Reviews • 7
Step up for a haunted journey as you meander through the grasslands of this wildlife sanctuary. Surrounded by swamps and endless fields of mustard, coming here is a sure-shot way of ending your year quietly.
"The Dudhwa Tiger Reserve is a protected area that stretches across the Lakhimpur Kheri and Bahraich districts, and comprises of the Dudhwa National Park, Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary and Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary. Together they cover an area of 1,285km." – Sreshti VermaRead – There Is A Place Near Delhi That Transforms An Average Traveller Into A Wildlife Lover by Sreshti Verma
The Dudhwa Tiger Reserve is a protected area that stretches across the Lakhimpur Kheri and Bahraich districts, and comprises of the Dudhwa National Park, Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary and Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary. Together they cover an area of 1,285km.
Time to go deep into the rich wildlife of the Dudhwa National Park, which is home to several endangered species. Dudhwa's charm is inexplicable and all you need to do here, is let yourself be a part of nature and surrender to the many enriching experiences that will follow. At the edge of the Indo-Nepal border, you will see many tiny villages that are nestled in the jungle. Meet the local folks of the Tharu Tribe and learn about their culture. December is the best time to spot wildlife in the national park as most animals bask in the sun and go to the river for water.How to reach Dudhwa National Park: Dudhwa has its own railway station. You can also drive down to the national park. You can reach Lucknow and hire a vehicle from there to Dudhwa.
Dudhwa National Park is a famous national park of Uttar Pradesh. It is situated in the terai belt of India. Mainly famous for Tiger, Rhino, Four different species of Deer, wild boar etc.
A foggy morning is so full of possibilities… there is intrigue literally hanging from every square inch around you. The entire world seems so far away despite being where it always has been. Even familiar objects loom large suddenly and the suddenness makes your imagination run amuck… and you see witches in trees and dragons in place of lively bushes! This is the sort of adventure I had on the morning of the sixth of February as we went on our way to the Dudhwa National Park.‘You don’t need a horn in the forest,’ said Ashraf from WTI (Wildlife Trust of India), and then went on with a chuckle, ‘I remember a time when there was a tiger sitting right in the middle of the forest path and all we could do was to stop, remain alert, and wait for him to get up and move away!’‘So, will we be seeing tigers today?’ one of us asked him.‘Every morning is a good morning for tiger sighting, but tigers move fast and can cover more miles than we can imagine,’ replied Ashraf.Later, when we reached the forest office of Dudhwa National Park and shifted from the covered SUV to an open jeep, the immensity of the forest came as a realization. We were told that the forest has tree-covered areas as well as wetlands and grasslands… and the animals that we were to look for could be just anywhere and that it is always destiny that leads a tourist to sight them.‘The trees all around are Sal,’ informed our guide helpfully, ‘though on your way to the forest there was a mix of naturally existing trees and man-planted trees. So on the fringes you can find Teak too.’The fringes, of course, are interesting places because it is there that most of the small villages are. That is where the human-animal conflicts take place. That is where most of the work of the 9 Primary Response Teams is. We are not talking of a small effort here. We are talking of over 69000 people being impacted in the 28 identified conflict hot spot villages. And if the cases of conflict have come down from 27 in 2008 to 11 in 2013, the effort put in by the Forest Department, WTI, and Aircel as the Corporate partner is worth an applause!But let me back to my adventure… of course these knowledge bits happened throughput the day but the most interesting moments were when we came to within striking distance of a one-horned Rhino!This Rhino wasn’t really agitated to have five humans on an elephant looking at him with strange devices in their hands that went click and whirr and click and whirr! Our mahout told us that Rhinos are generally shy and like other animals, avoid unnecessary conflicts. Even this one was there for just a few seconds and then hurried headlong into the 10 feet high grass and bushes and disappeared into the dark forest.We were later informed that the Rhino Rehabilitation Project began in 1984 and that their strength is now 31 in this park.‘Why rehabilitate Rhinos here in UP?’ I asked, though what I really wanted to ask was if Rhinos could be used to frighten away the goon elements from the State. Well, I was told that Dudhwa was being primed as one of the major back-up zones for the Rhino in case some major tragedy happens in Kaziranga.‘This park has a designated 27 sq km area protected by wires that have a 12 V current pulse passing through them. This is enough to keep the Rhinos safely inside,’ informed an official, ‘though tigers are able to jump over the wires. The tiger is a restless animal and keeps moving in search of prey.’ By the way, the second phase of the Rhino Rehabilitation Project will see the installation of ‘camera traps’ all over. There will also be yet another enclosure for this animal and thus another 14 sq kms dedicated to their rehabilitation.Now if you think if this seemingly armoured animal really needs protection, the answer is yes. Even the Rhino, like other animals that are now endangered, need resolutions. Only a few days back two Rhinos had a fight and one died. Obviously, the response teams had rushed to the spot and managed to save one. Yes, we did see the spot where that infighting took place and where the Rhino was finally buried.But coming back to our adventure, let me tell you that though we were sitting on an elephant, the trees towered way above us and, at times, even the termite hill tops were within grasping distance. The bone-chilling moment came as our elephants sauntered out of the wooded area and into what everyone said were the grasslands.‘Grasslands? How can sauntering over grass be bone-chilling?’‘Well, when the grass blades rise to heights that can cover even elephants, it is time to get alarmed.’ So yes, all sorts of animals can be lurking in those thickly set grasses but our elephants plodded on creating a path through this seemingly invincible grass universe! There were times when I could see just the heads of my friends on the elephant a few feet behind us. Eyes carefully scanned the area to see if any animal movement could be detected. Our silence also meant that we were trying to listen to any tell-tale rustle betraying an animal, or more significantly, a tiger stealthily walking towards us.And suddenly we approached a water body and saw a magar or a crocodile basking in the sun. I saw the magar twitch and think and then slowly and discreetly slip into the water to swim away.‘Are magars afraid of elephants?’ someone asked.The Mahout simply snorted a stifled laugh and said, ‘Animals don’t get into unnecessary conflicts.’Well, this was great jungle philosophy and I loved every bit of it. Just some distance away from this spot we sighted two bara-singhas sitting some distance away from each other. ‘Both are males,’ said the Mahout, ‘and they are watching us carefully.’ We noticed the imperceptible movement of their eyes as they followed us moving from their right to their left and away.‘Male bara-singhas sitting together in the forest,’ I chuckled, ‘and our SC is creating such a hullaballoo about human males wanting to live together.’ Well, as I said, the jungle does give you all sorts of insights.Yes, we did sight the hornbill, alexandrine parakeets, a few other birds, spotted deer, a fox, and a lot of fresh tiger pug-marks.Our adventure on a foggy morning also included watching the sun filter through the forest to create intriguing patterns and being perched on an elephant as it swayed through intimidating grassland and waded through a couple of feet of marshy land and even through innocent looking but crocodile-inhabited water bodies. Yes, the morning was adventurous!
The sight of the fallen leaves carpeting the forest floor and the canopy of trees overhead evokes a sense of abandonment from the material world. The silence is music to ears hammered by the constant sounds of the city- blaring horns, jostling people, vendors selling their wares....As soon as one enters the forest, it is like entering an entirely different world. Welcome To Dudhwa Tiger Reserve!An official tour took us to the sleepy little town of Shahjahanpur. But it was curiosity and a desire to break away from city life that lured us to Dudhwa, a mere 125 km from Shahjahanpur, just a 3 hours drive away. On reaching here, we had lunch in their canteen( a very reasonable Rs. 200 for two people), walked around a little, spotted 3-4 deer lapping up water from a small puddle. It was a little surprising to see deer in an area inhabited by humans but a local kid informed us that animals often crept up to the rest house, even tigers! We had some time to kill till 3 PM when the safari would start, so we climbed up the(broken) watch tower. At the top awaited a splendid view of the water surrounding the park, with the ghostly limbs of the trees rose up from the foreboding grey river, giving it a mysterious aura. In distance, we could barely make out a crocodile sunbathing.There is also a small museum which gives information about the flora and fauna of the park and has some very interesting models and specimens. One can spend some time looking at the Rhino and Tiger which stand guard there(stuffed of course!)At 3 we booked ourselves a jeep(costing about Rs. 2000 for two people). Our guide informed us that elephant safari was only available in the morning from 7AM to 10 AM for visiting the Rhino area. Dudhwa has a special area dedicated to Rhinos where they are protected and conserved. Our guide told us that we had to exchange 16 elephants with Nepal in return for 1 Rhino!(Don't know how far it's true).Inside the forest not even a leaf stirred. It felt like we were creating havoc, with our loud voices and humming vehicles. We saw majesti termite houses, which look as though they are made of wood. The teak trees have been artificially planted while the Sal trees form the natural vegetation of the area. We spotted some spotted deer, which frisked around playfully, walked with a lot of style, looked at us, posed for the camera and then bounded back into the bushes. We spotted langurs, and once we left the forest and entered the grasslands, we spotted hog deer(btw, only male deer have antlers).But the most exciting spotting of the day was a herd of wild elephants crossing into the jungle. When we reached, a huge elephant with her (2 month old as told by the guide) tiny child were crossing. Another elephant was meandering around. Our guide told us that it was a miscreant and had been banished from the herd, because of its ill temper and its habit of causing problems for the whole herd. So it would follow some distance behind. The guide showed us some uprooted trees, informing us that the elephants had brought them down so that their children could eat without any problems(Again...the males have tusks while the females don't)We tried to find a tiger, which had been spotted by one of the groups, but we weren't lucky enough to catch sight of that magnificent beast that day. We only spotted few more deer and in the end, a jackal. But animal spotting was only half the fun. The rest was the amazing experience of entering the forest and forgetting the world outside.Some Info:1. Dudhwa is easily approachable from Lucknow which is the nearest major city and the nearest airport. One can also take a train to Shahjahanpur and drive to Dudhwa(like we did)2. It remains closed in the monsoon between 15th June and 15th November(exact dates of opening may be confirmed before going).3. Safari can be reserved on the spot. The vehicles are private but their service is governed by the forest authorities. The timings are 7Am to 10 AM in the morning and 3PM to 6 PM in the evening. Elephant safari is available only in the morning(Rs. 400 per person and 4 people on 1 elephant). The elephant safari is specially for going into the protected Rhino area and seeing the Rhinos from close quarers. The elephant safari is available from Sonaripur, which is some 12 km inside the jungle4. Guest houses inside the jungle as well as in Dudhwa are available. Some of them can be booked from Palia, Lakhimpur or Lucknow. For a few rooms, online booking is also available. The guest house in Sonaripur doesn't have canteen facilities while the other guest houses do.5. Saturdays and Sundays are quite crowded so getting turn for safari may take some time.