In spite of the shaded forested paths, sudden bursts of yellow grasslands and the towering trees standing guard, the most hypnotic spot in Corbett National Park is a group of lagoons dotted with dry trees, their brown branches emerging mysteriously from the water. The peaceful ambience of the jungle ushers you to this blissful spot and makes you wonder if Jim Corbett felt the same way while surveying the thick forests of Hailey National Park in the 1930s. He would have never imagined that decades later his name would be synonymous with wildlife in Uttarakhand’s Kumaon region.
The park was re-christened Corbett National Park in 1957 and it remains one of the most coveted wildlife experiences in India. Spread across 521 sq kms, it can be explored via jeep safaris and hikes. Expect to spot sambar and spotted deer, elephants, and if you are lucky, the Royal Bengal tiger. The possibility of sighting from 50 mammal species, 580 bird species and 25 reptile species means that you should spend at least 3 days doing as many jungle safaris as possible. (Timings 6-10am and 2-6pm on all days)
The only physical remnant of Jim Corbett now lies in the form of his erstwhile home, at the edge of the forest in Kaladhungi. A visit here is about more than just wildlife - it also gives you a glimpse of the history of the region. Corbett’s home, now converted into a small museum, is a treasure trove of the area’s history. Even though there aren’t elaborate exhibits, the unassuming atmosphere and the simple remnants of his life in India are enough to excite any musafir. (Timings from 8am-5pm in winters/6pm in summers; Entry for Indians/ Foreigners Rs 10/50). What may also intrigue you is a peek into the village of Chhoti Haldwani, which was integral to Corbett’s life in the region. Bird watching, a heritage trail and hikes into the teak forests can be explored from here.
Getting There - Corbett National Park is closest to Pantnagar airport, but Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun may be more viable as it is better connected to the rest of the country. If you are travelling by train, Nagina railway station (34km) or Ramnagar (12km) are well connected by trains from North India. Cabs from Dehradun are easily available.
Best Time to Visit - March and April
Stay - Try and stay close to the park, so you soak in the jungle. Wildlife enthusiasts will enjoy staying inside the park at the rest-houses run by the forest department. Bijrani and Dhikala are two of the most popular ones.