Experiencing Corbett – A half-weekend in January

I reached Delhi airport at night, and we were off towards Corbett right away. Corbett National Park – famous for the tiger, the most popular of the Indian wild cats. The journey was made in a taxi late at night, and made pain-stakingly slow by the thick blanket of fog that descended on us when we were not more than a hundred km out of Delhi. But the fog rather increased the adventure spirit of the journey than be a dampner. Not being able to gather where we were headed and what kind of an area we were passing through, and the mist falling on the windshield was so much like an old black-and-white classic mystery movie. I and my friend gazed out into the lonely winter from the back seat of the car in the chilly night as the driver struggled bravely through utterly poor visibility, it was a most exciting beginning to the holiday…
Reaching Corbett in the morning, we took up our Cottage at the resort where we were booked. The resort was a nice small one on the river Ramganga’s edge, dotted with cottages, nicely landscaped lawns, pool n spa, activity centre and restaurant et all.
After breakfast, we immediately decided to go take a walk upto the river. The little river had lovely clear water and we could see huge fishes right from the vantage point we stood on looking down at the water and the entire landscape. Deciding to be adventurous, we trekked down right to the water’s edge, where it appeared ever so tempting to wade into and have a refreshing dip. Deciding against that, we just sat at the edge and hummed, as we watched some local boys fish with their lines thrown into the river at many places.
Getting back, we decided on taking the Tiger Safari before dawn next day. So, we whiled away the subsequent afternoon hours looking around the resort.

In the evening, I decided to take the “nature” walk that the guide at the reception had mentioned, all by myself. Walking on the dusty road parallel to the river, I keenly looked at the few houses that existed in the area and the people who appeared to reside in them. Living inside a forest, how would that be like? Quite different I am sure that the urban jungle we are used to! Little children played within fenced areas, often running upto the riverside, seemingly unconcerned about any sort of danger there might be in being too adventurous.
I reached an old creaky bridge and crossed over to a path that lead to a temple in some distance. There was absolutely no human now anywhere in sight, although quite clearly it was an often used route by the locals, but somehow I felt quite isoltaed. I looked at the trees and other vegetation around, hearing the chirping of the birds and rustling of leaves interrupted sometimes by sounds of a distant truck on the road across the river. There was a small cliff rising on to the other side, and I suddenly got a feeling that the Tiger could easily be watching from the top of the cliff and I wouldn’t know! How much time would it take for the wild beast to come charging and grab my neck… not much for sure. All these thoughts were of-course interspersed with the realization that I was just at the periphery of the forest and there were not more than 200 odd tigers in all of the huge expanse!
On my way back I sat at the riverside for a while, and as the mountain river sparkled in the setting sun’s rays, I imagined the resemblance of the setting to a Hollywood movie I had just watched a while ago.
In the evening we watched a nice wildlife film about wildlife in corbett, played some tabletennis and wrapped it up with a nice musical event with the hotel guests gathered around a bonfire and lovely music on the guitar by a local lad.
We set off on the wild safari before sunrise, and by the time dawn set in we were well within the main forest area. The first observation: Corbett is full of spotted deer! There were all sizes and kinds of them, merrily jumping around, not really afraid of our jeep, ratherly looking curious if anything else.

Apart from spotted ones, the other deer we bumped into were Sambhar and the little barking deer. There were also wild boars, wild fowl and langurs to be seen.


Of course, the main attraction for me was the forest itself. Vividly colourful apart from the omnipresent green and a variety of terrain… We found ourselves driven through shrubbery, tall grass glistening golden in the first rays of the sun, the mountain river in the middle of the forest, small hillocks and open grassland with hundreds of deer grazing merrily. The forest is so alive, even when you do not sight a single animal, there is a sense of them being there, watching you curiously at first, then getting back to their life with boredom of having seen it before.
Highlights of the safari included a deer alarm call, when a tiger was supposedly very near and our driver tried frantically to facilitate a sighting. We also saw fresh paw marks made on top of tyre marks that were not more than an hour or so old, but the shy beast remained elusively out of sight. We did manage to get a good dekko at some wild tuskers though. That it was a big group of elephants gathered near the river’s edge, was evident because of the rustling and shaking of trees till quite a distance.
Heading back, I found myself not a trifle disappointed at not being able to actually see a tiger, the forest was enough to make its presence felt.

And so, the first part of our weekend ended as we boarded our car and headed off towards a quiet lake destination, Bhimtal.

6 Comments

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Very rich and engaging description. I have been to corbett few times (8-10 times) and frankly never went there to see tiger, though it was always in the back of mind to spot one.

    Did a nature-walk to temple and that was gargia (we used to refer that as georgia :) ) , seems like same temple.

    Corbett is amazing. After I had my daughter, we have not been there but now is she is 2+ so time to head there soon.

  • Rahul says:

    8-10 times! You are a true nature lover AND ghumakkar :-)
    I always thought National parks would be a waste of time, bigger versions of Delhi District Parks, but Corbett changed all that.

  • jaishree says:

    True, jungle is beautiful in itself and not only this but all of them.
    If you can get to stay inside jungle in Gairal or Dhikala, nothing like that.
    In March-April, it is a feast for not only your eyes and ears but also for our nostrils.There I realized for the first time what’MADHOSH KARNE VALI KHUSHBU’ means..No matter howsoever less developed nostrils one has, he can not remain unmoved by the scent of floering SAL trees and MAHUYE KE PHOOL( POPPY does not convey the romance hidden in the word
    MAHUYE KE PHOOL)

  • Nandan Jha says:

    ha ha . kya baat hai Jaishree. Mausam hai Aashiqana , ae dil kahin se unko aise mein dhoond laana.

    I stayed at Sultan, Gairal (in old house, in old cottages as well in the new building which looks more like a urban flat), Khinnanauli and Dhikala. Hmm, anywhere else, Jhirna…. dont remember.

    Jungle is love.

    I have not been to other Jungles (been to Rajaji and guess thats all about it) like Bandhavgarh or Kanha but would make it some day.

    We were so regular at Corbett that FRO used to recognize us and of course the lady who mans the booking office at Ram Nagar, her name was………Hansa.. Anyway i can keep on boring on this topic. :)

    Yeah, also stayed at Bijrani.

  • Celine says:

    This is a beautifully written post, and I enjoyed reading it.

    I think true nature lovers would not feel one disappointed about not sighting a tiger, on the contrary would take delight in every bit of the journey, the other fauna and the flora.

  • major_amit says:

    I agree, I have been to JCNP a few times and start planning my next trip the moment I return. “Call of the Wild” I guess. Never driven there myself though, plan to do it this time.

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