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Corbett National Park

Seeking the striped in the wild

“It kept staring at me with its yellow brooding eyes as it stood there in the distance at the turn of the street and then disappeared into the bushes. You can spot a leopard here every 15 days. I always keep my stick with me.”

-Rampal, Driver in Ramgarh, Nainital district, Uttarakhand

A visit to Corbett feels quite incomplete without the locals’ tales of their encounters with leopards, wild elephants, or sometimes even a tiger. And if you happen to stay somewhere near the jungle, don’t be too surprised to find a lost deer knocking on your door or hiding in the dense foliage in the backyard as you step out in the midnight to take in the clear starry night or the enigmatic air of the Corbett.

Jim Corbett National Park is a part of Corbett Tiger Reserve located in the north Indian state of Uttarakhand. Established in 1936, it enjoys the glory of being India’s oldest national park.

The legend has it that British hunter James Edward Corbett (1875-1955), after his several encounters with the tigers in the region and locally earning fame as the heroic slayer of the man-eating beasts, turned into a conservationist and encouraged the protection of the glorious carnivore. His book Man-eaters of Kumaon earned him international fame. Thus, what was once established as Hailey National Park came to be known as Jim Corbett National Park.

Today, home to the famed royal Bengal tigers, Asiatic elephants, and several other species of birds, reptiles, and mammals, Jim Corbett National Park is a favourite among jungle and wildlife enthusiasts, researchers, conservationists, and any traveller in search of peace or thrill.

Located primarily in the district of Nainital, the reserve covers an area of 1,288.31 square kilometres that also extends to the districts of Almora and Pauri in Uttarakhand. The park itself covers an area of 521 square kilometres. The rest is covered by the neighbouring Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary and Reserve Forest areas that, together with Jim Corbett National Park, constitute the Corbett Tiger Reserve.

Talking of the landscape, there are hills and mountains, streams and rivers, ridges and valleys, marshes and grasslands in the reserve located between the lower Himalayan range of Shiwalik and the terai.

Here, we become your guide to travelling in and around the place that gave became the point of genesis for the famous Project Tiger launched by the government of India in 1971. We give you some essential details on when to go, where to go, what to eat, what to do, what to shop, where to shop. Read on.

VIEW POINT

Take a Safari at Jim Corbett National Park

Thrills, frills, and safari adventures in Uttarakhand.

Of course, you would be there! Located in the Nainital district with the town of Ramnagar serving as its gateway, Jim Corbett National Park promises to offer you a sight of rare Bengal tigers, Asiatic elephants, 4-5 species of deer, Himalayan black bears, Indian grey mongoose, among other mammals.

Bird-lovers, you could be in for a treat. We hear that there are over 500 species of birds. Here are some of them: cattle egret, darter, grey heron, and cormorants, fish owls, scops owls, nightjars, hornbills, babblers, robins, Indian Alpine Swifts… The list is exhaustive.

Plus, there are reportedly over 20 reptiles including cobras and crocodiles.

Talking of flora, the park boasts of it. Always has. Look out for sal, khair, bamboo.

Stop at Sonanandi Wildlife Sanctuary

Grasslands can be groovy too.

A part of the Corbett Tiger Reserve, Sonanandi Wildlife Sanctuary is the only zone in the Corbett area where tourists can walk on foot though the place boasts of a rich number of non-venomous snakes. Take an elephant or jeep safari to find tigers, leopards and elephants, among other animals. The place is also rich in dense sal and bamboo clusters.

There are a few forest rest houses too if you plan to spend a night. But it is advisable to pre-book for safaris and stay.

Head to Nainital

At the centrepiece of the state’s lake district

For many, a Corbett trip doesn’t come alone. Nainital tags along. We talk about the hill city of Nainital, the district’s headquarters- the home to the dreamy Naini lake pictures that you often see around the internet.   

The hill station is only 34 kilometres from Ramgarh or Corbett. If you are going by a car or bus, it would take about an hour and a half. More details in How to Visit column below.

When in Nainital, saviour your Naini lake moments on a boat, climb up a ropeway to enjoy a drone view of the lake and city, enjoy plenty of Kumaoni delicacies (more details in Cuisines section below), and shop (A LOT!) if you like at the expansive markets on the Mall Road and nearby areas. Clothes,  foods, handicrafts… there’s just too much of it.

Visit Corbett Museum

Learn how the park came into existence.

If you are not a history person but do get enthralled by old-fashioned guns, caps and fishing nets, consider visiting Corbett Museum. Located near the Jim Corbett National Park, it is believed to have been a place of stay for James Edward Corbett, or Jim Corbett, as he is locally known. It has his belongings as the displays.

It allows tourists’ entry all through the year, except around Holi.

Pay Your Respect At Garjiya Temple

Much more than just places of worship

It’s located on the top of a rock amid Kosi waters. Located some 13 kilometres from Ramnagar and  75 kilometres from Nainital, the temple is dedicated to Garjiya Devi, considered to be a reincarnation of Goddess Parvati.

activities

Wildlife Safari In Corbett

Wild encounters lurk at every corner!

A jeep safari takes you to the heart of the jungle. The cold winds strike your face hard as the anticipation of catching the sight of a beast fills your heart with thrill. The cameras won’t stop talking. But do take some time to appreciate the utmost peace rendered to the place by the rich and dense flora and fauna.

A safari usually lets you spend 3 hours in the jungle and operates within two time zones. It’s advisable to pre-book.  

Elephant Safari

Lofty tales indeed!

If this beautiful pachyderm is your animal, go on and explore the jungle with it. Elephant safaris are available in some zones of the park. The entry is on first-come-first-serve basis. One elephant can accommodate up to four persons.

how to get there

By road: Ramnagar serves as the gateway to the park on most of the routes and lies on a well-connected road network. It is only 15 kilometres from the park.

By rail: If you are going by train, book your tickets till Ramnagar Railway Station. It’s connected to major cities like Delhi, Lucknow, Varanasi.

By air: The nearest airport is Pantnagar airport which is about 83 kilometres from Ramnagar.

Delhi to Ramnagar: 223.1 km via NH9

Ranikhet to Ramnagar: 176 km

Lucknow to Ramnagar: 448.7 km via Agra - Lucknow Expressway

Chandigarh to Ramnagar: 387.0 km via Grand Trunk Road

Jaipur to Ramnagar: 517.9 km via NH9

Nainital to Ramnagar: 65.9 km via UT SH 41

when to visit

Corbett enjoys a pleasant weather throughout the year with its temperature ranging between 4°C in winter and 42°C in summer.

You may also like to know that the park is divided into five zones based on the topography. Each has a rich variety of flora and fauna and has a different visiting period.

Based on the weather and other preferences, you can choose a period to visit.

i) Jhirna Zone: Open throughout the year

ii) Dhikala Zone: Between November and June

iii) Bijrani Zone: Between October and 30th June

iv) Sonanadi Zone: Throughout the year

v) Durga Devi Zone: Between November and June

Local cuisine

Cuisine in Corbett

Delectable, home cooked meals

Hit the local restaurants to get a flavour of the Kumaoni cuisine. Talk lentils, mustard and cumin seeds that dominate the Kumaoni flavours. With lots of locally-grown herbs, the cuisine enjoys a distinctive favour among other cuisines of the country.

Try out delicacies made out of gahat (a brown lentil) like thatwaani and faanda. If you are more of a greens person, try out things made of wild asparagus and stinging nettle grass. Sweet-lovers, look for singodi and arsa.   

Local Shopping

Shopping in Corbett National Park

Shop like a tiger!

Around Corbett are souvenir shops where you can get traditional souvenir items like pens, hats, jackets, and handicrafts. Since we are talking jungle, you will get plenty of tiger miniatures.

For a good round of shopping, head over to nearby stations like Nainital that offer a wide variety of shopping choices.

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