Dudhwa Tiger Reserve Forest

On the way…
We readily agreed when Chandan, one of our friends invited us to Dudhwa Tiger Reserve Forest. Another friend Agni and his parents also got excited at the idea. 5 of us from Delhi started our adventure trip. We drove down the NH 24 and crossed Ghaziabad, Hapur, Bareilly and Palia. Met Chandan and 2 of his friends at Lakhimpur. The group, comprising of members as young as 16 and as old as 60, was all game for adventure.

Where we stayed…
The accommodation was arranged at Forest rest house located within the core forest area. Its location, beautiful huts and warm staff made it a good place to stay. The Forest Department provides for accommodation inside the Park at Dudhwa, Sathiana, Sonaripur, and Kila.

The Reserve…
Day 1 was spent getting to know the place. The Reserve located in Uttar Pradesh is covered with thick sal forests, extensive grasslands and wet marshes that harbor a wide range of wildlife including tiger, leopard, Swamp deer, Rhinoceros, Cheetal, Hog deer, Sambar, Wild boar, and around 500 species of birds and fishes.
Successful rehabilitation of Rhinos, Fire line maintenance and Hispid Hares sighted recently are some interesting pieces of information we gathered.

Dudhwa Tiger Reserve

Dudhwa Tiger Reserve


Wildlife at its best…
We headed towards Sonaripur at 7AM for the Elephant safari with guide Baddal. We were mesmerized by the sight, sound and scent of fresh morning.

The tall Saal trees whispering to the clouds above gave shelter to thousands of birds. As we walk pass the uneven green carpet enchanted and captivated, we heard the sound of dewdrops falling on the leaves, resulting in rhythmic music – the music of wild Dudhwa.

Rhinos at Dudhwa

Rhinos at Dudhwa

Up and down, here goes the Elegant Elephant …
A sudden turn and we were enthralled to find ourselves in the middle of a midnight’s summer dream – the filtered beams from the hidden Sun caressing the grasses, and the golden spotted deer, a group playing around a huge tree. We were lost in this fantasy land.
And there… A mother Rhino with her little one. What a sight it was!

Silent and yet so dynamic, beautiful and yet so dangerous – this forest is a universe in itself.

After having Lunch we headed towards the jungle again. While driving on the dusty path Gulab narrated to us the story of Dr Singh who was attacked by a Tiger sometime back when suddenly he asked us to stop the car.
The King of the jungle – Royal Bengal Tiger with its majestic beauty and unparalleled grace was lying down on the path at about 50 yards!

The Real Jungle

The Real Jungle

My body became numb, breathing accelerated and heart started pounding. We kept observing Him quietly from distance. We enjoyed the sight for some time and then moved little ahead to have a closer look. And then He moved. I could feel the trance of fear in the air. The King got up and started scratching the tree trunks. He was marking His territory. It was the time for us to leave Him alone.

Moving on… on the same dusty path, cutting the tall grass on both sides, at one point we found ourselves in middle of nowhere – The path disappeared and the grassland vanished. We were in front of a huge water body, home to thousands of wildlife species.

We heard the sound of dry leaves rustling and were shivered to see a full grown python slipping away to the muddy water just at breath distance, a little further the Kingfisher pounced on the little fish at back drop of blue jungle river and our blood froze for a second to see a full grown alligator lying motionless on the bank.

As the Sun touched the horizon the forest changed its color. We felt proud to experience the surroundings with all its incredible habitats, slowly changing its flavor from the.

The mystic Night…
Wildlife video at the campus auditorium set the mood of the evening, dinner with sight of the glowing eyes of spotted deer in darkness around us complemented the experience. At the cozy comfort of wooden rooms under the blanket we slept with howling of jackals, roaring of leopards and unknown whispers, only to wake up in the shivering dawn at the gentle knock of the punctual staff smiling with a cup of morning tea.

Thrilling and beautiful, mystic and yet so dangerous –Dudhwa had an appeal of its own. It was a wonderful experience!

14 Comments

  • Sumit Nirmal Kumar says:

    Hi Shailza,

    A Wonderful written travelogue. Really liked the small and to the point narration of the entire episode.
    Keep it up.

    Sumit Nirmal Kumar

  • Nice experience….. The founder director of Dudhwa was Mr.R.L. Singh and his only Son Siddarth is my good friend. I am also planning to visit Dudhwa… Hope I’ll be there this year… :)

  • Nandan says:

    Dudhwa is quite a distance away. Almost a full day drive. I have been there once and it was not a great one for us. Because of rains, no safari was happening and we waited for few hours at the forest lodge but no luck.

    It is definitely a less-traveled and un-spoilt park.

    Shailza, There is no pic of Tiger, ?? :-)

  • Ravijit says:

    What part of the year did you visit Dudhwa? The forest is closed for tourists between mid June to the first week of November. And during the monsoons the place becomes marshy. Even 4x4s would tend to get stuck.

    You were lucky to see a tiger. I’ve stayed at Sathania and Sonaripur 3 times and also made a separate day trip through the forest (we have a sugar mill 25 kms away at Paliakalan). I’ve been through that forest early morning, afternoons and late evening and have been shown pug marks and fresh tiger poop but never have I come across a tiger. I’ve seen plenty of deer, neel gaye, peacocks, foxes, monkeys, elephants, bears and otters too in a lake on the road between Salukapur and Sonaripur (this is where a small memorial is erected at the approach to the forest lodge). Most of the elephants come from Nepal and very often during the mating season. That is when they go berserk. We were once chased by a lone, crazy elephant that looked larger than a truck. On a visit to Salukapur the next day, we saw the damage it had wreaked. A makeshift kitchen had been destroyed and window grills had been twisted in the couple of brick rooms. Luckily, no one was hurt. They have often damaged the tiny shanty at Salukapur. Incidentally, the elephants that take you into the fenced rhino project are tethered at Salukapur. Kila is deeper into the forest and has no electricity. The forest department usually does not let tourists stay here.

    If you had visited Dudhwa a couple of years back, you could have spent time with Billy Arjan Singh at his home at Tiger Haven. Billy’s house is on the left just after the bridge over the Sharda river when you are approaching the Dudhwa barrier. Dudhwa was born from his efforts and that is where he lived for fifty years till his demise recently. Many a tale he had to share – all over a glass of chilled fresh lime. His favourite.

    Returning to Dudhwa, just as you exit the main gate, instead of turning left for Palia, had you turned right, you would have been on the road to Dhangarhi, Nepal. The Nepal border is perhaps around 25 kms from here. Just before the border lives the friendly Tharu tribe, interesting in its isolated lifestyle and extremely clean and colorful clay dwellings.

  • Nandan says:

    Ravijit – Great comment. When I was there (2008 I guess) and when we were told that there is not going to be any Safari, we decided to take that right and went for quite some distance before turning around since we wanted to drive back to Delhi same day.

    And now I remember that I even wrote a small account – http://www.ghumakkar.com/2008/06/20/dudhwa-touch-and-go/

    • ravijit says:

      Oh, that safari is rather dicey. They have just a few elephants and during winters, there is some rush of visitors. The first time, in 2006, we were two families staying in the mosquito infested rooms at the entrance to the forest. Keen to spot a tiger, we booked the elephants for early next morning. Getting up at 4 am was not easy, specially since we had been up chatting late into the night. And with young kids, we barely managed to present ourselves for the safari by 5. Imagine our disappointment when we were informed that a District Magistrate and his family had checked in late night and were planning to hijack the elephants we had booked the previous evening. Anger swelled and we all stomped to the rooms of the DM, gave him a piece of our mind and threatened to report him to a senior UP politician (who has since fallen from grace). In fact, we almost did call him up. We got the elephants to ourselves with the DM contending to wait for his turn. We didn’t spot a tiger and I am sure the DM and his retinue couldn’t have a couple of hours later when the sun was overhead and the animals had fled to the underbrush. So, if you chance to visit at a time that a bureaucrat decides to do so, it is most likely that the elephants would be hard to grab. Next time you plan to visit, call Sonu guide on 9452042874. He ought to be able to help.

  • vinaymusafir says:

    Thanks Shailza, for taking us Dudhwa Tiger Reserve Forest.
    Very well written travel story.
    But pics should be some more.
    :)

  • Shailza says:

    @ Nandan – yes its around 430kms from Delhi. We did a break journey. Stayed at Shahjahanpur at night and started next day early morning. We went there in December 2009. Took special permission for our car… so we did safari in an alto of course with a guide and in an Elephant the next morning.
    The gravity of the King of Jungle made us forget everything… even clicking Him. Wish we had a tele lens to capture the Beast. There are a few poor quality pics that I m sure u would not like here :)

    @ Ravijit – Thanks for the detailed comment. There were just 4 elephants then so one need to be lucky enough to get one. Since we knew guide Baddal, he got it arranged for us.

    @ vinay – Have some more pics on my site…

  • AUROJIT says:

    Hi Shailza,

    Dudhwa description was very interesting – in fact this summer, on my way to Dharchula/ Munshiari, Dudhwa was one of the destinations under consideration. Nandan’s previous post on the subject gave us some good insights.

    Now this post adds further to the knowledge.

    How does one book the FRH – I mean would Badal be able to pull it off ? Would a car be able to trudge through?

    Nice article,
    Auro.

  • Debojit says:

    hi Shailza!
    me a bit envious!
    however, we are planning to visit the park next week, wanted to know which out of (Dudhwa, Sathiana, Sonaripur, and Kila) did you stay then?
    ideally we wanted to put up in the core area and not into any resorts that’s far

    also, can you suggest someone who can do the booking, the guest house numbers in the internet are not unreachable

    thanks a lot in advance

    debojit

  • Ravijit says:

    There’s also Kishanpur. The rhino project is at Sonaripur. Elephants for the rhino project entry need to be booked in advance depending on the rush of tourists. You could expect a rush at this time. Check with the guide on herds of wild elephants that rampage through the forests at times. They come from Nepal and can sometimes be a nuisance. If it has rained in the past 24 hours, entry into the forest is generally closed. Dhangarhi at the Nepal border is just about 25 kms from the Dudhwa gate.

  • Ravijit says:

    Sorry. I was referring to Salukapur not Sonaripur. And oh yes, I sighted a tiger on my last visit much after my first post on this site. This was in December 2012 when I accompanied four other friends. I didn’t want to go into the forest at 6.30 in the morning for the elephant ride into the rhino project. However, I was hauled out of bed. At the project site, I let my friends go in while I and our guide went for a slow drive deeper into the forest. We sighted the tiger half an hour later, taking a leisurely saunter through a clearing. It criss-crossed several times for almost 5-7 minutes before disappearing into the undergrowth. I had made six unsuccessful trips into Dudhwa before I was rewarded with a single sighting.

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