One of the birds I was keen to have a glimpse was the Ibis Bill. Ibis bill is often considered among the "most-wanted" birds in the world. It is often considered the "bird of the trip"! They breed at quite high elevation which adds to their allure. In winter, they come down to riverine shingle-banks and islets between.
We drove in a jeep for about 20Kms and then got into a rubber dingy to raft down the Jia-Bhoroli river. I wore the life jacket and stepped gingerly into the swaying dingy with a bit of trepidation as it was my first experience in rafting! The soothing sounds of water flowing around soon assuaged all my concerns. As we rafted down, the river rose all around rocking us with seamless energy, suddenly swelling into form eddies.
And there it was… a greyish bird, so beautifully camouflaged among the grey boulders along the edge of the river. Unaware of our presence, it slowly made its way among the pile of rocks foraging for food. I was totally mesmerized by its presence and struggled to keep my balance in the swinging dingy to grab my camera to freeze this moment.
As I was watching this iconic bird, Kabir’s poem “Tell Me Oh Swan, Your Ancient Tale”, resonated deep within me…
Tell me, O Swan, your ancient tale.
From what land do you come,
O Swan? to what shore will you fly?
Where would you take your rest,
O Swan, and what do you seek?
Suddenly there was drop of water….and more of them, in trickles and torrents. We were caught in the midst of river in pouring rain! The dingy started swaying more precariously as it negotiated boulders in the river. It became quite windy and extremely chilly. There was no place to take shelter as the river bed was shorn of tree cover. The young boys, who were steering the dingy adeptly, suggested that we get onto the rocks and turn the dingy upside down to take cover. And that’s what we did till the rain petered down to a manageable trickle!
Undeterred by the sudden onslaught of the rain, we continued to raft down the river for more than an hour and a half till we reached the safe embankments near the Eco Camp.
It was a sublime experience, of being immersed in the oneness of nature.
Wasn’t it Byron who wrote, "Are not the mountains, waves and skies a part of me and of my soul, as I of them?"