Saturday, 16 April 2016

"Man, I love Corbett" Said the Tiger

A distinct memory I have as a 9/10 year old is of a gateway proclaiming Corbett Tiger reserve and a feeling of despair as we were not going through the gateway to explore the wildlife. Fast forward to couple of years and Jim Corbett became my hero. His narrations transported me to world that I wanted to experience someday. The taste of excitement the adventure made Kumaon a fantasy world for the teenager. Looking back, I feel it was Jim Corbett who made me a wildlife enthusiast. And that day to walk on the same land as Corbett did, come after many many years in the month of April 2016.

Corbett Tiger Reserve  ranges from 1300 m to 4000m and the splendid landscape is breath taking. The rivers particularly caught my interest. We started our exploration by walking along the almost dry tributary of Ramganga River.  Ramganga and her tributaries are life line of the Park. The boulders, gravel fine sand , a stony bed intermingled with pebbles is a sight like none other. Kosi river flows along the border of the park. An interesting sight is the Garjiya Devi temple on top of large rock in the middle of Kosi River. A revered temple in Nainital district and popular among pilgrims, we stopped by the temple to catch kingfishers much to amusement of pilgrims. The Tiger Camp which was our home near the reserve was a short walk from Kosi river. Flocks of birds returning home, the river lapwing going "did did did" ,over enthusiastic tourists taking selfies and the elephant safari riders crossing the almost dry river while getting splashed by the Elephants made it an evening well spent by the River Kosi.

Garjiya Devi temple

 Kosi river

Safari riders

Corbett spans 520 square kilometers and has been divided into various tourist zones. The most popular Dhikala zone was all booked and so we were left with Bijrani and Jhirna zones.We have been on many Safaris but tiger sightings have always eluded us. Lot of pug marks over the years but tiger.We hoped that CTR would change the jinx.

A lot is said about Dhikala but to get an authentic Indian Jungle experience, there is no place like Jhirna. The Sightings might be limited but to drive through thick deciduous and secondary forest is one that is filled with mixed emotions. Unlike other national parks, the vegetation has not been cleared beyond the tracks. This proximity of the dense shrubs and trees to the track makes the visibility negligible beyond few meters. Now imagine hearing an elephant rustling through the dry leaves , making it obvious he is by himself . A lonesome Elephant during the musth season and you can  hear him getting closer but he is no where visible though you stand on top of open jeep safari seats. Would you prefer to wait and let him to peep out of the vegetation next to your jeep or would you drive away. One can guess what we did though we are veterans of safari rides.


Dense Jungle Of Jhirna

Almost Dry stream with few sambars 

If one is a fan of the movie "lion king" then Jhirna lets you recreate the moment and feeling of standing atop of a cliff and watch animals below. The stream is a popular watering hole and we did see Sambars, spotted deers, Macaques, peacocks, lapwings. If one is lucky, there could be some action. Lapwing defending its nest from hungry Rhesus macaques was sight that reminded us of the circle of life.

Bijrani provided us with the opportunity that we were waiting for a long time. We finally saw a tiger in the wild.  The staring match between the tigress who was few meters away and us went on for a few seconds. The lady got bored within a short span and walked away. To see the brilliant reddish orange fur with vertical black strips against the neutral colors of river bed was an over the top mountain high moment. As they say one does not forget the first love, for me this lady will be a special one.

Be it a jungle fowl mesmerized by a peafowl dancing to his full glory or monitor lizards who dashed across the path without warning or the Musth elephant that charged at our van, Corbett proved to be a holiday filled with many lasting memories. Dhikala remains to be experienced and hopefully i will be back to enjoy a safari ride soon.




 Monitor Lizard

Jungle Fowl


 Indian elephant in Musth


 Blue Tailed Bee eater

Indian Jackal
April 2016
Corbett Tiger Reserve Uttarakand
The Travel Connection: First Time everytime!

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