Rajaji National Park – A Royal Retreat
Are you a glutton when it comes to nature? Do you possess that rare spirit that wants to soak itself in the unspoiled untouched bounties of nature? So as a true nature lover the first destination on your travel itinerary, has to be Rajaji national Park. Rajaji is truly the vestal virgin of all reserve forests in India. It is a rare example of a jungle in all its wild beauteous glory where every season has something different and unique to offer. The forest literally undergoes an image transformation with every season whether it’s during the pleasant Winters (Oct.- Feb.), or colorful Spring (March - April), or warm Summers (May - June) or the moist Monsoons (July - Sep.). Rajaji never has an off season and you can visit it any time of the year, and any number of times and it’s a promise that you will never get that “been there, done that” feeling.
Every season etches the words beauty and adventure on the splendid wilderness of Rajaji, which is renowned for its splendid scenic beauty and for its and rich bio-diversity. It’s an untouched paradise for all nature lovers where they can go witness the numinous play of nature. Here wildlife enthusiasts will have a field day. The sights and sounds that can be witnessed and captured in photos and films are practically never-ending. One can never be sure when a herd of majestic elephants will quietly walk pass them, and if the visitors are patient enough they may be rewarded with the awe-inspiring and nerve racking sight of a tiger stealthily stalking a deer.
There are numerous other species of wildlife that the forest of Rajaji, cradles in the safety of its lap. The trick not to overlook the smaller, but no less handsome cousins of the bigger and more noticeable animals. The number of animals found at Rajaji varies from the regal tiger to the lazy sloth bear. There are several herds of huge Indian elephants and and also the nocturnal jewel eyed loner - the jungle cat. There are leopards feasting on several species of fleet footed deer like sambar, cheetal and barking deer, and there are the yellow-throated Himalayan marten, and one can also witness agile langoors jumping from branch to branch. The forest is also home to the slithering giant the Python and the poisonous King Cobra.
A large variety of birds add color to the environment which include species like, parakeets, warbler, thrushes, hornbill, kaleej pheasant, jungle fowl, pea fowl, finch, kingfishers, woodpecker, oriola, Indian roller the list goes on and on and almost becomes never ending with the entry of foreign visitors during the winters, and visitors can see them frolicking in the clear waters of the Ganges. The river Ganges along with the Song provides shelter various delectable species of fishes like Kalabanse, Trout, Chilwa, Goonch and Mahaseer.
Rajaji is thickly covered with Sal trees and also with a unique blend of other vegetation, which includes trees of the Western Gangetic Moist and Northern dry Deciduous and Khair-Sissoo forests. The Shiwalik Chir-Pine on the high reaches of the hills contrasts sharply with the stunted trees and dry thorny vegetation of the alluvial Savannah woodlands, which cover the drier southern margins of the park.
The Jungle in a nutshell
Located at the foothills of the Himalayas is the Rajaji national Park – 820kms. Of undiluted forest. The beauty of the forest is unique and unearthly because it has been protected from the onslaught of civilization. The National Park is actually a combination of three parks – Motichur, Chilla and the Shivaliks-rajaji, and includes districts of Garhwal, Pauri, Dehradun and Hardwar. The park has been named after the well-known freedom fighter Sri C. Rajgopalachari or “Rajaji” as his followers addressed him.
Though the forest has not yet been officially been declared as a protected reserve forest, it enjoys all the advantages of one. It’s truly the uncrowned king of Indian reserve forests. Its attracts thousands of tourists every year from India and abroad, who visit Rajaji not only to witness the amazing spectrum of wildlife but also to capture the dazzling beauty of the forest – the misty green Shivaliks, the crystal clear waters of the Ganges.
The sudden unexpected changes in the topography, and of course the pleasant weather that stays nice and inviting all year long.
One can take rides and in a Jeep or can witness the beauty of the forest on foot. There are special routes that have specially been chalked out for hikers and trekkers. There are a variety of small carnivores found in Rajaji, the most prominent and commonly sighted being the wild dogs – a hardy species distinctive by its red coat.
Over 32 tigers and 177 leopards were reported inhabiting the sanctuary in 1999, and their numbers have only grown since then. But one has to be very patient to catch a glimpse of these shy beasts of prey. The sloth bear - A nocturnal giant is another annoyingly reticent animal. But the entire jungle seems to sing to the melodious tunes of the different species of the feathered beauties that inhabit the forest. Over 300 species of birds have been recorded inhabiting Rajaji. Trekkers can hope to come across the beautiful Red jungle fowl and see the woodpeckers laboriously picking at tree trunks. Rajaji’s avifauna too makes it special, as it forms a zone of transition between the temperate western Himalaya and the central and eastern Himalaya, which translates into a dynamic mix of wild life that inhabit these two regions.
The dynamic mingling of several ecological niches in the area, has turned Rajaji into a virtual melting pot of varied wildlife. There are mammals, and birds and several specials of reptiles and amphibians. And the insect life at the jungle is simply amazing. Several invertibrate groups like the scorpions, Centipedes, Odonata (butterflies and dragonflies),several species of wasps and bees and termites are found at Rajaji. The National bird of India, the peacocks too are found here in vast numbers.
There are several species of grass eating herbivores, like the barking deer whose distinctive high pitched bark warns other animals of a predator lurking nearby, the spotted deer, Ghorals, Neel Gai (the blue Bull), Sambars, Hogs and wild boars that can be commonly seen in the forest. Tree dwellers include the rhesus monkey and Langurs. Among the carnivores that live on these hapless preys are majestic tiger and the leopard. Other hunting machines include the wild dogs, Jungle cat, Leopard cat, Civet cat and Yellow Throated Martin. The Bengal fox, jackal and hyena act as scavengers and help in keeping the forest clean. According to the census that was conducted in 1999 there were 445 elephants, 32 tigers, 177 leopards and lakhs of other wild animals inhabiting the park.
Diversions in the Park
Elephant Rides – the best way of soaking up the glorious weather and heavenly sights and sounds is by going on an elephant safari. The number of rides conducted in a day is limited so one should get in the with the forest authorities and book the rides in advance.
Jeep Safari: If you want to cover large tracts of land in the shortest possible time then its best to hire a jeep. One has to take along a registered guide, which will ensure that one will get to see as many animals as possible
Tourist attractions around the park
Dehradun: it’s a beautiful well-designed city and is the capital of the newly formed state of Uttranchal. There are quite a few interesting places like Malsi Deer Park Robber's Cave Forest Research Institute, Tapkeshwar and kasli.
Rishikesh: Yoga – the ancient Indian art is believed to have been born here. Here one can visit such places as Chandreshwar Temple, Kailashananda Ashram, Jaisamand Lake, Lakshman Jhula, Triveni Ghat, Bharat Mandir, Swarg Ashram etc.
Haridwar: Is without a shadow of a doubt the is the perfect combination of nature and devotion. This city of temples includes such attractions as Chandi Devi, Bharat Mata, Maya Devi Temple, Bhimgoda, Har Ki Pauri, Vaishno Devi Temple and Bilwa Parvat
How to reach
The airport at Dehradun the Jolly Grant is nearest to Rajaji National Park. There are regular flights from Delhi’s Palam airport to Jolly Grant. There are railway stations at Haridwar and Dehradun, and regular train services to these cities from the New Delhi Railway Station. Bus services are available as well. The distance between Delhi to here is 231kms. The park is easily accessible from the cities of Mussoorie Rishikesh Dehradun and Haridwar. The headquaters of the Rajaji National Park is located at Dehradun.
Although there is no such restriction on capturing the beauty of Rajaji in films and cameras, but one still has to take the permission from the registered office of the National Park located in Dehradun and also from the ministry of the forest department of Uttranchal, a process which at times becomes tedious and time consuming. It is obvious that the state is trying to popularize Rajaji National Park as a major tourist attraction as it is being made a part of so many movies.
When to Visit
As it was mentioned in the very beginning of the article that the concept of there being an “in season” doesn’t exist at Rajaji. Come here any time of the year and you will welcomed by glorious weather, thick foliage and abundant wildlife. But the forest looks especially tempting during the winters, when several species of exotic birds like Himalayan Pied Kingfisher and White Capped and Plumbeous Redstarts visit Rajaji from distant lands.
Spring Season: The weather is pleasant, and forest literally comes to life in this season. There are local showers and peacocks dance and Red Jungle Fowl sing to attract their mates. Spring is also the best time long hikes and treks and also for camping. The summer season is the best time for photography, but only if you are ready to brave the heat. Nights though are very pleasant.
Ideal Time: The park is open for visitors from the 15th of November to 15th of June. Entry is barred after sunset. Do call us at ______________ any information regarding the park and its tour packages.
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