A WEEK IN CORBETT TIGER RESERVE


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March 31st 2009
Published: March 31st 2009
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16th. March. Woke up early in the morning and after breakfast, accompanied by Oliver, we drove to Riverine Lodge at Vanghat. We went up the mountain, negotiating many hairpin bends. On way, we passed through the village called Mohan. It was here that Jim Corbett shot and killed "Mohan Man Eater", a tiger that preferred human to its more natural prey on its dinner table. I remembered the tale Corbett told in his famous book "Man Eaters of Kumaon". A party of females were cutting grass when a tiger appeared amongst them. The commotion that ensued drove the tiger away but resulted in injury to an old women. She was too injured to be carried back to village by the women's, so a brave young 16 years old girl agreed to stay with her while others went to village to seek help. Shortly thereafter
the tiger returned. The brave girl was killed and carried away by the tiger in full view of the injured old women.

Up the mountain we went and down we descended in our rickety Indian 4w drive Maruti savouring picturesque scenery. We finally descended into Kosi valley and crossed shallow Kosi river. Maruti jeep proved its mantle by not only negotiating fast flowing water but also stones in the river. Finally, we left the jeep and walked a short distence away to the lodge. There, I was introduced to Manoj, who was going to be my "Angling gillie", a bright, handsome lad of pleasant manners and too helpful for my comfort !

Riverine Lodge is located in the valley, at the middle of which flows Himalayan mountain river called Ramganga River. There are four bungalows and staff quarter. There is dining area and adjacent to it is area for camp fire. It is set in most beautiful location - surrounded by mountains, forest and of course, Ramganga River. There is no TV, telephone, newspaper, radio. Mobile works erratically, if it works at all. I saw a spotted deer on the river bank. I was told that wild elephants are common visitor, together with antelopes, leopards and wild boars which I myself saw on the night of 17th. March while drinking beer with Oliver sitting around campfire. The bungalows are basic but comfortable with running hot and cold water and 24 hours electricity. Materials used in the building are all locally procured. Half a dozen sun beds have been laid out on the river bank. The most charming thing about this place is its isolation and solitude' an ideal place to get away from stress of rat race and city life.

It was around 10.30 AM when we arrived at the Riverine Lodge and I intended going out fishing in the late afternoon. But Manoj cajoled me to go right away and I succumbed to his cajoling. It was good that I went. Not long after I cast, I got my first Mahseer fish, a really big one, must have been 5 kg in weight. We all had our photographs taken with our catch. Then we gently let the fish go in the ice cool, fast flowing water of Ramganga River. Not long afterwards, I caught another Mahseer fish, slightly smaller than the previous one. Again cameras clicked. Unfortunately, the slimy fish wriggled and slipped out from the hand landing with a bang on the ground. Manoj picked it up tenderly and held in the water for couple of minutes. The fish seemed paralysed. But slowly, it began to wriggle and then very gracefully it swam out to our great relief and delight. We retuned to the lodge after mid day as it was getting too hot for my comfort. After lunch of rice, chicken curry, vegetables and dahl, it was time for afternoon siesta.

We went again at 4 PM but our luck has run out for the day. We returned to camp at dusk. After hot shower and a few drinks, I had my dinner with Oliver. Then I retired to bed praying for better luck on the morrow.


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