My first visit to Jim Corbett
On Christmas Eve, I went for Tungnath-Chandrashilla trek and my love for mountains, rivers, and the forest started getting more extreme. That was one of the lifetime experience in the mountains.
One fine Friday evening, I was discussing my next adventure trip with my friend. We decided to do a relaxing weekend trip to Landsdowne, Uttarakhand. I started looking for accommodation and places to visit in Landsdowne online and enquiring with few friends, who had been there. While I was exploring options, I went for a tea break with my office friend and informed her casually about our Landsdowne plan. Knowing my taste about travel, she told me to drop Landsdowne and consider Jim Corbett. Suddenly, I started recollecting Kaal movie (Bollywood movie where Ajay Devgan was the ghost and friend of tigers). And next moment she shared the contact number of Salim, guide/driver from Jim Corbett. Now the mission was changed from Landsdowne to Jim Corbett which is a forested wildlife sanctuary in Uttarakhand State.
I spoke to Salim and paid him an advance for safari. Dhikala and Bijrani area (with more dense forest with high chances of spotting a tiger) booking was full, as it required 45 days advance booking but, we were lucky enough to get the booking for Jhirna area.
Safari was booked, travel plan was done and now we must look for accommodation. So started browsing hotel booking sites and I got a very good deal in Wood Castle Spa and Resort on Ibibo.com. Booked 2N/3D two rooms at just Rs 25,742 (taxes included) breakfast and one meal included. Woods Castle is the Beautiful property on Koshi river bank. The river and forest view from the lawn is amazing. Their staff is very welcoming and warm. And the food is the highlight of the stay. Every single dish they cooked for us was just yum. I recommend wood castle if you plan to visit Jim Corbett.
Road trip begins from Noida
We started at 8.00 in the morning by car from Noida and reach Jim Corbett at around 3.00 PM, after taking breaks for breakfast at 10.00 AM near Garh Mukteshwar and then lunch at 2.00 PM near Kashipur. The drive was really good. Initially till Hapur, we got little traffic because of flyover construction on NH-9 but, after crossing Hapur it was very smooth drive till Moradabad. After bypassing Moradabad city, we took a left turn, which was a single lane road alongside the canal. We saw some really good landscapes on that stretch. Trees were planted in a straight line in the square field, where you can see few sun rays are passing between the trees creating a set for a Hollywood thriller. Lush green plants covered with the carpet of yellow mustard flowers. Overloaded tractors carrying sugarcanes and many more. Climate was very pleasant throughout the day from Noida to Jim Corbett. One jacket was good enough to survive the cold weather.
After reaching the resort, we decided to take rest for a couple of hours. So, my friend went slept and I decided to try some of my wildlife photography skill. I took my camera and went to the river bank to click some pictures of birds and a nice river view with sunset in the background.
Lost in Nature
At around 6.00 PM the sun went down and my friend woke up and got all that we would need to party in the hotel lawn. We were feeling totally relaxed to have a drink standing on river bank listing to the water sound and looking at the forest trees which were just across the river and soft gazals of Jagjit Singh in the background. We were completely cut off from our professional life and was just enjoying the beauty of nature. Official targets were replaced by the tiger spotting strategies next days, all the client calls were replaced by the sound of river water and all the presentation and seminars were replaced by the natures perfect picture of forest and birds. It was the perfect Friday evening one could imagine. At around 11.30 pm, we felt a sudden drop in temperature and decided to retire for the day, as it was 7 degrees and we had to spend two more days there.
Ready for the open Safari in Jim Corbett
Day 2: I got up at 7.30 and went out for running for a couple of KMs and came back to resort, where I found a bear on chair enjoying aloo parathas and tea on the same place, where we had party last night. Don’t be afraid, that was my friend with bear like structure 😊. Place was the same with different drinks, view, but still, it was very relaxing.
By 10.30 AM, we finished our breakfast. Salim was supposed to come and pick us up at 1.30 pm. So we decided to play badminton till then. After a couple of games, we decided to call off and get ready for the safari. Salim was on time and we were very excited about our first open jeep jungle safari. Lots of thoughts in mind. Will we be lucky to see the tiger, will elephants cross our path and which other animals we will see. With all these excitements, we left the resort and stopped at petrol pump, where Salim filled his Gypsy’s tank and picked up Bobby Singh (Lalit Kumar Singh) our safari guide. Bobby was good and entertaining but, then at the end of the trip he got boring. He instructed that any given point of time we should not get down from the vehicle during the safari.
Finally, our safari was about the begin. We reached the Jhirna region check post, where Salim showed our permits and ids to the rangers, Yes! We are in Jim Corbett now and looking for wildlife around. For the first 4 kms it was good tar road and for the next 10 kms its was a muddy stone road but, in good condition. Not much of roll-a-coaster ride.
Jungle, Animals and you
Within a KM from the park gate, we spotted deer crossing the road. It was so beautiful. I wanted to test my wildlife photography skills, so asked Salim to stop the jeep and started clicking some good pics.
We saw many animals and birds on the way and the experience was awesome. It’s hard to describe in words. Our Jeep’s speed slowed down to 10 km/h after getting on to the muddy road. Diving 2 Kms on muddy road, Salim stop the jeep and asked us to keep quiet, as they were listening to animal calls to track the tiger. We waited for 10 mins but, left the place after few other safari vehicles passed by. On the way, we saw some Monkeys and Langurs, Peacocks and Wildbores. It was an awesome experience to see these wild animals in their habitats.
Yet to spot the Tiger
Everything was so cool but, we were yet to spot the tiger. Salim asked some of his fellow drivers about any Tigers spotted by them or heard any call. But the response was negative. We moved ahead in the jungle and decided to take a different route in search of the tiger tracks. Suddenly, Salim stopped the car and asked not to move, as he heard a call from barking deer. We could hear too as it was loud and clear. We waited for 5-7 minutes and heard monkey making sound from the other side of the road. We saw another vehicle coming from the opposite direction signaling us that the tiger is crossing the road. Salim moved ahead of the corner but, it was little late to reach the spot.
Oh No! We missed the tiger by a few seconds. By the time we reached the spot, the tiger had already crossed the road and disappeared in the bushes. Shit, we missed it. With only 30 mins left in safari, we missed seeing the tiger by a few seconds. How frustrating it could be. I asked Salim, if there is any chance, we can spot the tiger in the remaining 30 mins and answers was not convincing. We started heading back to the gate because we had to be out of the jungle by 5.30 pm or else Salim would have to pay penalty. It was so close yet so far but, we were thrilled with the experience we had of spotting tiger by just listening to the sounds made by the other animals. We returned to the check post with two minutes to spare and took a tea break. It was getting cold and you can well imagine how cold it would be in open Gypsy at 60 km/h speed. The safari was over and we had an experience of driving in open Gypsy in a Jungle, while the cold breeze. We just loved it.
We came back to the resort and celebrated the moment with a couple of drinks and some local smoke 😊. Salim asked me if I want to stay in the core Jungle in a guest house in Dhikala region. I am still thinking on taking that offer but not finalized yet. But If I go, I will definitely share my experience.
Story Teller: SATISH SAWANT
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Interested in River and mountains of Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, then please read this article.