala)