Jim Corbett National Park, which is a part of the larger Corbett Tiger Reserve, a Project Tiger Reserve lies in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand. The magical landscape of Corbett is well known and fabled for its tiger richness. Established in the year 1936 as Hailey National Park, Corbett has the glory of being India’s oldest and most prestigious National Park. It is also being honored as the place where Project Tiger was first launched in 1973. This unique tiger territory is best known as the father who gave birth of the Project Tiger in India to protect the most endangered species and the Royal of India called Tigers.
Spans over an extent of 520 square kilometers, its whole area comprises of hills, marshy depressions, riverine belts, grasslands and large lake. It is among the few tiger reserves in India that allows overnight stays in the lap of the National Park. Nature watch and wildlife viewing in the park is done in an open four wheeler Jeep and on elephant back. Sheltering a healthy population of tigers and rare species like Otters and the endemic fish eating crocodile, the national park is one of the most sought after destinations for the wildlife buffs. Dhikala, situated at the border of the extensive Patil Dun valley, is the most popular destination in Corbett because of its superb location and sheer abundance of wildlife present.
If you love bird watching then Corbett is virtual haven for such tourists. Corbett and its adjoining area is a home to more than 650 species of residents and migratory birds. Particularly Dhikala is fine place to look for birds of prey, more than over 50 species of raptors alone shows the healthy biodiversity of the area. Their multiplex behavior is intriguing and their varied songs are very much pleasing to the ear. In a nutshell, this finest national park of India is well known for rich and varied wildlife including royal Bengal tiger, elephant, four to five species of deer and rich birdlife.
The Tourist Zones
In order to promote tourism in the region Corbett National Park has been divided into five different zones. These are the marked buffer or core area of the park where visitors can be part of wildlife safari and can enjoy the intriguing behavior of the animals with bare eyes at proximity.
Bijrani Safari Zone
Bijrani Zone is very popular tourist’s hub because of its abundant natural beauty and open grasslands. The entry gate of the zone is located at only 01 Km from Ramnagar city.
Jhirna Safari Zone
Jhirna is another important tourist zone in the Jim Corbett National park that is open for tourist round the year. Jhirna Gate is located at 16 km from Ramnagar city.
Dhela Safari Zone
Dhela is a new eco tourism zone in Corbett National Park included in tiger reserve zone in November 2014. This is the only area in the reserve’s buffer zone open to tourists in CTR. The zone is retaining the attention of large number of tourist because of its wealthy flora and fauna, open throughout the year, located at an approximate distance of 13 Km from Ramnagar City.
Being the largest and most varied zone in Corbett, Dhikala is famous for its abundant natural beauty as well as offering the best sight for exotic fauna. The entry gate is 18 km away from Ramnagar city. Night stay inside the Dhikala Tourism Zone is highly recommended for the hard core wildlife enthusiasts.
Durga Devi Zone
Located on the north-eastern boundary of the Jim Corbett National Park, Durga Devi zone is the heaven on planet earth for those who are fond of bird watching. Entry gate is located at an approximate distance of 36 km from Ramnagar city.
Sitabani Buffer Zone
Sitabani Zone doesn’t fall under the Corbett Tiger Reserve area. If you are fond of serene ambiance of the natural beauty, must visit Sitabani area.
How to Reach Corbett
Ramnagar is perhaps the best approach to the Corbett National Park which forms the headquarters of CTR. This small city is well connected by road and rail network with major cities of India like Delhi, Moradabad, Nainital and Bareilly. Once you reach Ramnagar, then it takes only half an hour to reach Corbett National Park. The park is around 15 Kms from Ramnagar railway station.
By Road: Ramnagar has a very good network of road that connects the different cities. The Corbett National Park is situated at an approximate surface distance of 260 Kilometer from India’s national capital Delhi. The state government of Uttarakhand plies buses at a short interval of time from Delhi, Moradabad, Haldawani, and Nainital that reaches Corbett directly.
By Rail: The railway station in Ramnagar receives trains from different major cities of India like Delhi, Moradabad and Bareilly. A direct train to Ramnagar runs from Delhi. You can check out for Ranikhet Express, Corbett Link Express and Kathgodam Express that takes you directly to Ramnagar.
Distance from Major Cities:
- Delhi: Delhi – Moradabad – Kashipur – Ramnagar (260 Kms)
- Nainital: Via Kaladhungi to Ramnagar (62 Kms)
- Lucknow: Lucknow – Bareilly – Kicha – Rudrapur – Kashipur – Ramnagar (436 km)
- Dehradun: Dehradun – Ramnagar (232 km)
Pakro (Near Kotdwar) is the new entry gate for Corbett Tiger Reserve. Now you can reach in less than 2 hrs from Jolly Grant Airport, Dehradun to Corbett Tiger Reserve How to Reach? By Air: The closest airport is Jolly Grant, Dehradun. By Rail: Kotdwar is the nearest railway station 19 Kms away By Road: 2 Hr Drive from Jolly Grant Airport Dehradun.
Though the main focus is protection of wildlife, the reserve management has also encouraged ecotourism. In 1993, a training course covering natural history, visitor management and park interpretation was introduced to train nature guides. A second course followed in 1995 which recruited more guides for the same purpose. This allowed the staff of the reserve, previously preoccupied with guiding the visitors, to carry out management activities uninterrupted. Additionally, the Indian government has organised workshops on ecotourism in Corbett National Park and Garhwal region to ensure that the local citizens profit from tourism while the park remains protected.
patil & Joshi (1997) consider summer (April-June) to be the best season for Indian tourists to visit the park while recommending the winter months (November-January) for foreign tourists. According to Riley & Riley (2005): “Best chances of seeing a tiger to come late in the dry season April to mid-June-and go out with mahouts and elephants for several days.”
As early as 1991, the Corbett National Park played host to 3237 tourist vehicles carrying 45,215 visitors during the main tourist seasons between 15 November and 15 June. This heavy influx of tourists has led to visible stress signs on the natural ecosystem. Excessive trampling of soil due to tourist pressure has led to reduction in plant species and has also resulted in reduced soil moisture. The tourists have increasingly used fuel wood for cooking. This is a cause of concern as this fuel wood is obtained from the nearby forests, resulting in greater pressure on the forest ecosystem of the park. Additionally, tourists have also caused problems by making noise, littering and causing disturbances in general.
- Dhikala is a well-known destination in the park and situated at the fringes of Patli Dun valley. There is a rest house, which was built hundred of years ago. Kanda ridge forms the backdrop, and from Dhikala, there are views of the valley.
- Jeep Safari is the most common way to travel within the national park; jeeps can be rented for park trips from Ramnagar.
- Treks: tourists are not allowed to walk inside the park, but only to go trekking around the park in the company of a guide. The winter season is cold, so tourists should make proper arrangements for their clothing, if they are traveling in the winter season.
- Walking Safaris are possible in the buffer zone areas – and very rewarding with Corbett having a very healthy and lush, rich buffer zone around; look for lodges around with trained staff for the same.
- Kalagarh Dam is dam located in the south-west of the wildlife sanctuary. This is one of the best places for a bird watching tour. Many migratory waterfowl come here in the winters.
- Corbett Falls is a 20 m (66 ft) water fall situated 25 km (16 mi) from Ramnagar, and 4 km (2.5 mi) from Kaladhungi, on the Kaladhungi–Ramnagar highway. The water falls is surrounded by dense forests and pin drop silence.
- Garjiya Devi Temple is sacred to Garjiya Devi and is mostly visited by the traveller during the Kartik Purnima (November – December). It is a prominent temple located on the bank of river Kosi, amidst the hilly terrains of Uttarakhand, nearby Garjiya village, at a distance of 14 km. from Ramnagar, Uttarakhand, India.