One of the oldest national park in India established in 1936 as Hailey National Park to protect the endangered Bengal tiger, located in Nainital district of Uttarakhand, named after Jim Corbett who played a key role in its establishment. The park was the first to come under the Project Tiger initiative.
These few details and I went on a drive to this very place. Ramnagar being the gateway for this park; the first journey included reaching here through a ride from Dehradun which started in the afternoon, crossing Haridwar, Najijabad, Dampur, when it turned dark and a little mist surrounded us making the drive a little risky. We reached Kashipur in pitch-black and there were still few kilometers to be covered through the forest of the adjoining Jim Corbett national park which raised a little concern but the drive ended sooner than we expected. When we reached Ramnagar, the place was mostly closed with just few shops and hotels left opened. We checked in a KMVN(Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam) guest house for the night. Since we weren’t having our booking for the safari yet, being the instinct traveler we are, the only option available was to wake up early next morning and walk up to the adjoining Forest Office and see if any of the safari were available.
Next day on a cold and still dark morning half asleep, we were sitting in the forest office which was opened but no one arrived for half n hour when finally an official arrived and after some inquiry handed us the entry pass to one of the entry gates of the Corbett and we rushed to our room to get our cameras and inform others. It was one of those moments when no one seems to get late and within no time we all were in our ride for the jungle “An open Jeep”. The ride started with the first ray of the sun, with chilly winds hitting us right in our faces. The paved road finally vanished as we entered the trails into the forest. The bumpy road seemed amazing in between those forests with an open jeep. We would look around for as far as the trees and the bushes allowed us to. We weren’t one of those lucky people to spot the famous Bengal tigers in its natural habitat. The occasional sights of the different species of Deer and a male elephant do excited us and raised our hopes of spotting a tiger but we didn’t. The forest grew denser and after driving for few hours into the forest we reached a view point which had a post to stand the witnessed the forest. Standing above I looked around with a river flowing beneath among a dense forest in the valleys. It was an amazing feeling standing looking at the forest which is home to different species of animals and there in those thick forest somewhere is the home of Royal Bengal Tiger, as we were returning we spotted a herd of deer and we noticed a different aspect of the jungle, the guide than explained us that in these forest not all animals are running after the lives of each other. It is also the place of bonds and friendship as the monkeys were dropping fresh leaves to the deer’s, who fed on them and we were came to know that the bond is must stronger than this, whenever a danger is round the corner in these forest the animals help and alarm each other with different sounds so these animals could run to their safety.
As for now the morning was over and it was turning day and we drove back to our hotel. All of us were little disheartened by not spotting the glorious Bengal tiger in its habitat but knew it was all matter of luck and today wasn’t our day. We checked out and were standing outside on the roads to find what next? When we spotted a sign board displaying Nainital some 60 odd kms and how anyone could say a ‘No’ to this very place and what’s better than driving it in our rides. And so without thinking much we hit the roads.
The roads surrounded by forest on the left and plain greener fields on the right. It was a bright and sunny afternoon to be on the roads and to our luck the famous ‘Corbett fall’ lies on the route which happened to be our first de-tour of the day. A white stream falling through the lush green jungle is a pretty sight to catch.
The journey continued further to Kaladungi, where we finally left the plains behind and started hill drive. The drive got scenic. The thick forest got replaced by the trees of Kaphal, Sal ,Oak, Pine, and Buruns. The mountains views got better and valleys below started to increase. By evening we were at Nainital and what a pleasant treat to the eyes it is. A great lake with cold breezes surrounded by mountains with the whole town built around the lake that is pretty much thing in itself. We checked in a lake facing hotel threw out our luggage to enjoy a beautiful evening on the Mall’s. This particularly is one of my personal favorite things about Nainital. When the day is falling and the cold winds blowing gently along the lake with the boats in between the clean water. It also fills my heart with warmth and mind with peace and I fall in love with this place more and more. The nights are even better with the different color lights illuminating the lake with different reflections and the houses around perfectly build in between this valley.
Time always flies quickly here. The next day we went to the Nainital zoo, a High altitude zoo at 2100 mtrs. is home to numerous endangered species, many of which are adopted by people and organizations. The Himalayan black bear, Barking Deer, Goral, Golden and Silver Pheasants, Leopard and Royal Bengal Tiger are some of the famous attraction of this place. After returning and a quick lunch we started our journey, back to Dehradun.