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Shekar

In search of Big Cat, Hyderabad to Tadoba drive

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This is about June 2016 travel to Tadoba Tiger reserve from Hyderabad. 

 

In Jan-2016 I had traveled Chopta and Munsiyari  in Uttarakand with another three new travelers met first time at Delhi. One of them Mr. Pandey is from Nagpur and he asked me to come down to Nagpur for visiting Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve and booked safari a couple of months before for 12th June 2016 . Till then I had no experience of any forest safary and I was excited to see many wild animals. Mean time our travel friends planned for Ladakh tour in the last week of June, 2016 (25-06-2016). It was one of the dream destination and I know it will be difficult and expensive if I go alone and said OK and booked flight/train to Delhi and back. Then started thinking  it will be hectic for two tours in two weeks. But Pandey who is also coming for Ladakh trip did not agree and made me to visit Tadoba.   

 

Day 1

On 11th June we started at 5.00 Hrs in my car from Hyderabad. My wife and son were with me. We are two drivers and had a back seat to sleep if needed. We reached Nirmal by 8.00 Hrs entered town leaving NH44 and had breakfast at Hotel Mayuri. Breakfast was good but when we had lunch next year, it was very bad. We joined NH44 through old NH7 road. Reached Nagpur by 13.00 Hrs and Pandey's home by 13.30. 

 

Roads up to Adilabad were excellent. Four lane work and Underpass works at Hingenghat (about 30 Kms) not completed and have to change lanes and pass through the villages. Road at places in this section also not good. After that till Nagpur roads are good. 

 

One more travelmate Mr. Jagtap from Betul (MP) who is mine safety officer in Western Coal Fields (WCF) and a native of Nagpur was supposed to join us with his family in his car. But due to some fire accident in a coal mine he could not join us. 

 

Our plan was to reach  WCF guest house at Murpar which is about 15 Kms away from Navegaon Gate of Tadoba Reserve and stay overnight and reach the gate early in the morning. 

 

We started from Nagpur at about 17.00 Hrs and reached Murpar by 19.45 Hrs. While entering Chandrapur district at Umred check-post, local police stopped our car for checking and found one whiskey bottle in our luggage which was kept by Pandey.

 

The police told me that alcohol  is banned in chandrapur district and we can not carry. I said I am from Hyderabad and I do not the local rules and never imagined that a particular district will have a ban.

 

He looked at Pandey in the car and asked he is from Maharashtra and how come he do not know. I said he does not know about it and i brought it my self. Some how he took away the bottle and allowed us to proceed further.  

 

So those who are travelling to Tadoba please do not carry alcohol. 

 

By the time we reached Chimur which is a little bigger town close to Navegaon Gate, it started drizzling and when we took right turn at Khadsangi for Murpar, heavy downpour started and visibility was hardly 20 mtrs in head lights. Left turn at Khadsangi will lead to Navegaon gate. Mr. Jagtap booked the guest house at WCF mine area, Murpar. We found one Telugu cook in the guest house and when we told him about Umred check post incident, he said we are too lucky to be let off, otherwise they arrest and harras for carrying alcohol. When we asked about dinner he said other than non veg, he will prepare any thing. Non Veg has to be brought from Chimur some 12 Kms away and it is not possible at that time and that too in heavy rain. We ordered roti, dal and sabji with omlets. 

 

Mean time me and pandey went to Khadsangi in the rain and enquired about safari vehicles. we were told that there is no need to book in advance and Gypsy cars will be available at the gate as per the serial and as many as permitted for the day/session. We had dinner and had good sleep. 

 

Day 2 

 

We got up early and reached Navegaon gate before 5.30 Hrs. We found only one car before us at the gate. We went to gate office and booked a safari car and engaged a Guide. Safari car is for Rs. 600 and Guide Rs.350 (That's what I remember). Sky is clear and we found water of previous night's rain on the roads pot holes. We entered the forest by 5.45. Our guide said it is always advantage of more sightings if your car is first and it proved correct. 

 

DSC_0068.jpg.382050c3fcbdac865982d26961fbddb7.jpgMyself with wife and kids of Pandey

DSC_0073.jpg.93dec8d1c87024f68371918d547251f9.jpg

 

DSC_0080.jpg.232ecbf87c064559633b99d64b8fd5e1.jpgThe first site before entering the core area

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DSC_0090.jpg.066591cac3f4d00a14908cd09adde177.jpgSecond sighting a glimpse of bear  

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  Then a Jackal 

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There were lot of birds and I could not shoot them as I do not have a proper lens. 

DSC_0152-2.jpg.7eceeb974d155693666734ca52deec8e.jpg

 

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The same bear came out of the forest and crossed our path. 

DSC_0159.jpg.943848b025429543d81aa53f919b3d28.jpg

We were told that Tiger will come here but after waiting enough time he did not turned up. 

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There are many deers and Neelgai

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Obviously not happy with our presence

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Canter from Moharli gate 

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Now many jeeps arrived and waiting at a water hole for the arrival of the Big Cat. 

 

But it did not show up and the our morning session ended. Little disappointed and our guide was telling us that people make more than six safaris and go back without seeing a Tiger. We had a booking for afternoon safari also. With a little hope we returned to our guest house. 

DSC_0238-2.thumb.jpg.0d683c9531756649bc48d32f19438411.jpg

 

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On the way back from morning safari

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DSC_0253.jpg.7314a6bbee6aa42f732e8954afbf1ed9.jpg

Padey with our Driver and Guide. 

 

Will continue with after noon Safari.. 

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We had returned to guest house around 10 and had our breakfast. Ordered food for lunch and went to bed to have some rest. Post lunch we packed our bags and reached Navegaon gate by 15.00 Hrs for afternoon safari. Timings are 15.00 Hrs to 18.00 Hrs. It was very hot now and the morning wetness on the ground disappeared. 

 

It was New Jeep and New Guide. We enquired about morning vehicle and guide and we were told that their serial will come on next day only. 

DSC_0260.jpg.ec66e718444d3593d55b4bf73171ffc9.jpg

 

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It was so hot that we could not see any animals on roads like we saw in the morning. 

 

We roamed and roamed in various directions. Our guide got a call from other guides about sighting of Tiger and by the time we rushed there it disappeared in to forest. 

DSC_0292.jpg.89520a78895e1276235969afe9bca36a.jpg

 

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Found some more birds at a water hole. 

DSC_0312.jpg.90b47c0c0597731a3f593bb8bbc37b9f.jpg\DSC_0323.jpg.f7fed1e5985bd45fe268c7989b5218e5.jpg

 Then these

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After shooting this cute one, we got information that a Tiger (I forgot the name of it) is sighted at a specific water hole. We rushed there and found a canter and a half a dozen jeeps are lined up in front of the water hole waiting for the Tiger to come. After waiting for some time at about 17.00 Hrs we gaot another message that the Tiger reached another water hole It was the same where we waited in the morning. By the time we reached there it was too crowded. More than 20 jeeps are there with big big cameras zooming out and clicking the BIg Cat. With great difficulty we squeezed in (Jeep) (None is allowed to get down from the jeeps. Not only here but during entire safari time. And at last we could see a Tiger taking rest in the pond after a belly fool of hunt. 

 

Around 17.30 all the vehicles came from other gates including Mohrali left the place as they have to travel more than 30 minutes to reach their gates. We had an advantage of short distance to Navegaon gate and we stayed up to 18.00 Hrs and left the place. 

 

I do not have proper Zoom Lens and the snaps of the Big Cat are not so good after more cropping. 

 

Here are few... 

DSC_0495.jpg.a6bdea6294835c8380d41b2ea94c8307.jpg

 

DSC_0523-2.jpg.7756d6f565fa5eef56edb89aacc96216.jpg

 

DSC_0506.jpg.b76c5f3b9205c66af710c00673b65684.jpg

 

DSC_0543.jpg.936a644fcdb7ea170debd87be7f44413.jpg

 

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This is the last one away from core area said bye bye to us. 

 

We started at about 18.15 from Navegaon gate and started for nagpur as I have to drop Pandey and his kids. Otherwise we can directly come to Hyderabad. We reached around 20.00 Hrs to Nagpur it rained again reducing our speed to 30 Kmph while reaching Nagpur. We stayed overnight at Nagpur and started after breakfast at 9.00 from Nagpur and reached Hyderabad by 16.00 Hrs. 

 

Summary

 

1. Navegaon Gate is the most nearer to the core area and one can reach the core area quickly and there will be more chances of animal sighting. 

2. Private resorts  like Tigers heaven Resort and Jharana Jungle Lodge are available when we visited in June 2016. Some more might have been added now. We did not stayed in any one of them hence no feed back. 

3. Unlike other gates, very limited vehicles are permitted from Navegaon gate. What I remembered is 10 in the morning and 10 in the Afternoon. 

4. Advance booking (Online) is best option. Direct entry (Booking at Gate) is possible only if permitted quota is not booked online which most unlikely. 

5. Private cars also permitted on condition that a forest guide is available in our car. I do not think it is wise as visibility to rear seat occupants is not good and one seat in the front is occupied by guide. It will be difficult to take photographs. None will be allowed to get down from car, 

6. We can directly reach Hinganghat on NH44 from Navegaon and the distance to Hyderabad will be about 530 Kms. Other option is via Chandrapur but quickest is Via Hinganghat. I am not aware of road condition between Navegaon to Hinganghat.   

7. Road between Nagpur to Navegaon gate is mostly two lane and very good up to Umred (Chandrapur dist border) and good beyond that. Total about 100 Kms. 

 

I would love to share any further information known to me. 

 

Hope I did not write too much. 

 

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Beautiful pictures and very informative.
Thank you for sharing the information.

You are definitely lucky to spot so much wildlife in one safari. 

 

I know few people, who did not even spot a single wild life in the entire safari.

Summer is the perfect time to visit this place. 

 

During our safari around 2010~2011, we spotted a live hunt.
It was a great experience.

14-01.jpeg

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Excellent report @Shekar. Super informative and nice pictures too.. I think the name of the tiger is 'Meenakshi' :) But, you have spotted a lot of wildlife I must say which is very unusual during the time of your visit.

April and May would be very perfect to expect the sighting of the big cat. Just that the chances are more than visits during the rest of the months.

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On 3/17/2019 at 11:43 AM, Shekar said:

was so hot that we could not see any animals on roads like we saw in the morning. 

 

We roamed and roamed in various directions. Our guide got a call from other guides about sighting of Tiger and by the time we rushed there it disappeared in to forest. 

This reminds me of my trip last year. Wildlife experience is really beautiful one... I still can't forget those days in the forest. Last Safari, I spotted a Tigress with her cubs. Beautiful sight it was. Planning more and more trips this year and hope I do it. The pictures are beautiful and the trip report is awesome. What's your car and please attach guest House location and details. 

 

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13 minutes ago, SK01 said:

This reminds me of my trip last year. Wildlife experience is really beautiful one...

 

You being a wildlife fanatic, should do Kanha National reserve drive or a Jim Corbett safari in next. :) 

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20 hours ago, driveking said:

Wow lovely pictures. Any cheap stay options available in Tadoba? 

 

Most of the hotels are over priced around Tadoba. 
Don't expect value for money options. 

 

I'm not sure about the recent scenario. 

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On 3/17/2019 at 11:43 AM, Shekar said:

Summary

 

Very neatly summarised.
 

On 3/17/2019 at 11:43 AM, Shekar said:

Navegaon Gate is the most nearer to the core area and one can reach the core area quickly and there will be more chances of animal sighting. 

 

This is the best gate to visit?

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48 minutes ago, RajG said:

This is the best gate to visit?

 

The spotting is usually seen high at the Moharli gate to enter Tadoba. Refer to the thread below for more detailed information on the gates at Tadoba.

 

 

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On ‎3‎/‎18‎/‎2019 at 10:21 AM, Ranger said:

During our safari around 2010~2011, we spotted a live hunt.
It was a great experience.

 

Wow Lucky you. 

 

16 hours ago, sagar said:

The spotting is usually seen high at the Moharli gate to enter Tadoba. Refer to the thread below for more detailed information on the gates at Tadoba.

 

I am not expert in this subject, but what my Nagpur friends who frequent to Tadoba told me that Moharli gate is far off from Core area and too crowded. May be due to more stay options. 

 

On ‎3‎/‎19‎/‎2019 at 9:32 AM, sagar said:

You being a wildlife fanatic, should do Kanha National reserve drive or a Jim Corbett safari in next.

 

First I need to upgrade my photo gear, then I will plan those. 

 

On ‎3‎/‎19‎/‎2019 at 9:17 AM, SK01 said:

This reminds me of my trip last year. Wildlife experience is really beautiful one... I still can't forget those days in the forest. Last Safari, I spotted a Tigress with her cubs. Beautiful sight it was. Planning more and more trips this year and hope I do it. The pictures are beautiful and the trip report is awesome. What's your car and please attach guest House location and details. 

 

 

I own Toyota Etios GD since 2013 and I traveled a lot in it. It has clocked 97 K on Odo and I am just planning to replace it. The guest house belongs to Western Coal Field and only officers of WCF are permitted to book it. One of travel partner who was supposed to travel with us was Mine safety Officer in WCF and he booked it for us. 

 

The location is https://goo.gl/maps/brHMdoth4aL2

 

On ‎3‎/‎18‎/‎2019 at 1:09 PM, driveking said:

Wow lovely pictures. Any cheap stay options available in Tadoba? 

 

Yes all the resorts are expensive as far as I know. But I think there are some budget hotels at Chimur which is close to Navegaon gate.  

 

On ‎3‎/‎18‎/‎2019 at 11:49 AM, sagar said:

Excellent report @Shekar. Super informative and nice pictures too.. I think the name of the tiger is 'Meenakshi' :) But, you have spotted a lot of wildlife I must say which is very unusual during the time of your visit.

April and May would be very perfect to expect the sighting of the big cat. Just that the chances are more than visits during the rest of the months.

 

Thank you @sagar, May be due to first rains in June first half, we could saw many animals. 

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9 hours ago, Shekar said:

 

I own Toyota Etios GD since 2013 and I traveled a lot in it. It has clocked 97 K on Odo and I am just planning to replace it. The guest house belongs to Western Coal Field and only officers of WCF are permitted to book it. One of travel partner who was supposed to travel with us was Mine safety Officer in WCF and he booked it for us. 

 

The location is https://goo.gl/maps/brHMdoth4aL2

Thanks for the info @Shekar

Any pictures of the guest house? 

 

The joy of clocking 1l on the odo of our car is something else. I wanted to clock 1l on my WagonR. Clocked 70k kms in 3 years and later had to sell it to give way to the more powerful, safe and fun to drive Ford Freestyle. This time I want to clock the maximum number of kms given in the Ford Owners app i.e., 3l kms. Now it's 8k kms in 5 months. 

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On 3/20/2019 at 7:52 AM, SK01 said:

Any pictures of the guest house? 

I am not finding one

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      Stability, Steering Feel and Feedback, Braking, Ride Comfort, and Performance:
      The next month after buying the car we did a road trip to Vijayawada. Couldn’t go beyond 100 kmph as the vehicle isn’t supposed to go beyond 100 kmph before 2000 km checkup. while returning I touched 170 kmph effortlessly after 2000 km checkup at Laxmi Ford Vijayawada. No where I felt loosing the control of the car. After driving WagonR for 65000 kms this felt like a really big upgrade in terms of drivability and stability. 
       
      The response from the steering was spot on. Though the brakes did not inspire confidence at last minute braking for the first 5000 kms of ownership because of over sensitive ABS now they are perfect. Crisp and spot on braking performance. Or dont know if I’m
      used to it.
       
      Ford Freestyle is built to tackle bad roads and those beautiful untouched, unexplored roads. This said, the ride quality will definitely be on the stiffer side making all those shocks on the bad roads creep in. We can feel the thud sound when the car goes over speed breaker, potholes even in very low speeds. The suspension is on the stiffer side making the car super stable during high speeds and super rough on the bad roads. Space is strictly adequate in the front row and strictly average at the rear and the boot. The driving position is commendable. We sit higher than many of the hatchbacks making us see the road clearly. The car sitting at a height of 190mm from the ground makes driving on worst roads a breeze. No worries of under body hits. 
       
      The performance from the engine on offer is something else. It effortlessly touches 80 kmph in the second gear itself and 0-100 kmph in under 10 seconds making it one of the fastest car in India. This car even outshines VW Polo in terms of performance. This is the most economical, fun to drive car in India giving good fuel efficiency numbers.  Even Ford EcoSport doesn’t offer the low end torque and that jump this car offers. Reason being same engine for a lighter car. 
       
      Capabilities:
      Ford calls the Freestyle a Compact Utility Vehivle and in my opinion its justified. It is not just a raised hatch/hatch with cladding or hatchback in SUV cloths as claimed by few online forums. Having used this for almost a year, clocking 20,000 kms, going for some unexplored areas, I can confidently say that this means some serious business, built for a purpose, a very practice vehicle. If not for serious off-roading, this is made for serious travelling and to glide on those beautiful untouched roads... 
        Safety:
      Ford is known for this. It’s always ahead of the other cars in the segment when it comes to giving safety features if not fancy features.
      2 airbags ABS with EBD Reverse parking sensors Driver and passenger seat belt alarm is standard across all the varient in all the models of Ford Central Locking  Speed sensing door locks  Child safety locks  Making it the most value for money varient. 
       
      The top of the line varient Titanium comes with added features like 
      TCS HLA ESP  
      And the even premium varient the Titanium Plus comes with added features like
      6 airbags SYNC3 system With all the above features. 
       
      Road Trips:

      I’ve done many road trips in this 10 months. Multiple trips to Hyderabad-Vijayawada but there are few trips that standout, that tested my skills, that took me to places I’ve never thought I would. 
       
      The first one being 
       
      Hyderabad to Maredumilli

       
      This remains my favourite trip of all. This tested my skills on the ghat during heavy rains and low visibility, took me to a beautiful place called Pamulery Vagu inside the forest.

      It was fun driving this car in those ghats. Steering feel and feedback was really good and was spot on. This trip will be forever remembered. The engine sound coupled with cool breeze and nature sounds made this a really wonderful and memorable trip with my Ford Freestyle.

       
      Hyderabad to Yanam via Ramachandrapuram 
       
      This place is really beautiful. I’ve been to Yanam in 2012 in our Swift Dzire. I was siting beside my father and was observing him cruising in that beautiful cool, rainy weather. I was 16 back then. Learning driving from my father in our colony roads. I was amazed by the way it cruised, clicked many pictures  in my father’s Galaxy S3. I couldn’t know more about the place. All I knew was the beach and the beautiful Jesus statue. Nothing beyond that.
       
      This is 2019 and I was on the wheel with my father sitting beside me and my Sony A6000 DSLR in the rear seat to click the beautiful places. It was 4:30 in the morning, I fired the loud TDCi engine waking up others in my house at Ramachandrapuram. We hit the roads and it was all nostalgic.
       
       
      The roads were bad, full of potholes and very bad curves. This gave me a new experience to drive on those village roads full of potholes and truck traffic from the opposite direction with high beam. Made me explore Yanam and the nearby mangroves and getting to know the place beyond beach and of course the beautiful Jesus statue, reminded my father of his childhood and the hotel where he used to sometimes eat and now we having  our breakfast which is still running with the same quality at Drakshramam. This also proved how beautiful my car is gliding  over those big potholes with very loud and uncomfortable sounds in the cabin and  zero underbody hits. making this another memorable road trip. 
       
      Vijayawada to Hyderabad
       

      I’ve done multiple trips between Hyderabad-Vijayawada on our Honda City as well as Ford Freestyle as my father is posted there. But this will be remembered.
       
      This unexpected drive for few minutes under the railway bridge tested my knowledge on flood water driving, knowledge can be acquired by learning but not experience. And this kind of experience is very rare. This tests our skill, It’s a do or die situation. Drive well and come out of the pool or get stuck ruining your car permanently. 
       
      The experience was all together a very different one. This kept me in a situation where It was all on me. No one to help me, guide me or drive the car. This proved the capabilities of ford Freestyle and my driving skills. The punchy low end torque never worried me or gave a feel of stalling. It never lost the grunt. I successfully came out of it which doubled my confidence in driving and my love towards the car.
       
       
      Accidents & Incidents 
       
      It was 24th of April, 8:45 in the morning. I was driving towards Suchitra Junction to meet my father’s colleague and take my internship certificate which I forgot in her cabin the previous day. I tuned into 98.3 radio mirchi my favourite radio station and was just 5 minutes away from my home when the unexpected saddest thing happened.  

       

       

       
      A construction truck which was coming from the opposite direction taking a 90 degree banged into my car’s rear third quater leaving a really bad damage. It was a hit and run case. Many villagers ran behind him but he fled away leaving me in utter grief. The impact was huge but the damage was small considering the impact.
       
      Did anyone remember this? “the impact was small, but the damage was really huge” “A thought to upgrade to a safer vehicle struck my father’s mind” and this proved to be the right choice, the safer vehicle. 
       
      It was 31st of July, 3:30 in the evening, I was driving  from Tellapur towards Kompally on ORR. An incident which taught me the meaning of hydro planning, made me realise the power of water and yet again made me fall in love with my car.   
      It was raining, the road was good obviously because it’s the ORR a Hyderabadi drivers favourite, the road was empty and there’s a water pool that can be seen on the left most lane.
       
      A child in me touched triple digit speeds (100kmph) from 80kmph wanted to spill the water and went straight onto the waterlogged pool only to loose control over my car. The vehicle immediately lost traction, drifted towards the right, steering was out of my control for few seconds, I tried very hard to steer the car to the left keeping it in the lane and I succeeded.
       
      All thanks to the traction control that my car has. This taught me how much dangerous water can be and the force of water. Never after this incident I touched triple digit speeds during rains. 
       

       
      To sum it up, Freestyle is a car that definitely puts a smile the drivers face. Particularly the TDCi. It’s rightly called a pocket rocket. 

      Freestyle is not about luxury, its rugged, rough, not so comfortable when compared to the competition, the interiors are hard, the plastics are not placed well but as said before its lal about ruggedness and practicality. Once you are behind the wheel of a Ford you’ll forever be the fan of Ford.
       

       
      Srikrishna Bhavaraju
      A true Ford Lover


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