Tuesday, July 02, 2019

India: Part 2 - Khajuraho + Panna Tiger Reserve

We had an early start in Khajuraho - up before the sun to drive out to the Panna Tiger Reserve. It's a national park with about 35 tigers roaming around, and I hoped to catch a glimpse. Spoiler alert: we didn't see one.

This photo is dark, but you can see all the jeeps lined up at the entrance before the park opens. You need to go with a guide, and spots are limited each day. The park is pretty large, and the guides know all the spots. It was a little chilly being in the open jeep, so bring a jacket to use before the sun comes up.

Off we go.

Even if we didn't see a tiger, we saw lots of other things. 

These little guys are so beautiful.

Sometimes tigers hang out around this pond. And maybe they were there this day, but they're so elusive. 

We stopped for breakfast near this pond and found this large alligator. Hot breakfast tip - most hotels have breakfast included, but if you won't be around due to an early tour, ask the night before and they will pack a box for you. It may not be great, but it's something and it's included.

After the alligator sighting, the guides got word that something might be going on. We took off and met up with several other jeeps to wait it out. There were some deer making the strangest sounds I've ever heard. Did you know deer make noise? I didn't.  It sounds like a honk and it's in this video.

The morning moved on and it became too late in the day to likely see a tiger, so our tour was up. On the way out we spotted a sloth bear though, which is pretty rare.  I'll take it. Also on our way out was my first taste of taking surveys in India. After so many experiences (tours, hotels, meals, etc) you are often handed a survey to fill out, and nothing less than a 10 will do. Panna Tiger Reserve was the first of many. I filled out a piece of paper in the back of a jeep while a guy looked over my shoulder.

Scenes from the ride back into town.  

We had a little break at the hotel, then it was time for our next activity - the Khajuraho temple complex, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. When they were built around the year 1000, nearly 100 of them existed, but now it's about 25. They are both Hindu and Jain temples. These temples are also famous for the erotic sculptures, though you have to look quite a bit to find them. Not all the temples have the scandalous carvings, and it's usually just in a small portion on the ones that do. Ha! As our guide said when he showed us, "nothing new under the sun."

The grounds are pretty large and well-kept.

Just wear flip flips around India - you will end up taking your shoes off most of the day anyway. Everything is a temple.

These carvings are quite impressive. Who's got the time to do all that detail?

We popped over to the other side of town to see some Jain temples, which are still actively used. Jainism practices non-violence in all forms, even down to not stepping on ants. We had to leave anything leather outside of the temple (shoes, wallets, leather, etc).

We found a lovely covered spot for food time and spent awhile relaxing there. 

Late afternoon our driver took us to the train station - on to Bhopal! As I recall, this train ride was longer than expected, we had no snacks, and it got way crowded and loud and had a screaming child. Thank goodness for noise-cancelling headphones (a recent present to myself upon the job offer).

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