Sunday, May 21, 2017

Jim Corbett National Park - The Best Of Nature and Indian Culture

During my short India trip, I was lucky to visit Jim Corbett National Park the last week. This park is a part of the larger Corbett Tiger Reserve, a Project Tiger Reserve lies in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand. The magical landscape of Corbett is well known and fabled for its tiger richness. Established in the year 1936 as Hailey National Park, Corbett has the glory of being India's oldest and most prestigious National Park. It is also being honored as the place where Project Tiger was first launched in 1973. This unique tiger territory is best known as the father who gave birth of the Project Tiger in India to protect the most endangered species and the Royal of India called Tigers. 

Apart from tiger reserve, there is a lot more to discover nearby. If you have time and desire to experience Indian culture in the middle of nature then Jim Corbett is the best place to visit. Here is a quick snapshot of my amazing trip which will give you an idea of nature, culture and adventure you could expect here. 

Rest of the article will be divided in the following sections along with lots of useful tips:

  1. Key attractions and tips about these attractions
  2. What to Expect in Jim Corbett and Golden Rules
  3. Where to stay to get closer to the local culture

Following are the key attractions around Jim Corbett National Park:

  • Jim Corbett Tiger Safari
  • Girija Devi Temple
  • Corbett Falls

Jim Corbett Tiger Safari

Spans over an extent of 520 square kilometres, its whole area comprises of hills, marshy depressions, riverine belts, grasslands and large lake. It is among the few tiger reserves in India that allows overnight stays in the lap of the National Park. Nature watch and wildlife viewing in the park is done in an open four wheeler Jeep and on elephant back. Sheltering a healthy population of tigers and rare species like Otters and the endemic fish eating crocodile, the national park is one of the most sought after destinations for the wildlife buffs. Dhikala, situated at the border of the extensive Patil Dun valley, is the most popular destination in Corbett because of its superb location and sheer abundance of wildlife present. 

If you love bird watching then Corbett is virtual haven for such tourists. Corbett and its adjoining area is a home to more than 650 species of residents and migratory birds. Particularly Dhikala is fine place to look for birds of prey, more than over 50 species of raptors alone shows the healthy biodiversity of the area. Their multiplex behavior is intriguing and their varied songs are very much pleasing to the ear. In a nutshell, this finest national park of India is well known for rich and varied wildlife including royal Bengal tiger, elephant, four to five species of deer and rich birdlife. 

The Tourist Zones: In order to promote tourism in the region Corbett National Park has been divided into five different zones. These are the marked buffer or core area of the park where visitors can be part of wildlife safari and can enjoy the intriguing behavior of the animals with bare eyes at proximity. 

Dhikala and Bijrani are the most popular zones. I was lucky to get reservation for Bijrani evening Safari. Here is the summary of these zones in the order of popularity. You can visit here for more details about these zones and details about booking Safari. As far as I know, open Jeeps are the only way to see these safari zones now as I understood. You must reserve those ahead of time. Elephant Safari was recently closed as one elephant was attached by the tiger.

  1. Dhikala Zone : Being the largest and most varied zone in Corbett, Dhikala is famous for its abundant natural beauty as well as offering the best sight for exotic fauna. The entry gate is 18 km away from Ramnagar city. Night stay inside the Dhikala Tourism Zone is highly recommended for the hard core wildlife enthusiasts. 
  2. Bijrani Safari Zone : Bijrani Zone is very popular tourist's hub because of its abundant natural beauty and open grasslands. The entry gate of the zone is located at only 01 Km from Ramnagar city. 
  3. Jhirna Safari Zone : Jhirna is another important tourist zone in the Jim Corbett National park that is open for tourist round the year. Jhirna Gate is located at 16 km from Ramnagar city. 
  4. Durga Devi Zone : Located on the north-eastern boundary of the Jim Corbett National Park, Durga Devi zone is the heaven on planet earth for those who are fond of bird watching. Entry gate is located at an approximate distance of 36 km from Ramnagar city. 
  5. Dhela Safari Zone : Dhela is a new eco tourism zone in Corbett National Park included in tiger reserve zone in November 2014. This is the only area in the reserve's buffer zone open to tourists in CTR. The zone is retaining the attention of large number of tourist because of its wealthy flora and fauna, open throughout the year, located at an approximate distance of 13 Km from Ramnagar City. 
  6. Sitabani Buffer Zone : Sitabani Zone doesn't fall under the Corbett Tiger Reserve area. If you are fond of serene ambiance of the natural beauty, must visit Sitabani area. 
Elephant in Birjani Zone

  • TIP#1 Only 30 jeeps are allowed in morning and evening shift in each zone, hence, it is not easy to get reservation. Plan in advance and book Safari ahead of time. Well, in India if you have right connections and money to pour, you can get access even on short notice. Don’t depend on that and plan ahead of time.
  • TIP#2 Morning is the best time to go to Safari. Morning Safari starts at around 5 am. Don’t be lazy and miss your best opportunity to see animals and birds. I couldn’t get morning Safari but I would have preferred that.
  • TIP#3 During summer months it is going to be very-2 hot so be prepared with hats, sun glasses and water. Deep inside Jungle it gets pleasant though.

What to Expect in Jim Corbett and Golden Rules

  • Safari is not only about Tiger. There is lot more to see in the jungle. Don't be disappointed if you don't see any tiger. I could only see a lazy tiger from distance but some don't even see that. Enjoy nature and other animals. Only animals can decide when they want to make their presence felt.
  • Wild animals are the actual asset of the park, respect and maintain a safe distance from them
  • Listen to the melodious music of the forest instead of your stereo
  • It is advisable to wear the clothes of colours which merge with the natural surroundings like khaki, olive green and some other dull colours
  • Carry a litter bag while entering the park and bring back their non-biodegradable garbage like plastic, bottle, metal foils, tin can etc. outside the park

Garijya Devi Temple

Garjiya Devi Temple is a noted Devi temple located in the Garjiya village near Ramnagar, Uttarakhand, India, on the outskirts of the Corbett National Park. It is a sacred Shakti shrine where Garjiya Devi is the presiding deity. The temple is situated over a large rock in the Kosi River and is one of the most famous temples of the Nainital district, visited by thousands of devotees during Kartik Poornima, a Hindu holy day celebrated on the fifteenth lunar day of Kartik (November – December) The first Priest was Pt. Keshav Dutt Pandey who began worship of Devi Garjiya. Many people also bath in the Kosi river situated near Garjiya temple to purify themselves.

Garjiya Devi Temple
Keep 3 things in mind when you go to this temple:
  1. You will get stuck in traffic jams if you are taking car. Entrance to parking is through a narrow road which is usually blocked so plan for extra time.
  2. Kosi river in summer get very dry so I believe view will be even better in non-summer months.
  3. It's very crowded so if you wish to get inside the main temple then it could take an hour or more during peak times. Be prepared to stand in long queue in 45 degree celsius.

Corbett Falls

Corbett Falls is a scenic water fall located at 25 kms from Ramnagar. Developed as a picnic spot for tourist, Corbett Water Falls is surrounded by dense teak wood forest which extends its natural beauty. Sound of the waterfall makes perfect melody with chippings of the birds.

Corbett Falls

Where to stay to get closer to the local culture

I stayed in Panorama Resort in Teda Village, Ramnager. Terrace on this resort provides unobstructed 360 degree view of mountains. There are many other beautiful resort in this area which gives you a feel of local culture. More importantly, you can just get out of your resort and interact with villagers. I talked to a number of people who made this trip even more memorable. They gifted me organic mangoes and vegetable fresh from the trees. They let me interact with their animals. It was a fabulous experience. 

Sunrise View From Teda Village

One villager told me that learn something from us and teach us something. I surely learnt a lot from them. I couldn't really teach them anything but this is my opportunity to thank these friendly and honest people for such an amazing hospitality. Please make a point to spent some time with them if you get a chance. 

Thank You People @ Teda Village