Tuesday, July 28, 2020

A Picture and a Story #1 - Krishna and Arrowhead

It was the summer of 2014 and Ranthambhore's Zone 3 (the prime lake area) had a new queen - Krishna (T19) daughter of the great Machali. Krishna had grown up in these parts but then was banished (along with their mother) by her more aggressive sister Sundari (T17) In a twist of fate, Sundari was forced to abandon her hard-won territory and quiet, unassuming Krishna eased back to inherit her mother's throne.

A few months on and she cemented her reign by giving birth to a litter of four cubs; three of them survived. And one hot May day, I descended on Ranthambhore with my own offspring, a hurried trip put together at her insistence. Luckily, our first safari was in Zone 3 and we went in, knowing that the cubs were holed up in the bushes near the Padam Talao (lake) next to a little water hole. They wouldn't come out without mom around and Her Majesty was on a hunt. And so we waited. And waited. And then realised that our jeep had a broken fan belt. Panic reigned for a bit; but a kindly forest official who was nearby radioed for a replacement. It helped that we were only 5 minutes from the gate. And we set out, only to be summoned back urgently. The Queen was arriving....

Broken fan-belt or not, we hobbled back into attendance and held our breaths as Krishna appeared at a distance behind us. She was breathtaking, regal in her majesty. And she slowly made her way to us, softly(almost inaudibly) calling her cubs with a gentle "Auuummm". But it was only until she was in the water that they broke cover and rushed to her. What followed was one of the most memorable half-hours of my life. Krishna nuzzled and licked and almost cuddled each of her cubs in turn. While two of them, a female called Lightning and a male called PacMan were done with their turn relatively quickly (great to have mom back, but let's go back to play) the third cub, Arrowhead (named after the mark on her forehead) would just not let her mother go. She affectionately butted her mother, rubbed against her repeatedly and wanted to get licked continually. And, being the awesome mother she was, Krishna obliged her little one every time.

And then, it was time to get back to business. She'd come to take the cubs away, presumably to a kill she'd made. And with one little 'Aum', the family was on their way. We managed to exchange jeeps at the gate, but that put us at the back of the queue. But to our delight, two of the cubs decided to cross the road right in front of us (each of the jeeps had given a lot of space between them to let the tigers pass) And they walked alongside us, towards the old ruins of the hunting palace and beyond that, to the fringes of Krishna's territory.

An absolute blessing of a sighting. And one that got my little one hooked to the world of tigers.

Krishna still rules in Ranthambhore, albeit another part of the reserve. She left the Lakes, and its prime real estate to her not-so little-anymore Arrowhead. Who in turn has had another litter to continue the legacy of her grandmother and her mother. But that's for another time.


  1. Awesome read..could actually picture myself being there seeing as you described.. Lovely

  2. Awesome read..could actually picture myself being there seeing as you described.. Lovely