Wednesday, 18 June 2014

When I was In Jim Corbett National Park – Part 2

I enter into Mahesh boundary where his family is doing household works. Mahesh introduce me to his mother and two sisters Geeta and Savita.  Both girls takes me into newly made cement house. Room is decorated with artificial decorative plastic flowers and garlands. Room is illuminating with CFL light. Two beds are in two corners and one table and chair is taking place in another corner. One remaining corner is engaged with small TV. As I took place in chair Geeta went to make tea and Savita remain there. Savita is pretty talkative and want to know about my work and why I am here in festival time ? I answered all her questions and just ask to start conversation with her - You have cable here ? She flicker her eyes and says - Yes ! But this is Tata Sky.  She is going to open TV but before that I ask one more question - You don’t go to collect water ? She reply standing in front of TV - No ! I don’t coz I have lots of work to do in home and field. Like prepare food, take care of cattle, feed them, cut fodder for them and so many. 

She keep on saying - Me and my sister both go to school and studying in 12th class. Our school is nearby. Though we are satisfied with our school and teachers but after school I would have to go out for higher studies. I want to study bio chemistry and work coz farming is very expensive and some time it becomes risky also. As you know elephants are big nuisance here. They come in group and destroy our agriculture badly. We don’t get any help from government for this loss so nobody wants to do agriculture. Everyone is interested to sell their land to hoteliers, who are building huge hotels and resorts to make money.

 She is talking nonstop but meanwhile Geeta and Mahesh both enter, Geeta arrange table in front of me and put cup of tea. It is suffocating inside so I come out in verandah in cool breeze. Opposite verandah there is beautifully architect mud hut. Sawita said – We like staying in hut because this is natural air conditioner. It becomes hot in winters and cool in summers. Sipping tea I asked – Then why you made this cement house ? Both girls looked each other strangely and then Geeta reply – In village everyone making new style house now so we also made this. Mahesh is silently listing and moving his head in yes or no sign.

It’s getting dark so I thank them for tea and move back to my room. Now it is cold, windy and dark. But I went to compound next to my tent where I saw big elephant. 19-20 years old guy, wearing jean and striped shirt, giving sugarcane too poor creature. He calls me up there and says – Her name is Ladli and I am her Mahout. Ladli is such a lovely name I think and asks – is she yours ?No ! I am caretaker only. Owner lives in Rampur and comes to collect money which she earns from safari. Money !!! Safari !!! She earns!!! I was confused. He clears – Everyday she go 5-6 times for elephant safari and for each safari she get 2500 rupees. Poor Ladli busy chewing sugarcane and staring me through her small eyes. How much she eat in a day ? I want to know. 40-45 kg. sugarcane and you know she is 45 years old from Rampur – Mahout replied give sugarcane to Ladli…

Sad to know about Ladli. She should have free in jungle but working like slave here. Mahout is also from Rampur and living here with his family. All in his family do the same work. Her mother lit wick lamp inside house and says – we don’t get much for our hardwork but what to do. We also have to survive. I am listing her but my interest is in Ladli who is taking and breaking sugarcane. Mahout ask me – would you like to cross between her leg ? I was again puzzled so I ask – why ? He said – it is lucky, your all wish will come true. Though I don’t trust in these superstitious but want to experience so I crossed between her legs. Not to say it is an amazing experience. I left Ladli and back to my tent…

Night was cold. I could hear perpetual sound of river in silence.  Next morning I woke up by 6 but it was dark, cold, and windy so I went into bed again.  Around 7 I came out took tea and went to Garjiya Devi Temple by walk which is almost 6 km…

It is chilly but pleasant walk which I am enjoying however vehicles moving abruptly on road are making walk spoil. Soon I reached a place from where one trail going up in jungle. I follow the trail and went upward. After little walk I saw a board showing one ancient temple is in distance of 300 meter but I walked much more than 300 meter between jungle. Anyhow with lots of turns and bends I reached in temple. It is ancient but reconstruction work has snatched out its ancient look…

I met a saint wearing saffron loincloth and head cover with light saffron scarf. On his copper color face his white beard is shining and falling on his chest. I greet him. He also greets me and calls me to sit in front of hearth where some other items are also taking place. Perhaps this is his kitchen. He told me moving to sunny area – I live here alone. Villagers come here and they give me food and other stuff to survive. I don’t go anywhere. He is busy in mixing tobacco and marijuana on his palm and talking to me also – I saw tigers many times. They often come to the temple but Shiva’s blessings are with me so I don’t scare. They basically don’t attack if you won’t hurt them. Now he starts filling mixture into cigarette and says - This area is chilled in winter but in summer it is pleasant here. He asked me then – Have you seen any village upside ? And without waiting reply he told – Its only jungle upside. Village could be seen only in downside area. This is the reason this jungle is still very rich. He has finished his work and looking for match box which I gave him. He lit cigarette and said – Now temple is under archaeological department who are renovating it. He keeps silent and takes long puff of cigarette. Smoke hovered on both of us. I left him with his enjoyable moment and roam around temple… 

This is god Shiva temple. One Shivlinga is in center of temple and many other ancient statues are outside for renovating work. I see towards saint who is still enjoying long puff of cigarette. I back to him and say goodbye. He smiled at me and return match box which I offer him and back. He told me shortcut route which is going to road. I crossed a stream and reached to road. Now shops have been open and bustle starting. Here I noticed that everything is on the name of CORBETT like Corbett Chicken Shop, Corbett Hair Saloon, Corbett Tailors and many hotels also…



  1. You had a very fascinating first night and following morning in the park. I found the story of the elephant, Ladli, interesting, as was your visit to the temple.

  2. Lovely captures!! Interesting narration of life there.

  3. Brilliant photos of India, and the temple, cheers.

  4. Interesting post... wait for next post


  5. Interesting post & great captured Vineeta!! Corbett has been a haunt for tourists and wildlife lovers for a long time. Tourism is allowed in selected areas of Corbett Tiger Reserve so that people get an opportunity to see its splendid landscape and the diverse wildlife living here.

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