Trip to Kankwari Fort 4: The Extraction

We had conquered the hike to Kankwari Fort, and now it was time to go back home. But first we needed to get out from Sariska and reach Tehla. Yaadav Ji gave us an idea.

The Forest Ranger Post, Kankwari

It was well over 8 AM when we started descending from the fort. Yaadav Ji had told us that the our ride would be here by 8:30 and so we hurried on our way to the village.

Yaadav Ji was sitting in one of the houses (from where he spotted us last night), and so we went straight to that house. Yaadav Ji was lounging on the cot. 

Kankwari used to be a small village. But after the Tiger resurrection program in 2008, government shifted the residents from the core area to the outskirts of Sariska. The Google Map image (year 2013) shows around 7 - 13 houses around the fort. There were only 3 left when we were there. Yaadav Ji told us that their migration is in process as well, and they will be moved out too.

The house Yaadav Ji spends his time at. Belongs to a guy named Kishore Gujjar.

I have no idea with whom Yaadav Ji will spend his time when there will be nobody there. But Yaadav Ji didnt seem to care much. We were served tea at the house. Sahaj didn't like it. 

Yaadav Ji then lead us back to the ranger post.

At the post, we checked our bags to ensure that we are not leaving anything here accidentally. We were all set by 8:30, but our ride was late. My shoes were still wet and I was dying to get out of them. 

Yaadav Ji gave us some 'instructions'; such as .. "dont show your camera to the Jeep driver.. I have told him that you were my friends visiting me and not tourists.." it was because the park was legally closed. I dont know how much trouble it could have brought on us, but we didnt pay much attention and just pocketed my cameras (battery was almost dead anyways). 

The Jeep wasn't free. Yaadav Ji told us that the Jeep costs a standard fee, but I doubt that money would ever go to the pockets of the National Forest's bank account. Yaadav Ji got a little richer that day.

We passed our time chatting with Yaadav Ji for some more time when we saw a Jeep coming our way.

It was a 4x4 Safari Jeep that stopped before the Ranger Post. Excited, we started depositing our bags in the Jeep. 

Our driver Mr Ghaansi Raam was a fun guy who unlike Yaadav Ji had mastered the art of talking to people. He told us all about Tehla. We promised to bring him a bottle of good liquor on our next trip to Kankwari. Yaadav Ji told us that he abhorred booze and so we did not dare to take out our stash anytime.

We didn't see this temple in the dark.

For some strange reason Yaadav Ji kept trying to establish that all of us were drunk when we arrived at Kankwari. Perhaps he confused our exhaustion with drunkenness. And now to thought of it, some traits of both the conditions are similar. Our feet were stumbling in a zagged manner while following him to the post in the night, and my tongue was all slurry and a dry throat did not help me communicate effectively. At night, he told us about his brother who was an alcoholic and how it ruined his life. We didnt even bring the matter of the booze in our bags after that.

There was another thing that seemed odd to all of us. When Yaadav Ji took us to his post in the night, the first question that came our way was, "Kaun jaat ho aap log?" (What caste do you all belong to?).

Living in Delhi, we are not used to being asked about our caste or origins. But being born and raised in rural UP I had certainly heard this question a lot many times. 

I laughed at the question, and it made the old ranger a little confused. But when we realised that he needed an answer, we all told him our backgrounds. He seemed quite satisfied with the caste of the people he was hosting.

When we asked him why he asked our caste, Yaadav ji told us, "There are mostly two kinds of people who come here and kill endangered species." he took a pause and then said, "Muslims and khateeks."

"Who goes there?.. and also what is your caste?"

Piyush and Abhay did not even know what the word 'khateek' meant and so they asked when we were at the fort. Sahaj and I explained it to them. All the time we were with him, Yaadav ji called us by our last names. We told him our full names, but he only took the last names in his database. He still calls me sometimes and perhaps is the only person in the world who calls me 'Sharma' (I don't use Sharma as my last name).

I wasn't surprised that a man asked me and my friends about our caste, especially a man like Yaadav Ji. What made me laugh was the fact that we were in the middle of nowhere, where people were as scarce as job opportunities in the area. And Yaadav Ji needed to know what caste we were. He had only one family to be with at Kankwari and I dont know what their caste was (though Yaadav Ji told us that they were tribals).

Yaadav Ji didnt like our cameras. This is the only shot that we have of him.

After setting our stuff in the Jeep we bid our goodbye to Yaadav Ji who took me in a corner and smiled, "Trip..." he said with a sheepish smile.

I was utterly confused, "Trip?" I repeated the word, and then  it hit me, that smile was the universal sign for the word "Tip". I  called Abhay (he was the only one who had cash by that time on him) and he tipped Yaadav Ji (generously). 

We got out of his hair after that.

Bye bye Kankwari, you beauty !

The Jeep drove away and we took one last look at the fort on the hill. I dont know about the others, but I didnt want to leave. 

The jeep rode over the terrain like it was no big deal. The river was still raging when we reached, but the Jeep cleared it like it was a damn puddle. It was my (and maybe the guys' too) first time in a 4x4 or a Safari Jeep. And if you haven't been in a 4x4 on a difficult terrain, you are missing something in your life. It give you a feel of flying.

The Jeep crossed the BIG SWAMP like it was nothing.

The ride back was like a recap of our hike in reverse. The people, villages, houses and faces we encountered yesterday were still there and staring at us. But now we were like some celebrities. Being in the jeep made me remember my condition just a day before.

The trail that took us around 10 hours to complete on foot, took less than 45 minutes in that Jeep. Where we were enjoying the ride, it also made us feel that our whole hike was so frivolous. 

Kankwari in the background, us in the 4x4.

Ghaansi Ram ji took us to Neelkanth Temple where Sahaj decided to stay in the jeep. Piyush, Abhay and I checked out the temple (I had been there before).

We reached Tehla before 11 and had some breakfast. Sahaj went back to the police station to get his car. We thanked Ghaansi Ram ji for his service and left for Delhi.

Ghaansi Ram ji was amazed to know that we hiked our way from Tehla to Kankwari. He said, "In my service of 16 years, I haven't seen anyone doing this."

At the beginning of the hike.
And so we became the first group who hiked from Tehla to Kankwari.

After our adventure we highly recommend not hiking to Kankwari. Sariska National Park provides Safari Jeeps for tourists. You can visit their website and book a tour.

And if you get to meet Yaadav Ji, tell him Sharma from Delhi said Hi.