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Location: Nainital, Uttarakhand
Area: 520.8 km 2 (201.1 sq mi)
Nearest Railhead: Ramnagar
Nearest Airport: Dehradun
How to reach: 154 km from Dehradun Airport
Famous for: Tigers
Months open: All year
Best time to visit: November and February
Jim Corbett National Park is the oldest national park in India and probably the most well renowned one due to its rich history and stories related to it. It lies in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand. It is known for the stories about tigers associated with it, many from the pages of Jim Corbett himself, and was the first as an initiative to preserve these beautiful wild cats and the first to come under Project Tiger, when it took birth in 1973. This National Park though, had begun its share way back in 1936 when it was established as Hailey National Park to protect the Bengal tiger. It was later renamed after the famous author and wildlife conservationist Jim Corbett to honour his efforts in pushing the administration to establish it. Tigers, our royal national animals who are all about character and an example of ferocity, are also one of the most endangered species of India. Ecosystem: Corbett is one of the most famous ecotourism destinations in India and sadly, this has also turned out to be one of the problems to its ecosystem. Roughly 70,000 tourists visit this place every season. It is spread over an area of 520.8 square km divided into hills, riverine belts, marshy lands, grasslands and a lake. It experiences rains from July to September. Otherwise, the days are mostly sunny and bright while the nights remain cold due to a slight elevation ranging from 400 to 1200 m. The forests, which almost cover three-fourth of the region comprise of sal, haldu, peepal, rohini and mango trees and house around 50 species of mammals, 110 species of trees, 580 species of birds and 25 species of reptiles.
Dhikala, Jeep Safari, Treks, Lakagarh Dam, Corbett Falls, Gariya Devi Temple
Things to do:
There are options of nature watch and wildlife viewing in both open four wheeler jeeps as well as on elephant backs. For wildlife enthusiasts, tigers are obviously on demand, but other rare species like Otters and endemic fish eating crocodile also make it a place on their checklists. Corbett is also a paradise for the bird watchers. Other than the local birds present here, around 70 other different types of them migrate here during the winters. It is a wild wild place with more than 50 species of raptors alone thronging the place, proving the healthy biodiversity of the area for these birds of prey to feed on. The day begins with various birdsongs and ends with the last grunts of the elephants. If you are lucky, or maybe otherwise, you might get to hear a big growl too. The tourism has been promoted vastly here and the area has been divided into five different zones accordingly. One can enjoy the wildlife safaris from these places and pleasure himself with some sights for a lifetime of wild creatures from very near. Bijrani Safari Zone: The entry gate of this zone is located the closest from Ramnagar city at hardly 01 km from there. This opens into big grasslands that are ideal to be visited during winters to catch the best natural glimpse of the wild beasts as they come out to catch some sun and its heat and a variety of birds. During monsoons, the roads in this and the Dhikala zone get washed away completely and might turn out to be an issue. Summers are also a good time for the wildlife sightings. Jhirna Safari Zone: This zone is open to the tourists all round the year. Its gate is located at almost 16 km from Ramnagar city. Dhela Safari Zone: This is a new ecotourism zone that has attracted the attention of wildlife buffs and is included in tiger reserve zone in November 2014. It is the only area in the reserve’s buffer zone open to tourists in the Corbett Tiger Reserve. The gate to this is located around 13 km from Ramnagar city. Dhikala Zone: This is the largest and the most diverse zone in Corbett. This also has the facility for stay available in the forest, thus making it unique amongst all the parks in the country, which is highly recommended for the wild blooded ones. The gate to this zone is 18 km away from the Ramnagar city. Durga Devi Zone: This is the place for the bird watchers located at the north-eastern boundary of the Jim Corbett national park. The gate is located approximately 36 km from the Ramnagar city. Sitabani Buffer Zone: Though this is not a part of the Corbett Tiger Reserve area, it can be visited for an ambient and serene experience of the nature at the place.
How to reach:
Ramnagar city is the closest and the most convenient option to reach Corbett. It is well connected to most of the major cities in the region and half an hour from here lands you in the Jim Corbett National Park. By road: The Uttarakhand state government buses regularly ply between the national capital Delhi, which is around 260 km from the park, and from other nearby cities like Moradabad, Haldwani, Nainital, etc. By rail: The park is located around 15 km from the Ramnagar city railway station. There is a direct train to Ramnagar that runs from Delhi, and other ones that connect it to Moradabad, Bareilly etc. Commonly chosen options are Ranikhet Express, Corbett Link Express and Kathgodam Express that take you to Ramnagar directly. By air: The nearest frequented airport is at Delhi only, from where you will have to catch a bus or a train.
Best time to visit:
The Corbett is open all year round though, but every season has its own charm. It also depends upon the visitor what type of adventure does he choose. Like monsoons are not the most recommended season, but they are the quietest as a result and the least frequented in terms of tourists. The treks can be an adventure in itself then, though one will have to be careful of the landslides. Winters are a good time for bird watching and other activities. The weather is also on the calmer side then. Summers are good for rafting and sports, and also considered the best time for most wild sightings. According to Riley & Riley (2005), “Best chances of seeing a tiger to come late in the dry season- April to mid-June-and go out with mahouts and elephants for several days.”
While the major reason for tourists coming here is to enjoy the wild safaris in the jungle and to have a wild holiday, there are also a few other places one can visit once here. Corbett Falls is a place surrounded with dense forests and extreme silence situated 25 km from Ramnagar on the Kaladhungi-Ramnagar highway, 4 km from the former There is Kalagarh dam, which has been marred by the disappearance of the hog deer population, but is a serene place now frequented by waterfowls and a lot of other birds in the winter. Garjiya Devi temple can also be visited, best during the Kartik Poornima (November-December), located on the banks of river Kosi in the hilly terrains at a distance of 14 km from Ramnagar.
Where to stay:
Jim Corbett is the only national park in the country where you can savour the experience of spending a night in the jungle at the historical Dhikala Forest Lodge. It was built over a hundred years ago by the Britishers and still remains heavily in demand. Though not very luxurious, this forest department run lodge provides an experience in itself, also providing a vegetarian buffet course served at the on-site restaurant and the access to the famous Jim Corbett library. Outside the park, there are multiple accommodation options available too, but if you can get a hand at spending a night at this lodge, you can have an unforgettable experience equal to none.
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