Enchanted by the history of being the first national park to be established in mainland Asia,,the writings of Conservation specialist JIM CORBETT & uniqueness of the landscapes ,we planned a 2 day visit ,choosing not to go for the sprawling Luxurious resorts ,but to spend the calm & frightful time inside the Jungle at one of the Forest rest Houses (Bijrani).
This is the only sanctuary in India ,allowing Tourists stay inside the park with .It encompasses approx. 5 Zones with FRH’s the most common being the Bijrani ,Malani(Both in Bijrani Zone) & Dhikala(Dhikala Zone) FRH. Bijrani is famous for Tiger sighting ,while Dhikala is famous for Acquatic species & other wild animals as wild boars.
The early mornings of December gave us a chill ,but soon relaxed with the sun emerging out,giving us warmth while entering inside the Bijrani Zone .
This beautiful park was established long way back in 1936 ,lying in the hilly state of Uttarakhand in northern India ,covering apprx. 1288 SqKm for “Corbett Tiger Reserve” .
Entry into the park till our FRH showed us glimpse of the most vivid mosaic: wet and dry, plain and mountainous, dense forests and Grasslands of this Jungle.An hour of rest @the FRH(some 11Km inside the jungle ), beautifully made with basic facilities ,powered by solar lights ,fenced around with electric wires for some 7-8 rooms ,to get a sense of freshness & thrill of being inside Jungle ,was followed by delicious home-made food served with great hospitality in the FRH premises itself .
We had an hour left to start our Jungle Safari, hence we took to read our favorite Novels ,relaxing & absorbing ample of Vitamin D in the grassland . We had planned for 3 safari’s & this reserve also allows an Elephant safari inside the jungle. At 1:00pm we started for our very first round of Jungle trip ,in the gypsy hired ,bribing heavily to GOD if we can spot the Asian Tiger.
But ,it’s not just the avid feeling of spotting the wild but also amazing landscapes of the dense Jungle, huge 35 m long “Sal trees”,(probability to spot Rarest of the leopards of the huge branches) majestic foliages , vast grasslands rocky terrains , which keep you amazed& laden with praises all over.
So the first round of 3.5hr long gypsy ride in BIJRANI Zone Begin with group of Spotted deers ,the most common deer species ,with beautiful white spots on its reddish-brown body. Only male chital have antlers(some even 1 Mt. in length) ,which are shed periodically &the onset of new pair is seen as a velvet covering ,which when rubbed gets shed off & forms robust antlers .
As the pavement moved more & more deep inside ,the huge paws (Pug Marks) of Tiger became evident. We came to know that just 4 months back a tigress had given birth to 4 cubs& since then the tigress was seen more towards the periphery &grassland area of the forest to protect the cubs from Male Tiger of the territory (which can easily kill them).This piece of info made us more passionate to locate the Wild at any cost.
Pooping up with an immense craving, eyes starring, sometimes up on the trees ,sometimes in the deep bushes, spreading across the “Chaurs”, on the Machan (savanna grasslands type) in search of the wild.
Hard to believe& see ,aghast ,we saw the majestic creature gushing from the deep forest getting charged & surrounded by the roaring tigress & her cubs staring at the tourists (no one could have assumed that these were 4 month old cubs, they already seemed fully grown tigers) ..ready to attack the elephant all from the back(as the elephant can easily counter the attack from the trunk),jaw dropped at the scene as she rotated 360 degrees & the 2 adults with 2 children on the elephant ,along with us at a distance of some 20 ft. away panicked as the balance of the elephant while turning to save the attack had dripped , just a fraction of 2 more seconds & the tigress family revoked the attack & moved away from the huge creature.
OMG!! All this cropped up in hardly 10-15 seconds ,elephant passing thru the bushes ,the tigress family readying for the attack ,the elephants turning 360 degree to counter attack ,tigress leaving the spot on her own….we couldn’t hardly believe & get on our nerves soon after. We had never expected to see such an encounter & we rushed our gypsy deep inside & kept on panicking all through. A big big thrill had welcomed us & made us fall in love with this Park.
Not hoping for any more sighting, due to the fresh attack ,we returned back ,but the nature was kind enough to give us a snapshot of very small kingfisher , Hawk eagle flying over us ,Red Jungle Peafowl.This forest encompasses some 700-800 bird species, including migratory birds.
After reaching FRH ,we got to know that the family on the charged elephant was just sharing room just besides us ,for them this was a life time adventure & still they could hardly believe that they were saved from the attack , all alive ,healthy & hearty! Full evening was marked by their spine-tingling experience , stories from senior enthusiasts visiting this sanctuary 7-8 times a year ,sharing of their pics with rarest of the rare Tiger sightings in this reserve , envying me a lot ,with the hope to capture the Wild in action next time.
It was such a beautiful starry night ,no lights in the surroundings ,which made Milky way spotting so crystal clear & Close ,the great Seven Sisters –Big Dipper & Small Dippers ,Sirius Star the brightest of all the stars ,Venus ,all of these discoveries long after filled us with sheer joy.
Cuddled in the cold Black starry night in the blankets ,we could hear roaring of various nocturnal animals ,a sudden cry & roar @ around 4am in the morning shivered me ,which as per guards was an Asiatic Jackal (purely nocturnal)had attacked its favorite prey(Barking Deer) just adjacent to the FRH periphery.
Morning was marked with the onset of second gypsy foray into the jungle.A day before’s prediction of the riders took all the 3 gypsy’s of FRH to a common point wherein the pugmarks of the tigress & the cubs were found..Continuous calls from Sambhar made all the jeeps silent ,standing & waiting for the tiger to come from the dense bushes ,alarm call went continuously for nearly 1hr but we failed to spot the tiger ,so we decided to move from the spot & roam around in search of other wilds. Lone gypsy moving inside & spotting the huge foot marks and droppings of wild elephants , we heard a catastrophic sound from the very dense tress ,tearing apart tress ,signaling the presence of 2 elephants ,one baby & another mother . Standing on the Gypsy, we could just have a glance of the heavy weights, as sensing us around they paved their way back into the jungle.
Admitting ,this elephant safari should not be missed ,the feeling when “Asha” (our ride)took her first step ,the panic triggered when she moved deep into the forest (where no gypsy can go coz there is no formed route) ,removing grasses, rupturing huge trees at one go to move ahead (we could not see any path ahead except huge trees ,foliages),the sudden ups ,sudden downs ,moving on seasonal river ,& the possibi
lity that one could encounter wild from any dense bush nearby. Mahaut (elephant trainer)had seen the cubs with the kill (sambhar) today morning so he decided to take us there ,but the last
hope also vanished ,but yes we saw the remains of the sambhar ,bones ,flesh spreadened around ,those 4 cubs & their mother had not let much kill left over & so we were informed that the family must’v moved after finishing their food.
Nonetheless, this elephant ride itself was not less than an adventure, & we just enjoyed that for around 2 hrs, spotting few more birds, an Owl, exploring the deeps of the jungles, climbing ,before the time to pack the bags came!
Some Info on Corbett Tiger Reserve :
Reservation: Online reservation for FRH is allowed on the JIM Corbett website, which can be booked some 45 days in advance. Stay in FRH includes the Jungle permit , Gypsy entry charges ,as well ,hence only gypsy( Amount can be negotiated there & then only) needs to be booked once you reach the JIM Corbett Office .Private cars are not allowed inside ,hence gypsy needs to be taken .
If you are booking Malani FRH ,do take food raw material ,as you need to cook yourself there. Ready & good food is served at Bijrani ,Dhikala FRH’s.
River Ramganga(traverses more than 100 km before entering Corbett near Marchula. Inside the Park it flows roughly from east to west for 40 km)flows through Dhikala,hence one can find aquatic species like mahseer fish, the endangered gharials, crocodiles, otters and turtles.
- Jim Corbett National Park India (surfindiatravel.wordpress.com)