During my childhood days, one of my favourite books was, 'The man eaters of Kumaon'. At that time, the writer Jim Corbett was my hero. While reading the book, I imagined myself with Jim Corbett exploring the jungle, going in search of the tiger, staying the night at treetops, etc, etc. Sometimes at night I woke up in fear having heard the roar of the tiger. The imaginations of those days in my childhood are still alive in my mind. So when one of my family members suggested we visit Jim Corbett National Park. I immediately responded positively.
Jim Corbett National Park is the oldest national park in India and was established in 1936 as Hailey National Park to protect the endangered Bengal tiger. It is located in Nainital district of Uttarakhand. In those days, Jim Corbett helped protect the people of Garhwal region from dangerous man-eating tigers, killing as many as 600 dangerous such tigers. Being a well-known hunter, the government sought his help for killing the man-eaters and later rewarded him for his help. Afterwards the Hailey National park was named as Jim Corbett National Park. Later on, he became a naturalist and helped the region of Garhwal a lot. He himself set up a village to help the local people.
Corbett National Park comprises 520.8 km2 area of hills, riverine belts, marshy depressions, grasslands and a large lake. The elevation ranges from 1,300 to 4,000 ft. Dense, moist deciduous forest mainly consists of Sal, Haldu, Peepal, Rohini and mango trees. Forest covers almost 73% of the park, 10% of the area consists of grasslands. It houses around 110 tree species, 50 species of mammals, 580 bird species and 25 reptile species. Daily jeep safaris are available to experience and explore the park, which are assisted by experienced guide. Apart from tourist lodges, luxurious resorts are available to celebrate the beauty of nature and wild life in the region.
The distance of the national park from Delhi is 250 kms. Although we started our journey in the morning, we took some relaxing moments taking tea/ coffee etc. etc and reached the resort we booked to stay at around 1:30 pm. The resort is amidst nature near a monsoon river. We booked a tent on the bank of the river. Amidst the dense forest, near the river, beneath the vast blue sky, the luxurious tent was marvellous. After having lunch in the dining area looking at the beautiful scenery outside, we relaxed in our tent in the afternoon.
In the evening, sipping a cup of coffee we sat in the lush green garden overlooking the river and the beyond. Lots of known and unknown birds were playing around as the day was ending by. It was a nice scene looking at the enjoyment carried out by those small little birds giving adieu to the day. Over our head they were taking different paths to go from one tree to the other and it continued till the dusk engulfed the region. The hotel fellows showed us few Neel gais came to take water from the river. Slowly lights started getting lit in the resort and the garden area. With another round of tea and snacks we watched the documentary film on Jim Corbett National Park. It was really an educational experience to know the flora and fauna of the national park and the history behind the park. To pass the leisurely time the resort has various facilities like basketball, TT court, snooker, swimming pool etc. The walking path around the resort is nice to feel the surrounding darkness, sparkling stars, listening to the music of various bugs in the jungles.
After dinner we sat for a long time in the huge garden looking at the sparkling stars, listening to the waves of the river. At night it was a complete silence all around. However at midnight we heard the cry of some innocent animals, who became the prey of someone stronger. That noise really made me scared.
Next day, we got up very early in the morning, as we have to go for jeep safari in the jungle. Our guide-cum-driver welcomed us to his open green colour forest jeep and we headed towards the jungle.
When we reached the gate of the forest area, it was a long queue to get the pass to go inside the Jungle. After getting the formalities done in the gate we entered the deep jungle, the jungle of my dream where I roamed around with Jim Corbett in my childhood days. Everywhere it was green and green with various sheds of green which were merged with morning dew in a distant and the greenish colour faded with greyish hew. Our jeep went ahead through the brown coloured route, passing through huge, tall trees. In between we passed by some monsoon river where our jeep smartly crossed the pebbled riverbed and during such crossing we were dancing with the rhythm of movement of the jeep. It was a thrilling experience to cross such rivers. On the way we saw wild elephants, beautiful dears, wild pigs, beautiful ducks, lots of birds etc etc. Our guide was keen to show us at least one tiger. So in between he got down and examined the path followed by some tiger last night. Yes, we could hear the roar of a tiger, but we couldn't see it.
I really enjoyed the beauty of the jungle, could appreciate the true meaning of dense forest and could understand how much brave heart one person like Jim Corbett would have to roam around and staying night at this extremely deep jungle. My respect for him increased manifolds. In the jungle, I too enjoyed the sight of pebbled river with its waves getting obstructed by colourful pebbles, sight of beautiful kingfishers watching attentively in the river water, roaming ducks and big terminate mounds around. Somehow, in the whole journey, I felt as if Jim Corbett was also with us.
I noticed some scary scenes in the jungles, like taking selfie with wild elephant by over enthusiastic tourists from the open jeep. I enjoyed the enthusiasm of such kind of dare devil person who do not bother whether they can be attacked by those innocent animals for intruding their peaceful life. Finally our guide told us that its unfortunate that we could not get the glimpse of a tiger today. But I was feeling happy, as the visualisation of the scene of people taking selfie with tiger really horrified me.
Our guide took us to a very old temple in the jungle. Nobody knows when and why it was constructed in such a deep jungle. The name of the temple is Sita temple and it is dedicated to Sita of epic Mahabharata.
When we return the sun was brightly shining at the top of our head. On the way the guide showed us a huge tree filled with many big honeycombs. After the morning show we all went to the swimming pool to relax for some time. In the afternoon we went again to see my hero Jim Corbett museum where Jim Corbett stayed with his sister. There is a statue of Jim Corbett in the entrance. There are several rooms in the house, used as drawing room, dining room, kitchen, etc. by Jim Corbett. On the wall of every room there are many photographs hanging. Most of the photographs were of Jim Corbett with some big tiger he killed. It was known that Jim Corbett killed only those tigers who disturbed the local people by killing few of them. Later he became nature lover and did lot of work for preservation of tigers and wild animals. I offered my respect to my childhood hero on his statue and had a photograph with him.
It was known that Jim Corbett was given a piece of land as a gift for his help to the government which he converted to a village named as Chhoti Haldwani village. We took a guide to know and experience the village. It's an amazing green village with lot of cultivation. We saw green paddy fields, trees of various fruits like coconuts, bananas, mangoes, etc. The people of the village still remember him with great pride and respect. We went to the house of the village head. In front of his house there is a double storied building. It is known that from the roof of the building, Jim Corbett used to talk to the villagers. The Mukhia was happy to show us the rifle given by Jim Corbett to his father as a gift. Following the path of Jim Corbett, the villagers are busy in protecting the wild animals in the region. Now, there are several homestays available to feel the real village life in that area. It was a nice feeling to know my hero indulged in such kind of jobs and my respect to him increased manifold.
While coming back we saw a beautiful falls named after Jim Corbett as Corbett falls, which is situated inside a different dense forest.
The night went by gazing at the stars, remembering the heroic achievement of Jim Corbett with his good deed towards mankind and in the same time to the innocent animals. I bow my head to him with great respect.
Finally, I feel really happy to convert into reality the memories of my childhood, exploring the jungle with Jim Corbett with some more real scenes from the jungle and I will always cherish these beautiful moments of jungles with him as I always dreamt of.