When a Leopard crossed our path in Kumbhalgarh!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

It was a long day! We drove from Udaipur to the beautiful Jain Temples of Ranakpur situated in dense forest. The grand temple is built out of marble and supported by 1444 pillars, no two of them alike. The carvings on the marble were exquisite. But what interested me more was the forest surrounding the temple. I never imagined Rajasthan to have anything apart from desert, let alone a forest! But as one travels from north to south of the state, the difference is visible, the dusty surroundings slowly give way to greenery. There wasn't a settlement nearby. It was perfect - mysterious, beautiful and historic!

The afternoon was spent without realizing the day was coming to an end. Winters in Rajasthan meant sun would set much before 6pm. We still had a very long journey through surprisingly green and wonderful plains to the Mewar fortress at Kumbhalgarh. Situated on a hill top, this fort too is surrounded by thick forest. We arrived just in time to see the last rays touch the fort walls. Kumbhalgarh has a 36km long perimeter wall, broken but standing still. A walk along the wall could be interesting but that is for another day. Today we barely had time to see the fort, in fact we didn't, we just got to hang around the fort wall which looked splendid by the way!

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Night fell by the time we started back to Udaipur. It was pitch dark, sitting in the front seat next to the driver my eyes were fixed on the night sky. Rarely, if at all, we would pass by small villages. About an hour later, we were passing by a group of 2-3 houses by the roadside. The streetlights were very dim and far apart. Between two such street lights and darkness, something suddenly sprung into the middle of the road. The driver applied the brake and the vehicle came to a screeching halt. It certainly looked like a cat, but in the darkness it was hard to tell. The cat lunged forward to briefly look straight into our eyes and the light from the vehicle reflected in its jewel green eyes! One more jump and it disappeared into the darkness on the other side of the road. Only when it jumped, we saw its huge tail and that confirmed it wasn't any ordinary cat, it was a leopard!

Leopard in Rajasthan
Well, this is not the leopard we saw on the road. This was a cute leopard cub from the previous day's safari at Bera with a flamboyant Thakur, but that story is for another day.  Because I am talking of a leopard, I thought you might want to see one! 

What was more shocking than an encounter with a leopard on the road was the fact that this was a road by a village. There were houses by the road side right next to us and few men were walking just meters in front of our vehicle. The Leopard went into the village in front of our eyes! I imagined all the man - animal conflicts to be happening somewhere deep in the wild but this was shocking and very real. I wonder if the leopard managed to prey on cattle that night or if it was caught and killed like many other animals venturing too far into human territory or maybe it is the other way round. I'll never know but the glint in the green eyes will stay with me.

Did you say you need to see more photos?

Beautiful Marble Carving at Ranakpur Jain Temples
Jain Temple at Ranakpur
Mustard fields in Rajasthan
Mustard fields in Rajasthan

Kumbhalgarh Fort
Kumbhalgarh Fort

Wonderful Countryside of South Rajasthan
Beautiful country side of south Rajasthan

Have you ever had a chance encounter with a wild animal?  

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16 comments

  1. I had spent few weeks in a village of Kumbhalgarh and encounter with Leopard is common in villages.
    My cousin told me in his hotel Leopards are frequently coming and like you mention about man- animal conflicts, even he had killed 3 Leopards and that too one during my stay there.

    You haven't seen "Light and Sound" show in Kumbhalgarh fort. It generally begins just after the dusk.
    I am planning a week long trip of Kumbhalgarh in January.

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    1. Yeah, we had to leave by sunset for Udaipur so missed the light and sound show. Next time!

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  2. Magnificent fort. Nice captures too.

    http://rajniranjandas.blogspot.in/

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  3. Just cant stop admiring your pictures...:)

    manuponnappa.blogspot.in

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  4. Well, it sounds like a great experience! Lucky you - you managed to spot a leopard....I have been to Jim Corbett, but I could not spot one.

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    1. Even I have been to Jim Corbett but I couldn't spot one either. :)

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  5. Wow..first wonderful snap of the fort lit in the fading sunlight. Leopard must be very lucky to get its share in your article. Wonderful write up. Super!

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    1. Ha ha, I doubt the leopard thinks so! ;) Thanks, the fort was magnificent!

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  6. Well, I have already seen many pictures in your blog and truly you have captured some great moments.

    During one of my solo wanderings, I encountered a wild though I didn't really see it. I pitched my camp in a jungle 10-12 km from Kausani, while I was half asleep and half waking, I heard some deep and husky breathing sound near the tent, I preferred not to came out my tent and held my long knife tight in my hand (though i knew it had a little or no value to fight with a wild), anyway, after 2-3 minutes I heard something ran fast in the mountains, i came out my tent and put my light to the crevices in the hills and jungles but nothing. So, I missed it..i guessed it was a black panther, in that region there are lots of bears also, but I hardly think bear could run so fast..

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    1. That must've been scary! As much as I enjoy being in the wild, never got used to the fact that encounters with wild animals is a big possibility. There have been few close calls but it is still very very scary.

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  7. Wow, I think I would be scared to see the leopard. Very scary indeed.

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    1. Sitting inside the car, it wasn't that scary! :) But I was scared for the people who were walking on the road few meters ahead of us.

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  8. Hi Neelima! Hope you are having a great season! Sorry for the absence, but 2012 was definitely a difficult year here in Portugal, and even worse for me...
    Wish you a very Happy 2013, and enjoy Grenada in Blogtrotter Two!

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    1. Thanks and wish you the same. Hope 2013 is better for you.

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