Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Salim Ali


SALIM ALI – the ornathologists haven

Prime Attraction: The Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary

Salim Ali at a glance

For those with a avifauna fixation, Salim Ali – the person and the place – both need no introduction. Named after the renowned ornithologist, S├ílim Moizuddin Abdul Ali (1896-1987), the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary or the locally known Thattekad Sanctuary is a invaluable treasure of the Western Ghats, located in Ernakulam district of Kerala. Edging it is the glorious Periyar river, the same waterbody wherein the tigers of the Periyar Tiger Reserve come to quench their thirst.

Wildlife Adventure in Salim Ali

The ‘Birdman of India’, Salim Ali once described this place “the richest bird habitat in peninsular India”. The Thattekad Sanctuary, with an area of 25.16 sq km was established in 1983. Its mangrove swamps form an ideal hostage to a phenomenal avifauna population consisting of around 250 rare species which includes the Indian Swiftlet, Malabar Grey-Hornbill, Hawk-Eagle, Oriental Darter, Grey Heron, Bubo bubo Eurasian Eagle-Owl, Eurostopodus macrotis Great Eared-Nightjar, Celeus brachyurus Rufous Woodpecker, Snipe and so on.

The mammalian denizens include elephant, sambar, barking deer, bonnet macaques, giant squirrels, Travancore flying squirrel and the snakes foundhere are Indian rock python, the Russell’s viper and saw-scaled viper.

Reaching Salim Ali

The sanctuary is 13 km north-east of Kothamangalam along the Pooyamkutti road. The nearest railway station is Aluva at a distance of 48 km. Kochi, the nearest airport is 71 km away. Kothamangalam is well connected by privately operated buses to Ernakulam via Muvattupuzha or Perumbavoor. There are frequent buses from Kothamangalam to Thattekad.

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Accommodation optionsThere is a three storied watch tower inside the Sanctuary with two beds, a toilet and a kitchen. No electricity here but there is are a few solar powered lamps. A forest department inspection bungalow called Hornbill is located near the sanctuary entrance. There is a dormitory just inside the sanctuary which is ideal for large groups. Accommodation is also available at the PWD rest house near the Bhoothathankett Dam and in lodges in Kothamangalam.

Kumarakom


KUMARAKOM

Prime Attraction: Water Bird Sanctuary famous for the Siberian Cranes

Kumarakom at a glance

On the shores of the serene Vembanad lake, in the south Indian state of Kerala, lies the sleepy village of Kumarakom – an erstwhile rubber plantation turned bird sanctuary and a favorite vacationing joint for tourists across the nation and abroad. Backwater cruising and fishing expeditions on the Vembanad lake take you meandering into the rich camouflage of its avian denizens. The cluster of little islands with their mangrove forests, coconut canopies and billowing paddy fields streamed with enchanting waterways and canals, make Kumarakom an ideal holiday retreat for nature lovers and ornithologists alike.

Wildlife Adventure in Kumarakom

Spread in an area of 14 acre, the Kumarakom bird sanctuary is lies on the eastern banks of the Vembanad lake. Cruising along the Vembanad Lake one can get glimpses of the numerous domestic birds like cuckoo, wild duck, egrets, darters, herons, teal, and waterfowl as well as migratory birds like the Siberian cranes.

Kumarakom Sanctuary offers boating trips on the picturesque Vembanad lake by the traditional houseboats, Kettuvalloms. A boat trip is the best way to observe the rich bird life of this region. Also one can enjoy fishing facilities at the lake of the sanctuary. Motor boats are also available for bird watching cruises.
Reaching Kumarakom

Kottayam is 14 kms from Kumarakom and both State highway and National Highway connects it with the rest of the country. The nearest Airport is The Cochin International Airport which is 70 kms. away from the Muhamma boat jetty. The nearest Railway station is at Kottayam and regular local and Express trains connect the city with rest of India.

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Backwater Cruise: In Kumarakom the boat races, backwater cruise, canoeing and fishing are tourist favorites. A stay at the houseboat or Kettuvallom can be an exciting experience. Cruising through the unending miles of serpentine waterways flanked on either sides by the palm trees feels almost paradisiacal.
Aruvikkuzhi Waterfalls: A small drive from Kottayam town will bring you to this gurgling stream that thunders down from the 100 ft high mountains. Don’t forget to get yourself photographed standing amidst the picturesque rubber plantations that surround this place.

Alleppey: Alappuzha or Alleppey, often labelled as 'The Venice of the East' is a romantic coastal town strewn with labyrinth of canals, bridges and silver beaches making it one of the most vacationed destinations in India. Try drop in during the Nehru Trophy Boat Racing season when 130ft long snake boats having 100 rowers, 4 helmsmen and 25 cheerleaders and thousands of onlookers rejuvenate the entire locality.

Accommodation options

The accommodation available ranges from luxury to budget category. Set amidst luring surroundings, the hotels of Kumarakom offer excellent facilities and services. The Kumarakom Tourist Complex, sprawling over 101 acres of enchanting wooded land and lake can be an ideal option. Other options can be the Kumarakom Lake Resort, Water Scapes, Whispering Palms, Garden Retreat.

BR HILLS




Prime Attraction: The Biligirirangan Hills Wildlife Sanctuary with its Asiatic elephants, Indian Gaur, Chousingha (four-horned antelope)

BR Hills at a glance

The Biligiri Rangaswamy Hills, abbreviated commonly as the BR Hills, is situated at a height of 5,091 feet in Chamarajanagar district of Karnataka (India) edging the State of Tamil Nadu. The Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary (BRT), named after the famous BR Temple in its vicinity, acts like a geographic corridor bridging the Eastern and the Western Ghats. The sanctuary derives its name ‘Biligiri’, either from the white rocks that constitute the major hill crowned with the Temple, or from the misty white clouds that cast a cascade over the hills all year round making it one of the most picturesque wildlife abode. These are the forests where the much fabled Tamil bandit Veerappan once ruled.

Wildlife Adventure in BR Hills

Lying in the Nilgiri biosphere, the 540 sq. kms spread of scrub, dry and moist deciduous, evergreen forests with high-altitude grasslands, make a paragon home to a wide range of wildlife, including endemic species of plants of medicinal importance. Biogeographically, its unique topography facilitates a exchange of gene pool of the vast diversity of wildlife between the Eastern and the Western Ghats, especially true in the case of the Asaitic elephants, that populate this area in large numbers. The 26 mammal species in BR Hills include sambhar, chital, barking deer, the rare four-horned antelope, tigers, leopards, wild dogs, lesser cats and sloth bears and among arboreal mammals two species of primates and three species of squirrels including the giant flying squirrel are recorded.

About 278 species of birds ranging from the massive Egyptian vulture to the tiny purple-rumped sunbird, 22 species of reptiles including the rock python and the minuscule pond terrapin, an amazing variety of 116 species of Butterfiles and 48 species of Ants are recorded in therse forests.

The park can be toured in a jeep or atop an elephant. Professional angling, amateur fishing, coracle boat rides, bird watching, river rafting, trekking, outdoor camping and a host of adventurous activities will abound your vacation in BR Hills. The BR Hills Wildlife sanctuary is open throughout the year. Best time to sight wildlife is June to October when the animals come out for water.

Reaching BR Hills
The area is 90 km from Mysore and 180 km from Bangalore. It is connected by road, one from Yelandur and the other via Chamarajanagar. The nearest airport and railhead is at Bangalore.

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Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple: The temple is situated on the 'white cliff' which gives the hill its name. The deity is a standing form of Ranganatha, and is probably the only place one can see Ranganatha in the standing form. You can join in the flock of pilgrims who come to the wonderful Ratha festival every April. Right behind the temple is a spine-chilling 1000-ft drop into the dense forests protected by iron raillings.

Boodipadaga: Nestled in the heart of the sanctuary is an erstwhile forest residence of the Mysore rulers. Now turned into a Forest Department Inspection Bunglow, this is the place where the forest brigand Veerappan was imprisoned for a brief period in 1986 and where the wildest of the wild can be seen prowling around.

Soliga Tribe: The entire forest regions of Yelandur, Chamrajanagar and Kollegal, including the hilly tracts and foothills of Biligiri Ranga and Male Mahadeshwara in the southern part of Karnataka, are inhabited by nearly twenty thousand Soliga tribal people. Meeting these nature worshippers and hearing from them the mysterious lores of the BR Hills can be an enticing experience.

Accommodation options

Furnished tents and ethnic huts, with attached modern toilet facilities, lit by hurricane lamps are available for tourists. The Maharaja's Bungalow can be an ideal lodge for the luxury lovers. There is a bar and multi-cuisine dining at the open-sided Gol Ghar restaurant.

Dandeli


DANDELI – mysterious Kali meanders

Prime Attraction: Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary with its black panthers and ‘friendly’ Crocs

Dandeli at a glance

An overnight journey by the road from Bangalore will bring you here to Dandeli – the home to the most mysterious of wild cats, the Black Panther. With a spread of about 450 sq km, Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary is reputed to be India’oldest game reserve and the second largest in Karnataka state. The mighty Kali river with its tributeries meandering through the plush green moist deciduous forests, the undulating terrain, swaying bamboo thickets that shelters a legion of wildlife, the sylvan surroundings and trekking tracts make Dandeli an unparalled vacationing paradise.

Wildlife Adventure in Dandeli

The impenetrable wilderness of Dandeli offers very bleak chances of spotting wildlife. The forests can be best explored in jeeps, strolling around in groups, bird watching or crocodile sighting trips, fishing, boat cruises, river rafting and trekking expeditions. Leaving the months of monsoon, it is an ideal picnicking spot all round the year.

Cloistered in the thick forests are some of the best of wildlife attractions like the barking, spotted and mouse deer, sloth bear, panther, tiger, gaur, elephant, wild dog, civet cat, bison, jackal, langur and giant flying squirrel, besides a variety of colourful birds and reptiles. You will need a lot of luck to spot the elusive Black panther prowling in the jungles. But before you get time to regret, you will be swept over by the sight of hundreds of crocodiles surrounding your coracle as you cruise through the Kali. You can safely sideline the fear-factor and relish the adrenalin-rushing spectacle, as for the Dandelian crocodiles we humans aren’t the potential fodder, but the waste pulp of the West Coast Paper Mill that are released into the waters of Kali since the 1950s.
Avifauna can be seen in abundance near the water bodies and includes varieties like magpie robin, cormorants, kingfisher, egrets, hornbills, golden backed woodpecker, crested serpent eagle and a large variety of other birds.

Reaching Dandeli
Dandeli is 485 km from Bangalore, 125 km from Goa and 75 km from Hubli. Nearest airport at Belgaum is about 2 hrs away. Nearest railhead is 52 km away at Dharwad. Luxury buses run overnight from Bangalore and reach Dandeli in about 11 hrs.
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Syntheri rocks: 35 km from Dandeli National Park is Syntheri rocks, awesome monolithic granite structure amidst thick forest, with the perennial river Kaneri flowing by its side.

White Water Rafting: Kali Wilderness Camp for white water rafting and other adventure activities.
The Gowlis: A stroll into the nearby areas of Tavaragatti (24 km) and Kalbhavi (13 km)will bring you to the Gowlis, tribe of graziers. Their houses with no doors, cooking in baked mud pots and sharing their dwelling with their cattles can be in interesting tribal life study.
Anshi National Park: Also located on the banks of river Kali, which, together with the Dandeli National Park, form the Dandeli Wildlife Division of the Karnataka Forest Department. Go there if luck didn’t favor a glimpse of the elusive black panther at Dandeli.

Accommodation options
A stay at the Kali Wilderness camp, located on the banks of River Kali, can be an excellent option. Two wildlife sanctuaries can be accessed from here, namely, the Anshi National Park and Dandeli wildlife Sanctuary. A host of other high and low-budget camps and resorts are there to choose from.

PERIYAR –cruising in the paradise




Prime Attraction: Periyar National Park with its rare Tuskers, Tigers, Nilgiri Tahr and Nilgiri Langur.

Periyar at a glance

Periyar is a 350 sq km cruising paradise nestled in the Western Ghats, in Kerala (India). Famous for its National Park which is locally called Thekkady, Periyar or the Big River, is laced with a long lake that meanders around the contours of the moist deciduous hills, providing a perennial source of water for the local wildlife. An ancient lore goes that when a mighty tusker got killed at the hands of a Britisher, the erstwhile king of Travancore was so saddened that he immediately extended protection to the denizens of the forest. In 1982, the core area was declared a National Park and recently, in 2004, conservation efforts were further cemented with the formation of the Periyar Foundation – a joint crusade of the park administration and the locals.

Wildlife Adventure in Periyar

A boating cruise takes you right into the heart of the Periyar sanctuary with its inexhaustible treasure of flora and fauna. During the dry periods, generally in March and April, herds of playful wild elephants make Periyar Lake their favourite haunt for frolicking in the water. Sights of sambar, gaur and wild pigs alongside, make a truly refreshening vista. And if you suddenly find the air reverberate with alarming calls of the langur and the peafowl, indications are that a tiger is prowling close-by a quiet wait will be worthwhile. However, spotting the tigers and the Nilgiri tahrs (a kind of a wild goat) are a rarity that demands lot of luck and excellent timing. Periyar also harbors the leopard, wild dog, barking deer and mouse deer, Nilgiri langur (a primate), bonnet macaque, sambhar, porcupines, squirrels, gaur (Indian bison), wild boar, and sloth bear. On the rocky outcrops along the lake, monitor lizards can be seen basking in the sun. Visitors who trek into the Park often see a python and sometimes even a king cobra.

Some 260 species of birds are recorded in Periyar. These include darters, cormorants, ibises, grey herons, mynas, flycatchers, orioles, wood pigeons, kingfishers, kites, ospreys, thrushes, and an appreciable number of blue-winged parakeets. The endangered macaque monkey is also a special attraction here.

Besides, Periyar is one of its kind that offers you the liberty of sauntering around in small groups accompanied by a forest guide. Elephant and jeep safaris and even biking, can be enriching experiences. You can also join the jungle’s patrol team and know the conservation processes at work. Besides, lectures on wildlife preservation are organized regularly at the park and these can be of help in understanding the wild creatures and their environment.

The best time to visit Periyar is from October to June when most of the wild animals can be sighted near the lake shore.

Reaching Periyar

The nearest airports from Periyar are Kochi (Cochin) at 200-kms or Madurai in Tamil Nadu at 140-kms from Periyar. The nearest railhead is at Kottayam at a distance of 114-kms. The nearest town from Periyar is Kumily, well connected with Kottayam, Ernakulam and Madurai in Tamil Nadu by regular and frequent buses.

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Trekking: Apart from the boat cruises, the adventurous ones can go for trekking expeditions, camps and bamboo rafting in the Periyar forests. Treks to the Mangla Devi temple promises undulating fun.

Bullock Cart fun: How about exploring the nearby villages of the Mannans – one of the oldest group to inhabit the forests – in a bullock cart? Sounds exciting surely! Once there don’t miss out the Tribal Heritage Museum there.

Mangala Devi temple: to the temple of Mangla Devi – an ancient stone temple amidst the Thekkady forest promises undulating fun.

Kumily : Just 4-kms away from Periyar is a famous spice trade centre – Kumily.

Cardamom Hills : Kerala's picturesque and beautiful Cardamom hills can be easily accessed from Periyar and Kumily.

Lectures on wildlife preservation are organized regularly at the park and these can be of help in understanding the wild creatures and their environment. Late afternoon is just right for another walk down the lakeside. The evening walk along the lake is always tinged with forebodings of danger combined with exhilaration at being in such a beautiful place.
Accommodation options

Ever thought about spending a night in huts made of bamboo and grass, perched right innthe jungle? Periyar has an eco-friendly area where such cottages abound. Thekkady, otherwise has a wide range of hotels to choose from. Taj Garden Retreat can be a comfortable solace for luxury-lovers. In Kumily are plenty opportunities for accommodation in the hotels and resorts in the town

Gir Sanctuary


GIR – the King of the Jungle rules....

Prime Attraction: The Gir National Park with its Asiatic Lions, Leopards, marsh Crocodiles and Birds

Gir at a glance

The forests of Gir are perched in the low and excellently irrigated hills of the Junagadh district of Gujarat, India. This rugged terrain, spread over an area of about 1412.13 sq km, is the celebrated domicile of the king of the Jungle – the lion, the other being the forests of Africa. A bounty of about 300 Asiatic lions has made Gir, and with it, Gujarat, one of the raging wildlife destinations in India and worldwide. An expedition to Gir, however, has much more to it than the famous lions. A sneak peek at the lives of the Maldhari tribe, a community of graziers who live within the confines of the sanctuary and know almost all the animals, especially the lions, by heart – can be an curious study of living with the wild. Gir is edged with three wildlife reserves - the Nalsarovar Lake and Sanctuary, the Rann of Kutch and the Flamingo Islands, which gives you all the more reasons to plan a trip next vacation.


Wildlife Adventure in Gir

Gir is so synonymous for its lion community that one actually tends to forget the rest of its fascinating store-house of flora and fauna. The Park’s rugged terrain and deciduous forests make it an ideal refuge of one of the largest population of leopards – about 210 of them roam about scot-free and are even seen close to the jungle lodges at night. Other residents include Sambar, Chital, Nilgai, Chowsingha, Chinkara Gazelle, Wild Boar, Langur, Jackal, Panthers, Wild Cats and Hares and Hyena. Marsh crocodiles, another largest population, are often seen basking along the river banks.

Bird lovers need not feel left out. The good news is, the forests of Gir are a home to around 300 species of domestic and migratory birds. Paradise Flycatchers, Black headed Cuckoo Shrike, Gray Drongo, Pied Woodpeckers, Coppersmiths, Indian Rollers, Crested Swifts, Fish Owls, Black Vultures, Shaheen Falcons, Bonelli's Eagles, Flamingo, Crested Serpent Eagles, Painted Sandgrouse, Rock Bush Quail, Gray Partridge, Painted Storks and White Necked Storks are found here.
The best way to explore the wilderness and tread close to the King of the Jungle is in a jeep. You might have to stop here and there to make way for herds of Sambar, Nilgai or at times the King of the Jungle itself. And to see the majestic predator pass by languidly just a few steps away, is known to cause not just a wild adrenalin-rush but you will actually be amazed at how unaware it is of your presence, or of anybody else’s presence for that matter. A Jungle King par excellence! Go there between the months of November and June to experience for real what you just read.

Reaching Gir
The nearest airport from Gir is Keshod 90 km via Veraval. Visitors can easily catch daily flights from Mumbai to Keshod. The nearest rail connection is 395 km away at Ahemdabad. Gir is situated at a distance of 400 km from Ahmedabad via Rajkot, Junagadh and Mendarda. State Transport buses are easily available from Junagadh and Veraval to Gir, between November and June.

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Nearby sanctuaries: From Gir you can go to the Nalsarovar Lake and Sanctuary where large numbers of water-birds can be seen; the bare saline flats of the Rann of Kutch, the home of the Indian wild ass and the spectacular Flamingo Island where nesting colonies of flamingoes can be spotted.

The Crocodile Breeding Farm: There is an interesting breeding farm for crocodiles at Sasan, near Gir, which also provides the specimen that are relocated into the water reservoirs inside Gir.
More to the itinerary: Deva Danga, Riley's, Bawal Chowk, Kankai, Chodardi, Tulsishyam and Kamleshwar dam/lake are few of the sights near the Gir Sanctuary. A trip to other places of Gujarat can be a enriching experience after the feast of the wild. Visit the historical place of Junagarh (42 km) and Ahmedabad (400 km) and the pilgrimage sight of Somnath. You can also laze under the sun at the beaches Diu, Somnath or Veraval. And yes, don't forget to pick some interesting Gujrati embroidered clothing from the very homeland and feast your taste buds in the end with delicious Gujrati dishes.
Accommodation options
Gir has a host of Government forest bunglows and privately run hotels to fit any budget. The forest department run Sinh Sadan Forest Lodge and the Gir Lodge, can be excellent options.

Sariska


SARISKA – tiger lore’s await....

Prime Attraction: Sariska Wildlife sanctuary and Tiger Reserve famous for its Tigers

Sariska at a glance

Situated in the state of Rajasthan, with the Aravali Hills in the backdrop, Sariska has increasingly become synonymous with the Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary which was taken into the folds of the Project Tiger in 1979. Sariska’s mention in the tourist hitlist however does not end with its plenteous flora and fauna. It is a place of historical importance too and the spread of architechtural ruins, temples and monuments all over the confines of Sariska’s 800 sq-kms is a glaring testimony of its rich heritage and glorious past. However, the mushrooming human population and the illegal poaching activities, which is believed to have recieved impetus by the villagers wanting to protect their livestock, have caused a serious damage to the wildlife recluse. In 1997, the tiger populaiton was recorded a staggering 24. Conservation efforts have thus become part of the national agenda to save this royal predator from extinction.

Wildlife Adventure in Sariska

The landscape of Sariska comprising hills and narrow valleys of the Aravali hill range, supports scrub-thorn arid forests, dry deciduous forests, rocks and grasses. This plays a desirable host to the tiger species. Other predators of the forest include the panther, jungle cat, jackal, hyena and fox. They, and their herbivore counterparts like the sambhar, chital, wild boar, nilgai, civet, four-horned antelope, gaur (Indian bison) can be spotted on the shores of the Siliserh Lake. Hundreds of avian fauna animate the Kalighati waterhole. Grey partridge, golden-backed woodpecker, Great Indian horned owl and white-breasted kingfisher – all can be spotted. Crocodiles, however, are the major inhabitants of this lake and observing them basking on the shores of the lake can be an awesome experience.

The best time to visit Sariska is between November and March. During this time the weather is tolerable and chances of spotting the animals are most. But tigers are mostly seen during summers reclining near water holes.

The Sariska National Park offers a wide range of activities such as motor driving in and around the park in the mornings and evenings, observing the wildlife at the waterholes, or photographing wildlife from the many hideouts provided in the park. Reaching Sariska

Sariska is merely 35 km from Alwar, so one can take a bus or a cab from Alwar. One can also come to Sariska from Jaipur, which is very well connected to other cities by air, rail and roads. From Jaipur one can also go to the Wildlife Sanctuary by Jeep.

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Pandupol: South-east from RTDC’s Tiger’s Den, is Pandupol. It is believed that the Pandavas of the epic Mahabharata, spent part of their exile here. One can still see five boulders here, which represent the five Pandavas and Draupadi, their wife. Pandupol is also the name of the 35-ft waterfall arising from near a deep crest in the Aravalli Ridge, believed to have been created by the strongest of Pandavas - Bhima. His duel with Lord Hanuman also led to commemorating this place with a Hanuman Mandir visited by pilgrims across the nation.

Temples: Located inside the park are ruins of about 300 Hindu and Jain medieval temples. Naldeshwar, an old Mahadev temple, is located just off the Sariska-Alwar main road. Talvriksh, towards the north of the Park with its grove of old trees is another centre for pilgrimage. The Bharathari Temple, located at the edge of the forest, is famous for its fairs. The place is named after Raja Bharathari of Ujjain who took 'Samadhi' in this holy place. Devotees gather to this place from all over the state, on 8th of shukla-paksha, which is in the Bhadon month of Hindu calendar.

The Kankwadi fort: A jeep safari in the dense forests will bring It is Sariska’s link with Mughal history – the place where Dara Shikoh was held captive by his brother Emperor Aurnagzeb. Now overgrown with weeds and shrubs, it stands majestically on a hill overlooking the Kankwadi plateau and a small lake surrounded by a few Gujjar (a tribe) villages. Do not forget to capture this breath-taking picture with your camera.

Accommodation options
At Sariska one can stay at the RTDC hotels or the Sariska Palace. Since, Alwar is quite close, one an even stay at a hotel there. Just off the Alwar-Sariska road, is the Siliserh Lake and has a palace overlooking it, which has been converted into a tourist resort. This too can be a good option to feast your eyes on the wildlife from close quarters.

Bharatpur Sanctuary


BHARATPUR – the feathered cascade

Prime Attraction: Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary with its Migratory Birds (esp. the Siberian Crane)

Bharatpur at a glance

Famous in the tourist map of India for being the proud hostage of the endangered Siberian Cranes, Bharatpur, in Rajasthan is a veritable haven for the bird lovers worldwide. The Bharatpur Bird sanctuary, locally known as the Keoladeo Ghana National Park after Lord Shiva, with an area of about 28.7 sq km, is one of the smallest of wildlife parks in the nation. Yet, the climate, topography and flat terrain consisting of mixed wetland, woods, grass and shrub thickets all watered by the Bharatpur Lake, form a suitable refuge to more than 400 odd species of migratory and domestic birds – about as many as the entire UK - and a host of other wild animals. It was in fact designed by the Maharaja of Bharatpur for the sole purpose of hunting birds. But thankfully due to the efforts of the Government and the late ornithologist Salim Ali, the guns fell silent and by 1985 it achieved the status of a World Heritage site. Now, for those who aren’t much of avian connoisseurs, Bharatpur has a rich bounty of forts, towers and a museum that are reminiscent of its glorious past and lost heritage.

Wildlife Adventure in Bharatpur

Exotic migratory birds from Afghanistan, Central Asia, Tibet, Siberian cranes from the Arctic, greyleg geese from Siberia and barheaded geese from China, come here during the monsoon and breed till October/November. So if you are already planning a trip make sure you go there between November to January when the whole atmosphere is rent with their relentless chirpings and a multicolored plumage camouflages the entire forest. Sadly enough, due to hunting and consecutive years of drought in Bharatpur, the Siberian Cranes that travel up to 6,500 km, all the way from the Ob River basin region in the Aral Mountains in Siberia, have not been sighted since 2002. But who knows they might be just back this year and you might be the lucky one to spot those red-billed white cranes pecking one another noisily.

This avian kingdom also hosts mammalian species like nilgai, spotted deer, sambhar, chital, black bucks, jungle cat and the wild boar. The large rock python, which is spotted basking under the sun in winters at Python Point beyond Keoladeo temple, as well as its nemesis – the mongoose, are found in appreciable numbers. However, spotting a duel between the two is purely a matter of luck.

A stroll around the well-defined forest trails with more than 44,000 trees, has most chances of spotting colonies of cormorants, spoon bills, storks, egrets, herons, pelicans, ebis and grey herons all over the park. The raised paths camouflaged by Babul trees make their viewing easier.Even rickshaws, with trained pullers cum guides can be hired. Perhaps, no other National Park promises so much accessibility and fun of exploring on your own. A boat ride along the shallow freshwater lakes, that comprise a third of the Park’s total area, can be most rewarding of all touring experiences.

Reaching Bharatpur

A pleasant 3 hour drive from Delhi (175 kms) will take you to Bharatpur (Rajasthan) which is on the Agra - Jaipur road and a Keoladeo is both a Ramsar and World Heritage site. The nearest Airport is at Agra, a 55-km long journey by road from Bharatpur. It is also well connected by railway lines to Delhi and also to Sawai Madhopur.

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Lohagarh Fort – This 18th century massive iron structure fort was conceived and designed by Maharaja Suraj Mal, the founder of Bharatpur. The fort has three palaces within its precincts - Kishori Mahal, Mahal Khas and Kothi Khas.
Jawahar Burj and Fateh Burj - A few of the eight imposing towers still stand erect within the glorious ramparts of the fort. Especially two of them - Jawahar Burj and Fateh Burj are of special interest. These were built by Maharaja Suraj Mal to commemorate his victories over the Mughals and British respectively.
Bharatpur Palace with the Museum - This royal edifice is a fusion of the Mughal and Rajput architectural styles housing a rich repository of a large number of ancient exhibits that date back to the early 15th century.

Deeg Palace : Situated just 32-kms away from Bharatpur is the Deeg Palace. A strong and massive fortress, Deeg Palace was the summer resort of the rulers of Bharatpur and houses numerous beautiful palaces and gardens.
Nearby Tourist Destinations: Trips to Agra (for the Taj Mahal) and Fatehpur Sikri (for its architetural bounty) becomes natural extension of the trip to Bharatpur.
Accommodation options

A stay at the heritage hotels and former palaces of the erswhile Maharajas of Bharatpur - Laxmi Vilas Palace, Udai Palace and Kadamb Kunj can be an enriching experience. Else, you can opt for the jungle lodges and resorts to keep closer to the wilderness.

Pench National Park


Pench National Park
- 'tyger burning bright'

Go there for: Tigers, Chousingha(Four Horned Antelopes), Nilgai (Blue Bull), Cheetal

Pench National Park at a glance

Named after Pench River that dissects right through the heart of the 299 sq. Kms. spread - the Pench National Park or the Indira Priyadarshini Tiger Reserve is located on the southern boundary of Madhya Pradesh, India, and runs in continuation with Maharashtra’s Pench National Park. Due to indiscriminate poaching of the endangered tiger population sheltered in the deciduous forests, Pench was declared a Wildlife Sanctuary and in 1992 Project Tiger took over. Other than the master predators, varied species of flora and fauna abound this region, which over the years have attracted and inspired many naturalists and writers like Rudyard Kipling. It is only been two years since Pench has actually formally opened up for tourists. Wonderstruck by its virgin beauty, Kipling even honored it with a poem - Hunting Song of the Seeonee Pack, and much of the inspiration for his famous ‘Jungle Book’ is believed to have been derived from here.


Widlife Attractions of Pench National Park

The beautiful landscape of the Pench National Park is home to large numbers of both endangered and rare species. The almost impenetrable forest vegetation in the park includes Tropical Dry Deciduous Teak and Southern Tropical Mixed Deciduous Forest and many exotic herbs and grasses of medicinal importance. So for Botanists, Pench can be an ideal research destination. The Park’s main attraction, nevertheless, are the wild fauna - especially the tigers. But since they are rarely seen out in the open, visitors have to console themselves with other interesting sights like Gaur, Cheetal, Sambar and Nilgai grazing on the open sites on roadsides and banks of river & reservoir. Other wild animals are Herds of gaur, Chinkara or mountain Gazelle, Leopard, Blackbuck, Sloth Bear, striped Hyaena, Jackal, Jungle Cat, four-horned Antelope or Chowsingha, Wild Boar, Gazella, crocodile and others. . Packs up to 15 of wild dog can be seen near Chhedia, Jamtara, Bodanala and Pyorthadi areas of the Reserve. Langoors are seen just anywhere in Pench, whereas the Rhesus monkeys may be seen occasionally on the fringes.

Bird-watching too can be a promising activity. The avian fauna population of the Park is recorded to be around 210 species including the Barbets, Blue Kingfishers, Bulbuls, Minivets, Munias, Mynas, Orioles, Wagtails and Waterfowls. Crocodiles can be spotted lazily lying about the banks and lucky one’s can also expect to view one of the fresh water turtles. Though the Pench River dries up in April end, a number of water pools locally known as 'dohs' are found which serve as water holes for the wild animals. The Pench Reservoir at the center of the park is the only major water source during the pinch period.

Safari Adventure

Only a long and leisurely vacation will do justice to the sights and adventure that awaits you at Pench National Park. Make a early morning trip to the Park in the jeep and you have the best chances to see the best of what the forest has for you - flora / fauna. Listen attentively to the Guide for his voice may become just a whisper in case he senses something very interesting around. Elephant safaris too have their delights. The moment a tiger is spotted, the domestic elephants surround it and you can have the closest view possible of the magnificient national animal in its natural habitat.

What more to look out for in Nagarhole

Kohka Lake: Go there to enjoy the enrapturing spectacle of numerous colorful birds and the serene sunset of the Kohka lake - a small reservoir in the Park.
Nagpur: Situated just 93 km. away from Pench, Nagpur is famous for its oranges and many tourist spots like Sitabuldi Fort, Council Hall, Cathedral of All Saints, High Court, Raj Bhawan and Chhatris of the Bhonsle Dynasty at Nagpur.
Pachdhar Potters Village: Here, you can try your hands at making pots or simply stroll around watching the villagers give magical shapes to the clay. But don’t forget to buy something to carry back home and keep as a memento.

How to reach there
The nearest airport to the Pench National Park is the Sonegaon Airport at Nagpur, which is at a distance of 93 km. Nagpur is well connected to Mumbai through air. The nearest Railway Station is the Seoni Railway Station, which is 30 km away from the Park. The road network connects Seoni to almost all the major places in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.


Ideal time to visit: The Pench National Park is open to the visitors from October 01st to June 30th each year and closed during the rainy seasons (July- Sept.). And the best time to visit is from March to June.

Accommodation optionsThe Forest Rest Houses and plenty of other lodging facilities are available. However, prior booking is advised to reserve these rest houses. All accommodations are located nearby. Kipling’s Court hotel and Pench Jungle Camp can be good options.

Nagarhole National Park


Nagarhole National Park
- the serpentine river’s wildlife bounty!

Go there for: Elephants, tigers, Snakes, Four-Horned Antelope, Sloth Bear, Mouse-deer

Nagarhole National Park at a glance

Spread over Mysore and Kodagu districts of the south Indian State of Karnataka, Nagarhole National Park, is edged by the Kabini River to the south, the Wynaad sanctuary of Kerela to its south-west and the Bandipur sanctuary to its south-east. This erstwhile game reserve of the Maharajahs of Mysore is spread across an area of 644 sq km and veined with streams and rivers, the promiment ones being Lakhmana, Teenth and Nagarhole. The very name, which in Kannada means Snake (Naga) and River (hole) is reminiscent of the thrill and adventure that awaits the visitors here. Nagarhole’s deciduous vegetation makes it a veritable haven for a fascinating battalion of wildlife and its almost flat terrain increases our chances of spotting the wild in the wilderness. It was renamed after Rajiv Gandhi in 1992.

Wildlife Attractions at Nagarhole National Park

Though famous for its elephant population, the Nagarhole National Park is idyllic refuge for the Tiger, Muntjjac (the barking deer), Chousingha (four horned antelope), Sambar, Cheetal, Sloth bear, Mouse-deer and the wild pig. Other common residents are leopards, Indian wild dog, Indian bison, jungle cats, jackals, hyenas and wild dogs.

A part of the Nilgiri biosphere, the park is layered with grassy swamps and shallow valleys with the slopes, an ideal passage for the rain water to drain itself into the rivers. More than 250 birds species can be spotted in the deciduous forest spread, especially around the Kabini river. Commonly seen varieties are - hawk-eagle, Malabar trogon, crested serpent-eagle, the malabar pied hornbill, blue beaded bee eater, scarlet minivet and the herons. And if you are a good observer, the multitude of colourful butterflies flitting around will surely catch your eyes.

Safari Adventure

The Forest Department runs 45-min mini-bus safaris into the parks everyday. But nothing can beat jeep safaris that give you enough time to explore leisurely and take you to the innermost recesses of the Park. The Forest Department has facilitated tourists with the ‘view-lines’ - the 10-m long areas on both sides of the roads, where the shrubbery and trees are cleared for better visibility of wildlife. Dull clothing, very light or no perfumes and less noise is recommended, lest the animals are alarmed.

What more to look out for in Nagarhole

Bandipur National Park: A trip each to the bordering national parks - Bandipur National Park and Wynaad sanctuary (Kerela) will be rewarding.
Mysore: Mysore, famous for its Sandalwood products, is a wonderful tourist attraction that you can plan to visit from Nagarhole National Park.
Madikeri: The small hill station at Madikeri, 93 kms. away, can be a wonderful destination view the sea and the old historic fort buildings situated there. This little hill township is roosted on a series of ridges that commands breath taking view of the surroundings. The coffee estates are a pleasure to watch from a distance.

How to reach there
From Nagarhole, Mysore at 96 kms. has the nearest Railway station and Bangalore at 220 kms. has the nearest airport. Buses connect Nagarhole to Bangalore and to other smaller towns across Karnataka, Tamilnadu and Kerala.

Ideal time to visit: September to May. Those interested in trekking should avoid visiting the park during monsoons.

Accommodation options
Being a popular tourist destination, accommodation options are numerous. It is ideal to arrive at the park before dusk, as the road leading to lodges closes at 6 pm. Forest Department rest houses and cottages and other private accommodations are available. The Kabini river Deluxe lodge is made of colonial style architecture and has 14 double rooms with modern amenities. The Water wood hotel is also furnished with gardens and looks like a ranch style house.

Bandipur National Park


Bandipur National Park
- a quintessential paradise in blue!


Go there for: Asian Elephants and Gaurs (huge wild oxen)

Bandipur National Park at a glance

If you travel along the highway from Ooty to Mysore in Karnataka, India, you will drive past the Bandipur National Park.
One of India’s most protected wildlife reserves spread across an area of 874.20-sq-kms. is nestled in the Chamarajanagar district of Karnataka amidst the Nagarhole National Park, the Mudumalai National Park in Tamil Nadu and Wynaad sanctuary in Kerala. With four wildlife reserves cloistered together, no doubt this whole area figures well in the tourist hitlist. The once royal game reserve of the Mysore Maharajahs - the Bandipur National Park - came to be designated a part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve and one of WWF’s Projest Tiger sites. For those with a panache for adventure, Bandipur has not just wild animals, thickets and gorges but one of the most fascinating spectacle of nature’s wonders, you will want to visit again and again.

Wildlife Attractions at Bandipur National Park

Bandipur looks like a virtual paradise with the onset of the pre-monsoon showers. After the long winter lull, the flora and fauna suddenly spring back to life. The resident birds commence their breeding activities and the air is repleted with their endless chirpings. The 200 species of birds that abound the region include ornithologist favorite jungle fowl , the green pigeon and other species like Hawk eagle, Serpent eagle,Parakreets, Wood peckers, Barbets, Hornbills and the warblers. Ducks , Gray Patridges, Firhinges, Falcons and so on.

Sprouting grass in the meadows attract large numbers of the elephants and the majestic gaurs or the largest wild oxen. Close, harmless encounters with them are not uncommon if your guide knows where to find them. The other animals include Tigers, wild boar, deer, porcupine, squirrels, pangolin, monkeys, monitor lizards and so on. The reptile population includes the Marsh Crocodile, Monitor Lizards, Rock Python, Bamboo Pit Snake, Wolf Snake, Vine Snake and the common Krait besides a variety of turtles.

The area is infested with mixed vegetation - dry deciduous forest with an abundance of teak, sandalwood and rosewood and tropical mixed deciduous jungles. However, some summers this area too gets unbearably dry and during these times the animals either migrate to the neighbouring wetter Mudumalai Park or seek shelterin the the backwaters of the Kabini Reservoir in the northwestern portion of the park.

Safari Adventure
As you manoeuvre on the muddy tracks of the sanctuary on your jeep, chances are, you will find pug marks, discover some secret track used by the game animals or just be startled by an elephant or Gaur from amongst the thickets. Elephant safaris can also be exciting as you venture into the wild recesses and watch the wildlife in their natural habitat.

What more to look out for in Bandipur

Gopalaswamy Betta: The place near the park forest office base, Gopalaswamy Betta, provides an enthralling view of Mysore plateau. The "Rolling Rocks," situated to the south of the forest, offer a panoramic view of the weather-beaten 260-meter-deep Mysore Ditch and the entire Moyar gorge. The Moyar Gorge, as much as thousand feet deep at some places, with the Nilgiri hills in the background, casts a bewitching spell on the onlookers. The Moyar River plummets down hundreds of feet into the gorge, thundering through its depths and at times dissappearing from the sight of those who look down at it from the high cliffs. This is a must-photoghaphed spectacle. Excited already? Nearby Sanctuaries: Now this is called optimized utilization of your vacation. Once you have had your fill of the Bandipur Park, you can go to the adjoining Nagarhole National Park, the Mudumalai National Park in Tamil Nadu and Wynaad sanctuary in Kerala - all veritable havens of a pricelss wildlife.

How to reach there

Bandipur National Park lies on the Mysore-Ooty highway. The nearest airport is at Bangalore (220 km). Mysore is nearest railhead, at a distance of 80-kms. And if you are travelling with your own vehicle, the park is 220 km from Bangalore, 80 km from Mysore, 80 km from Ooty.

Ideal time to visit: Between the months of April and October when wildlife in Bandipur comes alive with its activities. Ideally make a post monsoon visit, for then you'll see Bandipur National Park at its lush and verdant best.

Accommodation options
Tourists can stay in the comfortable Forest Resthouses and KSTDC cottages, besides a few private luxury resorts and hotels that also arrange their own elephant safaris and jeep rides. The grassy patches between the huts are the grazing ground of local deer and monkeys, so the fun of watching them from close quarters should not be missed.

Corbett National Park


Corbett National Park
- tiger lores abound


Go there for: Tigers, Leopards, Crocodiles

Corbett National Park at a glance

Nestled in the foothills of the Kumaon Himalayas in Uttaranchal, lies one of the safest havens of Indian wildlife - the Corbett National Park - named in honor of late Jim Corbett, the legendary hunter-naturalist turned author and photographer who spent most of his years in this area and contributed in setting up the this park. Earlier known as the the Hailey National Park it was rechristened in 1957, two years after Corbett's death. Spread across an area of 1,200 sq-km it has the proud designation of being India's first national park and the first sanctuary to come under Project Tiger in 1973. Once a popular hunting ground of the British, the Corbett National Park is best known for its big cats, especially the tiger. Corbett lived throughout his childhood in the area of Kaladhungi between Nainital and Ramnagar. In later years he was called upon by the locals to shoot down man-eating predators that stalked the villages and these escapades formed the backdrop for his much fabled tiger lores - Man Eaters of Kumoan, The Temple Tiger,



Widlife Attractions of Corbett National Park

The varied topography comprises hilly and riverine areas, temporary marshy depressions, plateaus and ravines. In the Jim Corbett National Park are found 110 tree species, 50 mammals species, 580 bird species and 25 reptile species. The vegetation mainly consists of Sal trees, Chir, Bakli, bamboo thickets and so on.The Park is an ideal terrain for the majestic predators and their prey, which include four kinds of Deer, Wild Boar and some lesser-known animals. Apart from Tigers, Elephants, Leopards / Panthers, Jungle cats, Fishing Cats, Leopard cats, Himalayan black bears, Sloth bears, Jackals, Martens, Dholes, Civets, Mongooses, Otters, Hares, Porcupines, Chital (spotted deer), Sambar deer, Hog deer, Barking deer, Ghorals, Wild Boars, Pangolins, Macaques, Langurs and Blue Bulls (Nilgais) are some of the species which are found here. Along the Ramganga River shores, one can spot the long-snouted, fish-eating Gharial Crocodile and the ‘Mugger’ Crocodile.Also seen on the rocky hillsides is the Ghoral or Goat Antelopes. The Langur and Rhesus Monkeys are well distributed through out the park and the whole Jungle resonates with their alarm calls everytime a predator is around.

A rich panorama of colours abound the park in the form of its varied colourful species of birds. It is home to Herons, Darters, Cormorants, Lapwings, Paradise Flycatchers, Munias, Weaver birds, Fishing eagles, Serpent eagles, Spotted Eagles, Black throated Payas, Mynas, Jungle Fowl, Vultures, Thrushes, Barbets, Peacocks, peahens, Kingfishers, migrant Gulls, Moorhens, Ducks, Geese, Sandpipers, Nightjars, Cuckoos, Woodpeckers, Wagtails, Black winged Kits, Drongos, Doves, Plovers, Black necked Storks, Parakeets, Owls, Chir Pheasants, Kalij Pheasants, Grebes, Grey Lags, Snipes, Harriers, Ospreys, Minivets, Babblers, Hornbills, falcons and Stone Curlews.

Safari Adventure

Jeep Safari, Horse Safari, Bird Safari, Elephant Safari, Fishing safari and the Nature walk - all can be enjoyed here. Although jeeps penetrate deeper into the forest than elephants, they cannot get nearly as close to the wild animals. Accompanied by guides and mahouts, your trip is sure to be informative. All visitors to Corbett National Park have to obtain permits from the park administration center at Ramnagar. Bring binoculars, remain quiet, and avoid wearing bright colors or strong perfumes. Only a long vacation will do justice to the rich treasure of wildlife of the park. And don't forget to carry your copy of one of Corbett's jungle lores to read during the nights for that feel of the your spine tingle at living so close to the man-eaters realm.

What more to look out for in Corbett

Fishing expedition: Situated in the rich farm belt of Terai, on the southeastern fringes of the great forests, the busy market town of Ramnagar is the main administrative centre for Corbett National Park. It also makes a fine fishing base camp. Permits have to sought from the Project Tiger office in Ramnagar for fishing expeditions in Ramganga, Kosi, Mandal and Kothri rivers.
Trekking ventures: The reserve forest around the Tiger Reserve can be an exciting trekking terrain. Winters can get chilly and needless to say, its fun guaranteed.

How to reach there
Phoolbagh, Pantnagar at a distance of 50 km is the nearest airport. Delhi at a distance of 300 km is the nearest international airport. Ramnagar is on the broad gauge track from where the road transport options have to be availed to reach the park. For faster trains and connections to other parts of India change at Moradabad. Dhikala is 300 km from Delhi, 145 km from Lucknow and 51 km from Ramnagar. Ramnagar is served by frequent buses to and from Nainital and Ranikhet, 112 km north. Buses arrive every half hour or so after the eight hour trip from Delhi; Delhi Transport corporation also runs semi deluxe services.

Ideal time to visit: From November 15 to June 15. Corbett remains closed between June 16 and November 14, during the monsoons.

Accommodation options
A number of self contained resorts are springing up on the fringes of Corbett, providing a higher standard of accommodation at a price as well as guides for expeditions in the forests, which can be as rich in wildlife as the Jim Corbett Park, without the restrictions. There are, in addition, Forest Rest houses at Khinanauli, Sarpduli, Gairal, Sultan, Bijrani, Malani, Kanda, Dhela and Jhirna. Private resorts and hotels in Ramnagar too can be a good option.

Corbett National Park


Corbett National Park
- tiger lores abound


Go there for: Tigers, Leopards, Crocodiles

Corbett National Park at a glance

Nestled in the foothills of the Kumaon Himalayas in Uttaranchal, lies one of the safest havens of Indian wildlife - the Corbett National Park - named in honor of late Jim Corbett, the legendary hunter-naturalist turned author and photographer who spent most of his years in this area and contributed in setting up the this park. Earlier known as the the Hailey National Park it was rechristened in 1957, two years after Corbett's death. Spread across an area of 1,200 sq-km it has the proud designation of being India's first national park and the first sanctuary to come under Project Tiger in 1973. Once a popular hunting ground of the British, the Corbett National Park is best known for its big cats, especially the tiger. Corbett lived throughout his childhood in the area of Kaladhungi between Nainital and Ramnagar. In later years he was called upon by the locals to shoot down man-eating predators that stalked the villages and these escapades formed the backdrop for his much fabled tiger lores - Man Eaters of Kumoan, The Temple Tiger,



Widlife Attractions of Corbett National Park

The varied topography comprises hilly and riverine areas, temporary marshy depressions, plateaus and ravines. In the Jim Corbett National Park are found 110 tree species, 50 mammals species, 580 bird species and 25 reptile species. The vegetation mainly consists of Sal trees, Chir, Bakli, bamboo thickets and so on.The Park is an ideal terrain for the majestic predators and their prey, which include four kinds of Deer, Wild Boar and some lesser-known animals. Apart from Tigers, Elephants, Leopards / Panthers, Jungle cats, Fishing Cats, Leopard cats, Himalayan black bears, Sloth bears, Jackals, Martens, Dholes, Civets, Mongooses, Otters, Hares, Porcupines, Chital (spotted deer), Sambar deer, Hog deer, Barking deer, Ghorals, Wild Boars, Pangolins, Macaques, Langurs and Blue Bulls (Nilgais) are some of the species which are found here. Along the Ramganga River shores, one can spot the long-snouted, fish-eating Gharial Crocodile and the ‘Mugger’ Crocodile.Also seen on the rocky hillsides is the Ghoral or Goat Antelopes. The Langur and Rhesus Monkeys are well distributed through out the park and the whole Jungle resonates with their alarm calls everytime a predator is around.

A rich panorama of colours abound the park in the form of its varied colourful species of birds. It is home to Herons, Darters, Cormorants, Lapwings, Paradise Flycatchers, Munias, Weaver birds, Fishing eagles, Serpent eagles, Spotted Eagles, Black throated Payas, Mynas, Jungle Fowl, Vultures, Thrushes, Barbets, Peacocks, peahens, Kingfishers, migrant Gulls, Moorhens, Ducks, Geese, Sandpipers, Nightjars, Cuckoos, Woodpeckers, Wagtails, Black winged Kits, Drongos, Doves, Plovers, Black necked Storks, Parakeets, Owls, Chir Pheasants, Kalij Pheasants, Grebes, Grey Lags, Snipes, Harriers, Ospreys, Minivets, Babblers, Hornbills, falcons and Stone Curlews.

Safari Adventure

Jeep Safari, Horse Safari, Bird Safari, Elephant Safari, Fishing safari and the Nature walk - all can be enjoyed here. Although jeeps penetrate deeper into the forest than elephants, they cannot get nearly as close to the wild animals. Accompanied by guides and mahouts, your trip is sure to be informative. All visitors to Corbett National Park have to obtain permits from the park administration center at Ramnagar. Bring binoculars, remain quiet, and avoid wearing bright colors or strong perfumes. Only a long vacation will do justice to the rich treasure of wildlife of the park. And don't forget to carry your copy of one of Corbett's jungle lores to read during the nights for that feel of the your spine tingle at living so close to the man-eaters realm.

What more to look out for in Corbett

Fishing expedition: Situated in the rich farm belt of Terai, on the southeastern fringes of the great forests, the busy market town of Ramnagar is the main administrative centre for Corbett National Park. It also makes a fine fishing base camp. Permits have to sought from the Project Tiger office in Ramnagar for fishing expeditions in Ramganga, Kosi, Mandal and Kothri rivers.
Trekking ventures: The reserve forest around the Tiger Reserve can be an exciting trekking terrain. Winters can get chilly and needless to say, its fun guaranteed.

How to reach there
Phoolbagh, Pantnagar at a distance of 50 km is the nearest airport. Delhi at a distance of 300 km is the nearest international airport. Ramnagar is on the broad gauge track from where the road transport options have to be availed to reach the park. For faster trains and connections to other parts of India change at Moradabad. Dhikala is 300 km from Delhi, 145 km from Lucknow and 51 km from Ramnagar. Ramnagar is served by frequent buses to and from Nainital and Ranikhet, 112 km north. Buses arrive every half hour or so after the eight hour trip from Delhi; Delhi Transport corporation also runs semi deluxe services.

Ideal time to visit: From November 15 to June 15. Corbett remains closed between June 16 and November 14, during the monsoons.

Accommodation options
A number of self contained resorts are springing up on the fringes of Corbett, providing a higher standard of accommodation at a price as well as guides for expeditions in the forests, which can be as rich in wildlife as the Jim Corbett Park, without the restrictions. There are, in addition, Forest Rest houses at Khinanauli, Sarpduli, Gairal, Sultan, Bijrani, Malani, Kanda, Dhela and Jhirna. Private resorts and hotels in Ramnagar too can be a good option.

Manas National Park



Go there for: Tiger, Rhino, Elephant

Manas National Park at a glance
The North Eastern region of India is a proud hostage to some of natures most enticing secrects. One of its safest refuge of wild creatures is the Manas wildlife sanctuary, perched on the foothills of the Himalayas with a part of it reaching Bhutan. Bathed in celestial natural beauty and enriched with a legion of flora and fauna, Manas was truly an ideal target for the Project Tiger. Due to indiscriminate poaching and disturbing of the ecological balance the forests of Manas, spread across an area of 391-sq-km, were declared a sanctuary in 1928 and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in December 1985. The park is watered by the enchanting Manas River, named after the serpent goddess Manasa. It is the largest Himalayan tributary of the mighty Brahmaputra. Coming down the Bhutan Hills from the north, the crystal clear waters of the Manas river runs through the heart of the 500 sq. km core area of the Manas Park.

Widlife Attractions of Manas National Park

The whole park is peppered with small meadows located among densely forested foothills with many rivulets, streams and natural drains criss-crossing one another. It is mainly watered by the Manas river - the international boundary between India and Bhutan. The vegetation is mixed deciduous and supports the breeding of a huge variety of wildlife, which include - Tigers, Elephants, Rhinos, Wild Buffaloes, Leopards, Clouded Leopards, Gaurs, Swamp Deer, Capped Langurs, Golden Langurs, Assamese Macaques, Slow Loris, Hoolock Gibbons, Smooth Indian Otters, Sloth Bears, Barking Deer, Hog Deer, Sambar, Chital and the amazingly beautiful and rare Black Panthers. The park is also a haven for highly endangered species. Two of the unique residents of the park are the Hispid Hare and the Pygmy Hog.
Some of the rarest of avian species can be located in the forests of Manas. Some of these are Giant Hornbills, Jungle Fowls, Bulbuls, Brahminy Ducks, Khaleej Pheasants, Egrets, Pelicans, Fishing Eagles, Serpent Eagles, Falcons, Scarlet Minivets, Bee-Eaters, Magpie Robins, Pied Hornbills, Gray Hornbills, Mergansers, Harriers, Ospreys and Herons.

Safari Adventure

Explore the park in your own car or a hired one. Some of the animals that come out on the banks of the river Manas can be viewed from a boat which commences its ride from Mathanguri and ends around 35km away, from where one is picked up by pre-arranged transport. The third option, which is favourite with most visitors, is the elephant ride organised by the park authorities. These take you deep in to the wilderness and right between the wildlife there. And when there is lady mahout roosted atop the mighty tusker,dressed in the beautiful mekhela-sador, the traditional attire of the North-east and the BBC's "Queen of the elephants" - the safari is definitely going to be one you will remember. Fifty year old and elegantly aristocratic, Parvati Barua is not just the only female mahout in India, but the lifetime Chief Elephant Warden of Assam. Ok leave elephants, how about a long walk in the jungle? A 5-km long jungle trail along the Mathanguri river is laid for such languid strolls - especially after the rains when the entire path is carpeted with petals and cotton blossoms and the air reverberating with the peacocks and langurs calls. Are you still pondering about a visit? Pack-up!

What more to look out for in Manas

Fatemabad tea estate: You are in the heart of a tea country and leaving without a walk through the plush tea gardens will be blasphemous almost. The plantations begin right outside the park.
Land of Villages: The Bodo villages neighbouring the park with their treasure of tribal way of living and pagan customs will make you want to extend your vacation. A surprise music and dance session might be lodged in your honor, you never know!
Boat cruises: Don't miss a float down the Manas on the 8-seater boat and watch wild animals from closet possible quarters.
Mothanguri area: The central zone of Manas, covering the Mothanguri area, is one of the most picturesque of Nature's landscapes. Eco-tourism has been recently initiated in the eastern Kaklabari area by the Manas Maozigendri Ecotourism Society, opening up this bird rich area to visitors.

How to reach there
Manas Park is 176-kms from Guwahati. The nearest airport is Borjhar, which is situated at 5-km. The nearest railhead is situated at Barpeta road. Buses regularly ply from Guwahati to Barpeta Road in 4½ hrs.

Ideal time to visit: The ideal time to visit the Manas national park is during the months of November to April.

Accommodation options

No special permits are required to visit Manas. You must, however, obtain permission to stay inside the forest from the Filed Director's Office at Barpeta Road. For accommodation there are two lodges maintained and run by the tourist department. The state department has two bungalows located at Mathanguri inside the forest with little or no catering facilities.

Dudhwa National Park


Go there for: Tigers, Indian One-Horned rhino, Swamp Deer

Dudhwa National Park at a glance
Located in Terai, Uttar Pradesh (India) bordering Nepal, is a magnificient 498.29 sq. km vast refuge of some of the most fascinating species of wild flora and fauna, chief among them being the ruler predator - the tiger and the rare one-horned rhino. The warm, tropical forests here at the foothills of the Himalayas are watered by the Suheli river lying towards the North. The whole landscape is strewn with plush grasslands crwoned with Sal tress, rivers Suheli and Mohana and small waterbodies. Apart from its 'striped and horned' embellishments, Dudhwa boasts of five rare deer species - the swamp deep (barasingha), spotted deer (cheetal), hog deer (paada), barking deer (kaakad) and sambar - of which the swamp deer population is a conservationists dream-come-true.

Widlife Attractions of Dudhwa National Park

The grasslands are ideal terrain for both the tigers and the Indian one horned rhinoceros. The latter was hunted out of existence in this part of the country by the end of the 19th century but now it has been reintroduced in Dudhwa from other sanctuaries in Nepal and India.Today Dudhwa boasts of about 20 of these one-horned denizens. Ideal place to spot them are the grass thickets, swamps and waterbodies of the South Sonaripur Range Area of Dudhwa. Two other endangered species that the park shelters are the long-eared hispid hare and the Bengal florican. Other inhabitants include the deer, sloth bear, jackal, wild pig and the lesser cats - the fishing cat, leopard cat, jungle cat and civet.

Dudhwa also has an abundance of birds. Its marshes are home to a range of water-birds both local and migratory. Ornathologists favorite painted storks, sarus cranes, owls, barbets, woodpeckers, minivets and many more abound the park. Much of the park’s avian fauna is aquatic in nature, and is found around Dudhwa’s lakes- especially Banke Tal.

Safari Adventure

Widlife enthusiasts can either choose a jeep safari or tour the jungles on the elephant back. The main Dudhwa office near the park or the Salukhapur Chowki provides for elephant safaris. The mahout not just loads you with exciting jungle tales, but also can be an excellents guide to the tiger hide-outs. The rhinos are cloistered in the Salukhapur range and demands a special trip to see them in their natural habitat. Elephant and jeep safaris are plausible options to select from for rhino sighting.

What more to look out for in Dudhwa

Interpratation Centre: The Dudhwa Office is adorned with a library and an interpretation centre that provides information on the park. You can pick mementos like Dudhwa T-shirts and books signatured by Billy Arjan Singh - the conservationist who has largely been responsible for the setting up of Dudhwa.
Rajput face with a Nepali nose: The Tharu tribals who live in the premises of the park are an inter-mix of Rajasthani and Nepali origins. Rich with myths and ancient lores, their culture can be an interesting study.
Kishanpur Sanctuary: About 30-km from Dudhwa is the Jhaddi Taal, a waterbody, where you can see the largest herd of the swamp deer.

How to reach there
Lucknow at 201 km / 4 hr. drive is the nearest airport. Nearest railhead is at Shahjahanpur (110 km). Or if you are traveling from Delhi, drive down via Moradabad, Bareilly, Shahjahanpur, Kutar and Palia to reach Dudhwa.

Ideal time to visit: Do not visit during monsoons. The best visiting time begins from mid-November and lasts till mid-June.

Accommodation options

Accommodation in the park is available at log huts, lodges and forest resthouses at Dudhwa, Sathiana, Bankatti, Kila and Sonaripur. All are pretty minimalist and affordable. Also in the park, on its southern periphery, is a lodge owned by `Billy’ Arjan Singh. Another option is to stay outside the park; Palia has a handful of hotels, and luxuries that you won’t get in the park.

Rajaji National Park - the tusker heavenl



Go there for: Asian elephants

Rajaji National Park at a glance

The Rajaji National Park is a pristine natural paradise nestled at the foot of the Himalayas spreading across three districts of Uttaranchal - Haridwar, Dehradun and Pauri Garhwal in India. Though it is yet to be tagged a National Park, it expects a notification soon and functions as one, with its privileges. Three existing sanctuaries in the Dehradun Shivaliks- Rajaji, Motichur and Chilla were amalgamated into a large protected area and labelled Rajaji in the year 1983 after the famous freedom fighter Late Sri C. Rajgopalachari, popularly known as Rajaji. Known for its wild elephants, about 150 approximately as per recent studies, the 820.42 Sq. Km of the Park makes a suitable habitat for a astounding variety of wild flora and fauna and a an exorbitant holiday destination for tourists worldwide.

Widlife Attractions of Rajaji National Park

Owing to its pleasant climatic conditions Rajaji National Park is home to a rich mulitude of wild flora and fauna. It is the North Westrn limits of the Asian elephants. 23 species of mammals- including tigers, leopards, elephants, Nilgai (blue bull), deer, jungle cat, wild boar and sloth bear- and 315 species of birds are found in Rajaji. The most prominent avian species include pea fowl, woodpeckers, pheasants, kingfishers and barbets, supplemented by a number of migratory species during the winter months. Besides that, the rivers which flow through the park harbour fish such as trout and mahseer.

Twenty eight species of snakes, 12 species of turtles & tortoises and 9 species of lizards among Reptilia are being recorded from the park. The largest variety of Indian python is also found in Rajaji.

The butterfly fauna of the Park is very rich and represented by as many as 60 species under eight families, out of the known nine families are from the adjoining areas of Garhwal and Kumaon hills of the Himalaya.

Safari Adventure

Both jeep safaris and elephant rides are popular options. Elephant rides of about 2½ hours each are organized by the park authorities. Drive your own vehicles or rent one from Haridwar or Rishikesh. A jeep safari into the ineermost parts of the park can be a wholesome experience loaded with excitement and rich sightings.

What more to look out for in Rajaji
Chandi Devi mandir: Neighbouring the Park is the Neel Parvat. Perched atop this hill is the Chandi Devi Mandir. Pay obeisance to the lord and refreshen your spirits with the enchanting view of the entire Haridwar city.
Haridwar: For Hindu pilgrims this place needs no introduction. A 9 km drive from Rajaji will bring you to one of the most visited religious seat of Hinduism. The evening aarti at Har-ki-Pauri, the main ghat, is a must-see.
Rishikesh: 40 km from Rajaji is the international favorite amongst adventure enthusiasts. Rishikesh is known for its trekking and white-water rafting expeditions and a solace for peace-seekers.
Dehra Dun: Be it the cycling tours, the languid saunterings, the picnics by the hot springs, Dehra Dun (at 60 km) is fun unlimited.

How to reach there
Rajaji is accessible through different gates. The Ramgarh Gate and Mohand Gate are within 25 km of Dehradun, while the Motichur, Ranipur and Chilla Gates are just about 9 km from Haridwar. Kunao Gate is 6 km from Rishikesh, and Laldhang gate is 25 km from Kotdwar. It is a straight route from Delhi along the NH58 via Meerut and Haridwar. There are frequent bus services from Delhi's ISBT. Nearest airport is 40 km away at Jolly Grant, Dehra Dun. Railheads can be reached at Haridwar (9 km).

Ideal time to visit: The Park is open from mid-Nov to mid-Jun. But high summers are the best time to go.

Accommodation options
Within Rajaji are nine forest resthouses, some of which are around 100 years old. Chilla has, in addition, a tourist complex operated by the Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam. Staying outside the park, at budget to mid-range and even luxury hotels and tourist complexes in Haridwar, Rishikesh or Dehradun, can be a better option, while you make day trips to the park.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Bird Watching Tours in India


The feathered ‘lords of the air’ may not have as phenomenal a fan-following as the beasts that walk the earth, but those with a avian-fixation will know how crazy this sport can get. Sightings are, at times, about seconds - and priceless seconds they are - for your target may hit the air again anytime and be gone forever. Hats off to the ornithologists and the avifauna enthusiasts with their extraordinary patience and an eye for nature’s display of its impeccable color sense.

A ‘quiet’ ariel watch

India’s beeline of bird watching connoisseur from across the world is thronging by the day. A huge populace of widlife photographers too are included in this ambit. The Indian terrains are extremely avian friendly and welcomes a multitude of migratory birds from all over the world. In the Himalayan ranges, an enmesh of trekking expedition with your birding tour can add to the gambol. Down south, a enthralling river cruise through the dales camouflaged with multi-colored avifauna, where the air reverberates with relentless chirpings, can be an out-of-the-world experience. Tape recordings are also made, which, however, are prohibited in the Keoladeo Bird sanctuary. Be patient, be quiet, be attentive - are your bird watching mantras. Good luck!

Pack your bags to..

India! 2000 rarest of the rare species and god-knows-how-many bird-watching zones await your arrival!

Wild wild west: Rajasthans’s Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, more popular as the Keoladeo Ghana National Park is one of Inida's pioneer wildlife conservation centers. Its shot to fame is however the Siberian Cranes Cranes that come here every monsoon traveling 6,500 km. A dismal tide, however, is that the year 2002 saw this endangered guests for the very last time in India. So before you go to Bharatpur, hail pagan bird-gods and the Indian ones that you are the one who reports to the world ‘the return of the Cranes’. Crane-talk apart, the sanctuary’s marine vagetation, kadam and babul forests, shallow lakes shelter in them about 300 species of Indian birds. Flocks of cormorants, spoon bills, storks, egrets, herons, pelicans, ebis and grey herons can be sighted all over the park. Phalodi, in Rajasthan, is another spot where the lovely Demoiselle Cranes from Mongolia and Europe, abound.

The Aravalli foothills nestle the Sariska wildlife sanctuary (Rajasthan) with more than 200 species of birds including the Gray Hornbill, Crested Serpent Eagle, Black/Red Headed Bunting, Wryneck Woodpecker Babbler, White Breasted Kingfisher, Little Brown Dove, Small Minivet, Golden Oriole, Great Gray Shrike, Pale Harrier and Tailor Bird.

Himalayas: The Himalayan foothills are, needless to say, rich with avifauna. For a change at Corbett National Park let the tigers be, go there for the birds. Corbett’s 600 species of birds exceeds the total number of bird species found in Europe and is about one fourth of the diversity found in India.

Fly South: The Nilgiris are rich with species like the White-browed wagtail, Rufous treepie, Indian Scimitar Babbler, Black-rumped Flameback, Chestnut-bellied nuthatch, Indian nightjar, Black Drongo, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo and the Indian cuckoo. The best times for bird watching are between October and April.

The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary (Kerala) on the banks of Vembanad Lake, has resident birds like waterfowls, cuckoo, owl, egret, herons, kingfishers and water ducks. The migratory population include Siberian cranes (no more though), parrots, teals, larks, flycatchers, wood beetle, etc. House boats and motor boats offer lake cruises ideal for a quiet bird-watching adventure.

Renowned ornithologists, Salim Ali’s brainchild, the Thattekad Bird Sanctuary Kerala, houses 500 winged species including the Indian Roller, Cukoo, Common Snipe, Crow Pheasant, Jungle Nightjar, Kite, Grey Drongo, Malabar Trogon, Woodpecker, Large Pied Wagtail, Baya Sparrow, Grey Jungle Fowl, Indian Hill Myna, Robin, Jungle Babbler And Darter.

Other birding grounds are Gir National Park (Gujarat), Nandankanan (Orissa), Rajaji National Park (Uttaranchal), Kolleru Bird Sanctuary (Andhra Pradesh), Manjira Bird Sanctuary (Andhra Pradesh) and Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary (Andhra Pradesh). Our Bird watching tours have the best picks - in case you don’t want to miss a thing!

Travel Tips

Binoculars are a must-must-must carry. Team it up with a hi-tech camera. Try pick clothes that have more of green shades - the birds are a shy lot. And some research can go a long way in recognising them instantly. Handbooks on birds like the “A Birdwatcher’s Guide to India” by Krys Kazmierczak & Raj Singh, Salim Ali’s more recent Ali/Ripley series, “The Pocket Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent” by Richard Grimmett, Carol Inskipp and Tim Inskipp are recommended. Accommodation options abound.

Widlife Camping in India


It has been tried, tested and proved that vacationing days in the wilderness, recharges our faculties and results in better productivity. And when it is about going back in time (what else would you call camping in a jungle?), India definitely scores amongst the most sought one’s of the segment. And thanks to the Tourism industry, this adventure is no more about fatal combats with bandits or man-eating predators, or mad-rush for a cave during unpredictable weather catastrophes. Today, camping in the wild is about complete tour packages with all facilities and amenities.
What awaits you in Indian wilds...
The Himalayan foothills, the oasis recluses of Thar, the premises of the various wildlife sanctuaries, the beaches, you name it and your travel agent will give you detailed tour itinerary for one of your chosen spots. The days remain animate with activities like trekking, forests trails, angling, cycling, photography, bird-watching, river rafting, tiger-tracking, elephant/jeep/camel/horse safari expeditions, trip to the nearest tribal village - according to preferences. In such sylvan purlieu, poetry and paintings ooze without effort and there is no dearth of a quiet place to sit and let them flow on to the paper. The nights come alive with bonfires, grilled meat fiesta, jam sessions and you name it and of course the nerve-tingling sensation of sleeping with wild animals only ear-shot away.
India’s Favourite Camping Zones
Northern Hills: The Himalayan mountain ranges are an ideal choice anytime. Chitrauli, near Nainital (Uttaranchal) is a popular base camp for trekking expedition in jungles strewn with Oaks, Deodars and Pine. Bird lovers and wildlife photographers have ample scope in Chitrauli’s wilderness. Corbett National Park provides Tiger camping. And if you are with your family, Himachal Tourism organizes exciting camps at Sarchu in Lahaul, Sangla and Kalpa in Kinnaur and at Kaza in Spiti, Barog in Solan district, Baspa (Sangla) valley, Tabo (Spiti), Al Hilal (Taragarh) and Dharamsala (Kangra), Dalhousie (Chamba) and camps at Kullu-Manali are popular vacation hubs. Camps at Hatu (Shimla) at a height of 10500 ft, makes you want to touch the sky.
Westwards: Gujarat’s Gir has lion safari camps. The Siana camp and safari in Rajasthan is another ideal place for a wildlife camping. Ranthambore National Park has camping provisions at Dev Villas, with the Aravalli backdrop and adjacent to 13th century monuments. Rajasthan also has desert camping at Jaisalmer Sam sand dunes, for that unforgettable experience of living amidst the endless expanse of sand. Rann of Kutch Wild Ass Sanctuary’s has a choice of adventurous camping haunts. Just stay clear of rains for the desert is made of salt deposits and in case it starts to shower, in no time the region (Little Rann of Kutch), turns into a sea of mud.
Baywatch: The beach at Mandavi place by the Arabian Sea, Kutch, is dotted with beach camps. The Beach camps at Goa, however, remains the hot favorite. With Goa beach festival and the New Year bash there is more to tango.
Designer Camps: Karnataka’s Cauvery Fishing Camp, Kabini River Lodge Camps, Kali Wilderness Camp, B.R. Hills Wildlife Adventure Resort have a choice of tiled and colonial styled cottages, thatched log huts and swiss tents, hurricane lamps to illuminate your nights - all designed to give you a luxurious stay close to nature.These and many more camping joints await your arrival. All tenting provisions, a smart naturalist guide, the best of locales, travel tickets, loads of travel tips - all come in the package. Alternatively, you can pick one of Lonely Planet Guides for India, and set off on your own. And trust me, that would team better with your adventurous wildlife camping plans.
Do’s and Don’ts
Nature too has Her rules of hygiene. Please take care that your camping area is left as clean as it was when you arrived. Trying to steal in some wild flora or fauna is a strict ‘No No’. And while camping in the jungles, a check on your decibel level will help keep the ambiance just as it should be - let only the wild voice itself. A camera and binoculars are a must-carry.
 

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