I had crossed many streams, trekked many hillsides, even rolled on the beach, but the jungle and its inhabitants always eluded me. The mention of visiting a wild life sanctuary was always accompanied by a raised eyebrow and a word of advice. ‘Visiting a sanctuary. Go and see a zoo instead’. I wanted to go through the whole jungle experience, breathe in the jungle air, listen to those sounds you would never listen outside a jungle, and if lucky see the King and his people in their natural habitat.
So in the month of December, 2007, we decided to go to Ranthambhore National Park. Named after the Ran and Thambhore mountains and situated 14 kms from the Sawai Madhopur railway station, Ranthambhore National Park spans over 392 sq km of area. When we got out into the freezing cold of the red bricked Sawai Madhovpur station from the comforting air-conditioned railway coach of the Dehradun Express, we didn’t know what to expect. Somewhere on the other side was another world, totally unknown at the present. It was a new morning, a new beginning. I was about to venture out into the jungle for the first time.