October 20, 2012
Our Corbett Visit
The day I am sharing was just like another normal scheduled day to work when I was getting ready & was about to leave home
for my job. Suddenly my husband asked a very surprising but interesting question Hey! Would you like to visit Jim Corbett National Park. Amazed & awed unable to make out I said “no” I cant, I have to reach my work place in time and moreover I have not applied
for any leave. During this time, examination were going on in the college and I was on examination duty. But unable to control my zeal and emotions I applied for leave, got it approved and within an hour of packing and arranging we left for our journey to
Jim Corbett National Park. The most interesting part being, no bookings were made in advance, neither did we have any idea of the way to be followed. Unaware of anything we decided to move on. From Chandigarh we started at 11.30am & through Jagadhari , Yamunanagar
& Rorkee at 5.12p.m. we were at Haridwar. Now there was no idea and while on the way we checked for hotels, resorts and jeep safari ‘s on the internet. We got in touch with a travelling operator who kept us guiding from New Delhi. He gave us the address of
a resort called ‘ Jagaar Jungle Resort’. Lateron we came to know that he was the owner of the resort and the couple handled their business from New Delhi. I would like to mention that they were cooperative to an extent and kept guiding us till we reached the
From Haridwar taking a right turn towards Nazibabad we were on the state highway 34.While moving towards Nazibabad we
were crossing an area that was under Reserved Forests just close to Raja ji National Park. On the way we could find sign boards showing “ Elephants crossing Area; Drive slowly”. This made us more anxious and little fear had also taken over us. We were heading
towards our destination on an unknown road. This led to make more frantic calls to our tour operator asking him every now and then which way to follow, are we on safer road or not? From Nazibabad we moved towards Nagina-Dhampur-Afjalgarh-Kashipur.Our resort
Jagaar was close to Kashipur touching the buffer zone of Jim Corbett National Park. It was 9.40 pm that we reached the resort following an unpaved road through a village in pitch dark. The aura and ambience of the resort was completely raw. Small thatched
cottages with wooden doors and little bulb lights on the path leading to our cottage gave the resort a complete wild look.As we were enjoying the dinner, conversing with the staff of the resort we came to know about various stories of the tiger especially
the man-eater which was killed by the villagers 2-3 months back. Only one small latch on the door was the safety in the cottage. Initially unable to sleep, both of us were lying silently without talking to each other and hearing some strange noises from outside,
we slept saying good night as early morning at 5 we had to get a wake up call from the resort staff. At 1.00 a.m. my sleep was interrupted by some noise and I could see my husband still lying in the same position with his eyes wide open.Shockingly I asked,
what happened and back came the reply I am unable to sleep.Some stupid scary noises kept him awake.
So at 5.00 in the morning we got a call and within half an hour, the resort staff handed over to us our breakfast packed
and guided us towards Ramnagar the tiny town 8 kms away from the resort. We drove by our own car to Ramnagar. Here I would like to mention one very strange thing. At 5.30 or so we were at Ramnagar and the whole town was bustling with life. Markets open, people
shopping at early dawn. I never saw such a thing in my life. On asking some local people we came to know that from this little town buses move to various higher reaches of Uttrakhand which are far away. So markets remain open at Ramnagar to facilitate people
who are travelling. From the Ramnagar forest guest house and ticket counter we took tickets for Dhikaka forest range. We got tickets for a canter i.e. a huge truck open from all sides. Corbett National Park is situated in the foothills of the Himalayas. The
present area of Corbett National Park is1318.54 sq. km .including 520 sq. km. core area of and 797.72 sq.km.of buffer area. Corbett has four forest ranges: Dhikala, Domunda, Sonanadi, Bijrani and Jhirna. Main vegetation found at Corbett National Park is sal,
khair, ber, bel, semal, khingan, rohini and bamboo. River Ramganga is the most important river and its tributaries are sonanadi, mandaland palain. River Kosi runs proximate to the park and is also a prominent resource. We were little late and almost all vehicles
had already left for the Dhikala range. Our canter started at 7.00a.m.. As we entered the forest we first saw a Sambhar who was about to cross the road but stopped because the canter was too noisy. Suddenly the canter got slow and driver was showing us the
pug marks which were fresh. He told us that the tiger may just had passed from here few hours before after having water from the nearby Ram ganga rivulet. This raised the anxiety of every person sitting in the canter. People started watching more cautiously
and we were lucky to spot peacock and wag tail within first 10-20 min of our tour.
The canter was so noisy that everyone was getting irritated because as soon as we could spot something the driver was unable
to hear us. It was really surprising why the government has allowed such noisy vehicles inside the forest range. The animals will not come close to noise. Even as the forest department is charging hefty amounts,the vehicles are not properly maintained. What
to talk about the tiger, we could see small animals and few birds retreating from noise. Some spotted deer could be seen near the river bed. Wild Boar were moving in a group following a straight line with parents leading their off springs. Suddenly we asked
the driver to stop as a Brown Eagle was sitting in the middle of the road. We clicked 2-3 good shots and moved ahead. But we were only thinking about TIGER keeping our fingers crossed,praying just to have one look of the beautiful creature in the wild. As
we approached the Dhikala guest house we spotted tamed elephants nearby. The area was fenced with electrified barbed wires. As the driver parked the canter we saw a big Vulture on the nearby tree, feeding its young ones. People were talking about its extinction
due to excessive use of Diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory drug used by farmers to ease pain in cattle. The canter had to stop for 45 minutes so this was the time to talk to strangers exchange views photographs and get fresh. We had maggi and omlette and hot
tea. There was a notice board where people shared their tour experiences. A group saw leopard and tiger an hour ago near guest house. So the excitement grew more and we started moving ahead through the grasslands. As the canter moved through the thick long
grass we were gazing every spot with eyes wide open only searching for the tiger. The canter stopped in the middle of the grasslands where tamed elephants were eating grass. Suddenly an elephant came so close that its trunk was almost inside the canter smelling
the strangers. The driver told us about the Ramganga river flowing nearby which also is a home to ghariyals, turtles and also a major source of water in the park. By this time we
were exhausted and sad but still we were hopeful to spot a tiger. So we decided to go for another safari to Bijrani but now by a jeep.
We came back to the resort, got fresh had lunch and asked the resort staff to arrange a jeep safari for us. The booking was done for
at 3.30 in the afternoon. It was a tough nut to crack as only limited number of jeeps is allowed to enter the forest in the morning and evening. Now we drove again till Bijrani gate by our own car which is 12 kms from Ramnagar. The zone can be entered via
Amanda Gate and the Bijrani Zone can be found 5 kms from there. The tourists are taken around the area by a jeep and presence of guide is mandatory as they help the tourists understand the importance of the park and also the habitats of the animals in the
zone. The jeep was waiting for us and we two along with a guide and driver entered the Bijrani forest. The guide a young chap with an experience of over 5 years started telling us about the Bijrani forest its flora and fauna. But we kept asking him so many
questions on tiger. He told us what to do if a tiger approaches. Keep your body still without moving and making noise let the tiger go. He told us a story of a group who were forced to stop because a tiger came suddenly in their way. The guide told everyone
to sit and the tiger smelled the entire jeep then went. It gave us more anxiety but fear had gripped us by now as the forest was too thick. As we were heading toward Malani, a forest guest house in Bijrani, we spotted a wild tusker near the river. The guide
showed us a big owl on the tree. As we moved ahead we stopped the jeep for some time to hear the calls of the Monkeys, Grey Langoors and Deer for tracing the Tiger. But within minutes we were fearful that if the tiger is around then it can be dangerous so
we started again. We saw Wild Boar, Spotted Deer, Barking Deer, Red Jungle Fowl, Brown Eagle, Grey Langoors, Rhesus Monkeys & Black Crane. The canopies of the trees were too thick and the forest was very dense. All the jeeps inside Bijrani meet at a centre
place where there is a watch tower. The tourists and the guides exchange their tracking routes of tiger spotting if any. The slopes were steep and at times gentle. It made us to think what would happen if the tiger comes as the path followed by the jeep was
undulating. We also saw the places were tiger usually comes for drinking water. Some were man made while others were natural sources. Sun started setting and we had to move back as the time for the safari was coming to an end. On way back we saw few settlements
near the buffer zone where the forest department had put fenced barbed wires but the people had taken them off and they were fearlessly living inside the park. So the safari was over but tiger could not be spotted. In comparison to Dhikala, Bijrani is more
drier and also has more diverse vegetation. Sad yet still excited we came out and to change our mood we entered a souvenir shop where things related to tiger were being sold like t-shirts, caps, key rings,paintings etc. We were back to the resort, had dinner,
shared about our tour with the resort staff. Since we had to leave next morning so we slept in time.Next morning after having tea we were taken to a water pump near the fields where the resort had arranged for a rustic bath. My husband enjoyed bathing and
then we had our breakfast and packed our stuff. We started our journey at 12.30in the afternoon and halted at Haridwar. Here we went to see the holy river Ganges and we bathed at Har ki Paudi. Since we were running short of time we just picked fruits from
a roadside vendor and moved ahead. We had tea at Ambala and reached Chandigarh at about 8.45p.m..Though we could not spot the tiger but we enjoyed the nature at its best!
February 18, 2012
Once in a lifetime experience at GIR national park
Last month I was in Gujarat with my uncle to meet my brother who is in Jamnagar, Gujarat. it was our once in a year off. So we decided to see tourist spots in Gujarat.
We visited various spots but the highlightd was GIR national park. I am not being able to upload photos sorry!!!
February 04, 2012
Valley National Park
Neora valley national park is one of the last remaining pristine ecosystems of the eastern Himalayas with its amazing bio-diversity and home to many
endangered plants, animals and birds. The area comprises the catchments and watershed of Neora Riverand its tributaries. The land of cute Red panda in its pristine undisturbed natural habitat with its rugged inaccessible hilly terrain together makes the park
an important wilderness zone. The significance of the park lies in the fact that it provides shelter to many species included in the Red Data book of IUCN and the appendices of CITES. The park harbors more than
31 species of mammals like Red Panda, Clouded Leopard, Mithun, Ghoral, Wild Dog, Leopard, Himalayan BlackBear, Himalayan Thar, Leopard Cat and the Royal Bengal Tiger.
The dense nature of theforest bars the easy sighting of animals
•For all the nature lovers and explorers this place may be a paradise with its both the features of social and wild life. For the people who may not be able to cover long distances with perseverance
for the wild obstacles can avail shorter routes through tribal villages and get the adventure of village trekking. Axiomatically for wild discoverers the place will be one of the best regions in India to unveil the virgin forest of Neora Valley National Park;the
pine clad winding roads, the dense bamboos, the colorful birds. The different routes for wild trek are: a) Samsing Fari – Mauchuki – Samsing Fari, b) SamsingFari – Bhotey Kharka (halt) – Samsing Fari. The different routes for village trek are: a) Samsing Fari
– Bhujel Gaon – Gumba Dara – Samsing Fari.
For details please refer to themap attached and contact the under signed :
A SOCIAL WELFARE GROUP OF NATURECONSERVATIONIST
SAMSING FARI, NEAR SUNTALEY KHOLA, DISTT. DARJEELING
Phone: 9475332231, 9126785961,
Landline : 03562200395
Regn. No S/1L/79108
March 25, 2011
i have visit to kanha national park 2 times.i want the save trees and tigers on worldwide level
March 05, 2011
I work as freelance birding guide to North India, Chambal, Bharatpur, Nainital, Corbett, Kanha, Pench and Bandhavgarh. Here are my observations at various places.
Find checklists of birds of Jabalpur, Kanha, Nauradehi, Amarkantak situated in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Most of these are less known less explored but fantastic birding destinations. Can add to sighting of different
avi fauna and add to your lists. The tiger reserves offer double benefits - Birding and Animal Watching...Tigers and birds together
Madhya Pradesh Birds
March 01, 2011
Had a great time in Bandhavgarh. After visting other parks like Corbett, Kanha and Ranthambore, where the tiger sightings were not great, Bandhavgarh carried lots for expectations for me. Had read, watched and heard about this jungle being the best place
to spot a tiger properly and clearly it never disappointed me.
Right from the moment we entered our resort ( located right next to the boundary ), we were hopeful. Immediately met a guest in the resort who had just returned from morning safari and spotted and followed the tiger for 10 mins.
Our resort was nestled in 21 acres of raw forest with rooms being built on the trees. Truly marvellous experience of staying in the traquility and privacy. The resort had only 5 tree houses in the entire property and no room where visible from any of the tree
houses. staff was also polite and gave us good service.
Our first safari ( evening ) wasnt great as we failed to spot any of the tigers. We didnt even come close to it. However, we were hopeful.
At night we were woken up by a loud sound of a tiger roaring very nearby. It was precedded and followed by multiple alarm calls from Sambar and Langurs. For the first time we actually heard proper alarm calls at night. We had heard isolated alarm calls of
Sambar at Kanha before. But this was different. The next morning,the resort staff informed us that it was a tigress and sound was coming right behind the boundary of our tree!!!!
Morning safari was good. Typically like in Bandhavgarh, there was a tiger show. The forest dept has elephants with mahuts who track the tigers in the jungle. Once the tigers lay on the ground, people are taken on the same elephants to see the tiger. We reached
the centre point ( forest office ) inside the park and were informed about tiger show being happening on route D. We immediately rushed to the spot where the forest officer was organizing the same. Our sighting was good. Three tigers ( a mother and her grownup
cubs ) were lying near a hill. Our elephant took us right next to the tiger and we took some wonderful closeup photos.
The tigers were just unconcerned by our presence and were lying at leisure. Once back at the resort we took a tour of the resort in the afternoon. Believe me, the resort had a private natural watering hole where animals could be spotted. Our guide,the resort
watchman had his own version of exciting stories about the tiger. Me, my wife and even our 2 yr old kid walked the entire 3 KM stretch in dense forest. I have to say this was the best jungle resort I have stayed in.
Again during the morning safari next day, we spotted two tigers immediately as we entered the park. All the safari vehicles who had entered the park that morning got proper sighting of that male and female. However, distance was bit long. After 15 mins, the
female walked away followed by the male. But everyone was satisfied.
All in all, trip to Bandhavgarh was good. I will recomment this jungle only for tiger sightings. Other animals are not in abundance and hence its all about tigers. We saw 5 tigers in two days whereas in other three jungles put together we just spotted 2 tigers
only. The jungle is not beautiful like Corbett, nor is full of different species like Kanha. However, you can be rest assured about one thing. A good tiger sighting. This is a comment coming from me who has visited 3 jungles before this and had done 10 safaris
and never had a good view of a tiger. Bandhavgarh was my last option and it didnt disappoint me at all!!!!!
Ms Pintueli Gajjar
February 17, 2011
Its late in the night as I sit in the comfortable confines of a railway compartment at the old Delhi railway station. Its a new experience traveling alone as I wait for the Mussoorie
Express to chug into the inky darkness which I hope will take me to a new dawn in my life. I feel more in control of myself and while trying to absorb the atmosphere, I get an occasional strange glance… a single Indian lady with a backpack! I feel good. The
train’s started on the dot at 10:15 pm, and I’m on my way. I quickly settle down for a nap and before I know it, am dreaming of flower-filled valleys and endless meadows with laughing brooks and singing rivers. Only when the train comes to a shuddering halt
at Haridwar, I’m jolted back to reality! The train, for reasons beyond my understanding, halts here for 3 hours before taking off for Rhishikesh, I decide to get off here and proceed to Rhishikesh by road.
Its 6.15 as I take an auto rickshaw called ‘Vikram’ from here to Rhishikesh which costs me a mere Rs 15 on a sharing basis. They charge per passenger and can crowd in about 10 passengers
at a time. It’s been drizzling for an hour now and I expect more rains as I proceed up. The clouds look ominously dark and are hanging low, a sure sign of showers along the way.
The Ganges in Haridwar is magnificent. Unfortunately, my camera is deep down in the rucksack and I’m already regretting not having removed it earlier. I can see a few sadhus having
an early dip in the morning chill.
The road passes up through dense Chilla forest of bamboo, teak and cherry and, Rhishikesh comes quickly. I head straight for Chotiwala’s across the Ram-jhula. This is a famous tea/lunch
stall and is so named, because a Chotiwala sits there, all pink and roly-poly, grinning at all and sundry. He looks weird with his ‘choti’ standing straight up in the air!
I have a quick breakfast and leave my rucksack at Chotiwala’s (he’s trustworthy and moreover having such a distinct hairdo he would be easy to spot anywhere) and join a group of
people on a small trek to Neelkantha. The cobbled path is slippery as it’s been raining and I enjoy the way up with a group of college kids from Lucknow.. Somewhere deep from the jungle comes the trumpeting of wild elephants and we all hurry along…the pachyderms
here are notorious for attacking and a series of stories start on the way up. It’s interesting to hear some of them while most of them are hearsay. We reach at 1:00 pm. I take a dip in the cool stream flowing by the temple and am feeling refreshed. The clouds
are now closing in and a damp atmosphere engulfs us. We hurriedly start the trek down and this time, we are almost running as the clouds threaten to break any moment. I quickly gather my sack from the Chotiwala’s and head back to town. As I check into Hotel
Uttaranchal, the heavens let loose…. I’m glad to be in my room. After a hot bath, I catch a few winks.
What a surprise when I wakeup at 5:00 pm... The sun’s shining as though it’s never rained! One of nature’s tricks!! I stroll down to the GMVN Office and meet a really nice gentleman,
Mr. Allan Sharma, who not only guides me but also lends me the beautiful map of Uttaranchal that is hanging behind his desk. I feel lucky to have met him. He gives me the details of all the probable places I could have a comfortable and affordable stay while
on the move. I profusely thank him and go and sit on the banks of the mighty river.
Watching the river flow, I’m lost in thoughts ~ on the creation of the earth, the bounty of nature and thank God that I’m born in such a traditionally rich, seeped in culture and
breathtakingly beautiful country. What freedom! I sit pondering until the twinkling golden and silver lights start sparkling through homes across the expanse, reflecting a million reflections in the rushing waters. I choose this moment to call my daughters
and my dad and share these happy moments with them. Reluctantly, I walk back to the hotel. On the way, at the market, there’s this sweetmeat shop, Saket, which has a tiny but clean restaurant at the back and serves excellent cutlets and fantastic coffee. My
dinner done, I pick up a few apples and nuts for the journey tomorrow and head back to the hotel and in minutes, I’m back in the land of flowers and mountain fragrances…as I dream on.
Up and away at 2:30 am…to the bus-stand to catch the 3:15 bus for Joshimath. As I settle down, I’m half-sleepy and groggy. As the bus starts, I realize with horror that I’m the
only passenger and the driver is driving like crazy….he has a terrible smoker’s cough and is continuously smoking bidis and coughing. At times I feel he might just double up any moment….and his driving is driving me nuts. I have all my fingers and toes crossed
and am chanting the gayatri mantra to save my own soul! I decide to close my eyes and try to sleep, but to no avail! On the contrary, I’m holding on to all available support with my extremities …and ability!
The journey is awfully beautiful and somewhere along the way, I have managed to lose the Ganges and have no idea when the Alaknanda has joined me … keeping me company… flowing…clouds
hanging really low…the mountains towering above and the yellow-vented bulbuls flying around. I can hear the whistling thrush, the low whistle of a bushchat and chirping of the other birds. We manage to arrive safely at Srinagar and as the bus halts, many Sikh
pilgrims, on their way to Hemkund Sahib are now boarding the bus. I’m relieved at the company. As the bus starts once again on its journey, I try to take some pictures of the narrow bridges across the river but find it difficult to hold steady … thanks to
our ‘Desi-Grand-Prix-Driver’. In fact, most of the passengers are holding on to the seats, windows, bars, each other, whatever … all for their dear lives! I know it sounds hilarious but it is sheer hell! We finally make it to Rudraprayag at 8:15 am. The driver
is having another bidi and I wonder what’s going to happen next… my gayatri mantras begin…Was my dream of a new freedom going to go up in a puff of bidi smoke?
We leave Rudraprayag at 9 am. The journey is slower due to the other traffic on the road – some blessing in disguise. Also, since the bus is now crowded with the pilgrims, the driver
has less opportunity of trying out his driving histrionics. I doze off until we reach Chamoli. There’s a landslide up ahead and all traffic has come to a standstill. I get off the bus and stretch my legs. The mountains are beckoning and I can’t wait to get
to the valley. Just one more night…I arrive at Joshimath at 5:40 pm and have a splitting headache. I check into the GMVN tourist bungalow, which luckily, is bang on the main road. I put my rucksack into the room and order some food, pop a dispirin and doze
off. I am awakened by a cacophony outside the hotel. I freshen up and decide to have a look at the town.
Joshimath is a small town, but a prominent one as Gobindghat (the staging point for Hemkund Sahib & the valley of flowers) up ahead does not have all facilities. As I stroll
down the main market road, there’s no electricity tonight but the whole place is aglow with the soft lights of the candle-lit evening and millions and trillions of stars studded in the sky above. I suddenly realize how dependent we are on technology and how
we have, in the name of progress, lost the many beautiful sights that nature has to offer. There’s a chill in the air and I feel snug in my overcoat and muffler. I walk into a small dhaba on the roadside and order some hot food. The strange glances towards
me continue…but am so hungry that I just ignore them and enjoy the food.
I have a good sleep and am up before dawn. I take the 6:40 am bus to Badrinath. The bus is a hotchpotch mix of passengers. The back is filled with the locals while there are a few
Bengali tourists in the middle. There’s an antique-looking villager and he’s got a running commentary on… of his visits to Haridwar & is adding his own notions and ideas on religion. He keeps looking at all of us hoping someone would lend him ears, little
knowing that we have no choice but to listen to his ramblings….a child is crying somewhere in the back and the bus is packed. The bus conductor has a whacky sense of humor: Bumbai ka fashion…Uttaranchal ka rotation aur Gadhwaal ka mausam – koi garantee nahi!
I agree with him. The mountains are lush green and sheer drops of waterfalls dot the scenery. The clouds are still up there and I can see a build-up. Well, the whole valley is shrouded in fog. It’s going to be another wet day!
We reach Gobindghat at 7:15 and I get off the bus and feel my pulse quicken. I look up at the mighty mountains and breathe in the dew-laden air. It smells good. I take my time to
gauge the exact time I might take to reach Ghangharia and, realise that I have no idea! I walk through Gobindghat, taking in the ambiance created by the hundreds of pilgrims… some sturdy enough to climb in a short span of time while some are so old that I
wonder how’ll they make it??? While I contemplate taking a porter, one suddenly appears out of nowhere, GhanBahadur Singh. He has a kind face and I agree to hire him to carry my backpack. We agree on Rs 200. It has started raining now and I am huddled inside
As we cross the bridge and head towards Pulna, I’m slowing down. It takes some time getting used to walking in the mountains. The fresh air is too good for these hungry lungs of
pollution-laden Mumbai and the going becomes tougher. I stop at Pulna and watch the farmers in their fields. Alongside is a tributary, Pushpawati, in a mad rush to meet Alaknanda. The clouds are closing in now and visibility drops. To add to woes a cobbled
path, mixed with rain slush and horse-shit, makes it all the more difficult to walk and one has to be careful of putting one’s feet in the right place. A slip here would not only be painful but will cause much misery if not be fatal at this point in time.
I make two more stops to enjoy the flavors of the villages and keep a steady pace going. We finally reach Ghangharia at 2:30 in the afternoon.
Ghangharia lies bang in the middle of a dense forest shaped in a gorgeous V shaped valley. The tall pine trees shoot skywards like rockets as if to lay a personal claim to the bright
rejuvenating sunlight, while the clouds come rushing down, blanketing everything in sight. It has an ethereal feel and I suddenly get a feeling of Déjà vu. I can’t believe I’ve reached here – on my own. The tiny hamlet is bustling with pilgrims and I spot
a few Japanese tourists. Just before the hamlet lies an open meadow converted into a beautiful helipad. Today, there are some children playing hopscotch and I am tempted to go join them but I know, I can’t trust my legs now. The last bit was a trifle hard.
In fact, I felt like a Jack-in-the-box and my legs are so rubbery that I practically have no control over them.
I check in at the GMVN guest house and take a dorm-room – all to myself, as there are hardly any tourists. It’s a four-bed room with a bath attached. So far, so good. I dump my
backpack and go out to explore. I walk into a hotel opposite and order some food and afterwards, a hot ‘chai’ and watch the people around. There are all kinds… I meet a local couple from Bhyundar village and have a good chat – about their life … and, they
look so happy together. Somewhere deep inside, I envy them their blissfully simple lives and think of the madness of my own life in a metropolitan city. It is then that I realize what a loser I am! I go out and explore the small lane selling all the various
paraphernalia of temple offerings and flower garlands, sweetmeats and guide books. Spotting a photography shop, I walk in and am greeted by a pony-tailed youth, all smiles and at service. I look at the marvelous photographs of the flowers of the valley. Rajnish
Chauhan is an amazing person and a walking encyclopedia of Botany. A resident of the Bhyundar village, he’s been studying the flora and fauna of the valley and the upper regions of the Himalayas since the past 6 years. He’s passionate about his valley and
as he talks, a glow spreads across his face as he lovingly dishes out the almost-alien names of the flowers. His shop is full of the most exotic flowers I’ve ever seen – all frozen on postcard-sized glossy photographs.
It’s now 4:00pm but feels as though it’s 7:00 in the evening. Rajnish has invited me to come view his slide show at the library. As I come out of the library after the amazing show,
I can feel my toes and fingers going numb with the cold creeping in. I walk back into the restaurant and dive into some hot tomato soup with paranthas and rush back into my room. I order for some hot water for the water bottle I carry. As I wait for the water
to arrive, I pack for tomorrow’s trip to the valley. Everything in order, I jump under the blankets with my water bottle and try to sleep. Outside it is 12˚C and it is raining. The chill is too much and I find sleeping difficult. Have tried all positions and
am not sure if I’ve slept even a wink the whole night.
Am up, even before the alarm goes off and drag my numb body out of bed. Have a quick change of clothes, arrange my things neatly and as I step out of the room, I get a shock of
my life! I can’t see a thing as the fog has completely shrouded everything. And worse, it’s drizzling. I go to the reception area and ask for a chai. I have no choice but to enjoy the moments of a steaming cuppa. The clouds have rolled in too and except the
trees closest to me, can’t see anything beyond. I wait for an hour and then, decide to move on. It has cleared a bit and the receptionist assures me that it’ll completely clear in an hour or so. He was right.
Entrance to Valley of Flowers
I go up to the entrance of the valley and sit there twiddling my gloved fingers. My legs have taken their own sweet time to get there – after a long, sleepless night they seem out
of gear. I buy a ticket at the entrance and wander inside and am greeted by clusters of asters and erigrones – all in purples and yellow, complimenting each other with their unique identities. The path is cobbled through a thick forest of birch, maple and
oak. And yes, lots of ‘bhojpatra’ trees. I come upon a small waterfall and take a few pictures. I slow down here as the path now winds uphill while the Pushpawati flows downhill. After a kilometer I reach an old wooden bridge and standing on it, can feel the
tremendous power of the swollen tributary. Ahead, I bump into some college kids, who have come from Delhi. They are amazed that I’m doing this trek on my own… well, so am I! As we walk together, chatting about this and that, I spy a Himalayan Pit Viper under
a stone. I catch it and show it to the kids who have never seen it. After all the oohs and aahs, I let the snake slide back under the stone. We cross another log bridge and see a glacier where the Pushpawati has cut through. This whole region is now a protected
forest and is named as the Nanda Devi Sanctuary. You are not allowed to carry any eatables or disposable water bottles inside the sanctuary to prevent littering.
The Old Wooden Bridge over Pushpavati
Just as we turn the bend, I find myself gasping for breath. The valley ahead is miles and miles of a many-hued carpet. Yellows, pinks, blues, reds, purples and whites… all clambering
for attention! I feel tears roll down – out of sheer joy! It’s a dream come true. The Bhyundar glacier pass is clearly visible and I just sit there gaping! I am sure this is where the Gods live. I walk the length of the valley, marveling at each miracle of
nature. I take time to visit the resting place of Joan Margaret Legge and pay my respects to the brave lady who brought recognition of the valley to the world. I am almost at the end of the valley when I see the first cloud rolling in. Reluctantly I turn back
and feel certain heaviness in my step as I hasten back. By the time I reach the bridge, the clouds have overtaken me and I’m caught in the downpour. I find shelter under a birch tree. After a 20-minute pour, it suddenly stops and the skies are once again clear.
I’m tempted to go back but decide otherwise and head back to Ghangharia. After a quick meal, I join a group of pilgrims, on the way to Hemkund Sahib.
I start at 2 in the afternoon and although it is a mere 6 km trek, it takes me almost 6 hours to reach up. I think this is one the most arduous trips I’ve ever managed. It is 9
pm by the time I’m through visiting the holy shrine. Undecided whether to go down or stay put, I decide to stay put at the Lakshmanji’s temple. Although I now realize how risky it was to have stayed there, I knew I wouldn’t be able to do this again tomorrow.
Fighting the biting cold and fatigue, I manage to pass the night, singing songs to myself and exercising to keep the cold at bay. The mountains look beautiful in the luminance of the moonlight, not to mention the majestic Nanadadevi Parbat rising just behind
the Gurudwara. I don’t feel alone and the mountains seem friendly. At the first sign of dawn, I climb up a small hill beyond the Hemkund shrine and am again down on my knees – this time crying like a baby! The expanse of Brahma Kamals and Fen Kamals are the
tip of the cake!!! It is a tremendously overwhelming feeling, which still haunts me to this day! And what’s more, I am out of film!!! Sheer bad luck. But, I guess the power of memory is greater than any film roll… a life-long consolation!
I head back to Ghangharia, and head straight to the restaurant for a breakfast of the local ‘Madhve ki roti’ and black tea. I go to meet Rajnish but he’s gone off with some tourists
and missed meeting him. But I do meet his father, Mr. Jagdish Chauhan and promise to come back. Back at the hotel, I meet a family from Kerala who are also traveling to Joshimath. Going down was tougher than climbing up because it was slippery like hell! And
by the time I reached Gobindghat, my legs were like two stumps that just wouldn’t bend. I hitch hiked the ride with the family from Kerala, till Joshimath.
I stayed there for two days, visiting Auli. Later I went to Mussoorie and did another trek to Har-ki-Dun… but, that’s another story altogether! This visit to the valley wouldn’t
have been possible without the full support and motivation of my daughters. They believed in me more than I did and I do not have enough words to thank them. My only wish is for them to visit the place for themselves and re-live all the beautiful moments and
experiences that I did.
Valley of Flowers was indeed a dream come true. I have dreamt of visiting the valley ever since I first heard of it while still in school. Since this was my first solo trek, at
the ripe ole age of 45, with low blood pressure and a bout of arthritis, it has been a tremendous achievement. Someday, I want to go there again and open a small school for the village children and give them vocational training.
Some advice to first-time trekkers:
• Always plan your itinerary keeping in mind the delays due to the weather and landslides. They are unpredictable.
• Always carry some fruit, chocolate, candy and nuts with you while traveling.
• A torch, batteries, candle and a matchbox are essential commodities in your kit.
• Keep the contacts of the people you know or meet on the way. It’s nice to know you have someone in case of an emergency.
• Be nice to the local villagers. If you are buying something from them, do not haggle too much over the price – probably that’s the only source of income they have. Life in the
mountains is far tougher than we think or know.
• When traveling by road, keep a map, notepad and a pencil handy – it helps to jot down experiences.
• Keep your money safe – I usually travel with money in my socks!
• When packing, keep your woolies on the top – you never can tell when you may have to start layering yourself.
• Put all yr medicines in the same pocket as your water bottle for emergencies on the way and make sure it is not easily accessible.
• Especially while traveling in the mountains, carry an umbrella or a raincoat or a rainproof jacket.
• It is also advisable to carry an extra pair of shoes – in case one pair gets wet!
• One sure remedy to keep the cold at bay is to rub some Amrutanjan on the soles of your feet before wearing the socks, on hands and in the neck, just before you jump into bed.
• Never tell strangers of your plans nor let them know that you are new to the place.
• The best place to ask for directions is either the tourist office or the police station.
October 18, 2010
i have visited the mudumalai national park in Nilgris of tamilnadu
on the way in to the forest i have watched man extinct species of birds and other mammals such as
indian gaur ,elephant with their calves and many spotted deers with a group of nearly100-150
i have also spotted an extinct species named sambar
while we r on return i spotted two tigers fighting with a common sloth bear
that looked so awesome so dont fail to visit mudumalai the nilgris
June 17, 2010
I am Nikhil Rathod from Nagpur.
I visited Pench National (Known as Karmazari in MP ) Park with friends on 8th and 9th June 2010
and the experience was fantastic. Mother nature in summer is at full swing and the park
looks beautiful in summer. And the animals too. We saw many animals and both days tigers, cubs
jackal, hyena and many more.
May 05, 2008
Dudhwa National Park-26-28 April, 2008
Situated on the Indo-Nepal border, in Uttar Pradesh, the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve with an area of 614 sq. Km is one of the few remaining examples of the diverse Terai region. The northern edge of the reserve lies along the Indo-Nepal border and the river Suheli
marks the southern boundary. It is home to a large number of rare and endangered species which includes Tiger, Leopard, Swamp deer, Hispid hare, Bengal Florican, etc.
The grasslands of the reserve are the habitat of the largest kind of Indian deer-the Swamp deer or the Barasingha, so called because of their magnificent antlers (bara-twelve;singha-antler). Decline in their habitats led to a drastic decline in numbers and
a small area named Sonaripur Sanctuary was set aside in 1958 for the conservation of this rare species of deer. Later, it was upgraded to cover an area of 212 sq. km and was renamed the Dudhwa Sanctuary. In 1977, the area was further extended to include over
614 sq. km and was declared a National Park. Eleven years later, in 1988, when Dudhwa became a part of Project Tiger, the area of the Kishanpur Sanctuary was added to create the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve.
It was the time of wheat harvesting and one could see neatly stacked wheat stalks at several places enroute to Dudhwa via Bareilly from Delhi. We had been told the journey to Dudhwa would be about nine hours. and also that we can expect narrow
roads for about 50 km or so. But the roads we encountered came out to be really bad both on the way up via Shahjehanpur and the way down, when we came via Pilibhit. Fourteen hours by car to a Tiger Reserve one had heard little about!
Once we entered the reserve the roads were well maintained and the first surprise was a meter gauge railway right into the forest, in fact right into the core area as we observed later. Villagers we met at a tea stall were excited that the track had been approved
for conversion into broad gauge.
We had booked our stay in Forest Rest Houses inside the reserve. The place was well lit with CFL bulbs running entirely on solar cells. Even the adjoining staff quarters had solar power.
Early next day we were told that two of the elephants allotted for safari had been requisitioned by Forest Dept for “operation man-eater leopard”. The leopards in Dudhwa lift cattle and turn man- eaters often. Compared to 77 tigers in the Reserve, the leopard
numbers were only ten.
We are allowed to explore the forest in our own vehicle and that is what we did. Smoldering ash from a recent forest fire greeted us first. Soon we glimpsed chital and swamp deer and tiger pugmarks.
We also managed an elephant ride into the 20 sq. km rhino enclosure . The rhinos seemed placid , chewing on elephant grass, which came to life with jumping hog deer as we maneuvered our way.
The jeep ride into the forest in the evening proved exciting- Herds of swamp deer could be seen from the machan. The deer had shed their antlers, which were sprouting again for the next mating season display. The pugmarks of an adult tigress
and four cubs seemed very recent and we followed them. Sure enough the huge tigress surprised a herd of sitting swamp deer into sudden action. Calls by langur and deer filled the forest air. The whistle of a train came from the distance and a speeding train
could be seen in the horizon view from the machan. The Gonda-Bareilly railway line passes through the National Park. Animals in this reserve must be quite used to this noise by now. One tiger and two elephants died in the tracks recently, Sonu, our guide informed.
Ten trains run through the reserve in one day and every now and then we encountered people collecting fodder and dried wood in the forest. The train station located right inside the reserve carried people in and out regularly making a mockery of National Park
Tigers and people are living on the edge in this Tiger Reserve, which obviously had a very good prey base. Herds of hog deer and a few barking deer and chital greeted us on the jeep route. Wild hog, another favorite of the tiger also showed themselves often.
Swamp deer herds, which kept near water bodies, avoided tourist routes, but were obviously thriving as well.
Swamp deer in Dudhwa
The guide pointed out to a distant herd of wild elephants, they are our guests, he said. “They have come from Kosi Tappu wildlife reserve of Nepal”.
A large partridge scampered away. Could it be the swamp partridge? Our guide for the day was not very sure. A serpent eagle displayed itself on a large tree. The cry of the brown headed fishing eagle made us reach for the binoculars. Bird life in the forest
is good though not as plentiful as in Corbett Reserve.
I almost forgot to mention the wildlife spotted near our dwelling. As I was opening the locked room of the forest hut, a sound of something falling behind me made me look back. A pit vper had just decided to drop down from the roof of the verandah. As I moved
away, it started hurtling towards me. Soon, the hot floor made it difficult for it to move. The canteen boys came, swirled it around a stick a few times and then dropped it across the wall of the adjoining forest. What if someone gets bitten, ( vipers seldom
bite though) I asked. The local Hakim has herbal medicines for the bite and they work, he said. According to him, no one he knew died of the bite.
I remembered having read in an article in the BNHS magazine that the violet spikes of Pogostemon bengalensis, seen in the forests around, is the only confirmed herbal antidote for the venom of the viper. Thank God I did not have to try it!
The Reserve is dotted all around with anthills- a sure sign that sloth bear are likely to be around. Though we came across footprints and scat often, the bear himself proved elusive.
The Park did not have too many visitors as many of the forest guest houses were under renovation. A tree house with a good view of “Tiger Tal” is complete and is sure to be a hit with tourists. On the whole, a Park with huge tourist potential, if managed right.