Memory … is the diary that we all carry about with us ~ Oscar Wilde
This one is a sequel to the earlier post: Story of Satpura, where we introduced and talked about the person, Shri K. S. Saxena (Retd IFS), who was at the centre of creation of what we know today as Satpura Biosphere Reserve. We pick up where we had left with the concluding remark: “And he looks forward to visiting Satpura National Park sometime …”
|Satpura National Park|
After three successive COVID-19 lockdowns and all the trauma, it was only in October’21 that we could conclude the most awaited trip down memory lane to Satpura National Park, exactly forty years after it was inaugurated. Calling it mere ‘nostalgic trip’ for Shri. K.S. Saxena (ex-IFS) on his 86th Birthday would be nothing short of an insult to his passion and love for the jungles of Satpura.
Sharing here few pictures of the trip from our personal archives, please feel free to ‘click to enlarge’ pictures for better views.
The planning for the trip was very detailed and extensive, keeping the comfort and health factors of the Octogenarian Forester as our topmost priority. He had made up his mind to travel all the way to a forest village called Nimgaon (also called Neemgham) nestled deep inside the core area of Satpura Tiger Reserve. I was determined to re-live and refresh my childhood memories of staying at Bada Mahadev Forest Rest House at Pachmarhi. Nothing else was more important to us than these two factors. A personal request over phone call by Shri KS Saxena, with the Field Director of Satpura National Park, expressing his keen desire to visit the Park and an accommodation request at Forest Rest House (FRH) at Bada Mahadev Pachmarhi was granted by the department, considering his visit to Satpura as a Technical Trip. FD Satpura National Park was kind enough to happily oblige by approving a booking at the requested FRH at Bada Mahadev.
|Forest Rest House (Bada Mahadev) Pachmarhi|
|Green Patch: FRH Bada Mahadev as seen from Chauragarh|
|FRH (Bada Mahadev) Pachmarhi|
We finally drove down to Pachmarhi. BTW, it also happens to be the place of my Boarding School at Kendriya Vidyalaya Pachmarhi, where I spent major part of my school life.
Accompanying the young octogenarian Shri Saxena, our main concern right through the trip was to ensure a comfortable and hassle-free road travel. So we spent major part of the day leisurely driving down from Bhopal to Pachmarhi and we arrived by the evening. We made a brief stopover at forest office at Pachmarhi to make Jungle Safari bookings for next day before we proceed to the last leg, leading into the magnificent Satpura ranges. Although it was late evening and getting dark, by the time we got to the Forest Rest House at Bada Mahadev, it was a mesmerising experience driving up all the way into Satpura ranges.
We were received by the caretaker team present at the Rest House, who checked us in and ensured we settle down comfortably with a hot cup of Tea.
|Shri K S Saxena, at the steps of FRH Bada Mahadev|
Next morning, we are already in the majestic verandah of the rest house during the Brahmamuhurta (Sanskrit-ब्रह्म मुहूर्त, lit. 'time of Bramha' is a period that begins one hour and 36 minutes before sunrise, and ends 48 minutes before sunrise) and waiting to experience the sunrise of a lifetime. Not many sunrise locations that I know of, where one would witness the divine Shiv Temple shrine with Sunrise - that is Chauragarh. This half an hour was one of those rare moments that can only be experienced and is impossible to express in words.
|Shri K S Saxena watching Lord Shiva Shrine of Chauragarh at Sunrise, from FRH|
|Chauragarh Peak during Sunrise|
We decided to keep the next day with minimal activity, for him to recover from the day-long drive the previous day. I decided to use this opportunity and make a solo trek to Chauragarh in the forenoon and that surely is worth discussing at length in a separate post.
We retire for the day early, looking forward to 5:30am departure for the Jungle Safari next morning. After enjoying the magnificent sunrise once again, all health factors in check, we start preparing to leave for the Safari.
|Shri K S Saxena, Ready for the Jungle Safari|
Next six hours that we would spend inside the dense and deep jungles of Satpura can be summarised as one of the most intense Safari trips that I ever experienced. This was not the usual tourist trek of Safari, traversing through the core & protected jungles of Satpura National Park brought our childhood memories back.
Shri K S Saxena for sure was enjoying every bit of it, reminiscing and recollecting his good old days of the department of Wildlife while posted here. He greatly appreciated the fine work done by the department during the last four decades, as it reflected in the flora and fauna of the pristine jungles. Although we could not actually reach Neemgaon due to the last patch of interior tracks were still not drivable after the monsoons, he was very happy and contended to halt at the nearby forest post, chatting with the staff on duty over a cup of Tea.
On the way back, he insisted to stop over and inspect the ancient rock paintings that were discovered during his tenure. We were amazed with the sheer energy and excitement through the six-hour long, very tiring and hectic Safari trip and we believe it was Lord Shiva (Bada Mahadev) who blessed him to be able to undertake this journey.
|Shri K S Saxena visiting Rock Paintings, Baba Garden|
Our sincere thanks are also extended to the team under leadership of Shri Gundicha Barik at Forest Rest House Bada Mahadev, for they took very good care hosting us and ensured our comfort in such remote and isolated location.
|Shri Gundicha Barik & Team at FRH (Bada Mahadev) Pachmarhi|
We will always cherish and remember our visit to this place.