Corbett National Park

In the foothills of the Kumaon Himalayas, close to Ramnagar, lies the Corbett National Park. The first Reserve forest of its kind, the park was established in 1936- when it was known as the Hailey National Park- mainly through the efforts of Jim Corbett, the conservationist. Corbett lived throughout his childhood in the area of Kaladhungi between Nainital and Ramnagar. He had a deep insight into the ecology of the area, and in later years he was called upon by the locals to shoot down man-eating leopards and tigers that stalked the villages. Locally referred to as "Carpet Sahib", he turned to photography and writing, authoring books on wildlife, like "My India", "Jungle Lore" and "Man-eaters of Kumaon".

Corbett National Park was the first to be designated a Project Tiger Reserve in 1973. Situated at a distance of 260 kms from Delhi and 128 kms from Nainital, the Corbett National Park is best known for its big cats, especially the tiger. Despite the efforts of conservationists, the tiger population of India is dwindling rapidly, and Corbett National Park is one of the few parks where the tiger can still be seen. There are around 50 tigers in Corbett, besides other wildlife like leopards, several lesser cats, the wild dog, porcupines, jackals, civets, sloth bear, black bear, wild boar and a few hundred elephants.

Stretching over 520 sq km with a core area of 330 sq km, the Corbett National Park consists of mixed deciduous and sal forests and stretches of savannah grasslands where antelope, chital, hog deer and sambar graze. The Rhesus monkey and common langur are ubiquitous, while the long-snouted gharial, marsh crocodile, cobras and pythons can be seen on the mud banks of the Ramganga. The Ramganga reservoir, in the main Dhikala camp area of the park, has over 600 species of birds, including the pied kingfisher, crested serpent eagle, fishing eagle and Himalayan grey headed fishing eagle. The river is also home to the famous river carp mahseer, a favorite catch for anglers.

Entry Requirements

Entry to Corbett is strictly regulated and permits are needed from the park administration in Ramnagar. For foreigners, the fees are Rs 350 for the first three days at Dhikala and Rs. 75 for every additional day. Charges for boarding and lodging are additional.

Access

The nearest railhead is at Ramnagar, 50 kms. from the main park campsite at Dhikala. Convenient trains connect to Delhi, Lucknow and Moradabad. It is also possible to rent a car and take the road from Delhi, passing through Moradabad; the bus journey from Delhi takes about 7 hours. There are daily buses from Ramnagar to Moradabad and Ranikhet.

From Ramnagar, buses run to Dhikala (within the park); jeeps too are available for hire, at a tariff of about Rs 800 per day.

Elephant rides and jeep rides can be arranged once in Corbett National Park; private vehicles and jeeps are also allowed. Elephant rides are the recommended way to see the animals, the charges are Rs. 100 per person or Rs. 400 per elephant for two hours.

Note that movement within the camp is restricted and moving out on foot is forbidden.

Best time to visit

The Corbett National Park is out of bounds during the monsoons- usually from about June 16th till November 14th. Once the park reopens after the rains, the best time to visit is between January and mid-June. In the winter months from December till February the Ramganga reservoir is full of migratory birds. Summer is the best season to view wildlife, especially the tiger that come out of the deep forests for water.

Accommodation

A range of tourist accommodation is available at Corbett's main campsite in Dhikala, which includes three-room cabins, forest rest houses, huts, tents and log hut dormitories. There are, in addition, Forest Rest houses at Khinanauli, Sarpduli, Gairal, Sultan, Bijrani, Malani, Kanda, Dhela and Jhirna. Accommodation is also available in private lodges and resorts outside the Park.

Rooms in the forest rest houses cost between Rs 100- Rs 500 per night, depending upon the accessibility of the rest house. The most popular camp, Dhikala, offers rooms for about Rs 500 and dormitory beds for Rs 50. Rates for foreigners are thrice the amount.

Private resorts and hotels in Ramnagar are much more luxurious than what you’ll get in Corbett, and they charge a proportionately higher rate too- between Rs 3500 to Rs 5000 is the average- per night.

Further information can be obtained at the local information counter, at the Reception Centre, Corbett National Park, Ramnagar (Ph: 05945 – 853189, 85332).