India's most famous national park, the Jim Corbett National Park is well known as a tiger heaven and spans over 520km.sq. Located in Uttarakhand with the Sub-Himalayan ranges creating a natural barrier to the north, the park is home to over 600 species of birds, 110 species of trees, 50 species of mammals and 25 species of reptiles. The park is split into 5 distinct zones - Bijrani, Jhirna, Durgadevi, Dhela and Dhikala (Sitabani, while not a part of the official National Park, is considered another tourist zone) - from where you will be able to explore the natural beauty that is Corbett National Park.
How Do I Get There?
- By Air: The closest airport to the region is the Pantnagar Domestic Airport, in Uttarpradesh, which is 50km from the Park. As such, one will have to fly down into town and then hire a cab or rent a car to reach your destination of choice - hotel/resort or homestay.
- By Road: A road trip to the region may be a little tiring, but it is doubtlessly worth it - the journey is full of scenic beauty, the wind in your hair and great food on the way. A drive from Delhi (6 hours), Ludhiana (8 hours) or Agra (8 hours) is the staple choice.
- By Rail: A train from any metropolitan city would take you on a wonderful journey to Corbett National Park. The closest railway station to the park is Ramnagar Railway Station, about 15km away; which to reach one will have to hope on the Ranikhet Express from most metropolitan cities.
When's The Best Time To Visit?
Corbett is an all-year round experience, but the the division of the region into 5 safari zones in recent times has been a strict measure to maintain the natural beauty and isolation of the park and its residents. Based on which zone you wish to visit, plan your travel accordingly.
The core area (Dhikala Zone) as well as the Durga Devi Zone are open only from November 15th to June 15th and remain closed during monsoons. The Jhirna and Sitabani zones are open all throughout the year and can be visited any time. The Bijrani Zone is open only from October to June.
How To Get Around?
A 4x4 is the perfect way to get around; either hire one with a driver (recommended) or rent one out yourself. Apart from open jeeps, the only other way to get around within Corbett is by taxi.
What are the different zones in the region?
As mentioned before, the Jim Corbett National Park is divided into distinct sections, within which there are certain "buffer zones" or tourist spots. Each section is famous for a their different flora-fauna offerings.
Bijrani Safari Zone: One of the most visited zones in the park, the Bijrani Zone is made up of expansive grasslands that go on for miles, giving you an unfettered and uninterrupted view of all that the jungle has to offer. During migrations or just simple changes in habitat, animals - tigers, elephants, deers (specifically, and of all types) and more have to cross this open space, making it perfect for animal spotting.
Jhirna Safari Zone: Jhirna village - at the southern end of the reserve - was one of the first to be resettled under the park project. Now a dense jungle housing most, if not all of the parks 600+ animal species, is a must visit for those looking to spot animals in the gritty tenseness of the jungle; it also remains a great place for birdwatching.
Dhela Safari Zone: A relatively new zone, the Dhela zone is an eco-tourism zone that gives you another shot at catching a glance at the elusive tiger. A limited number of Gypsies will take you into the zone for a tour on a predetermined route, so bookings must be made in advance. In fact for anyone really determined to see a tiger, the Corbett Park guarantees that at least one tiger sighting will take place on your visit to Dhela.
Dhikala Zone: The most famous zone in all of Corbett, Dhikala is located on the edge of the Patli Dun Valley along which a variety of tributaries of the Ramganga flow. With a beautiful panoramic view of the entirety of the park and sky, the "last grassland in Corbett" is a must.
Durga Devi Zone: On the NE side of the reserve the Durga Devi Zone is famous for elephant sightings and fishing. Surrounded by thick, green forests and the Ramganga and Mandal rivers flowing through it, the Durga Devi Zone is as magnificent as it is pleasant.
Sitabani Buffer Zone: Not exactly a part of the reserve, the Sitabani Buffer Zone is maintained by the ASI (Archeological Survey of India). Open all year round and with no limits on the number of vehicles allowed, Sitabani is a great place for bird/animal watching, fishing and spiritual rejuvenation; courtesy of the Siva temple present there.
What Are The Attractions & Things To Do?
Corbett National Park takes up the entirety of your experience in the region. Each zone is distinct in the species of flora and fauna it holds and so the safaris to each of them is important - and time consuming. But if you are tired of sitting in a caged vehicle spotting a royal Bengal Tiger passing through the woods, or watching a hardworking Hornbill build its nest, or see a herd of majestic Indian Elephants making their way across the plains, then you should visit one of these three important - yet peripheral sites in the region:
Corbett Falls: A picnic spot, Corbett Falls is 4km from Ramnagar Road. Families and couples looking to enjoy themselves in mother nature's lap find themselves here. Surrounded by the dense jungle, the spot had always held a rapture like control over those who visited, but over the years it has been developed into a true picnic spot by the tourism board.
Garjiya Devi Temple: A temple presided by Garjiya Devi, said to be an incarnation of Goddess Parvati, this temple is one of the many powerful Shakti temples spread all across India. Located in Ramnagar, the temple is a serene visit; calm, peaceful.
Corbett Museum: A small heritage sight that is dedicated to Jim Corbett, the founder of the park, the Corbett Museum is located by the park in Kaladhungi. The little ones will enjoy this visit as the museum has put up his belongings for viewing - manuscripts, guns, nets, diaries, sketches and more.
Where To Eat?
Corbett is flush with a variety of cheap, mid-range restaurants that serve cuisines from all over - Indian, Mediterranean, Asian and so on. It is just a matter for what mood you are in. We recommend these top rated restaurants in the area.
- Kundan Restaurant (Indian Fast food)
- The Safari Cafe (Indian/Mediterranean)
- Village Vatika (Asian Grill)
- Bhaj Govindam (Indian)
- Indyaki (Chinese/Indian/Middle-Eastern)