Driving PM on a safari for two hours was memorable
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Driving PM on a safari for two hours was memorable

April 10, 2023

Safari vehicle driver D.P. Madhusudhan opens up on his nerve-racking moments

Mysore/Mysuru: Though the Project Tiger was launched in India in 1973 and on Nov. 16, 1973 in Bandipur, it was Narendra Modi, the first Prime Minister to visit the Bandipur Tiger Reserve. Taking the VVIP and one of the world’s most powerful politicians in a safari jeep was D.P. Madhusudhan.

Sharing his experience of driving the Prime Minister inside the Tiger Reserve for more than two hours, Madhusudhan told Star of Mysore that when the PM boarded the jeep, he was nervous. “I was literally shaking and my hands started shivering. I have driven the safari vehicle for years and never before have I had such an experience. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I was extremely nervous,” he said.

The Special Protection Group (SPG) team had come to Bandipur two days before the PM’s visit and had surveyed the entire area for any threats. After a thorough inspection, the clearance for a safari was given.

“In all, nine jeeps were chosen for the safari and the vehicles were thoroughly checked by various anti-sabotage teams. The PM arrived at the Old Campus of Bandipur at 7.45 am and the SPG randomly selected the jeep bearing the registration KA-10-G-0710 and I was the driver,” he said.

“The Prime Minister travelled 22 kilometres inside the jungle and was immersed with the beauty of nature. Modi used cameras and binoculars and was impressed to see such a unique biodiversity. Driving inside the core area, my mind was full of thoughts to ensure the PM’s comfort on the bumpy routes every moment,” Madhusudhan said.

The Bandipur Tiger Reserve is located amidst the picturesque surroundings of the towering Western Ghats on the Mysuru-Ooty Highway in Karnataka and is an important part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve that constitutes Karnataka’s Nagarahole Tiger Reserve to its Northwest, Tamil Nadu’s Mudhumalai Wildlife Sanctuary to its South and Kerala’s Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary to its Southwest.

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Madhusudhan, a resident of Hangala hobli at Devarahalli near Bandipur said that his senior officers saw that he was nervous as the PM sat in the jeep. “The Conservator of Forests and other seniors told me in Kannada that I should drive the jeep normally and it must be a business-as-usual-trip. Even the SPG members came near me and told me to drive the vehicle in a normal way like any other day. Starting off, I was scared for a few metres and slowly it sank in that I am driving the PM. Later, things became normal for me,” Madhusudhan recalled.

“I never imagined even in my wildest dreams that I would get a chance to drive the PM inside the core area of Bandipur. Driving safari-goers is my profession and the journey with the PM is not something I will forget in my lifetime. Some months back, Union Minister Bhupendra Yadav had come calling to Bandipur and I was asked to drive the safari jeep. I was thinking at that time that I was lucky to drive a Union Minister. Now I have taken the PM inside the jungle and the moments will be cherished and re-lived every day,” he added.

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