By Mr. Prasenjit Sen & Ms. Ananya Majumdar (L&T MHPS Boilers)
As we, three close pals, sat wondering how we must spend the torturous mid-summer hot weekend, one of us came up with an idea for a drive to Corbett Tiger Reserve. So, without a second thought, we packed our bags and left for Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary.
Corbett National Park is the First national park in Mainland Asia, set up in 1936, earlier known as Hailey National Park. In 1971 it was taken over by Government of India under ‘Project Tiger’. Spanning three districts of Uttarakhand, in the foothills and floodplains of Himalayas, Corbett has always attracted a number of nature lovers and tourists. After addition of adjacent Sonanadi wildlife sanctuary and reserve forests, Corbett national Parks now spreads over 521 sq. km.
We had made reservations at Halduparao Forest Rest House, which is the only Rest House inside Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary. It can be reached through Kotdwar, where one has to report at the Corbett Reception Centre before leaving for Vatanvasa gate. Kotdwar is approx.. 240 km from our starting point. One has to drive another 50 odd km to reach Vatanwasa gate, the Entry point to Jungle. The drive is through hilly roads and there were several blind turns till one reaches the entry point inside the Jungle. We were on our toes to tackle the mountain roads as we were driving in such terrains for the first time. The scenic beauty of the road will draw your attention to the lush greeneries alongside it, while the sun played hid n seek with us..
The entry to the Jungle is restricted to approved vehicles of forest department, which we had hired for the whole day as is customary for tourists staying overnight.
So we parked the car there itself and boarded an open jeep to reach our rest house and explore the forest. Soon all the man made sounds and chores ceased to exist and jungle started to talk. We were greeted by chirping of numerous birds and lush greenery. The jungle track here is quite rocky and runs around the mountains. Corbett offers you a spectacular geographical variety. It has got mountains as well as plain land. It is dry somewhere, wet somewhere. There are tall trees and grasslands. The co-existence of various geographical terrains is the main reason for its wide range of flora and fauna.
The forest rest house is basically a built hut type structure from the British era. It is located on the edges of a small hill top. River Pallain, a small branch of Sonanadi, is flowing beside it. One can see the vast expanse of the forest and the mountains from the lawns of this forest rest house. As it is situated in dense forest, only solar powered LED lamps are provided. Hence do not expect a lavish stay, especially in summer as no fans are available in the rooms. However, the jungle cools down a bit after the sun sets and you will find the weather is pleasant at night. The best part of living in forest rest house is you can feel the inner soul of forest, which is not possible if you stay outside and come for a day safari. We were thrilled to hear numerous sounds making our own imagination run wild in the forest. However, we could not identify most of the sounds and had a sound sleep at night.
Jungle adventure is incomplete without jungle safari. So, we explored the jungle, both at sunset and sunrise. Driving in the open gypsies through the dense forest roads, crossing rivers and hills can make you feel the thrill. With your driver making you expect a tiger or a herd of elephants will definitely make your adrenaline rush at the slightest sound. You look at every inch of the jungle in anticipation to spot a wild animal or bird. We could only spot some spotted deer, barking deer, sambar, wild fox and wild bores. We were, alas, not lucky enough to spot tigers or Elephants, which surprisingly some of the other travellers spotted and we had to be happy sighting them through the photographs they captured through their DSLRs That, however could not dampen our spirit. We had a lot of fun in those safaris and enjoyed every moment in the jungle.
Before we conclude, we would like to share some important fact for Corbett goers:
- Corbett National Park remains closed from Mid-June to Mid-November. Always check before you venture for Corbett.
- There is no food arrangement inside the Forest rest house. Make sure to carry food if you are booking Forest rest House. They have kitchen and the caretaker can cook for you with your raw materials.
- Please ensure sufficient charge in your electronic devices as solar powered electricity is available for limited time in the Rest House.
- Be prepared for a day without any network on your mobile phones for calls or internet.
- Corbett National Park is always is in high demand. So plan in advance. However, day visits are open for outsiders between 6am to 3pm.
- The Safari charges are Rs. 3500/- for night stay and Rs. 2500/- for day visits (Approx.)
- Do not expect to see tiger every time. One has to be lucky to see it. However, there are lot of other animals which can be spotted easily.