During the lockdown, I was forced to give up on my badminton routine, and I was on the lookout for an alternate fitness activity. A lot of my friends had taken up cycling, and it seemed like a risk-free, outdoor activity that I could indulge myself in.
I bought myself a new bike in July, and after days of procrastination, took it out for a spin at dawn along Bannerghatta Road. A friend had also joined along for the ride. After a short ride uphill, I decided to take a break for a few minutes to rehydrate myself and to relax my calf muscles that had received a rude awakening after a long time. Gulping down the fresh morning air, enjoying the cold morning mist on my bare skin, it felt good to be out of the confines of my apartment. The sun was only starting to climb up the horizon, as the thick clouds slowly gave way and faraway hillocks came into view.
That’s when we spotted movement on a rocky outcrop not too far away. As we watched an animal move in the dim light of dawn, I wished it was a leopard. Just then, I saw another smaller silhouette rushing into the bushes – a young cub possibly? Within minutes, both disappeared behind the rocks, and we started our ride back home.
The skies cleared post-lunch, and out of curiosity, we headed back to the same spot, this time with my camera and zoom lens in tow. At first, there was no sight of any animal, but then our patience was rewarded when the gorgeous animal came into the frame of my zoom lens. It was a leopard! Standing so still, and with such pride in her stance. She rested there for a long time, and I watched her undeterred for an hour as she yawned a couple of times and rolled around lazily.
What happened next blew our minds. When the leopard got up and moved to another spot, a young cub came into view suddenly, following the mother, copying her stroll, march and demeanour. The mother and cub played for a couple of hours before vanishing into the bushes, as the sun bid farewell.
The area is close to the Bannerghatta National Park, and it has often been reported how there is a regular movement of elephants and Sloth Bears in the area, but never have I seen or heard of leopard sightings before. After that day, I have made multiple trips to the same hillock, in hopes of spotting the mother and cub, but it has been in vain. It seems like that sighting was meant for just one day, albeit a very memorable one.