The small town of Rajkot has its own charm. For one, it is especially keen on cleanliness and order. Not much more than a small town, the traffic in the area was ordered and the people were more communicative, something one would not find in a big city like Delhi.
I liked the calm and quiet around the town and one of my favourite places to visit was the self-proclaimed 105-year-old ice cream joint which possessed incredible assortments of ice cream. Between moving around, working and writing reports throughout the day, one would not be able to manage time for much else but visiting restaurants. Having arrived in Rajkot late at night after what was a very difficult train journey on November 4, I wanted desperately to go sight-seeing. The second T20I match crept nearer and finally the day of the match arrived. Seeing as I had no time on the day after the match, I went along with a bunch of reporters to see some sights on the day of the match.
The place was located just six kilometres from the city, a wildlife centre enclosed by a serendipitous lake named ‘Lal Pari Lake’. It was in fact a zoo, but unlike many other of its kind, the animals here live closer to what one may consider their natural habitat, especially the lions and the tigers.
The big cats were all enclosed inside a large area with a deep trench separating us and them. First up though, we met the golden jackal at the Pradhyuman Zoological Park. Upon seeing his visitors, it decided to take shelter in higher grounds, its golden fur shimmering in the Rajkot sunshine.
While there was a threat to the coastal areas in Rajkot with a cyclone looming in the distance, the threat subsided as the cyclone skirted the coast, turning into a deep depression. However there was no rain in Rajkot and the animals at the park whiled away their afternoon drowsily. Next up on the agenda was the pride of Rajkot: the white tigers. Huge in stature, one was lying on its side, looking for a nice stretch in the shade but we earned the displeasure of the other one as it released a few grunts before continuing its fast walk around the periphery of the walls.
The Rajkot park’s other speciality were of course the Asiatic lions, found only in Gujarat’s Gir forest. No wonder it is the state animal of Gujarat and it had a slicker look to than their African cousins. The visitors found out about its speed and perhaps a bit of its ferocity when one of them suddenly charged from a distance. Even with the deep trench put there specifically to keep the predators away from visitors, one of those present backed away from the outer ring on the other side of the trench. However, the Gujarat lion was only chasing away one from its pride. They turned to be quite playful and soon as a pair of them took shelter behind the shrubs, pawing at each other and traipsing past each other, edging the other for another chase and run game.
The Royal Bengal Tigers chose to sleep and much like Bangladesh’s batting order later that evening, remained silent and in the shade. Our short tour came to an end but it was a nice sight to see the animals a little closer to their habitat, rather than just being caged for viewing pleasure. Upon leaving Rajkot for Nagpur, my mind traced back to the roads and the places travelled, the quiet still ringing peacefully in my ears.