We bid good bye to the colourful Bison Horn Maria tribe and head
towards discovering Kanger valley park and Tiratgarh Falls.
The drive is nice and through woods. The forests here mostly
are dry deciduous and the landscape is generally brown at this time of the
year (October). I was asking Chetan, our guide, whether we will be able to spot “Hill Myna” - the
beautiful bird which almost imitates human voice - seen extensively in this
area. I was a bit disappointed when he said that the probability was remote as
these birds have been either shot and eaten by tribals or captured and sold as
pets. There could have been a possibility to see them early in the morning. But
definitely not at 12 Noon!
The reception kiosk of Kanger Park was not crowded and the lady behind the
counter issue us entry ticket to go to caves and falls. There are no safaris or naturalists as guides in this park. Kanger is spread over
large area and sustained by numerous streams and rivers. It is a bio-diversity
hot spot. The park has Leopards, sloth beer, etc. But still, you don’t have any one to help explore the area which is tad sad.
Kanger has three clusters of caves – Kailash, Kutumsar and Dandak. Kutumsar
caves are at a distance of 12 KMS from reception and you drive through the
pristine forest. This journey itself was like a safari and we were eager to
spot any animals. We were not lucky though. Parking done, a guide with torch
joined us to take us into the caves.
|Panoramic view of Kanger national park with Tiratgarh falls in the background|
Caving is fascinating. Kutumsar caves were discovered in eighties and are one of the finest stalactite caves in the country. The caves are open only after October and are closed during monsoons. You enter through a narrow creek – one person can enter at a time – and has to struggle to get inside.
Once inside, you will be treated to an awesome array of stalactite formations. Since the roof is high, it gives feeling of huge room. The length of the cave should be around 300 meters. It is very humid inside. There is absolutely no sunlight. This place is also known for “Blind fish” or “Albino fish”. We could not see any. We had seen them in the “Planet earth” documentaries on Caves by BBC. The guide was showing us the formations and I was trying to capture them on camera when the battery drained out. We normally carry additional set and it was kept in the car which was far away. Anyway, we were not able to capture these sights in our camera.
|Narrow entry into the cave. Yours truly in striped Tee....|
|Lovely Stalactite formations - I|
|Stalactite formation - II|
|Entry to the main hall of Cave|
We climb up and return to the parking lot. We notice tribal
women selling a kind of fruit. We got curious and started talking to the ladies
asking them what they were. They said it was “Tendu” fruit and a bowl would
cost five rupees. I had heard about “tendu” leaves which are used to make
beedis - a kind of local cigarette - but never knew it also bore fruits! The fruit looks and tastes similar
to Chiku and has big seeds.
Caves done, we were eager to see Tiratgarh falls. The excitement had started
well in advance as we had seen the falls through binoculars from a view point on the
way. It looked lovely. Another drive through forests for 10 KMs brought us to the
Every waterfall has its own character and beauty.
At Tiratgarh the Kanger River gently cascades over layers of rocks. Thanks to the
fact that the river is not dammed, there was enough water even at this time of
the year. The best time to see any waterfall is after monsoons. Nevertheless,
it made a good spectacle.
Climbing up from the falls was tiring and it was close to lunch time. We were
now in search of good dhabha for a well deserved lunch!
|Tiratgarh falls cascading over the rocky cliff|
The pictures of Kutumsar caves is the courtesy of Aravind G J. His experience of caving in Kutumsar can be read in his excellent blog here. - Visit to Kutumsar Caves