Sunday Drive by Hormazd Sorabjee: Quiet in the countryside
To cross or not to cross? The sambar isn’t quite sure. It also isn’t quite sure what to make of a car it’s never seen before. A car that is noiseless and still. The big deer suspiciously flicks its long ears back and forth to pick up any unusual sound but there is none. Then it lowers its tail and slowly tiptoes across my path. Ensconced in the driver’s seat, all I can hear is my own breath, which is momentarily taken away by this magnificent large deer.
Driving through a forest and having wild animals cross your path is an incredibly thrilling experience. I’m also doing something that’s never been done before, so it’s even historic! For the first time, I’m taking an EV into the core of the Satpura Tiger Reserve. Yes, the Tata Nexon EV I’m driving is the first all-electric car to enter this enchanting national park, but it certainly won’t be the last.
The twin benefits of zero pollution to protect the pristine forest and no engine noise to disturb or scare away the animals makes EVs for safaris a no-brainer. And it was to make the case for EVs in wildlife parks and create some awareness that the very forward-thinking field director, L. Krishnamoorthy, gave us permission to take our Nexon EV inside the core area.
Our home for the next three days was the luxurious Forsyth Lodge, which is spread out over 44 acres and has a natural jungle vibe to it. It was a 4.30 am start the next morning to get deep inside the national park before dawn. At daybreak, the forest comes alive with the chatter of hundreds of species of birds and the spectacular terrain unfolds itself in the morning light. And it’s the way the landscape dramatically changes as you drive through that sets Satpura apart from other national parks.
From the wide and open sandy banks of the Denwa river, we entered a dense, undulating jungle. It was here that I begin to appreciate two things about the Nexon EV. The first is the instant torque from the 129hp motor, which makes scurrying up steep inclines really easy, and the second is the compact dimensions, which were a boon on the narrow forest trails.
Hear no evil
Our first sighting was a family of langurs, which looked at us curiously and provided a good photo op. But the sambars we spotted next gave us the first thrill of being in a wildlife park. We came upon herds of the massive Indian gaur, which were totally unfazed by the Nexon EV, lazily walking past the car without a care in the world. But what about the animal every wants to see? The tiger?
Unfortunately, we never got to see a tiger, but just looking for one was enthralling. Gliding noiselessly across unspoiled green meadows with chital grazing in the distance felt surreal.
As the sun set behind the hills and we started making our way back, our tracker Vineith heard the warning call of the langur. His telescopic eyes scanned the rocks and in the distance, a large leopard hunkered down staring at us, before it slowly slunk away. What a wonderful sight and what an end to a wonderful day.
The views expressed by the columnist are personal
From HT Brunch, May 16, 2021
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