The trek Madal Mahal starts with a Balancing Rock, which looks magical. This trek is through forest and one needs to follow a narrow path. Suddenly at this point 4-5 boys started following us. I was carrying some expensive equipment with me. For some time, we didn't realize that they are following us. We thought that group must be going to see Madan Mahal only. After a while we hit a very narrow path surrounded by huge rocks and dense forest. There was no one around us. This group had disappeared, but suddenly they came from the front and asked me for a cigarette. They must have taken some shortcut to go ahead of us and fond out if the route ahead is clear.
I said, I don't smoke. And then one of the boy asked my friend that she must have a cigarette. The way he said this, it sounded weird. For a while, we got nervous. They looked at my camera and then asked what are you doing here. I had sensed the danger and don't know why, I said that we are here in Jabalpur for government work. I am a journalist and we are clicking photographs of tourist places around Jabalpur to publish in Newspapers and Magazines. Then they started asking more and their expressions scared us more.
We were very scared by now. Fortunately a family was climbing up and was about to cross. We started moving with them. One of the boys hold my hand and this was very scary moment. Luckily there was no weapon with them and one of the old family member sensed the situation and asked us come together. All this spoiled this visit to Jabalpur. We hardly spent any time at Madan Mahal. We asked same family to accompany us when go down. In fact, we also made sure that we wait for 3-4 more group to join us. We spread the word at Madal Mahal. In few minutes almost every tourist knew that a group of boys are there on the way and they need to be careful. While coming back, we were around 20 people walking down towards the road. We met those folks on the way. They were probably having liquor in coke bottles there. Since we were in a huge group, none of them dare to say anything.
But we noticed the boys following us till we hit road. We were still scared and this was a deserted road. We immediately informed about this group to our driver and he was quite encouraging in his responses. He simply asked us not to worry and we will reach our hotel safely.
This incident made me think about the way I used to travel. I still love to explore non touristic places, but it's always recommended to have safely measures. Many times we try to be positive and intend to ignore security measures. Situations can be worse for female travelers. Here we can't define which parts of the country or world are safe or not. It's more about taking preventive steps while planning your trips and be aware of localities. We need to think more about making our Travel plans safe !
Few years back I was in Jabalpur with few friends for a Photography tour and I along with one of my female friend planned to go to Madan Mahal, which is in ruins now. Quite a few people go there and one needs to trek to reach the place. We have shared about this experience in past but today realized to highlight the fact that security is very important while travelling alone or with few friends to secluded places.