Corbett National Park boasts of a rich natural heritage with its varied topography, diverse flora and fauna, the beauty of the meandering ramganga river and the splendour of its landscapes. The elusive Tiger, now the cynosure of every tourists questing eye, wild Elephants and Leopards are the main attractions, besides other mammal and bird species. One of the few national parks in India with basic lodging facilities in the heart of the jungle at Dhikala - the setting is awesome and the location picturesque. For the wildlife enthusiast there is no alternative but to stay inside the Park at Dhikala Forest Lodge.
This lodge is managed by the forest department who are unable to provide a professional standard of service - this is our forte - we at TIGERLAND SAFARIS & TOURS are fully adept in providing luxury in the wilds. The Elephant ride from Dhikala is the ultimate experience in wildlife viewing and provides the opportunity to shoot the tiger with a camera. Corbett natinal Park with over 600 different bird species is considered one of the true bird parks of the world. Raptors are of infinite variety and occasssionally species of hawks and eagles appear, which tax the talent of the most gifted ornithologists. The Park is avid birdwatchers destination, Mangoli valley, Nainital and Pangot in the Kumaon region are unmistakeably the most remarkable areas for higher himalayan birds.
Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR) is One of India's richest wilderness areas. The Tiger Reserve encompasses an area of 1288.34 sq km, which include two Protected Areas: Corbett National Park (520.82 sq. km) and Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary (301.18 sq. km). Corbett National Park has captured the imagination of many with its diverse wildlife and breathtaking landscapes. The natural uniqueness of the area was recognised long ago and so in 1936 Corbett attained the distinction as the first national park to be established in mainland Asia. Corbett National Park lies in two districts - Nainital and Pauri - in the hill state of Uttaranchal in northern India. It covers an area of 521 sq. km and together with the neighbouring Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary and Reserve Forest areas, forms the Corbett Tiger Reserve over 1288 sq. km. Its geographical location between the Himalayas and the terai, and the streams, rivers and ridges crisscrossing the terrain, present Corbett with a remarkable variety of landscapes. This vivid mosaic of habitats - wet and dry, plain and mountainous, gentle and rugged, forests and grasslands - supports numerous plant and animal species, representing Himalayan as well as plains kinds. The most famous of Corbett's wild residents are the Bengal Tiger and the Asiatic Elephant, but with about 600 species of avifauna Corbett is one of the richest bird regions of India.
Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR) lies in the Shivalik-terai biotic province on the foothills of the Himalayas. This has led to an amazing diversity in habitat types and species. Elements of Himalayan flora and fauna can be seen here along with those of peninsular India.
Govt. of India launched an ambitious conservation programme Project Tiger on the banks of the Ramganga River in Corbett Tiger Reserve on 1st April, 1973. The launch of Project Tiger heralded the onset of scientific wildlife management in India. The major objective of this programme is to secure the preservation of the highly endangered species of tigers, (Panthera tigris tigris) and to use our national animal as a symbol of our precious natural heritage to secure the conservation of all major representative ecosystems across the tiger range.
Corbett Tiger Reserve today holds probably the second largest population of free living tigers in the world. The reserve is thus one of the last remaining strongholds, which holds a potentially viable population of this majestic and critically endangered felid. Nearly 600 Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) also have a home in this Tiger Reserve, and can be seen wandering leisurely along its length and breadth. CTR, along with the Rajaji National Park also represents the North -Western most limits of Tiger and Elephant distribution in the Indian subcontinent.
Several endangered species such as the Mugger, Gharial, Leopard cat, Goral, Serow, and Mahaseer etc. have a significant presence in the region. Four species of deer- sambar, spotted deer, hog deer and barking deer-with sloth bear, jackal, jungle cat, yellow throated marten, smooth Indian otter and black naped hare are also found. Along with, several identified and unidentified elements of biodiversity such as grasses, mosses, lichens, fungi, insects, etc. are also represented in this region.
The area is also home of about 600 species of resident and migratory birds. This amazingly rich avifaunal diversity represents nearly 6% of the total bird species represented in the world and is more than the total bird diversity of Europe. The 49 species of diurnal raptors found here are characteristic elements of this avifauna. The avifaunal diversity is at its peak during winters.
Landscape & Geology of Corbett
Himalayas and Shiwaliks
Mountains offer a great diversity of habitats due to variation in altitude, relief, and temperature. Consequently, mountain plant and animal communities have unique characteristics.
Corbett National Park is characteristic of the Himalayan mountain system. Corbett's northern areas are lined by the Lesser Himalayan chain, which extends from Pakistan, through Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal, Uttaranchal, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, and to Arunachal. The Lesser Himalayas are quite high, with an average altitude of 1800 m and are made up of crystalline rocks. The vegetation includes cold-climate tree species like pine, oak, and rhododendron. The Forest Rest House at Kanda at 1300 m is the highest point in the Park and is representative of the Lesser Himalayas
However, most of the Park lies in the Outer-Himalayan or Shiwalik region. The Shiwaliks are the southernmost of the Himalayan ranges and are much lower than the Lesser Himalayas. They are formed of sedimentary rocks and are hence crumbly and unstable. The Shiwaliks form the largest ridge across the park, running east to west from Dhangarhi to Kalagarh. These ridges are clothed by sal forests and other associates.
Between the Himalayan and Shiwalik mountain ranges lie elongated valleys called duns. Unlike typical river valleys, duns are formed not due to erosion but have a structural origin. They are covered with boulders and gravel originating from the erosion of the Himalayas and the Shiwalik uplands. One such dun occurs in the northern half of Corbett. This is the Patli Dun and is most visible from Dhikala. Kanda, being higher in the Park, presents a panoramic view of this valley.
Terai-bhabar Typical Shiwalik landscape
The southern boundary of Corbett flanks the ecologically important terai-bhabar region, a strip of land skirting the southern part of the Shiwaliks. It consists of the bhabar region, a narrow belt of sloping land located at the outer margin of Shiwaliks, and the terai swamplands that lie further south of bhabar.
The bhabar tract is porous because it consists mainly of gravel and boulders. It is devoid of streams or springs and water table is quite low. In contrast, the terai is swampy and humid, and contains many springs and slow-flowing streams. Most of the terai once held dense vegetation and was feared for malaria. It has been cleared for agriculture and is one of the most fertile grain production areas of India.
Together, the Terai-bhabar is a distinct ecological region, home to endangered wildlife such as the tiger, rhino, elephant, sloth bear, and vital habitat for for over 500 bird species.
Flora & Fauna in Corbett National Park
The diverse flora of Corbett
The different habitat types of Corbett i.e. mountains, sal forests, chaurs, khair-sissoo forests, and rivers have their distinct assemblage of plants. More than 600 species of trees, shrubs, herbs, bamboos, grasses, climbers and ferns have been identified in the Park.
The most visible trees found in Corbett are sal, khair and sissoo (see Habitats and Ecosystems). Many other species that contribute to the diversity, are found scattered throughout the park.
Chir pine (Pinus roxburghi)
is the only conifer of the Park and is found on ridge-tops like Chir Choti but comes quite low in Gajar Sot. The upper reaches near Kanda have Banj Oak (Quercus leucotrichophora) growing which is essentially a Himalayan species.
include Khajur or Date-palm (Phoenix sp.) that occurs in open areas. Wallachia densiflora is a rare palm characteristic of Eastern Himalayas but is found in Corbett near Sultan.
Kanju (Holoptelia integrifolia), Jamun (Syzygium cumini) and Aamla (Emblica officinalis)
are found scattered throughout the lower areas while Tendu (Diospyros tomentosa) occurs in moist areas. Other major tree species are Bel (Aegle marmalos), Kusum (Schleichera oleosa), Mahua (Madhuca indica) and Bakli (Anogeissus latifolia).
lend colour to the forests in Corbett. The main ones are Kachnaar (Bauhinia variegata) with pink to white flowers, Semal (Bombax ceiba) with big red blooms, Dhak or Flame-of-the-forest (Butea monosperma) with bright orange flowers, Madaar or Indian Coral (Erythrinia indica) with scarlet red flowers and Amaltas (Cassia fistula) with bright yellow chandelier like blooms.
Some species of trees that do not occur naturally in the Park have been artificially planted in and around habitation. These include Teak (Tectona grandis), Eucalyptus, Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosaefolia), Silver Oak (Gravillea robusta) and Bottlebrush (Callistemon viminalis), and can be seen in and around forest rest houses.
Flowers of HelicterisShrubs dominate the tree understorey and scrub areas. There are several species of Ber (Zizyphus sp.) in open areas and provide food and habitat to many birds and animals. Maror phali (Helicteres isora) is an easily noticeable shrub. Its fruits are in the form of twisted spiralling pods. Karaunda (Carissa sp.), with pinkish-white flowers and sour fruit, is found under sal. Hisar (Rubus ellipticus) has yellow, juicy, mulberry-like fruits that are savoured by animals.
Jhau (Tamarix dioica) is found along the Ramganga basin on sandy or rocky soil. Colebrookia oppsitifolia and Adhatoda vasica are found in nallahs.
In some parts of Corbett the vegetation is dominated by bamboo forest. The main species is Male Bamboo (Dendrocalamus strictus) having clustered stout stems and shining papery stem sheaths.
Bamboos follow a peculiar flowering process. All bamboos in a forest flower together at the same time once in several decades. After flowering, fruiting and dispersal of seeds, all individuals die together.
Herbs include many species of wildflowers belonging mostly to Pea and Aster families. They are most visible on grasslands or chaurs and on open areas.
Drymaria diandra is a spreading annual herb with heart shaped leaves and occurs in moist shady places. Bhilmora (Rumex hastatus) is a sour tasting herb used for making chutney. Other species encountered in Corbett are Euphorbia hirta, a hairy herb, Indigofera liniofolia with bright red flowers, Clover (Oxalis sp.) with three leaflets, Solanum sp. and Leonotis nepatafolia (orange flowers and spiky round fruits).
Corbett has over 70 grass speciesGrasses form the largest group of plant species in Corbett with more than 70 species recorded. They occupy different habitats, especially chaurs.
They include Kansi (Saccharum sp.), Themeda arundinacea, Baib or Bhabar (Eulaliopsis binata), Narkul (Arundo donax), Tiger Grass (Thysanolaena maxima), Khus Khus (Vetiveria zizanioides), Cymbopogon flexuosus (a tufted grass with pleasant aromatic leaves), Aristida cyanantha (found amidst boulders), Neyraudia arundinacea (with light brown inflorescence) and Heteropagon contortus (Spear Grass with conspicuous sharp blades that adhere to clothes and penetrates skin).
Woody climbers found in the park are Milletia auriculata, Crypotepris buchanani, Porana paniculata (dense canopy with profuse white flowers), Clematis gouriana (shrubby twiner with tendril like branches) and Bauhinia vahlii (flat rusty hairy pods, large leaves used for making pattal)
Epiphytes and orchids
Epiphytes are plants that grow above the ground on other plants, and derive nutrients and water from rain, the air, dust, etc. They are found on sal and other trees in the park.
They include Dendrophthoe falcata (scarlet red flowers), Scurrula cordifolia (hairy coating on shoots and leaves), Vanda testacea (orchid with flat keeled leaves and beautiful spike flowers), Cuscuta reflexa (or ‘Dodder’, with interlaced yellow cord like habit, growing on shrubs).
The semi aquatic species which inhabit marshy areas of Corbett include Polygonum, Veronica, Hypericum and Ranunculus etc.
Non-flowering plants Fungi help recycle nutrients
Non-flowering plants include ferns, mosses and lichens. Ferns occur in cool shady moist areas along streams. They include Adiantum, Pteris, Ophioglossum reticulatum (Snake-tongued Fern which occurs below Sal), Equisetum (found growing on sandbanks along streams). Many kinds of fungi are found on rotting trunks and accumulating debris. These include mushrooms, brilliantly patterned toadstools, and puffballs. The presence of lichens symbolises good air and environment and many kinds of colourful lichens grow on mature tree trunks and boulders all over Corbett. Liverworts and mosses are found on moist trunks.
Corbett has one of the highest densities of tigers. The tiger (Panthera tigris) is perhaps the most celebrated of the wild animals of India. It is symbolises the power of Nature and finds an important place in our culture, mythology and legends. It has been worshiped as the guar dian and ruler of the forest.
Tigers are believed to have evolved in East Asia (China) about 2 million years ago. They then dispersed to other parts of Asia. There existed eight subspecies of tiger, out of which three have gone extinct.
Today this perfect carnivore is a critically endangered species, though once it roamed freely in most of Asia. India is home to the largest population of wild tigers in the world. There are estimated to be only 5000 to 7500 tigers surviving in the world. Out of these, the subspecies found in the Indian subcontinent, the Bengal tiger has 3000 to 4500 surviving members, more than three-fourths of which are in India.
The terai-bhabar region, including Corbett, was once the best place to find tigers but this habitat has reduced tremendously due to development-induced land use changes.
The tiger has always had a close association Corbett National Park – earlier through the writings of Jim Corbett and other shikaris and later because of the launch of Project Tiger, India’s tiger conservation programme, initiated from the Park’s soil on 1st April 1973.
Tigers hunt deer (preferably sambar but also chital and barking deer) and wild boar. They choose the largest of the prey species since larger prey represents more energy for the effort spent. For this reason the sambar population density is believed to be a good indicator of the presence of tigers. Occasionally, tigers will also attack young of elephants and take smaller species, including monkeys, birds, reptiles and fish.
Adult tigers are usually solitary, except for females with cubs. However, sometimes several are sometimes seen together.
Generally, both female and male tigers maintain home ranges that do not overlap with the home range of another tiger of the same sex. Females have home ranges of approximately 20 sq. km while those of males are much larger, covering 60-100 sq. km. Male home ranges cover the territory of many smaller female home ranges. The male protects his territory and the females within it from competing males.
To mark their territories, tigers use several means of advertising this fact. Urine and anal gland secretions are sprayed on trees, bushes and rocks in various places throughout a particular area. They also make claw marks on trunks of trees. Such markings help avoid physical confrontation since any intruders in the territory recognise the owner’s scent and generally keep out.
Among the large cats in India tigers have the greatest reputation as man-eaters. Several legendary man-eating tigers have been known, especially during the terai-bhabar region. Such tigers have been immortalised through the writings of Jim Corbett. For example, the Champawat tiger is said to have killed 434 people before Corbett finally succeeded in killing it. However, in recent times, with the huge decline in the numbers of tigers, attacks on humans have been relatively rare. Man-eating is usually the result of a tiger’s inability to catch usual prey when it is too old to hunt or if it has an injury.
Being a carnivore and a master predator, the tiger lies on top of the food pyramid. It keeps the population of ungulates under control and thus maintains the ecological balance.
The tiger is an indicator of a healthy wilderness ecosystem. If the tiger is protected, our forests will also live. And forests mean good air and plenty of freshwater, both of which affect our own survival.
The Asian Elephant
The elephant, largest of the land mammals, has been an integral part of the history, mythology, tradition, culture and religion of India. There are three surviving species of elephants in the world, one in Asia and two in Africa. The Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) is distributed in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. Unlike the African species, Asian elephants have been domesticated for thousands of years and have been used in medieval warfare, for temples, and as a working animal.
A herd of wild elephants in a chaurThe Asian elephant was once found throughout south and southeast Asia but now it has been reduced to several scattered populations because of human activities like conversion of forest areas to farming, construction of dams and civil works like roads and canals. Apart from habitat constriction, these wide-ranging animals also face obstruction of their traditional migration routes. Poaching of elephants for ivory is another serious problem that elephants face.
Elephants are notable for their remarkable intelligence and a sharp memory. This is because elephants have the largest brains in the animal kingdom. Males have tusks and such elephants are commonly called “tuskers”. There are also some tuskless males, called “makhnas”. The trunk of an elephant is a most distinct and versatile organ and can be used for feeding and drinking, breathing, trumpeting, herding the young ones and sometimes even for fighting.
Asian elephants live in a variety of habitats. They prefer a combination of grassland, shrubbery, and forest.
Elephants are strictly vegetarian and prefer grasses, leaves, stems of trees, vines, bamboos and shrubs. Sometimes they also enter fields in the villages located near forests and raid crops.
Owing to its large size, and high forage requirements elephants are constantly on the move, searching for food. They undertake long-distance migrations and follow the same seasonal migratory routes generation after generation. However, in recent times the migratory routes have been encroached upon by human activities which has seriously affected their movement.
Elephants are social and live in groups consisting of females and their young and are led by the eldest and most experienced female. Living in herds is useful for collective defence, better care and teaching of young ones and increased mating opportunities. Adult males usually travel alone and associate with female herds for mating.
Corbett Tiger Reserve has about 700 Asian elephants. They are part of the migratory population that also lives in Rajaji National Park. Earlier, there were much fewer elephants in Corbett but their population in the park has increased significantly in recent decades. Although, present throughout the Park, elephants are most easily sighted in Dhikala chaur, Phulai chaur, and near the Saddle Dam.
Corbett has four species of deer. They are the most frequently sighted large mammals in the Park.
Chital, the commonest deer of CorbettChital (Axis axis) or Spotted deer is the commonest of deer species of Corbett. It is also the most beautiful, with characteristic white spots on its reddish-brown body. Only male chital have antlers that may grow up to 1 m length. These antlers are periodically shed and a new set developed every time.
Chital live in large herds and are usually seen in open grasslands. Grasses form the main food for chital but they also depend on fallen fruits, flowers and leaves from forested areas. They prefer to graze in short grasslands without much cover because in such areas they can watch out for predators like tigers. Tree cover is also required as shelter and source of food.
Chital are most active in early morning and evening and rest in cool places during the heat of the day. They give alarm calls to warn the herd when a potential threat or predator is sensed.
Chital are ecologically important because they form an important prey base for carnivores like leopards and tigers. They also help in dispersal of plant seeds including grasses and also tree and shrub species like amla, ber, etc.
Hog deer in chaurPara or Hog Deer (Axis porcinus) is the rarest of Corbett’s deer. It is closely related to the chital but is smaller in size. Unlike most other deer, the hog deer is not given to leaping over obstacles but instead, it escapes its predators by crouching low, ducking under obstacles. Its limbs are short and its hind legs are longer than the fore legs. This anatomy raises its rump to a higher level than the shoulders.
This species mostly inhabits grasslands, swampy areas and clearings and is usually nocturnal. Unlike chital, hog deer are solitary animals but sometimes feed in small groups. Hog deer face the threat of habitat destruction, especially draining of swampy areas and change in water regimes.
Sambar (Cervus unicolor) is the largest deer found in Corbett. Its body is largely a uniform greyish-brown in colour, except for the creamy white on the backsides and under-tail areas. Males have antlers up to 1 m long that are periodically shed and replaced. Male sambar also have dense manes on their necks.
Sambar is the largest deer of CorbettSambar are mostly found in dense forests with a gently sloping to steep topography. They are known to reach altitudes as high as 3,700 m. Sambar browse on leaves, berries, fallen fruit, leaves and tender bark of young trees, and also graze on grasses and sedges. These deer are mostly active solitary but may be found in small groups during the mating season.
They let out a loud, repetitive alarm call when they sense a threat. These signals are used by trackers to locate tigers.
Sambar is the most important prey species for the tiger and presence of sambar usually indicates a good tiger habitat.
Kakar or Barking Deer (Muntiacus muntjak) is the smallest of Corbett’s deer.
The body colour is golden tan on the dorsal (upper) side and is lighter on the undersides. Male kakar have short antlers growing on long, bony projections called burrs. In place of antlers, females possess only bony knob-like burrs on their head. Males also have tusk-like upper canine teeth curving sharply outwards from the lips.
Barking deer in forestKakar are mostly found in areas having dense vegetation and hilly terrain. They prefer to be close to water-sources. Kakar are omnivorous and feed on herbs, fruit, grass, tree-bark and also birds’ eggs and small animals. They are solitary and quite territorial.
Kakar emit a typical dog-like alarm “bark” when they sense the presence of a predator. Barking may carry on continuously for up to an hour. They are active both during daytime and at night.
They are a prey for tigers, leopards, jackals and pythons.
The Leopard (Panthera pardus) is the other large cat found in Corbett. Compared to the tiger leopards are smaller, more graceful and have a long agile body that has rosettes instead of stripes. It also has the ability to limb trees. Leopards are quite versatile, adaptable to a variety of terrains as well as to a broad range of prey that includes everything from insects and rodents up to large ungulates. Leopards mostly hunt during twilight hours and at night. They also ambush their prey by jumping down from trees.
The leopard’s call is termed as ‘saw’. Sawing can be described as a short rasping vocalisation.
When living near populated areas leopards will attack and kill livestock and domestic dogs. Sometimes, they also attack humans.
In spite of leopards being highly adaptable, they face many problems in survival. This includes habitat destruction, poaching for their skins, and persecution as killers.
There are two species of primates found in Corbett. The Rhesus Macaque (Macaca mulatta) is the The langurs are excellent climbers commonest monkey of the Indian subcontinent. It lives in a wide range of habitats – from plains to the Himalayas at elevations up to 3000 m – and is quite adaptable to humans. Its body is earthy brown in colour and buttocks are reddish. The Rhesus is quite a lively and vocal animal. It lives in large troupes of up to two hundred individuals. Large dominant males (called alpha males) lead these groups. It is omnivorous, and often eats roots, herbs, fruits, insects, crops, and small animals.
Hanuman or Common Langur (Semnopithecus entellus) has an unmistakable appearance - a light body, dark face and a very long tail. It is considered to be sacred in many parts of India and is found in many environments, from desert edge to forests.
Langurs are vegetarian and feed mainly on leaves, buds, flowers, fruit, and seeds. Feeding activity is generally in the early morning and late afternoon.
Like monkeys, langurs too live in troupes led by dominant males. In the trees, they are remarkably agile and can make horizontal leaps of 3-5 m.
Himalayan Goral or Ghural (Nemorhaedus goral) is a goat-like animal that occurs in the Himalayas between 1,000 to 4,000 m. It lives in small groups on sparse mountainous slopes and cliff faces with crevices. It is remarkably sure footed and can move at high speeds even over near vertical terrain. Goral are active at dawn and dusk when they come to feed on grasses, leaves, twigs, nuts and fruit.
Mostly grey to brown in colour, the goral has a lighter coloured ‘bib’ at the base of the neck and sports short, conical, backward-curving horns having irregular ridges. Goral are well camouflaged, and thus are very difficult to spot, especially when they are still.
Wild boar (Sus scrofa) is the ancestor of the domesticated pig that lives in moist forests and scrub. It has long, curved canine teeth (called tusks) that are used for digging food and as weapons. Wild boar feed on roots, tubers, fruits, shrubs, bird eggs, insects, mice, snakes, frogs and carrion. They usually move in groups both at day and night.
Jackals can be seen near forest rest housesThe Asiatic Jackal (Canis aureus) is a member of the dog family. It is found in open country, short grasslands and has also adapted to living near human settlements.
It comes out during the night to forage for food. Its omnivorous diet consists of deer fawns, rodents, hares, birds, eggs, reptiles and amphibians and various fruits especially ber and jamun. The jackal is also an opportunistic scavenger, readily raiding garbage bins.
Corbett is one of the few places in India where three species of otter are found existing together. Otters are an important component in the ecology of the Park, especially the Ramganga and its tributaries. Otters are indicators of a healthy river ecosystem. These small carnivores are a part the aquatic food chain and live mostly along riverbanks, spending a lot of their time in water. They make dens among rocks and boulders along perennial streams and rivers.
The species of otters occurring in Corbett Park are Eurasian or Common otter (Lutra lutra monticola), Smooth-coated otter (Lutra perspicillata) and Small-clawed otter (Aonyx cinerea). Fish forms the majority of the otters’ diet, except in case of Small-clawed otter, which primarily feeds on insects and other invertebrates.
Otters face threat of elimination of habitat due to construction of dams, intensive fishing, quarrying in rivers for stone and gravel and land use changes for agriculture or prawn cultivation. Poaching in the hilly regions of India for otter skins is also a threat.
Birds Corbett has an amazing diversity of birds of prey
The great variety of habitat in Corbett is reflected in its impressive diversity in the bird life. Over 600 species, many of them rare and endangered, have been recorded in and around the park. these include nearly fifty kinds of birds of prey that provide a unique character to the avifauna.
This inherent richness in bird life increases even further during winter with the arrival of numerous migrants – some, like osprey and ducks, coming all the way from East Africa, Europe and Central Asia. Winter also brings many Himalayan birds from higher regions who come to take refuge in Corbett to escape the extreme conditions in the mountains above. These include many flycatchers, great barbet and the wallcreeper.
Gharial and Mugger
Corbett is one of the best places to see gharialsCorbett has two of India’s three crocodilian species. It is considered to be one of the best spots to see the Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus), one of the largest and most endangered crcodilians of the world. It is found only in the Indian subcontinent. It gets its name from the ‘ghara’ or pot like structure on the snout that is present only in males.
The gharial’s slender snout is adapted to eat fish so it does not attack humans or larger mammals. Young gharials may eat invertebrates and insects.
About 100 gharials live in the Ramganga and can be seen swimming in its deep pools or basking in the sun on its banks. These were released as part of the conservation programme for gharials. Though it has been saved from extinction, the gharial is still critically endangered. The main threats are – loss of habitat (fast-flowing rivers) and nesting sites (sandbanks) due to construction of dams and barrages which changes the flowage of water and exploitation of fish by humans (depletion of prey species).
The still waters of Corbett, especially the Ramganga reservoir, are home to the Mugger crocodile (Crocodylus palustris). Muggers are more general carnivores and take a variety of animals as food. Muggers are also found in Nakatal, Corbett’s only lake.
Mahseer and other Fishes
Corbett is home to many species of freshwater fish. The Ramganga, Palain, Sonanadi and Mandal rivers, provide vital habitat and breeding grounds for them because of moderate temperature, low gradient, presence of deep pools and boulders and gravel on stream beds, and negligible pollution. Fish form a fundamental link in the food chain for many key species like the gharial, otters, fish-eagles, kingfishers, ospreys, storks, fish-owls, egrets, darters and pelicans.
The most celebrated of the fishes is the Golden Mahseer (Tor putitora), a large freshwater river fish belonging to the carp family. It has a magnificent appearance – sap green body with bright orange scales. Mahseer is considered to be one of the most prized fish for anglers all over the world.
Clean water, which is increasingly becoming rarer, is the prime habitat requirement for the mahseer. Its population has declined due to loss of habitat. Loss of breeding grounds also poses a threat because mahseer require shallow, clear, well-oxygenated water for spawning, which again is hard to find these days. Decline of mahseer is also due to construction of dams on their migratory routes, obstructing access to favoured spawning areas upstream. The Ramganga is one of the best-preserved rivers for mahseer in India. Other important fish species of Corbett are Goonch (Bagarius bagarius), Indian trout (Barilius bola) and Rohu (Labeo rohita)
Sustainable angling, as opposed to intensive fishing, benefits conservation of prized fishes like mahseer. Angling is allowed in certain areas in the buffer region of Corbett after taking permits from the Forest Department.
There are several species of snake in Corbett Reptiles live in a great variety of habitats. But apart from the gharial and mugger the other reptiles of Corbett have not been studied in great detail. Several species of snakes have been reported from here, including the King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) and Indian Cobra (Naja naja). Indian Rock Pythons (Python molurus) are frequently sighted and there also exist several kinds of vipers, kraits and boas.
The Bengal Monitor (Varanus bengalensis) is the most imposing of Corbett’s lizards. The list includes nine other species of Agamas, Geckos and Skinks
Amphibians occupy a wide range of niches from forest floor to freshwater swamp, and from urban areas to mountain torrents. As of now, there are seven species of toad and frog occurring in the Park.
Rivers at Corbett National Park
For the survival of such a remarkable gamut of floral and faunal species in Corbett National Park, water is a crucial factor. The Ramganga river forms the most prominent hydrological resource, supplemented by tributaries, most prominent of which are the Sonanadi, Mandal and Palain rivers. The river Kosi runs proximate to the Park and is also a significant water resource for nearby areas.
Wildlife is dependent on rivers, more so in the dry season, for they provide drinking water and also form home to several key aquatic species.
The Ramganga riverWithout the Ramganga river there would be no Corbett. It is the largest of the precious few perennial sources of water in the Park. In fact, for a brief period (from 1954 to 1957) the Park was known as Ramganga National Park.
A rain-fed river originating near Gairsain in the Lesser Himalayas, the Ramganga traverses more than 100 km before entering Corbett near Marchula. Inside the Park it flows roughly from east to west for 40 km till Kalagarh where it enters the plains. During this run through the Park it gathers waters from the Palain, Mandal and Sonanadi rivers.
A dam on the Ramganga at Kalagarh (built in the mid-1970s) forms a reservoir of about 80 sq. km. area, the backwaters of which reach till Dhikala. Downstream from Kalagarh the river meanders for another 300 The moon over Ramganga valleykm through the Indo-Gangetic plains and finally drains into the Ganga near Farrukhabad in Uttar Pradesh.
The Ramganga is inhabited by key aquatic species like mahseer fish, the endangered gharials, mugger crocodiles, otters and turtles. Many species of birds, like kingfishers, fish-eagles, terns and storks depend on the Ramganga. During winters the Ramganga reservoir attracts many migratory bird species, especially waterbirds from Europe and Central Asia.
The road from Dhangarhi to Dhikala runs along the Ramganga for most of its length. Forest Rest Houses at Gairal, Sarapduli, Khinanauli and Dhikala are situated alongside the Ramganga. The Dhikala watchtower is an ideal spot to view the Ramganga in the Patli Dun valley. At Crocodile Pool, High Bank and Champion’s Pool visitors can dismount from their vehicles and see the Ramganga closely. Kanda FRH, the highest rest house of the Park, provides a bird’s eye view of the Ramganga.
The Kosi is a perennial river like the Ramganga and its catchment lies partially in Corbett NP. From Mohan through Dhikuli till Ramnagar, the Kosi forms the eastern boundary of Corbett National Park. Even though the Kosi does not enter the Park boundary, wild animals from Corbett use it for drinking especially during pinch periods.
Its bed is strewn with boulders and its flow is erratic and often changes course. Kosi is notorious for its unpredictable and damaging torrents during monsoon.
Like Ramganga, the Kosi too is inhabited by mahseer and attracts migratory birds. At places Kosi has steep cliffs flanking its banks. At such spots one can see goral, the goat-like creatures, grazing on precipitous slopes.
The Sonanadi is an important tributary of the Ramganga. Named after this river the Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary adjoins Corbett National Park and forms an important part of the Corbett Tiger Reserve. The Sonanadi enters the Park from the northwest direction and meets the Ramganga at the reservoir.
The name ‘Sonanadi’ means ‘river of gold’. At one time grains of gold, found in the alluvial deposits washed down from the higher areas, were extracted from the bed sand by sieving, washing and mercury treatment.
Mandal and Palain
The Mandal rises in the eastern heights in Talla Salan in Chamoli district. Forming a part of the northeastern boundary, Mandal flows for 32 km and joins the Ramganga at Domunda a little distance above Gairal. During the dry season, the Mandal contains very little water but during the monsoons it turns into a furious torrent. It forms a vital breeding ground for the endangered mahseer.
The Palain is the third important tributary of the Ramganga and enters the Park from a northern direction. It meets the Ramganga about 3 km north of the submerged Boxar settlement at the Ramganga reservoir.
‘Sot’ is the local name for a seasonal stream. While traveling across the park you may cross several of these bouldery dry streams. Though most of them appear dry and lifeless, they are very important for Sot or seasonal streamthe Park ecology. Animals depend on these sots for their drinking water requirements for a good part of the year. There are some sots in Corbett that are perennial, important ones being Paterpani, Laldhang, Kothirao, Jhirna, Dhara and Garjia. Since water is a limiting factor, these perennial sots provide water to wildlife during pinch periods.
Sots also form passageways for animals. Many of these sots are covered with thick growth of evergreen shrubs and bamboo clumps which form ideal shelter for many animals including the tiger.
During monsoons, water flows in the sots in a powerful deluge and washes away forest roads and temporary bridges. This is the main reason that Corbett remains closed during the rainy season since roads and bridges have to repaired by the Forest Department after each monsoon.
Corbett Forest Lodge / Forest Rest House
Jim Corbett National Park is one of the famous wildlife reserves in India, covering more than 520 sq km area in the Himalayan foothills. Every year thousand of tourists come to this park to enjoy the wild life adventure and nature. For the convenience of visitors Jim Corbett National Park has been distributed into five tourism zones. Every zone has its separate entry gate.
Forest Lodge in Dhikala Zone:
Dhikala Forest Lodge: This is the long-familiar destinations in Corbett. It is placed at the edge of the Patli Dun valley. River Ramganga flows in numerous channels from there. Dhikala offers a superb uninterrupted panoramic sight of the valley, with the Kanda peak in the backdrop. This sight seems as much more imposing the tower in the vicinity Dhikala. The Tourist complex on Dhikala chaur ( one of the last large meadows of the Park) and Phulai chaur. A reader through the many paths through chaurs is rewarded by the observations for the wild elephants, chital, the stag of pigs and many species birds of the meadows and the raptors. Old convalescent home in Dhikala is a historical structure, having been built more than a hundred of years.
Sarapduli Forest Lodge: This forest lodge is on Dhangarhi-Dhikala road. It is located downstream from Gairal on the dish of the southern bank Ramganga while the northern bank is drawn up vis-a-vis a strong peak. Movement of the large mammals (tigers, elephants included) is very high, in Sarapduli. It is also a good place to see the crocodiles and also a good thing for the observation of birds.
Sultan Forest Lodge: Sultan is the first forest lodge during the driving way of Dhangarhi with Dhikala. Sultan is named after the Stupid Sultan, the seasonal flow which crosses this area. It is characteristic in the dense zone of forest.
Gairal Forest Lodge: This forest lodge is reached by a short turning with broad of Dhangarhi-Dhikala forest main roads. It is located on banks of Ramganga close to the place where the first entry gate of the park. In Gairal Ramganga the portrait d' a character different from this fact at places downstream (like Dhikala). Here, it acts; a crystal clear, fast, which runs river of mountain which runs through the picturesque forests. To be out of the way, Gairal presents ideal conditions to look at fauna and the birds in all peace.
Khinnanauli Forest Lodge: Khinnanauli is situated in the middle of Khinnanauli chaur, this forest lodge is an excellent tiger territory. It is one of most recently built convalescent homes Corbett. Its strategic site offers an easy escape to the various parts of the park.
Kanda Forest Lodge: Kanda Forest Lodge is the highest forest lodge (nearly 1 km altitude) in the Jim Corbett National Park. Kanda is more in north of Corbett National Park. To be at the top, you have an advantage of experiment and find image all the valley with Ramganga point angle. Kanda located in the north of the park is also known as that the neighbour of The Himalayas for its resemblance to the Himalayas in terms of climate, vegetation and fauna. Here, you obtain the true feeling of the Himalayas.
Forest Lodges in Bijrani Zone:
Malani Forest Lodge: This forest lodge is to 12 km in the North-West because of Bijrani. Located on the edge of the central zone of the Park, Malani has offer; one of most picturesque and loneliness. The reader of Malani is very enriching in the observations by mammals and the birds.
Bijrani Forest Lodge: The zone located around Bijrani once a part; a block of catch the sight. During the British period, it was much more famous for the quality of the hunting which it offered to shikaris. Compared to Dhikala, the ground with Bijrani is drier and the vegetation is diversified.
Forest Lodge in Jhirna Zone:
Jhirna Forest Lodge: This forest rest house is with an interior of the southern limit of the Park. The rest house is on the road of Ramnagar to Kalagarh that turns in a East-West direction through the Park. The landscape is drier than in Dhikala and of the vegetation is mainly undergrowth. Jhirna was an agricultural village until 1994, date on which it was moved within the framework of the Tiger project. The hills in the north of Jhirna are covered with dense spots of bamboo. In more d' to be a good habitat for the tiger, the leopard and the stag, the place accommodates the other mammals like interesting sloth bear and the wild boar. A variety of birds can also be appreciated here.
Forest Lodge in Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary:
Lohachaur Forest Lodge: This lodging is located in the northern part of the reserve of tigers of Corbett RF buffer zone. It is located on banks of the Mandal river upstream of its confluence with Ramganga.You can get access from Durga Devi gate.
Rathuadhap Forest Lodge: Rathuadhap is one of the famous place for the elephants in Jim Corbett National Park. It is located in the north of the buffer; Rathuadhap is on the forest road connecting Durga Devi in the east and towards Vatanvasa in west.
Halduparao Forest Lodge: Halduparao rest house is one of the oldest rest houses. It was built hundred years ago. It is placed between the Palain and Sonanadi rivers just before they meet into Ramganga reservoir. Halduparao is the best destination to watch wild elephants during summer season.
Jim Corbett National Park doesn’t have an airport. If one wants to go by air, Phoolbagh in Pantnagar is the nearest airport. It is located 78 km away from Jim Corbett. Pantnagar airport is well connected with major cities in India, so one can easily reach there. Delhi which is 300 km away is the nearest international airport for the people travelling from abroad. Flights from Lucknow and New Delhi travel to Pantnagar twice a week, so one can arrange accordingly. One can easily find taxi from Pantnagar to Jim Corbett.
Ramnagar railhead is the nearest railway station to Jim Corbett Wildlife Sanctuary. This railway station is connected to major cities of India, the nearest being New Delhi railway station. Ranikhet Express is one of the trains that operate from New Delhi railway station to Kathgodam railway station. This train runs daily between the two places. Bus or taxi are easily available that will take you to Jim Corbett. Also, trains are available from Moradabad railway station.
Delhi To Jim Corbett By Rail:
Ranikhet Express – The train leaves Delhi at 2200 hrs and reaches Kathgodam in the morning. As the train reaches the station quite early it is advisable you ask the hotel for pick up facility. Alternatively, Ranikhet Express starts from Delhi to Kathgodam, comes back to Moradabad and via Kashipur reaches Ramnagar next day morning, i.e 2 days required. To save time getting down at Kathgodam is feasible and from there take a cab to National Park.
Corbett Link Express – Leaves Old Delhi at 2245 hrs and reaches Ramnagar at 0530 hrs
Kathgodam Express – leaves Old Delhi at 2245 hrs and reaches Kathgodam at 0715 hrs
Jim Corbett is well connected to major cities of India. This national park is around 25 kms from Ramnagar, from Lucknow, the National Park is 433 kms via Bareilly and from New Delhi its 300 kms away.
Corbett National Park remains open throughout the year for the visitors from Jhrina / Sitabani Zones . Every year Bijarani zone get operational from Mid of October and The core area of the national park Dhikala zone get operational from 15th of Nov. The main reason for closure of the Bijarani and Dhikala zone during the rest of the year is that during the monsoons most of the roads get washed away. Repair work starts after the rains end and it is only by October to November that roads to Bijarani and Dhikala are back in motorable condition.
Seasons: There are three well defined seasons
Winter: November to February Summer: March to June Monsoon: July to October
However Corbett National Park remains open throughout the year for the visitors from Jhrina & Sitabani Zones but, the best time to visit Corbett is from 15th November to 15th June because during this period of time all the tourism zones of Corbett are open for visitors and one can visit the entire national park area.