Inside Circle: Dudhwa National Park

Travel

 

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Most of the people I have come across have no idea about Dudhwa National Park and even fewer have ever visited it. Having heard good reviews from few of my adventurous friends, I was quite excited when I got an invitation from a friend of the Destination Knowledge Centre who plans to convert his farm estate into a luxury resort.

Located near the Indo-Nepal border, Dudhwa National Park in Uttar Pradesh is a major wildlife conservation site and an important reserve under the Project Tiger project for the conservation of Indian tigers.  We had driven down from Delhi. With Bareilly as the only halt we reached by afternoon. But the best thing to do is fly from Delhi to Lucknow and then drive for 4 hrs to reach the park.

The best fit for clients: After Delhi-Jaipur and Agra, continue to Chambal Safari Lodge ( 1hr/30 mins from Agra) to spend a couple of nights and then to Dudhwa (5-6 hrs from Chambal Safari Lodge) and finally Lucknow before taking the train/flight back to Delhi.

We had a quick lunch and were ready to head out for a game drive. After a long bumpy ride (the park gate is close to a 1 hr drive from the property) we reached the park.  The forest was beautiful. Even in peak summer the forest canopy was green. Dudhwa National Park has moist Sal forest unlike other parts of central India which are known for its dry Sal forest.  My time inside the forest was made extra special by the fact that I had an expert birder with me. The park boasts of more than 350 species of birds and we were able to spot many interesting ones like the Indian pitta, swamp partridge, plenty of painted storks, owls, woodpeckers and hornbills. Much of Dudhwa’s avian fauna is aquatic and found around lakes. Many a times when going to-and-fro we would stop at a bridge over the Sharda River to look at the huge turtles floating peacefully on the water surface and sometimes catch a glimpse of Gharials. The eco-system here which comprises of mesmerising mosaic of Sal and Teak Forest, lush green grasslands, steaming swamps and wetlands is what makes drives very interesting. I was also surprised to learn that this is probably the only National Park in the country where you can see tigers, swamp deer’s as well as rhinos. The 24 sq km enclosure inside the park, with swamps lands and tall grass is an ideal habitat for rhinos. We went on elephant backs to spot them. The tigers once again eluded me and Iam yet to see one in the wild.

Let me tell you a bit about my host’s property.  He is confident would be up and running by the coming season. The Haveli which was built in the 50’s has a colonial feel to it. The approach to the property is pleasant with litchi plantations and sugarcane fields flanking either side. Space is not a constraint here with acres of private cultivation land surrounding the property which is free to be explored by clients. Kamaljeet (the owner) plans to keep bikes and all-terrain vehicles at client’s disposal for them to explore their surroundings. At the moment there are seven rooms which would be decorated with British campaign furniture.  The food served here would be famous Awadhi Cuisine, including family recipes handed down through generations.  A wonderful sit out is an ideal place for evening get together after a tiring game drive. Apart from Kamaljeet’s property, stay wise there is nothing else noteworthy here. Ultimate Travelling Camp plans to open Suheli Camp, Dudhwa, to give clients the luxury tent experience sometime soon.

Before leaving Dudhwa I made a visit to ‘Billy’ Arjan Singh’s land, an Indian hunter turned conservationist who made Dudhwa famous by successfully hand-rearing and reintroducing zoo-born tigers and leopards in the wilds of Dudhwa. His house has a dreary, lost look to it as if forgotten by time, same as Dudhwa. It is hard to image that only fifteen years ago this park was once as famous as Corbett National Park.

Highs:

–          Located in near to Lucknow makes it easily accessible

–          Unique eco-system of Sal forest, swamps and tall grasslands

–          An opportunity to see rare avian species like the Bengal Florican, Swamp Partridge as well as tigers, rhinos and elephants.

–          No pollution of too many resorts putting a strain on the forest

Lows:

–          The distance from the property to the forest gate is a long 1 hr drive. There is a plan to reach the park through another gate  which if goes through would cut the drive time to 20mins.

–          Weekends attracts the local domestic tourist which sometimes leads to many vehicles in the park. There is at the moment no rule about number of vehicles to be allowed inside the park

 

Update : Recently Jaagir has come under the Tree of Life banner run by Himmat Anand. Expect only good stuff now 🙂

Website: http://www.treeofliferesorts.com/dudhwa/

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