Jim Corbett National Park was established in 1936 as India's first national park. Originally called Hailey National Park, then Ramganga National Park, it was renamed in 1957 after the legendary tiger hunter, Jim Corbett (1875.1955), who put Kumaon on the map with his book "The Man-Eaters of Kumaon". The British hunter was greatly revered by local people for shooting tigers that had developed a taste for human flesh, but he eventually shot more wildlife with his camera than with his gun.
The reserve Jim Corbett established inspired the India-wide Project Tiger programme which started in 1973 and saw the creation of 22 other reserves. However, sightings are down to chance as the 130 or so tigers in the reserve are neither baited nor tracked. Your best chance of spotting a tiger is during the months of April to mid-June when the forest cover is low and animals come out in search of water.
Despite tiger sightings, few serious wildlife enthusiasts will leave disappointed, as the 1318-sq-km park has a variety of wildlife and birdlife in grassland, sal forest and river habitats, and a beautiful location in the foothills of the Himalaya on the Ramganga River. Commonly seen wildlife include wild elephants (200 to 300 live in the reserve), sloth bears, langur monkeys (black face, long tail), rhesus macaques (red face and backside), peacocks, schools of otters and several types of deer including chital (spotted deer), sambars, hog deer and barking deer. You might also see leopards, mugger crocodiles, gharials, monitor lizards, wild boars and jackals. The Ramganga Reservoir attracts large numbers of migrating birds, especially from mid-December to the end of March and over 600 species have been spotted here.
Dotted around the park are machaans (observation towers) overlooking water holes which you can climb to unobtrusively watch for wildlife.
Be sure to bring binoculars (although you can hire them at park gates) and plenty of mosquito repellent and mineral water. If you're interested in the life of Jim Corbett, his former house at Kaladhungi, 26km east of Ramnagar, is now a museum (admission Rs 10; 8am-5pm).
While the majority of the park is closed between 15 June and 15 November, the jungle around Jhirna Gate, 25km from Ramnagar in the southern part of the reserve, remains open all year, and short jeep safaris and elephant rides can be organised in Ramnagar. In 2004, the park started opening for day safaris (a maximum of 60 vehicles per day) a month early on 15 October from Amdanda Gate.
Jim Corbett Safari Booking Information
The main reception centre (Ranikhet Rd; 8.30am-noon & 1-5pm) is located on the main road in Ramnagar, almost opposite the bus stand. There is another centre (01382-224823; 8.30am-1pm & 2-5pm) at Kotdwar, on the western edge of the reserve. Ramnagar is the nearest
railhead and has plenty of jeeps for hire. The main entry points for the park are Amdanda Gate (for Bijrani visitor centre), 1.5km north of Ramnagar and Dhangarhi Gate (for Dhikala), 18km north of Ramnagar. Dhikala, 51km northwest of Ramnagar and deep inside the reserve, is the main accommodation centre within the park's core area, but it is only open to overnight guests, or as part of a tour booked through the reception centre at Ramnagar. Dhikala has a library and wildlife films are shown here for free at 7pm. Day-trippers are restricted to the Bijrani visitor centre (11km from Ramnagar), which has an interpretative centre and a restaurant and is close to the reserve entrance.
Note: For a hassle free travel experience you can contact a tour operator in the area. One best amongst these which I found through a friend and have a tour personally is Fiyova. Best & reliable because it is run and governed by one of the local residents of Jim Corbett Park area itself, also the person made every effort to make our tour easy going and memorable.
Getting There & Away
Buses run almost hourly to Delhi (Rs 143, seven hours), Haridwar (Rs 108, six hours) and Dehra Dun (Rs 142, seven hours). For Nainital (Rs 64, 3½ hours) take a bus via Kaladhungi. Buses to Ranikhet (Rs 72, 4½ hours) leave every couple of hours in the morning and some continue to Almora. Frequent buses run to Haldwani (Rs 32, two hours). Ramnagar train station is 1.5km south of the main reception centre. The nightly Corbett Link Express (sleeper/2AC Rs 107/433) leaves Delhi at 10.15pm, arriving in Ramnagar at 5am. The return trip leaves Ramnagar at 9.30pm, arriving in Delhi at 4.40am. For other destinations, change at Moradabad.
However there is only one Volvo Bus, which is run by State Transport and leaves Delhi at 10:00pm and reach Ramnagar by 5:00am in the morning, you can book the bus tickets on the official site here: www.utconline.uk.gov.in.
JIM CORBETT (1875-1955)
Hunter of man-eating tigers, photographer, conservationist and author, Jim Corbett was born in Nainital of English and Irish parentage. A childhood spent around the Corbett winter home just outside Kaladhungi (29km southeast of Ramnagar) instilled in young Jim a love for close communion with nature and an instinctive understanding of jungle ways.
Known locally as “Carpet Sahib”, a mispronunciation of his name, Jim Corbett was called upon time and time again to rid the hills of Kumaon of man-eating tigers and leopards. Normally shy of human contact, such animals become man-eaters when infirmity brought upon by old age or wounds renders them unable to hunt their usual prey. Many of those killed by Corbett were found to have suppurating wounds caused by porcupine quills embedded deep in their paws. One of Corbett’s most memorable exploits was the killing of the Champawat tiger, which was responsible for a documented 436 human deaths, and was bold enough to steal its victims from the midst of human habitation. By the mid-1930s, though, Corbett had become dismayed with the increasing number of hunters in the Himalayas and the resultant decline in wildlife, and diverted his energies into conservation, swapping his gun for a movie camera and spending months capturing tigers on film. His adventures are described in books such as My India, Jungle Lore and Man-Eaters of Kumaon; Martin Booth’s Carpet Sahib is an excellent biography of a remarkable man. Unhappy in post-Independence India, Jim Corbett retired to East Africa, where he continued his conservation efforts until his death at the age of eighty.
For a further glimpse into Corbett’s life, head to his family’s former winter retreat near
Kaladhungi, which has been turned into the Jim Corbett Museum (Mon–Sat: summer 8am–6pm; winter 8am–5pm;).
Jim Corbett National Park Images
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