For the first time, I am going to dig into my past trips for this is a story I love to narrate.
It was August 2007, when six of us decided to travel to Corbett National Park after the Bollywood movie, Kaal brought it into highlight. This was actually my first trip to a national park and I haven't stopped since!
We started from Delhi around 4 pm in a hired Toyota Qualis having no idea of the havoc that rains play in this part. The drive from Delhi was simple. We reached Rampur around midnight and asked a police car for directions to Corbett National Park. The policemen were quite amused to know that we wanted to go to Corbett at this hour. However, they told us that their are several small rivulets that are flowing across the road and we won't be allowed to travel to Corbett right now. As we were students back then with small budget to travel on, we went to a shady guesthouse for night-stay. The bedsheets were smelling due to humidity and the ceiling was dripping water all night. But, we hardly had any other option.
|This is where we bathe|
Early next morning, we hired a gypsy to travel to Corbett. We were told that the only Corbett gate open at this time of the year will open in sometime and we can travel to some other parts of the forest in the meantime. So we went there but there was hardly a dog to be seen on that route. We got down the gypsy near an old and huge tree and then climbed down a hillock to bathe in a rushing stream. After that, we came back to Rampur and prepared ourselves for a night inside the famed Corbett National Park. While we were on the outskirts of Rampur, our driver "Naeem" picked a Rangeeli deshi sharab( unbranded alcohol) to keep him company. On our way to Corbett's gate, we passed many rivulets that were gushing over the cemented road. However, they were small and didn't really frighten us as our gypsy moved across them with ease.
|One side of the rivulet outside exit gate|
|You can't think of crossing that. Can you?|
However, the rivulets were already gushing across the roads and we walked on foot in them at the vehicle's tyre distance to ensure that the tyres don't get stuck in some pothole in them. We crossed over 10 rivulets this way before we reached the exit gate. But we got the biggest shock when we looked outside the gate. We could hardly see the road as whole of it was submerged under a huge 50m wide rivulet gushing across it. All six of us got hold of a long and strong branch of a tree and started crossing it on foot. Some of us got their feet stuck in it and were helped on by others thanks to the branch we held on to. After some time, although the rains subsided but we were completely drenched in the cold mountain rain and were shivering in the cold. With no dry clothes and the chilly air blowing into our face inside the open top vehicle, there was hardly any respite to be seen. All our expectations of early respite went down the drain as we saw a very huge and deep rivulet flowing across the cemented road again. Here, there seemed no hope of our vehicle being able to cross it anytime soon as even large vehicles were not crossing it and were parked alongside. So, we were again back to our old strategy. All six of us moving in line holding onto the long tree branch while the water level was over our waists. Some of us had our slippers flown away by the gushing water, but we managed to reach the other side where we hopped onto an auto-rickshaw which drove us to the guest house in Rampur. There, we changed into dry clothes and got back into our Toyota Qualis to travel back to Delhi.
Back in Qualis, we assumed that the adventure was over. As it got darker, and the rains continued to come down heavily, our windscreen wiper stopped working. As we didn't wish to stop, we tied straps of cloth to both wiper hands which were pulled alternately by the driver and the guy sitting in front to operate the wipers manually.
Finally, we were back in Delhi at 2 am in the night feeling happy to be alive and safe!!
P.S. Never get off your vehicle inside a tiger reserve. Its more unsafe then you think.