Jim Corbett National Park
A Land of Trumpet, Roar & Song…
Corbett National Park boasts of a rich natural heritage with its varied topography, diverse flora and fauna, the beauty of the meandering ramganga river and the splendour of its landscapes. The elusive Tiger, now the cynosure of every tourists questing eye, wild Elephants and Leopards are the main attractions, besides other mammal and bird species. One of the few national parks in India with basic lodging facilities in the heart of the jungle at Dhikala – the setting is awesome and the location picturesque. For the wildlife enthusiast there is no alternative but to stay inside the Park at Dhikala Forest Lodge.
This lodge is managed by the forest department who are unable to provide a professional standard of service – this is our forte – we at TIGERLAND SAFARIS & TOURS are fully adept in providing luxury in the wilds. The Elephant ride from Dhikala is the ultimate experience in wildlife viewing and provides the opportunity to shoot the tiger with a camera. Corbett natinal Park with over 600 different bird species is considered one of the true bird parks of the world. Raptors are of infinite variety and occasssionally species of hawks and eagles appear, which tax the talent of the most gifted ornithologists. The Park is avid birdwatchers destination, Mangoli valley, Nainital and Pangot in the Kumaon region are unmistakeably the most remarkable areas for higher himalayan birds.
Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR) is One of India’s richest wilderness areas. The Tiger Reserve encompasses an area of 1288.34 sq km, which include two Protected Areas: Corbett National Park (520.82 sq. km) and Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary (301.18 sq. km). Corbett National Park has captured the imagination of many with its diverse wildlife and breathtaking landscapes. The natural uniqueness of the area was recognised long ago and so in 1936 Corbett attained the distinction as the first national park to be established in mainland Asia. Corbett National Park lies in two districts – Nainital and Pauri – in the hill state of Uttaranchal in northern India. It covers an area of 521 sq. km and together with the neighbouring Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary and Reserve Forest areas, forms the Corbett Tiger Reserve over 1288 sq. km. Its geographical location between the Himalayas and the terai, and the streams, rivers and ridges crisscrossing the terrain, present Corbett with a remarkable variety of landscapes. This vivid mosaic of habitats – wet and dry, plain and mountainous, gentle and rugged, forests and grasslands – supports numerous plant and animal species, representing Himalayan as well as plains kinds. The most famous of Corbett’s wild residents are the Bengal Tiger and the Asiatic Elephant, but with about 600 species of avifauna Corbett is one of the richest bird regions of India.
Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR) lies in the Shivalik-terai biotic province on the foothills of the Himalayas. This has led to an amazing diversity in habitat types and species. Elements of Himalayan flora and fauna can be seen here along with those of peninsular India.
Govt. of India launched an ambitious conservation programme Project Tiger on the banks of the Ramganga River in Corbett Tiger Reserve on 1st April, 1973. The launch of Project Tiger heralded the onset of scientific wildlife management in India. The major objective of this programme is to secure the preservation of the highly endangered species of tigers, (Panthera tigris tigris) and to use our national animal as a symbol of our precious natural heritage to secure the conservation of all major representative ecosystems across the tiger range.
Corbett Tiger Reserve today holds probably the second largest population of free living tigers in the world. The reserve is thus one of the last remaining strongholds, which holds a potentially viable population of this majestic and critically endangered felid. Nearly 600 Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) also have a home in this Tiger Reserve, and can be seen wandering leisurely along its length and breadth. CTR, along with the Rajaji National Park also represents the North -Western most limits of Tiger and Elephant distribution in the Indian subcontinent.
Several endangered species such as the Mugger, Gharial, Leopard cat, Goral, Serow, and Mahaseer etc. have a significant presence in the region. Four species of deer- sambar, spotted deer, hog deer and barking deer-with sloth bear, jackal, jungle cat, yellow throated marten, smooth Indian otter and black naped hare are also found. Along with, several identified and unidentified elements of biodiversity such as grasses, mosses, lichens, fungi, insects, etc. are also represented in this region.
The area is also home of about 600 species of resident and migratory birds. This amazingly rich avifaunal diversity represents nearly 6% of the total bird species represented in the world and is more than the total bird diversity of Europe. The 49 species of diurnal raptors found here are characteristic elements of this avifauna. The avifaunal diversity is at its peak during winters.
Himalayas and Shiwaliks
Mountains offer a great diversity of habitats due to variation in altitude, relief, and temperature. Consequently, mountain plant and animal communities have unique characteristics. Corbett National Park is characteristic of the Himalayan mountain system. Corbett’s northern areas are lined by the Lesser Himalayan chain, which extends from Pakistan, through Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal, Uttaranchal, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, and to Arunachal. The Lesser Himalayas are quite high, with an average altitude of 1800 m and are made up of crystalline rocks. The vegetation includes cold-climate tree species like pine, oak, and rhododendron. The Forest Rest House at Kanda at 1300 m is the highest point in the Park and is representative of the Lesser Himalayas However, most of the Park lies in the Outer-Himalayan or Shiwalik region. The Shiwaliks are the southernmost of the Himalayan ranges and are much lower than the Lesser Himalayas. They are formed of sedimentary rocks and are hence crumbly and unstable. The Shiwaliks form the largest ridge across the park, running east to west from Dhangarhi to Kalagarh. These ridges are clothed by sal forests and other associates.
Between the Himalayan and Shiwalik mountain ranges lie elongated valleys called duns. Unlike typical river valleys, duns are formed not due to erosion but have a structural origin. They are covered with boulders and gravel originating from the erosion of the Himalayas and the Shiwalik uplands. One such dun occurs in the northern half of Corbett. This is the Patli Dun and is most visible from Dhikala. Kanda, being higher in the Park, presents a panoramic view of this valley.
Terai-bhabar Typical Shiwalik landscape
The southern boundary of Corbett flanks the ecologically important Terai-Bhabar region, a strip of land skirting the southern part of the Shiwaliks. It consists of the Bhabarregion, a narrow belt of sloping land located at the outer margin of Shiwaliks, and the Terai Swamplands that lie further south of Bhabar. The Bhabartract is porous because it consists mainly of gravel and boulders. It is devoid of streams or springs and water table is quite low. In contrast, the Terai is swampy and humid, and contains many springs and slow-flowing streams. Most of the Terai once held dense vegetation and was feared for malaria. It has been cleared for agriculture and is one of the most fertile grain production areas of India. Together, the Terai-Bhabar is a distinct ecological region, home to endangered wildlife such as the tiger, rhino, elephant, sloth bear, and vital habitat for for over 500 bird species.
For the survival of such a remarkable gamut of floral and faunal species in Corbett National Park, water is a crucial factor. The Ramganga river forms the most prominent hydrological resource, supplemented by tributaries, most prominent of which are the Sonanadi, Mandal and Palain rivers. The river Kosi runs proximate to the Park and is also a significant water resource for nearby areas.
Wildlife is dependent on rivers, more so in the dry season, for they provide drinking water and also form home to several key aquatic species.
The Ramganga riverWithout the Ramganga river there would be no Corbett. It is the largest of the precious few perennial sources of water in the Park. In fact, for a brief period (from 1954 to 1957) the Park was known as Ramganga National Park.
A rain-fed river originating near Gairsain in the Lesser Himalayas, the Ramganga traverses more than 100 km before entering Corbett near Marchula. Inside the Park it flows roughly from east to west for 40 km till Kalagarh where it enters the plains. During this run through the Park it gathers waters from the Palain, Mandal and Sonanadi rivers.
A dam on the Ramganga at Kalagarh (built in the mid-1970s) forms a reservoir of about 80 sq. km. area, the backwaters of which reach till Dhikala. Downstream from Kalagarh the river meanders for another 300 The moon over Ramganga valleykm through the Indo-Gangetic plains and finally drains into the Ganga near Farrukhabad in Uttar Pradesh.
The Ramganga is inhabited by key aquatic species like mahseer fish, the endangered gharials, mugger crocodiles, otters and turtles. Many species of birds, like kingfishers, fish-eagles, terns and storks depend on the Ramganga. During winters the Ramganga reservoir attracts many migratory bird species, especially waterbirds from Europe and Central Asia.
The road from Dhangarhi to Dhikala runs along the Ramganga for most of its length. Forest Rest Houses at Gairal, Sarapduli, Khinanauli and Dhikala are situated alongside the Ramganga. The Dhikala watchtower is an ideal spot to view the Ramganga in the Patli Dun valley. At Crocodile Pool, High Bank and Champion’s Pool visitors can dismount from their vehicles and see the Ramganga closely. Kanda FRH, the highest rest house of the Park, provides a bird’s eye view of the Ramganga.
The Kosi is a perennial river like the Ramganga and its catchment lies partially in Corbett NP. From Mohan through Dhikuli till Ramnagar, the Kosi forms the eastern boundary of Corbett National Park. Even though the Kosi does not enter the Park boundary, wild animals from Corbett use it for drinking especially during pinch periods.
Its bed is strewn with boulders and its flow is erratic and often changes course. Kosi is notorious for its unpredictable and damaging torrents during monsoon.
Like Ramganga, the Kosi too is inhabited by mahseer and attracts migratory birds. At places Kosi has steep cliffs flanking its banks. At such spots one can see goral, the goat-like creatures, grazing on precipitous slopes.
The Sonanadi is an important tributary of the Ramganga. Named after this river the Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary adjoins Corbett National Park and forms an important part of the Corbett Tiger Reserve. The Sonanadi enters the Park from the northwest direction and meets the Ramganga at the reservoir.
The name ‘Sonanadi’ means ‘river of gold’. At one time grains of gold, found in the alluvial deposits washed down from the higher areas, were extracted from the bed sand by sieving, washing and mercury treatment.
Mandal and Palain
The Mandal rises in the eastern heights in Talla Salan in Chamoli district. Forming a part of the northeastern boundary, Mandal flows for 32 km and joins the Ramganga at Domunda a little distance above Gairal. During the dry season, the Mandal contains very little water but during the monsoons it turns into a furious torrent. It forms a vital breeding ground for the endangered mahseer.
The Palain is the third important tributary of the Ramganga and enters the Park from a northern direction. It meets the Ramganga about 3 km north of the submerged Boxar settlement at the Ramganga reservoir.
‘Sot’ is the local name for a seasonal stream. While traveling across the park you may cross several of these bouldery dry streams. Though most of them appear dry and lifeless, they are very important for Sot or seasonal streamthe Park ecology. Animals depend on these sots for their drinking water requirements for a good part of the year. There are some sots in Corbett that are perennial, important ones being Paterpani, Laldhang, Kothirao, Jhirna, Dhara and Garjia. Since water is a limiting factor, these perennial sots provide water to wildlife during pinch periods.
Sots also form passageways for animals. Many of these sots are covered with thick growth of evergreen shrubs and bamboo clumps which form ideal shelter for many animals including the tiger.
During monsoons, water flows in the sots in a powerful deluge and washes away forest roads and temporary bridges. This is the main reason that Corbett remains closed during the rainy season since roads and bridges have to repaired by the Forest Department after each monsoon.
Corbett National Park is divided into the five ecotourism zones for the proper management of the tourism activities in the tiger reserve area. These zones are Dhikala zone, Bijarani zone, Jhirna Zone, Dhela zone and Durga Devi zone. The safari tour is organized in two shifts by the forest officials of Corbett tiger reserve in all of the ecotourism zones. The limited numbers of safari jeep are allowed in every zone to ensure the proper distribution of tourist flow in all the zones. Each zone has its own natural charm with their specific landscape beauty and wildlife. However, the tiger sighting is more or less equal in every zone along with the little bit of difference in topography as all the zones are the part of the same ecological land.
Here are the brief introductions about all the five tourism zones for which safari tour is organized in the Corbett National Park
Dhikala Zone – Entry Gate: Dhangadi Gate , 32 km From Ramnagar :
Dhikala zone keeps the celebrity status among all the tourist zones of the Corbett National Park. It is the most sought after zone for the day safari as well as for the night stay in the Dhikala forest rest house. Situated in the periphery of the Patil Dun valley, the Dhikala zone is the largest zone of the Corbett National Park and carries a large variety of flora and fauna. The landscape of this zone, which consists of large grasslands known as Chaurs, dense Sal tree forest and various channels of Ramganga River offer you the enchanting view of nature. The panoramic view of the broad valley overlooking the Kanda Ridge in the backdrop is really a magnificent scene. Considered as the best zone for tiger sighting, it is the most preferred choice for the night stay by the wildlife lovers. Other animals like wild elephants, Spotted Deer, Wild pigs, Hog Deer and Barking Deer are mostly seen in this region. If gets lucky, one may see the tiger chasing a deer in the grassland or beside the water streams. Also, a wide range of bird species found here, which are like the feast to the eyes of the bird-watchers. In the Dhikala zone, there is no jeep safari available for day visitors. However, one can enjoy the day tour through the Canter safari offered by the forest officials of the Dhikala zone. The Canter safari is an open bus safari with the 16 seats in a bus and total of 2 buses are allowed in one shift. You have to book your seat for the canter safari in advance and you have to visit at the Entry gate of the Dhikala zone to catch the canter safari.
Bijrani Zone, Entry Gate: Amdanda Gate, Distance from Ramnagar: 2 km
The Bijrani zone is not any lesser when it comes to the spectacular natural view or the catching a glimpse of the king of the Corbett forest, the royal Bengal tiger. This zone is the most popular zone after the Dhikala zone and the most visited zone by the day safari tourists. Enriched with the eye-catching landscape, this zone is known for its tranquil and serene ambiance inside the forest. A wide range of wildlife species found in this region is what makes it a unique zone in the Corbett. With the large Grasslands, thick Sal forest and various water streams, the topography of the Bijrani zone is also as attractive as the Dhikala zone. Along with the enchanting view, this zone also boasts of having a large number of the tigers making it a best tiger sighting zone. There is Jeep safari available for the day visitors in this zone. One can book the day safari online to get the entry in the zone. The day visitors can also avail the facility of elephant safari inside the Bijrani zone, which is available by paying the required fee on the spot on the first come, first serve basis. The day safari is organized in the two shifts and only 30 safari jeeps are allowed to enter in one shift. One safari jeep can carry a maximum of the 6 adults and 2 children excluding driver and guide/naturist. A guide is mandatory with the jeep to get the entry.
Jhirna Zone, Entry Gate: Dhela Gate, 15 km from Ramnagar
Located on the southern edge of the Corbett National Park, this zone is included much later in the tiger reserve zone, in the year 1994 and got immense popularity among the wildlife lovers. As the Jhirna zone is open for the day tourists throughout the year, so it is one of the most visited zones in the Corbett Reserve forest. The tiger sighting in this zone is reported frequently and also a wide range of wildlife species found in this region. Along with the majestic tigers, the wild bears are the main attraction of this zone. Other animals like wild elephants, sambar and various species of deer along with a large number of bird species are found in this zone. Two shifts of the day safari are allowed in this zone with the 30 jeeps in one shift. You can book the Jeep safari online with a maximum of the 6 adults and 2 children in one Jeep. As per the rule, a naturist/guide is mandatory with each jeep.
Dhela Zone, Entry Gate: Dhela Gate, 15 km from Ramnagar
The Dhela zone is the latest added zone in the tourism zones of the Corbett National Park that was opened in December 2014 for the safari tour. This zone is also remains open all round the year for the tourists as like the Jhirna zone. However, the safari tour depends on the weather condition. The zone consists of mix topography which includes the dense forest of trees like Sal, Haldu, Bahera, Rohini and Kusum along with the large grasslands and various water bodies. This zone is rich in the fauna species too with the animals like the Royal Bengal tiger, leopards, wild elephants, Nilgai, different species of Deer, wild bears and the various species of reptiles and birds. This zone is well known especially for the vast range of bird species and considered as the best zone for birding. One can book the day safari to visit this zone and be the part of this magnificent part of the Corbett forest. Apart from the safari entry permit, you also have to book a Jeep and a guide, without which you can’t get the entry inside the forest.
Durga Devi Zone, Entry Gate: Durga Devi Gate, 28 km from Ramnagar
With the hilly landscape, the Durga Devi zone is like paradise for nature lovers with the enchanting natural surroundings. The zone is situated on the northeast periphery of the Corbett forest and highly rich in species of flora and fauna. The streams of Ramganga River and Mandal River enrich the water bodies of this zone and add the beauty to this wild forest. The main attractions of this zone, apart from the majestic Tigers, are leopards, wild elephants and Otters, which are primarily found near the Domunda Bridge. The famous fish known as the Mahsheer fish is found in the river streams of this zone. This zone is also rich in bird species, providing excellent birding opportunities. The bird species found in this zone include Gray Headed Fishing Eagle, Maroon Orile, Black chinned Yuhina, Long Tailed Broadbill, slaty blue flycatcher, bar tailed tree creeper and plenty of others. The zone is literally a paradise for the bird watcher. Jeep safari is organized for this zone and tourists can also stay at night at the Lohachaur Forest Guest House in this zone after making a prior booking.
Sitabani Forest Zone (Buffer Zone), Entry Gate: Near Teda Village (Private Vehicle Allowed), Approx 4 km From Ramnagar
The Sitabani forest zone is the reserve forest zone located outside the Corbett Tiger reserve area. The zone is treated as the Buffer area of the tiger reserve and is open to everyone to visit here. The landscape of this zone has a rich natural view which consists of dense forest and river streams along with many old temples. You will find plenty of herbivore animals like elephants, deer, sambars, Nilgai and others roaming freely here. Though it is a buffer zone and tigers or leopards sighting are almost negligible here, but sometimes these dangerous predators are spotted here in search of their prey. There are around 600 bird species found in this zone among which most are migratory birds. The zone is a delight for the bird watchers. Sprawled in the large area which even incorporates many villages in it, one must visit this zone to savor the magical ambiance of the enchanting nature. This zone is a less visited delight of nature as tourists generally prefer to visit the tiger reserve area and give this zone a miss. There is an old temple named Sitabani Temple is located in the forest and is protected and maintained by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI). Along with this, there is also a very old temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. These temples are visited by a large number of devotees. It would be really a memorable experience to explore this forest and a night safari in the Sitabani forest will be a thrilling experience and you will get an adrenaline rush with the quiet and eerie ambiance of the forest and in the anticipation of encountering any wild animal. Visitors are allowed to explore this zone by the Jeep safari, elephant safari or by walking. The private vehicles are also allowed in this zone. You have to pay the entry fee on the spot at the entry gate in Teda Village to enter in the forest reserve area and after exploring the forest you have to make the exit from the Paulgarh gate, almost 60 km away from the entry gate.
Do not Forget
A well-planned travel is not only blissful but lingers fresh in the memory for a long time. One obviously would love a hassle-free travel, as it is meant for rest and enjoyment and above all to escape from the daily ordeal of life. If on a travel too, one finds oneself running from pillar to post and making last-minute arrangements, one would love to forget the holiday and the horrifying memories associated with it. India is a tough country, in terms of temperament and terrain. Before venturing on a sojourn to India, one needs to follow some simple guidelines to make the stay a pleasant one. Follow the tips in earnest and put your best foot forth and come to India with a desire, and India promises that you will leave the land with an ardent wish to come back again.
India Travel – Do’s and Don’ts
Follow these do’s and don’ts while you are traveling in India and you will remain out of any trouble hopefully.
Language – Make others understand what you are saying, speak slowly and repeat the things. Chances are that whatever you are saying is being misunderstood due to the differences in accent.
Permission for Photography – Take the necessary permissions and permits before photographing any government property, especially railways.
Beware – Never reply to a ‘hello’ of a common and never catch the eye of a professional beggar. Your simulated brutal indifference saves you energy and them time. No one pesters a hard touch when there are other tourists around.
Bargaining – Try to bargain as much possible, as most of the shopkeepers price the products well over the normal retail price.
Photography – Never buy camera film except from a recognized dealer. For places on higher altitude try using manual Indian cameras, as sophisticated automatic cameras might not be able to withstand extreme climates.
Beware of Dogs – Always give wide berth to the dogs that cross your path. The alternative may be two weeks of painful injections. Don’t run away or show fear to a stray dog or monkey, hold your ground and they will back off.
First Aid Kit – Don’t forget to keep the tablets of aspirin, paracetamol, and vitamins like the B-Complex. Check out with your doctor about the medicines you can use during your travel in India. Also try to keep in your first-aid kit, a pack of glucose powder, bandages, antiseptic creams or lotions, and Isabgol for abdominal problems.
Newspapers – Always buy a newspaper even if you are not going to read the news. They are very handy in relieving you of any boredom, work as a paper bag for shoes and fruits, help in stabilizing the rocking tables in a restaurant, sealing a window that rattles, swat flies, work as blotting paper, and will turn into paper airplanes.
Other Important Items – A small torch is an essential equipment as the lights are prone to power cuts. Always carry a small lock to double-lock the doors of the tourist bungalow or budget accommodation you are staying in. Also carry a string, if you have the urge to measure the length of everything in sight, an umbrella, which can be used as a walking stick, to scare off dogs, and to save yourself from raindrops.