One thing I've realised during the pandemic is that you don't have to travel too far to explore a new destination. As someone who lives in Hyderabad, I haven't visited my neck of the woods. At least as much as I should. One of my cousins was obsessing over tiger reserves, but we didn't want to risk travelling to other states. That's when we stumbled upon Amrabad Tiger Reserve.
Tucked in Nallamalla Hills, Amrabad Tiger Reserve is one of those weekend getaways you won't regret taking, even though you may not spot tigers. Before we signed up for our safari, our guide explicitly told us that it's perhaps difficult to see a tiger, but we might spot other wild animals. Known as the second-largest tiger reserve in India, it is a three-hour drive from Hyderabad. We packed a little picnic and started by 7 am; coupled with ample breaks and a visit to Uma Maheshwaram, we reached Amrabad by 3 pm.
Yup, that's a lot of time for something right around the corner, but then it's not every day that you dash through roads flanked by forests. Monkeys were found in numbers on our way, and some imps snatched food off our hands. If you plan to picnic under the trees (like us), practice caution. Or, there's a tiny village right before Amrabad where you can grab a quick lunch, too.
The safari is crowded on weekends; you've been warned. At INR 1,200, a group of ten can board a jeep. During the one-and-a-half-hour ride, we went through several winding roads, Nizam's hunting grounds, and idyllic spots with langurs, deers, and peacocks strolling. While we couldn't alight the jeep at several locations, the tour guide pointed us to places where we could step out and saunter. The jungle, we were told, is home to the indigenous tribe, Chenchus, and if you're interested in knowing more about them, I recommend reading this piece.
We were dropped off at Farhabad View Point, which offers a sweeping view of the forest reserve. It was sunny and misty, yet we could see how enormous the forest was! After spending a couple of minutes there, we hopped on to return. Apparently, during Saleshwaram Jathara, visitors can also drive down using their vehicles for the safari. The temple is open only five days a year; during this jathara, it attracts thousands of devotees, wildlife enthusiasts, and adventurists. Besides, there's a trekking trail to explore, and we were told devotees walk several km to visit the temple.
But honestly, it wasn't about the desire to spot a tiger or a Sambar (which we did spot) — the ride itself was pretty fun, bumpy, and dusty. If you love looking at various species of plants and birds, Amrabad offers plenty. And then some more.
Note: If you're visiting, please follow all the guidelines that your tour guide suggests. If he asks you not to step out of the jeep, respect that and don't litter. Of course, you won't; you're not an idiot. I hope.
The safari can get quite crowded on weekends, and if you're planning to visit on weekends, try to go before lunchtime to avoid a crowd.