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Jungle Book Tour
Birding in North
Northern India (11 nights/12 days)
Natural Highlights: Okhla Barrage, Corbett National Park, Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary, Keoladev Ghana National Park and Ranthambhore National Park.
Cultural Sights: Delhi, Taj Mahal (Agra), Fatehpur Sikri (near Bharatpur)
Options Possible: Jaipur (palaces, forts and markets),
Recommended Period: (Best / Regular / Off )
Okhla Barrage, Delhi:
Okhla barrage was created on river Yamuna in the late 80s and has become an important breeding site as well as a haven for migratory birds in the winters (recorded over 15,000 water birds). This area earlier had marshes and many resident birds were recorded even before the creation of lake (due to barrage) and of late the loss of habitat due to urbanization of Delhi has resulted that this remains as the last refuge of many a species. As per various studies, nearly 300 bird species have been recorded in this small area of approx. 4 sq km. The lagoon hosts over 211 species of birds in the peak migratory season. Birs from as far as the Caspian Sea, Lake Baikal, Aral Sea and other remote parts of Russia, Kirghiz steppes of Mongola, Central and Southeast Asia and from Himalayas come here. Nalabana island is a notified Sanctuary with an area of 15.5 sq km. The fauna at Chilika also includes species 18 mammals.
Jim Corbett National Park:
Corbett is India's first national park (set up in 1936) and one of its finest. It is notable not only for its rich and varied wildlife and birdlife but also for its scenic charm and magnificent submontane and riverain views. The Park (earlier known as Hailey and later Ramganga National Park) was renamed as Corbett National Park in honour of Jim Corbett. Jim Corbett was born in 1875 into the large family of Christopher Corbett, the postmaster at Nainital. From childhood he was fascinated by the jungles around Nainital. This developed into a considerable knowledge of the ecosystem's workings. Like most pukka sahibs (proper gentlemen) he learnt to shoot and became a superb shot, killing his first leopard when he was eight. Tigers were his most sought after prey, followed by leopards which were very difficult to sight, let alone shoot. This interest was sustained during his working life but from the mid-1920's he ceased to shoot tigers for sport and instead photographed them except to track and kill the man-eating leopards and tigers that terrorised the Kumaon hills from time to time. Later in life he recounted his exploits in a series of books about man-eaters and the jungle.
The park covers approx 520 sq km, of which 350 sq km is core reserve and another 800 sq kms extends to buffer zones of Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary and Kalagarh Reserve Forest). It comprises the broad valley of the Ramganga River backing onto the forest covered slopes of the Himalayan foothills which rise to 1210m at Kanda Peak. A dam at Kalagarh has created a large reservoir at the West-end of the park.
The Park has over 50 mammals including Tigers, Leopards, leopard cats, jungle cat, fishing cat, sloth bear, Himalayan black bear, dhole, jackal, yellow throated marten, Himalayan palm civet, wild pig and a variety of deer including Sambar, chital, para (Hog Deer) and muntjac (barking deer). Elephants are now a permanent resident after their tracking routes were inundated by building of dam. It has an impressive birdlife of over 600 species and the river has the common mugger crocodile, the fish eating gharials and various fishes including the Mahseer.
National Chambal Sanctuary:
It was founded in 1979 and constitutes a large eco-reserve co-administered by the three states (Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh). About 400 km of the Chambal river cuts picturesque ravines through the reserve. Chambal river seems to be the last resort of the Ganges River Dolphin (Platanista gangetica), the other inhabitants of the sanctuary include magar (crocodile) and gharial (Gavialis gangeticus). This stretch of clear water also supports Marsh Crocodile, Smooth-coated Otters (Lutrogale perspicillata), and six species of Terrapins/Turtles.
More than 250 species of birds may be seen in the sanctuary. Migratory birds from Siberia form part of its rich avian fauna. An endangered bird species that can be spotted here is the Indian skimmer. Winter visitors include Black-bellied Terns, Red-crested Pochard and Ferruginous Pochard, Bar-headed Goose, etc. Other species include Sarus Crane, Great Thick-knee, Indian Courser, Pallas's Fish Eagle, Pallid Harrier, Greater Flamingos and Lesser Flamingos, Darters, and Brown Hawk Owl.
Keoladev Ghana National Park, Bharatpur:
Keoladev Ghana National Park is better known as Bharatpur, and it is one of UNESCO World Heritage site.
Established in 1956, this 29 sq km piece of marshland is one of the finest bird sanctuaries in the world with over 360 species of birds. It used to be part of the private shooting reserve of the Maharaja of Bharatpur and during the season enormous numbers of birds were shot by him and his guests. It is frequented by Northern hemisphere migratory birds, including the rare Siberian Crane between November to February. September-October is the breeding season. Among many other birds to be seen are egrets, ducks, coots, stroks, kingfishers, spoonbills, Sarus cranes and several birds of prey, including laggar falcon, greater spotted eagle, marsh harrier and Pallas' eagle. There are also chital deer, sambar, nilgai, feral cattle, wild cats, hyenas and wild boar whilst near Python Point, there are usually some very large rock pythons.
Ranthambhore National Park, Sawai Madhopur:
Ranthambhore lies on the easternmost spur of the Aravallis. It has a Fort, situated on a 215m high rock, built in AD 944 and over the next 6 centuries changed hands on a number of occasions. Set in 400 sq km of dry deciduous forest, this became the private tiger reserve of the Maharaja of Jaipur during the Mughal rule. Tigers can occasionally be seen in the daytime, particularly November to April. There are also a few leopards, numerous herds of sambar, nilgai, sloth bear, jackal, crocodile, the occasional rare caracal and a rich variety of birds.
You approach the park along a narrow valley from the West. The path to the fort zig-zags up the steep outcrop in a series of ramps and through 2 impressive gateways. The fort wall runs round the summit and has a number of semi-circular bastions. This combined with the natural escarpment produces sheer drops of over 65m in places. There are two water tanks, a palace and pavilion and a few temples inside the walls. There are good views out over the surrounding countryside to warrant the effort of reaching the fort and it is a wonderfully peaceful place.
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