Updated: Sep 24
Many folk stories are famous among locals and are passed on to tourists sitting around campfires during chilly nights of jungles of Kanha. Of the many tales narrated, some are known to be real, and the rest are folklore featuring mythical beings and creatures.
One of them is the legend of Lapsi Shikari (A huntsman named Lapsi). Which has some truth to it and has been passed down through generations as a story of a courageous huntsman.
The story goes like this: The skilled Hunter Lapsi volunteered to help the villagers residing near Kanha forest. As the local Indigenous people living in the periphery of wilderness were terrorized by a ferocious tiger.
There were reports about a cattle lifting tiger. Herders and forest dwellers came back with a terrifying warning of how a large tiger had attacked, killed, and carried away their cattle. Soon after the attacks increased. First it was just the livestock that started disappearing, Then one day, a cowherd was found mauled, followed by other attacks on a farmer and his young son.
The villages affected by this Tiger terror called a meeting of Panchayats. They debated and contemplated over the issue at hand until someone mentioned a shikari who had the ability to bring the beast down – Lapsi. Born and brought up in the wildernesses of Kanha, Lapsi came from a family of hunter gatherers. The jungle was his home. His renowned hunting tactics and bow and arrow skills never failed him.
When given the task of taking the tiger down, Lapsi readily accepted. Without realising that he was going to meet his match in the form of that Tiger. For a few weeks Lapsi tried every tactic that was passed down to him. He used several cattle as bait, he patiently waited for the tiger to fall for his traps. But the tiger was a step ahead of his nemesis, the beast was clever enough to dodge every technique Lapsi devised.
As more and more time passed, villagers’ faith on Lapsi was dwindling, and his unsuccessful pursuits started soiling his reputation as a skilled hunter. Lapsi’s wife dejected by villagers’ distrust on her husband’s abilities, decided to help Lapsi out. She volunteered as human bait. Little did she know her decision would change their fate forever. Outraged completely, at the idea of using his wife as a human bait, Lapsi eventually gave into his wife’s tenacity and reasoning that he would never let her get killed.
The scene was set, Lapsi waited restlessly, over the scaffold, while his wife stood below, trembling. After a long wait, the tiger sprang from hiding out of nowhere and pounced on Lapsi’s wife.
Lapsi immediately showered his target with a stream of arrows, but he could only manage to injure the giant beast. The tiger got distracted and Lapsi attempted to save his severely wounded wife but before he could reach her, the tiger killed his wife, in the blink of an eye.
Seeing his wife being mauled drove Lapsi wild with agony and rage. His devastating screams echoed throughout the jungle!
He pulled out his dagger and leapt towards the tiger with all the force left inside him and attacked the beast. The death of his devoted wife in front of his eyes made him blind with fury. He fought hard and mercilessly challenged the animal that was more than twice his size.
A long and fierce struggle between Lapsi and the tiger resolved with the slaying of the tiger. Lapsi finally managed to avenge his wife. Unfortunately, he got badly mutilated in the struggle and later succumbed to his injuries.
According to the legend, Lapsi and his wife were buried together and their grave still exists. Located at a crossing in Kanha National Park, now is renowned spot called Lapsi Kabr (Grave of Lapsi). Visit Kanha to relive the legend and relish the wilds.
The Kanha wildlife safari is held in four different zones: Kisli, Mukki, Kanha, and Sarhi. The Open Jeep Safaris of core zones are shut down during Monsoons, but you can always explore the elegance of Kanha in the Buffer zones of this national park any time of the year.
The buffer zones include - Khatia, Khapa, Phen, and Sijora Zones. Visit this park between October and June and plan a trip of three nights to have a good chance of spotting elusive species.
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