Monday, March 2, 2015

In the wilderness of Dudhwa

 EXPERIENCING DUDHWA – The Exciting Elephant Safari
As we drove towards Salukhapur, we were moved by the grandeur and majesty of the saal forest in the cool early-morning light. At Salukhapur we were introduced to Batalik, our elephant. To our surprise there were no railings on the platform on elephant’s back. Handling a camera and kit on the elephant while you are fully loaded with winter wear and also sharing space with 3 others was an experience in itself. Soon we adjusted to the rolling gait of the pachyderm and settled in.

The Exciting Elephant Safari
We were mesmerized by the sight, sounds and scent of fresh morning in the heart of the jungle. Tall saal trees whispering to the sky above gave shelter to thousands of birds. As we passed through the uneven terrains of the jungle, enthralled and captivated, the sound of dew drops kept falling on the leaves resulting in rhythmic music. Shy golden rays of sun could hardly reach the wet bushes and leaves longing for the warm touch. We were lost in the magic of wild Dudhwa when our mahout silently pointed towards a pair of Rhino roaming around lazily in the grassland completely ignoring our presence. Rhinos are quiet species and generally never charge until they are disturbed. So without disturbing our dear friends we quietly clicked some shots and proceeded further.

Rhino Roaming Around Lazily
While on our way back to the rest house a huge herd of wild elephants crossed our way. I never had witnessed such a sight. There were more than 30 elephants old and young crossing the road.

RAIDING SATHIYANA – In search of “Her”
A leopard along with her cubs has been sighted recently in the area and is supposedly still around the rest house. We have brilliant chance of sighting her, we were informed. We kept driving the rough terrain slowly along the guided way. It was good to observe the jungle movements as our vehicle passed along the tall trees, the grasslands and the bushes. While on our search for the leopard we experienced the hidden life of the jungle. Suddenly a herd of deer or some peacocks or a wild boar would come on the track and startle us. We also spotted a few crocodiles lying lazily on the marshes at the bank of river Suheli.

As the warm golden rays of sun bade goodbye to the calm playful forest changing its colors from playful to tense, the sounds of the jungle also grew intense with a dash of mystery for us. We knew we were surrounded by all kinds of wild animals including boars, hyena, lynx and leopard and there is lot of action going on. As we were lost in the magic of the dusk, we heard some shriek calls of Langoor. We were informed that a leopard is around. The startled langoors had all climbed up to the highest branches of the trees.  We silently paid attention, though we could not see a thing but we could clearly feel the fear and tension in the atmosphere. The calm and quiet had suddenly broken into confusion and pressure. Amongst all this confusion one (leopard) might have got Dinner for her family while the other (deer) might have lost her mother. That’s how nature works. We decided to respect the Jungle rules and leave the beast to feed on the feast.

MORNING SAFARI – No less than a Dream
It was a cool misty morning. We were mesmerized by the beauty of the Jungle. Sun peeping from behind the clouds, the silk cotton Trees and palash trees standing tall in the vast green grasslands created a magical effect. 

Palash Trees Standing Tall in the Vast Grasslands
The jungle was in full action quite opposite to our expectation due to a dull day. A deer running here and a peacock dancing there; flock of strokes flying over you and kingfisher fishing; it seemed we have entered some dreamland. 
We could spot a lot of birds including jungle owlets, crested serpent eagle, Bush-chat, Bulbul and Barbet.  On our way back we were amazed to find a herd of golden spotted deer grazing on the track. We observed and clicked the herd to our heart’s content. More so as it was the last safari of our trip we wanted to capture the beauty in our cameras, eyes and heart.

The Herd of Golden Spotted Deer
Exchanging our travel experiences, singing songs, having deep discussions and lots of fun and laughter – that’s how we ended our amazing trip.  

Located on the Indo-Nepal border in the district Lakhimpur-Kheri in Uttar Pradesh, Dudhwa National Park (680 sq km), together with Kishanpur (204 sq km) and Katerniaghat (440 sq km) Wildlife Sanctuaries, represent the best natural forests and grasslands left in the Terai region of Uttar Pradesh.  The three Protected Areas, being the last viable home of the Royal Bengal Tiger in the state, have been jointly constituted into Dudhwa Tiger Reserve under Project Tiger. They are highly productive habitats of diverse flora and fauna and home to diverse species. The vegetation is of the North Indian Moist Deciduous type, containing some of the finest examples of Sal forests in India, as well the most extensive tracts of moist grasslands that remain in this region. The fauna includes, apart from sizable populations of Tiger and Leopard, a viable population of a nominate sub-species of the Swamp deer or Barasingha, a population of Indian One-horned Rhinoceros successfully reintroduced in 1984, and certain critically endangered species like the Bengal Florican  and the Hispid Hare, adding to the marvels of Dudhwa.

There is an enviable bird life with over 450 resident as well as migratory species. Dotted with a number of shallow lakes or taals, there are diverse, perennial sources of freshwater in the reserve. The Sharda River flows by the Kishanpur WL Sanctuary, the Geruwa River flows through the Katerniaghat WL Sanctuary and the Suheli and Mohana streams flow in the Dudhwa National Park, all of which are tributaries of the mighty Ghagra River. Some of the important taals are the Bankey, Kakraha, Amaha, Bhadi and Bhadraula. The taals, streams and rivers support a rich variety of turtle species, the Mugger crocodile, (Crocodylus palustris), the unique and endangered fish eating crocodile or Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) as well as the Gangetic dolphin (Plantanista gangetica),which are found in the Geruwa.

The best time to visit: The Park remains open to public from November to June, though the months of May and June are a little too hot for comfort. While visiting the Park during winter you must remember to take woolen clothes as it can get pretty chilly, particularly between December and February.

Need to know:
  • Park timings are from 7AM to 10 AM and 3PM to 6 PM. The best point to start your park trip is at the Dudhwa Forest Office, where you can get information from the foresters about everything ranging from accommodation to safaris.
  • The entire park is administratively divided into nine ranges of which only Sathiana, Bankati,  Sonaripur, Salukhapur, Belrayan and Kila have accommodation facilities.
  • Elephants can be hired from the office near the park gate or from the Salukhapur Chowki for Rs. 100/head.
  • A library at the Dudhwa office provides information about the park. A nature shop located near-by sells books and other souvenirs.
All visitors to the park require an entry permit, which can be obtained from the director of the park. For more information and entry permit you can contact: Director, Dudhwa Tiger Reserve, Distt Lakhimpur Kheri, Uttar Pradesh. Tel: 05872-252106.

Feel like going? Chaloletsgo! can help you plan.

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