A project tiger in Suraj Kund

Suraj Kund (Haryana): Among the usual ensemble of hand-crafted items and colourful ethnic ware in the annual fair here this year was a stall full of paintings of the tiger — `burning bright` in its royal look.

The painter — 26-year-old Rakesh — is from Ranthambore in Rajasthan, which houses one of the biggest national parks in northern India. His stall is only displaying paintings of tiger and leopards.

Rakesh, who says he is painting tigers for the last 12 years, has captured them in various moods, backgrounds and poses. From close-ups depicting the sharp and fierce features to life-size pictures bringing out the `fearful symmetry` — the paintings show the majestic predator in all its glory.

"I am doing this work for the last 12 years. But have come to the Suraj Kund Mela for the first time," says Rakesh.

While foreign tourists form a big chunk of his clientele back home in Ranthambore where he has a shop, in the crafts fair too, he is registering moderate sale, he says.

The paintings are made on cloth with water colours.

The Ranthambore national park is located in the Sawai Madhopur district of south-eastern Rajasthan, which is about 130 kms from Jaipur.

Once the hunting grounds of the Maharajas of Jaipur, it was declared as a game sanctuary in 1955 and designated as a national park in 1980. It is spread over 1,334 sq km along with its nearby sanctuaries like the Mansingh Sanctuary and the Kaila Devi Sanctuary.

Situated near the park is the Ranthambore School of Art which consists of painters from local villages and focuses on the tigers of Ranthambore.