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.
February 24, 2008
|Published by Arpit Deomurari (deomurari AT gmail.com),
Participants: Arpit Deomurari (Birding Expert), Mr. Ken Hatshorn (UK) and Mr. John Hollyer (UK).
Birds: 283 Species
DAY 1 Sat 17th Nov: ARRIVE MUMBAI
DAY 2 Sun 18th Nov: MUMBAI – BHUJ – TERA/KERC
Fly this morning on Jet Airways from Mumbai to Bhuj. Met on arrival and transferred 1 ½ hours to KERC at Tera Village.
DAY 3 Mon 19th: KERC/NALIYA GRASSLANDS
Full day birding looking particularly for Great Indian Bustard.
DAY 4 TUE 20th Nov: KERC – CHARI DAND
Full day birding in consultation
DAY 5 Wed 21st Nov: CHARI DAND – BHUJ
Full day birding before driving back to spend the night in Bhuj – 1 hr 15 minutes.
DAY 6 Thu 22nd Nov: BHUJ – DASADA/LITTLE RANN OF KUCHH
Drive about 6 hours to the Little Rann of Kutch where the last of the Indian Wild Ass has been given protection in a dedicated sanctuary. The Rann is a fascinating terrain – essentially the shallow bed of the sea that drains out in the dry months and gets flooded
during the monsoon by the sea surging inland on the one hand and the seasonal streams in monsoon flood bringing in fresh water on the other. This mix of salt and sweet water provides ideal conditions for the prolific growth of crustaceans and other aquatic
food for the flamingoes and other birds that breed and winter here in enormous numbers. Apart from the Wild Ass the Little Rann is also the home for a wide variety of species that include wolf, chinkara gazelle, nilgai, blackbuck antelope, desert fox and
Asiatic Wild Cat.
In addition to the game drives this evening and the next morning you can visit Kharapat Rabari and Bahrwadi villages, tribes who have their own distinctive style of embroidery; then there are the nomadic Bajanias and Mirs, and the Paddhars, a tribe of fisher
folk. Your accommodation here is in pleasant and comfortable rooms based on the local mud hut architecture.
DAY 7/8 Fri/Sat 23rd/24th Nov: LITTLE RANN
DAY 9 Sun 25th Nov: LITTLE RANN – GIR
Drive 4 – 5 hours to Gir and check-in at Lon Safari Camp. Game viewing to begin from the PM drive.
DAY 9/10 Mon/Tue 26th/27th Nov: GIR
Two full days of game viewing and bird watching
DAY 11 Wed 28th Nov: GIR – BHAVNAGAR/VELAVADAR
At one of the good hotels in Bhavnagar. Pm: visit Velavadar
DAY 12 Thu 29th Nov: BHAVNAGAR/VELAVADAR
Full day Velavadar
DAY 13 Fri 30th Nov: BHAVNAGAR – AHMEDABAD
Drive 4 hours to Ahmedabad. Overnight at House of Mangaldas.
DAY 14 Sat 1st Dec: AHMEDABAD
GIR National Park:
GIR National Park the last abode of Asiatic Lions produced some very good birds, some of them …Brown breasted Flycatcher (Muscicapa muttui), Jungle Prinia, Excellent view of Mottled Wood owl Pair, etc. We had
very good sightings of 2 Lioness with 2 subadult cubs.
Velavadar Blackbuck National Park:
This park is famous as the largest concentration of Blackbuck in India and also Asia’s largest Roost of Harriers. We had all the harriers eg. Pallids, Montagu’s, Hen and Marsh Harriers etc. Apart from other
birds we had really great sightings of Striped Hyena in the park for 3 visits. And we had good sightings of Indian Wolf also.
February 22, 2008
VISIT TO THE KISHANPUR WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
“Well the beautiful dream is over!” that is exactly what I felt, when I returned from back from the Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary. The two days at Kishanpur were like a dream, a dream come true.
My friends and I started from Lucknow on a Saturday morning at around 8 A.M. Kishanpur Wild Life Sanctuary, a 4 hour drive from Lucknow, lies 13 km from Bhira town in Lakhimpur Kheri District. Spread in a compact area of 200 sq Km, it is a part of Dudhwa
Tiger Reserve. We reached Kishanpur Forest Rest House at around 1 P.M. The Rest House lay 6 km deep inside the Sal and Teak forest. It is an austere British style mansion with two suites, a kitchen, dining room, fireplaces, flush toilets and solar light arrangement.
It was a real paradise; a place where I oft dream to live.
We had our packed lunch and were ready by 2 P.M. to visit Jhadi Tal. Jhadi is a large clear water wetland formed by the flood waters of the Sharda. But we were told that we could only visit after 4 P.M. So, we stationed ourselves on the resting chairs under
the shade of a huge Ailanthus tree. Here we spotted the grey tits, treepies, woodpeckers and black headed orioles.
By now, a Forest personnel was ready to take us to Jhadi Tal. It was a great pleasure driving on the forest dirt track canopied by the tall Sal tress. In fact, this was a real ‘long drive,’ a city dweller ‘longs’ for. With no other vehicle on the track,
the smooth forest road was a treat. We soon reached Jhadi Tal. A number of migratory birds graced the Tal. On the far end, we could see the grasslands locally referred to as the phantas. We spotted a large herd of barasingha or swamp deer. It was, in fact,
a harem dominated by a solitary handsome stud in the company of some 24 females. They were all squatting on a circular island like mound. We made our way to the second machan. Here we saw an even bigger herd of swamp deer. I counted 47 of them. Most of the
members of the herd were males. Their mighty antlers glistened brightly. Most of members were seated near the grassland. The herd was waiting for the dusk so as to proceed concealed into the jungles to munch the soft grass. This was the largest herd of any
deer species ever seen by us. Infact Dudhwa Tiger reserve, particularly Jhadi Tal is the last refuge of Northern Swamp Deer.
We drove further ahead to the Sharda River. A narrow stretch of silted land separated the river from the Jhadi Tal. The river has been rapidly changing its course. It has shifted almost 4 km towards the Jhadi Tal over a short period of time. We could see
a number of uprooted trees on the banks. We also spotted a lonesome croc on the far bank. We made our way back to the second machan, eager to glimpse the evening retreat of the Swamp Deer into the Sal Jungles. But, unfortunately, the forest guide insisted
that he had orders to return. It was soon nightfall. The waxing moon was shining bright. We could not see many stars in the sky. We spent some time with the Forest Staff. Around the fire, we discussed about the mystical ways of nature. The jungle was now
wide awake. We heard the scary sounds of the jungle. The owls announced their presence. At close quarters, a cheetal hurled a call of alarm. The very feeling of the jungle king, the tiger, lurking around and observing you, was very exciting.
We went back to the Rest House tand had barely switched off the light, when I was awakened by some scratching noise. I fidgeted for a while wondering what it was. But the noise continued and continued, for ages it seemed. I reckoned that some people were
trying to barge inside the Rest House. Fearful, I awakened my friends. We braced ourselves for an impending crisis. After a little awhile, we discovered the cause; a stout rat perched on the tube-light. He made a mess the entire night with nibbling antics.
We couldn’t catch a wink of sleep.
Next morning, armed with binoculars, bird-books and breakfast, we were ready to visit Jhadi Tal again. As we moved on the jungle track, we saw the pug marks of a tiger. He was brazing our trail. I am certain, he saw us, liked us and blest us as well. We
reached the second machan. The moment we stepped out of our vehicle, the birds started to literally run away on the waters of the Jhadi Tal. We stationed ourselves on the machan and enjoyed the bread, butter, jam and grapes and watched birds at ease and peace.
It was for the first time that we saw the Red Crested Pochard. The distinct reddish pink beak was glittering. The tufted orangish hair on the head of the drake was very interesting; while his white body was a total contrast. The duck had a brown head. We also
saw the dabchicks, grebes, common pochards, pintails, mallards, shovellers, river terns, the distinct white eyed pochard, spoonbills, egrets, snakebirds, herons, black necked storks, Indian Water hen, purple moor hens and the cormorants.
A herd of swamp deer, numbering around 29, was also to be seen. Some active members locked their antlers for a rather brief mock fight. Oh! And how can I ever forget the naughty, chubby otter family. We saw five of them. At one moment they were perched on
the barringtonia tree just underneath the machan. And soon afterwards, they were swimming merrily and effortlessly in water. They would dive in and pop out their head with a glistening fish in their teeth. They gobbled up their catch in great gusto, gup-gup-gup.
They were indeed quite an amusing sight; but they also shooed the birds away. Wherever they went the birds drifted elsewhere. After sometime the otters were back on the same tree, looking very cute in their shinning coat.
We drove towards Jhadi baba (a mighty banyan with pillared ariel roots). Soon the Sal forest gave way to a dried and burnt grassland at the other end of Jhadi Tal, Hence, we entered the dense green riparian forest, which extended till the river. I prayed
to Jhadi Baba to save the precious Tal and to call us time and again to this great paradise. In this jungle of jamun, gular, khair, rohini, peepal, bargad we spotted a few chetals, hog deer and peacocks.
We returned back to the rest house at around 12:30 P.M. After lunch, we spent a leisurely afternoon napping in the winter sun on comfortable armchairs. Around 4:30 in the evening, we drove to the Tar Kothi area with the chowkidar. The track passed through dense
Sal and Teak forests. Tar Kothi was an uninteresting forest post near a bio-fenced farm; with a canal flowing nearby. We returned back through an interesting untouched forest track and spotted a Sambar mother and child duo on the way. In the Terai jungles,
the sambar deer is even rarer than the tiger. We also drove to Kishanpur Village around 2 km from guest house. This village of 500 voters is a big threat to the wildlife of the Sanctuary. The villagers have been provided with full fledged track for the movement
of their vehicles. From early morning till late night, the rattling tractors and bikes ply on the road, disturbing the tiger habitat. There was not a single sighting or even a trace of wildlife in the dense forest around the track.
On our return to the Rest House, the chowkidar set the fireplace ablaze. It was a real romantic setting for us. We sat near the fireplace for long time chatting, gossiping and philosophizing. The hot food was a treat as well. The troubling rat too was absent
and we could finally get some sleep. I was woken by the chital’s alarm call which was followed by the roar from the king himself. The king had come himself to greet us, but we were asleep! Well! We shouldn’t be complaining. It was our fault. We didn’t dare
venture outside the Rest House. Early next morning we packed our bags and drove back to Lucknow with indelible memories of the jungles of Kishanpur.
November 17, 2007
Big Bend National Park (Texas)
"Off we were looking to get away, relax, enjoy nature, and forget about the daily distractions of life. I called a Texas Park Ranger to be our family trip planner hoping she could point out the best Texas RV Park. She suggested.....
Read the full report at
August 30, 2007
Out of adventure for a long time, I decided to cycle from Mysore to Waynad, through Bandipur. Took my cycle from BLR to MYS by bus and began cycling. The road was plain and flat did not cause much trouble(except for head wind). I knew Bandipur linked Banerghata
and cauvery range. The locals assured me that the elephants were less dangerous when compared to their presence in Banerghata(many factors for this).
Well as I entered Bandipur (No gaurds at their post, luckily) a huge hoarding welcomed me, it read "WELCOME TO BANDIPUR, PART OF PROJECT TIGER". A huge lump in my throat, but pressed on faster never taking a break even to leak. As I cycled, I became part
of nature & enjoyed it thoroughly. Also realised the animals are as scared of humans like we are about them. It took me just a day to cycle about 125 km (Fear, Exitement all combined).
July 08, 2007
Kalesar National Park ( Declared in 2003), 150 km from Chandigarh, was in news recently for large scale illegal mining of sand by the builder/contractor lobby. NDTV has done a series on this in July 2007. The following
trip report is taken from the website of Wildlife Trust of India, written in 2002.
Kalesar – The Pride of Haryana
- Bivash Pandav
Pandav, what are you going to do this Saturday and Sunday? That’s what Dr. Johnsingh asked me over phone. I immediately knew that it must be for some week-end trip to some wildlife rich forest nearby. So quick came the reply from me, Sir
I am free. Next moment Dr. Johnsingh asked me how about going to Kalesar Wildlife Sanctuary in Haryana. The picture of Haryana in my mind was that of crop fields and Poplar (Populus deltoids) plantations. But what I saw after reaching Kalesar was an
eye opening experience.
We left Dehradun early in the morning and took the Kadwapani forest road north of Shivaliks but parallel to the hill range. Both sides of the road to Kadwapani have luxuriant growth of Sal. During my earlier visits to this forest (largely
on foot) I have had occasional encounters with sambar, barking deer, wild pig and Himalayan yellow-throated marten. As the northern slopes of Shivaliks are not ideal habitats for ungulates (because of absence of grass and dominance of unpalatable shrubs such
as Ardisia solanacea, Clerodendron viscosum, Colebrookia oppositifolia, and
Glycosmis pentaphylla in the understory), encounter rates of all these animals in this forest is extremely low. Moreover, the few herbivores inhabiting this patch of forest are also subjected to heavy poaching from nearby villagers. However, this Sal
patch on the northern slope of Shivalik hills is very rich in bird life. Flocks of White crested laughing thrush and four to five individuals of Indian pied hornbill in a flock are not an uncommon sight in this forest. After a drive of about 15km along this
road we reached Chakrata-Saharanpur road. Then we drove towards Saharanpur along the meandering road across the Shivaliks of Timli Forest Range.
Gujjar dheras were present here and there and from a distance the hills looked like an excellent goral habitat. Elephant dung in a few places in the
rau indicated the occasional visit of the pachyderms.
After reaching Badsahibag we left the Chakrata-Saharanpur road and took a right turn towards the Yamuna canal. The serene look of river Yamuna was quite exciting. Anyone who has seen Yamuna flowing near Delhi will hardly believe that the
water of Yamuna can be so clean and the sight of the river can be so refreshing here. But the serene look of river Yamuna and its refreshing environment was short lived for us and soon we came across large number of trucks and tractors on the river bed. All
of them were busy in removing sand and boulders from the river bed. All these boulders were being carried to a stone crushing unit located on the right bank of Yamuna.
All along the 10 km drive along the road which goes between the canal and Yamuna river, till Ponta Sahib, we saw good number of wintering ruddy shelducks. From Ponta Sahib, Kalesar is half an hour drive on the Dehradun-Yamunanagar road. As
we had informed Mr. Jakarty, Chief Wildlife Warden, Haryana, the wildlife staffs were waiting for us ready to take us into the forest to show us the tiger pug marks which they had located. The northern slope of Kalesar has Sal mixed forest. There are well
marked fire lines in the forest. In one of these fire lines we got down from the vehicle and started walking along Sukh rau. Azad Singh, the wildlife guard of Kalesar accompanying us showed us a several days old pug mark of a tiger in Sukh
rau. While inspecting the pug mark, Sultan Singh, another wildlife guard came and informed us about fresh tiger pugmark on the other end of Kalesar. We immediately decided to go and inspect this fresh pugmark which was in the Langdiwala
nullah of Amwali khole (khole is the local name for river in Kalesar part of Haryana). The pugmark looked like that of an adult male. The nullah got narrower further upstream. The pugmark was quite fresh and we tracked it for 500 m along the
nullah. On our way back we had a beautiful sighting of two gorals, a mother with a young. After seeing us both ran in different directions. It was amazing to see the mother goral negotiating the >70o
slope effortlessly. Soon both joined and went out of our sight.
On our return from the forest, in the evening we went to the village Mamduwas, located on the right bank of Yamuna where nearly a month ago the pug mark of one tiger crossing the river from Uttar Pradesh (Shivalik Forest Division) side was
seen. Most probably the tiger had made use of the aqueduct below the Yamuna canal and had walked upstream of Yamuna before crossing over to Haryana border. The riverbed being used by the tiger was heavily disturbed by people who were busy loading stones in
trucks and tractors which were moving in and out of the river bed. Standing on the bank of Yamuna it was very difficult for me to believe that a shy animal like a tiger still makes use of this heavily disturbed river bed. But the truth was a tiger was using
this area and there were pugmarks to prove this.
Kalesar Wildlife Sanctuary encompasses an area of roughly around 100 km2 and does not have any human habitation inside. On the north western side the forest of Kalesar
is contiguous with the Simbalwara Wildlife Sanctuary of Himachal Pardesh. On the eastern side the Shivalik range extends till Panchkula. The remaining sides are surrounded by crop fields and dense human habitation. I learnt from Dr. Johnsingh that every winter
one or two tigers from Shivalik Forest Division still cross Yamuna and use the forests of Kalesar and Simbalwara WLS.
In fact the very next day while walking along the Kaludev Khala (Khala is the local name of river in Simbalwara part of Himachal Pradesh), we came across fresh pug marks of a tiger/ess. With adequate protection
both these wildlife sanctuaries can definitely support a good prey population for tiger. And then a contiguous patch of about 150 km2 forests can definitely support one or two tigers
year round. Kalesar and its adjoining forests definitely have the potential of becoming a home for a small population of tiger provided the contiguity of forests between Uttar Pradesh and Haryana are maintained and the disturbances in the Yamuna river are
totally eradicated in the area where the tiger/s cross. A co-ordinated effort from the UP and Haryana forest departments can definitely make Kalesar the pride of Haryana.