Almost a decade ago, in 2006, I, along with a Danish friend, made a series of exploratory treks into the remote Himalayan jungles of the Daranghati Wildlife Sanctuary in Himachal Pradesh. We were conducting a preliminary survey for the presence of the elusive and rare Western Tragopan. The locals call the Western Tragopan the Jujurana or the king of birds (Juju = bird and rana = king), in my opinion a much more appropriate name for such a regal bird.
In all we must have spent about a month in the mountains. It was tough but it was also one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life. You can read a more detailed write-up about those treks here http://somendras.com/?p=283 .
We did discover a healthy a population of Western Tragopans living in these jungles and we also managed to see this most coveted of species. However, I was not able to get a photograph. My closest encounter with a Jujurana was on a high mountain ledge where I flushed a male bird just a few feet away from us. The moment is still perfectly preserved in my memory.
A few months ago, while talking about my interest in painting birds, my friend Atul Jain suggested that I do a painting of the Western Tragopan. I did want to paint the Jujurana, but I had not taken up the project because of the difficulties involved. Very few reference photographs of the Jujurana are available and most of these are not of a good quality. However, after the prod from Atul, I decided to take up the challenge and paint the Western Tragopan that I had flushed from the ledge in the Daranghati Wildlife Sanctuary on that cold December day in 2006.