As the King rounded a curve of the road, his headlights captured a white tiger cub!The amazing story of the first wild tiger
Dear travellers to India, how about a hauntingly beautiful story of a part of India that has romance, adventure and a little bit of history rolled into one!
Welcome to Rewa, the land of the world’s first white tiger!
Nearly 75 years ago, when India was freshly independent of the British rule, we had kings who had the liberty to hunt around animals .There was no law that prohibited them from doing so.Today, yes, in India , we can not just hunt around and kill wild animals like the tiger and the deer but 75 years ago, we were still trying to find our feet.
There was a king, Raja Martand Singh of Rewa who had already shot 131 tigers and was looking for more!I am talking of the year, 1951.He was on the look out for more game when he saw a white coloured tiger cub ! Overcome by curiosity, he asked his driver to pick it up and take it to his palace.The cub was later named as Mohan and the little animal has since brought fame and name to this small town of Central India.
The Legend of Tansen
But, Rewa is not just white tiger country. What I am going to share with you now is the story of a world class classical singer being exchanged with a Mughal Emperor.. for peace !
Nearly 500 years ago, Rewa wasn’t the capital of its kings. That honour was reserved for Gohara, a town that even I have not been able to discover so far.
One of the ancestors of Raja Martand Singh, was Raja Ramchandra. This Raja Ramchandra was the contemporary of the Mughal Emperor, Akbar.It so happened that the Mughal wanted to punish one of his enemies, Ghazi Khan.The Khan took shelter with the Raja. You see, us Indians are quick to shelter poor and unfortunate people.
When Akbar came to know of it, he sent his general , Asaf Khan to Ramchandra to demand that the Raja either give away Ghazi Khan or be prepared for war.The proud Raja replied he would much rather give away his life than turn out the Khan! Now, the situation became very serious as the Mughal Emperor’s forces surrounded the capital of the Raja.
To resolve this crisis, Asaf Khan came to the King and suggested that in order to avoid destruction of his kingdom, the Raja give over Tansen, a world renowned classical singer to Akbar. Tansen and the Raja were great friends and it was difficult for the Raja to accept this suggestion.Finally, Tansen had to leave his friend, the Raja, and go over to Akbar.And thus,the siege of Akbar ended!
Who was Tansen?
Tansen is to Indian classical music as Shakespeare is to classical English.
He was a god gifted classical musician as well as instrumentalist and has had several legends woven around him.It is said that that when he used to sing Raag Deepak, the candles and lamps would light themselves up on their own!So intense was his singing!
His exact year of birth is not known, some say it is 1506 AD, while according to others, it is 1496. Similarly, his year of death is also uncertain-either it is 1585 or 1589 AD.
He lies buried in Gwalior, Central India.
Back to Rewa
It is only recently that the local authorities have started taking interest in developing Rewa as a major tourist destination.Much of the initiative has been taken by the royal family of Rewa. Maharaja Pushpendra Singh has converted the palace into an attractive tourist resort .You can see several ancient objects, weapons etc in the palace turned hotel.You can also see the stuffed white tiger, Mohan inside the resort!
And Bandhavgarh- a stone’s throw from Rewa
With the largest density of tigers , Bandhavgarh National Park is a must on the itinerary of the India traveller.The Park boasts of more than 32 kinds of mammals, 250 species of birds and a very big range of butterflies.
It also houses a 2000 year old fort and some really ancient rock art in the Brahmi script.You are more likely to spot a tiger here than anywhere else in the world!
Sirmaur, the backyard of Rewa
While at Rewa, don’t forget to head to the picturesque valley of Sirmaur, which is nearly 40 kilometres away.
Lush jungles and ancient caves housing thousands of years old rock art make the place romantic and leave your nerves tingling!
I was not aware of this place till my friend, Sarvesh Soni started drawing the world’s attention to this beautiful place through his Facebook page.I would say he is the white tiger of Sirmaur as he and his team have been painstakingly promoting this remote area non stop.
Hats off to him!Incredible India has lots of breathtaking destinations to offer and this one is one of them.
And for the nature buffs, Sirmaur offers the Aha! moments, free of cost!
All these pictures have been shared by my young friend, Sarvesh Soni.
How to reach Rewa?
Rewa can only be reached through rail and road.
It is quite close to the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, so a road trip to Rewa is quite convenient. And it is also quite close to Khajuraho. So, Khajuraho, Rewa, Bandhavgarh and Varanasi make a great travel circuit!
Else, if you plan to take a train trip to the city, you can refer to this site;