Kabhi kisi ko mukammal jahan nahin milta (You can’t have everything in life).
Yes, we did not encounter any tigers or elephants in the wild at the Jim Corbett National Park. We were disappointed. Nevertheless, our trip to Corbett National Park near Ramnagar was remarkable and unforgettable.
What we encountered was nature – truly and closely – trees, grasslands, mountains, rivers, animals, birds, insects, reptiles, springs and waterfalls – can you ask for more! I think one can’t get any closer to nature with clothes on. The jungle experience is unique – the never-heard-before silence is accentuated by jungle sounds from hidden sources. Perpetual cricket song, water flowing and falling on the rocks somewhere nearby, dry leaves fluttering in the cool breeze, echoing bird calls and sudden howling of some unknown animal makes the jungle experience truly unique.
It’s important to be quite, conscious and receptive to feel the jungle. Don’t unnecessarily cover yourself with woollens, head and eye gear – your body will gradually adjust to the cold. Throw away that bottled water (outside the reserve in a dustbin) – try the next spring and don’t bother about the moss and fern around – it’s cool, safe and healthy. It’s a novel experience for your ENT (eyes, ears, nose and throat). Breathe in as much as you can, for you’re going to cherish it till you visit these jungles again. Don’t talk, just listen to the jungle – you may miss out on the jungle talking to you. The jungle speaks and you need all your senses together, ready to listen. Early mornings, just before the sunrise, is the best time to be in the jungles. You feel that it’s about to rain, but then you realize that due-drops are falling on you from the trees above.
Stay: We stayed at Corbett Hideaway (courtesy RCI). The resort – located at the bank of Kosi river – is beautiful, well maintained and provides excellent room service. We found the food expensive and uninteresting. We tried the local flavor outside the resort (at fractional cost) and were never disappointed. Local guides suggest to stay in government Forest rest houses – its economical and the locations are ideal for experiencing wild-life. You need to book these accommodations in advance.
When at Corbett the most important part of the itinerary is Jungle safari in Dhikala, Bijrani, Jhirna and durgadevi. We could visit only the bijrani region, dhikala and durgadevi were closed and for Jhirna people suggested that it’s not the right time for wild-life sightings. I have some recommendations for you, if you miss out significant sightings
- Jim Corbett – Read a few books by Jim Corbett (my personal favorite – My India) – to understand why this reserve is aptly called Jim Corbett National Park. Your visit would be more exciting and meaningful when you realize that not much has changed in this part of the world from the times of Jim Corbett – except that some species are lost forever and some are on the brink of extinction. A visit to Jim Corbett museum would be worthwhile and meaningful only after knowing about Jim Corbett – the man, his life and work in the Kumaou region.
- Swimming and bathing and Kosi and Ramganga – no swimming pool can match the thrill and excitement of bathing in sparkling clean waters of these mountain rivers. Locals vouch by its healing, curative and health benefits. One needs to be cautious though and should confirm if it’s safe to bathe (depending on the location and time of the year – Kosi is notorious for its unpredictable and damaging torrents during monsoon).
- Sitabani – It is believed that Sita stayed and raised Luv-Kush in these jungles in exile. The Sitabani temple and ashram is located at very scenic spot deep in the jungle. A trip in these forests can tell you how dense, silent and beautiful jungles can be. The temple is quite unique as it has a statue of Sita without Rama. The white-stone statue shows her holding her sons Luv and Kush. The priest at the temple was very affectionate and offered us steaming hot firewood flavored tea.
- Day trip to Nainital – It’s just about 2 hours (65 kms) away from Ramnagar. A visit to Nainital tells you why it was the summer capital of United Provinces under British rule. The colonial influence is still vibrant and visible all over.
- Garjia Mata Temple – Take the trek route. It’s an exciting experience. The temple is situated over a huge rock in the midst of river Kosi. Take a dip in the kosi river near the temple. There is another temple across the river kosi with a rare Laksmi-Vishnu granite statue, supposedly 1300 years old. We talked to the priest and he told us many interesting facts about the statue.
- Jungle Safari – All my jeep safaris and travel arrangements were done by Sonu (outside Corbett hideaway) and his team (91-9719233955, 91-9837999123, 91-5974-284284). His rates were reasonable, his crew knowledgeable, reliable and friendly. They were always on time and did not complain when we were late on a few occasions. Thanks to them, we could enter Bijrani 1st day-1st jeep on 15th Oct 2009. The director of Jim Corbett national Park flagged us off (unfortunately the animals in the park did not realise its significance). I recommend Sonu and his team for all the services that they offer.