Continued from here..
|the first red dot (top) is kechki|
|typical jharkhand countryside as seen from the bus|
|the road for PTR as seen from the bus to daltonganj|
|rolling hills n sylvan plains|
|a village in latehar district|
|the deciduous woods of latehar|
|cattle class! :P|
|check-post before entering PTR|
|distance board at PTR check-post|
|outside the gate of BNP|
|are they expecting too much?|
|netarhat, queen of chota nagpur plateau|
|upper ghaghri falls|
|view of various forts at palamu|
|lodh falls aka budha ghagh, first glimpse|
|lodh falls, up n front|
|beneath the fall|
|prashant, amit, myself, vikram, tripurari (L to R)|
|lost in a wonderland|
|we were not alone at the falls|
|bridge on north koel at kechki|
|admiring the beauty of kechki|
|outside the main entrance of BNP|
|langurs by plenty inside PTR|
|juhi n anarkali, the pachyderms serving BNP|
|going back with a promise to visit again|
|an approximate map of PTR|
The first ever Tiger Census in India by pugmark method was done in April 1932 by the then DFO Mr. J.W. Nicholson, and his Range Officer Maulvi Muhammad Shareef Khan in the forests of Maromar, Sahdhup and Baresanr, covering a total area of 298 sq km (i.e. just one-sixth of the total reserve area), employing, if I remember correctly, about 80 trackers in the exercise. The figure obtained was around 55-60 tigers in the area of 298 sq. kms and Mr. Nicholson noted that 2-3 of the largest males of the area with whom he and the local staff were pretty familiar weren't recorded during the census (they had moved into the adjoining forests). And hence the actual figure could have been a bit higher.
Very beautifully written, I thoroughly enjoyed it! Just a couple of things, please never again take a plunge in unknown waterfalls, the few of us who know about Lodh also know of the hidden dangers of the fall; the pools actually have hidden sinkholes, i.e. small rocky tunnels that can suck a man in, especially when the water-flow is substantial. There was this unfortunate incident in the mid 90s of a young engineer (or a lawyer I don't exactly remember), a pretty good swimmer, who went in to have a bath in one of these pools, was sucked into one of the hidden sinkholes and died. His body could never be recovered in spite of intensive searches down stream for weeks. The second correction would be that the first Tiger census was done in the forests of Maromar (and not Barwadih), a few kilometers ahead of Garu.
And yes, the next time you go to Palamu or other such nondescript forest areas, it would be advisable to contact the Forest Department establishment at the Protected Area's headquarters (Project Tiger Office in Daltonganj in this case). That would make life much more easier, especially with respect to reaching places in the park area, the directions and the distances. Palamu is a great place, and this is a splendid write-up. And yes, I salute your enthusiasm and the adventurer in you. I can guarantee that there are very very few people who could have done what all you did. But ~36 hours is too short a visit to discover Palamu, make sure you plan a longer stay the next time you come over.
slender-billed vultures in aplenty at PTR possibly during the 1970s
© Forest Department, Palamu Tiger Reserve
And since you are such a waterfall-enthusiast I'll let you in on a secret that very few people in the whole of Palamu and Latehar district know about, and maybe a handful of outsiders would ever know. There is another great waterfall hidden deep in the heart of Palamu TR's forests, which is known by the local name of Sugga Bandh. No map will ever depict it, no travel guide will talk about it, for there are very few souls who know of it. Though not as grand as the Lodh falls, its one of the most spectacular falls in Jharkhand. Formed a few metres ahead of the confluence of two forest rivers, its a sight to behold.
|a massive tusker from the PTR|
© Forest Department, Palamu Tiger Reserve
However, one cannot see the fall itself in monsoon because the flood-waters inundate the passage to fall and its only during the winters or spring that the fall is accessible. The fall dries up to a trickle in summers though. I visited the falls about a year back and unfortunately it was during the monsoon and hence I couldn't see the fall itself (though the loud roaring sound was enough to let us know of its ferocity at that time). The place is one of Palamu's best kept secrets. In the good old days of the mid 90's, when the Governor of erstwhile Bihar once visited Palamu, he was taken to this secluded falls by the then DFO for a morning brunch. The Governor was so awestruck by the sight (and at the same time so surprised by the fact that apart from the Forest Department personnel and a few locals, nobody knew about this place) that he ordered that a road be constructed leading up to the falls. Alas, even though the road was constructed a few years later, the extremist situation in Palamu meant that the PTR retained one of its best kept secrets! Hopefully, with a forest staff to guide you, you can visit the place next time around.