It was one bright sunny winter day, and everybody in my college was bouncing off the walls as our teachers were soon going to announce the next holiday trip. In my two years of college life, I have never seen so many people outside the staff room, not even on the result days. Finally, the announcement was made that we are going for a short getaway to Corbett National Park. I was excited as I was hopeful of sighting a tiger this time (as I have already been there once). And somewhere like an unrealistically confident lottery card buyer, I convinced my friends to come along for the trip as I wanted someone to be with me to share the excitement and thrill. And finally, on 24th February night, we boarded our bus to undertake a 9-hour road journey from New Delhi to Corbett National Park.
1100 hrs to 1400 hrs- Visit to the Garjiya Devi Temple Finally after an eight-hour smooth ride from Delhi we reached the first destination of Corbett National Park trip, Garjiya Devi Temple. Claimed to be a wish-fulfilling temple, it is sacred to Goddess Shakti- Garjiya Devi, who is also the daughter of Himalaya. Reaching the main shrine wasn’t easy as firstly we crossed a street lined up with shops selling Puja items (samagri), and then head down the long flight of stairs till the bank of Kosi. Crossed the bridge over Kosi and then walked through the flight of stairs till the main shrine. It is believed that if you tie a knot at the grills of the temple, all your wishes will be fulfilled. Spending some time at the bank of Kosi River was rejuvenating and in no time, we got rid of travel fatigue. For lunch, we went to the dhabha, which is located quite close to the parking area. The dhabha served us delicious paranthas and pakoras (fried, crist snack). At dhaba, all your diet control plans can go for a toss. Mine totally did as I hogged on everything I laid my eyes on. One came, and many followed, but my taste buds stayed insatiable. Finally with a tummy full of scrumptious food, we head to our accommodation, Solluna Resort.
1530 hrs till Night– Adventure activities @ hotel
The journey from Garjiya Devi Temple till the Solluna Resort was beautiful yet thrilling as crossed multiple zigzag roads and even saw deer, sloths, gold jackals and langurs during the journey. Solluna is located on the bank of river Ramganga and to reach main reception, we trekked downhill from the main road. When we entered the front desk, our teachers divided us into a group of five. Fortunately, all my friends and I were accommodated in the same cottage. Talking about the Solluna resorts than let me tell you it’s beautiful, comfortable and classy. There were the different category of cottages, restaurant, swimming pool and conference room. After settling ourselves in the room, we head to the bank of the River Ramganga, where a setup was installed for the adventure activities like monkey crawling, flying fox, raping and natural river crossing. Later we headed for the dinner buffet at the resort top pavilion followed by a bonfire. Soon after the bonfire, our teachers guided us to the cottage as there was no light. Our teachers instructed us to sleep little early as we were supposed to get up at 4 for the morning elephant safari in Bijrani zone.
0445 hrs to 0900 hrs- Elephant safari @ Bijrani zone Early morning, as soon as the clock struck 4:45 AM, we reached our college bus to visit the Bijrani gate for the elephant safari. I and three of my friends sat on a howdah – large seats attached to the back of the elephant and started exhilarating safari experience at around six from the main entrance of the Bijrani. The highlight of the ride was that you get a chance to see an uninterrupted view of the jungle, without steals and bar. Also, photographing animals and birds become easier as there is no noise of engines. The elephants walk with caution and in silence, providing a much better chance to spot animals and birds in their natural habitat. For us, it was hard to spot animals, but we saw innumerable colorful birds like Seagull, kingfisher, hornbill, leaf birds, spot-winged starlings, puff-throated babble, to name a few. No doubt, elephant safari is best way to spot all sorts of creatures of the wild, up, close and personal.
1000 hrs to 1300 hrs: Breakfast at the hotel and Corbett museum
Soon after our ride, we thanked out mahout for the exceptional service and then boarded our bus to reach the resort. At the resort, we enjoyed scrumptious Kumauni cuisine and then left for the first destination of the day, Corbett Museum, which was approximately 65 kilometers away. Our journey, from resort to the museum, was beautiful as we passed through the jungles and kept on peeping outside our bus windows to spot animals. After approximately 2 hour ride we reached Corbett Museum. Here on display were multiple items, namely hunting weapons, sketches, manuscripts and Jim Corbett’s hunts from different places. The museum preserves the heritage of Mr. Corbett in the form of personal belongings (like fishing nets, cap, gun, and photographs), letters and antiques. Out there, we learned about important facts related to wildlife while roaming around the vast vicinity of Corbett reserve.
1315 hrs to 1530 hrs- Lunch @ Delhi Darbar Restaurant & Corbett Falls
Leaving Corbett museum, we made a point to have lunch as there are no snacking spots available nearby Corbett falls, next destination of the day. Our search of good quality food took us to Delhi Darbar Restaurant, an excellent quality multi cuisine restaurant that is hardly a kilometer away from the museum. With a tummy full of food, we made our way to the Corbett Falls. The Corbett journey tested our endurance at every turn, on the first day we climbed stairs to reach Garjiya Devi Temple, and now in Corbett falls, we walked for 15 minutes to arrive at the main reservoir. But all those aches are bruises were worth all effort. To define the Corbett fall, I would say a silvery stream cascading down rugged mountains in the middle of the lush green environment, swaying forest, andharmonious chirping of birds and gushing sound of water. Without caring about any consequences, we jumped into the reservoir and got drenched in the refreshing pouring off the hills. It was so good, and we saw some colorful birds too.
1630 hrs to 1700- Dhangari Museum & Back to hotel
The worst part about the college trips are that things never go as per the itinerary, and there will be one lazy person who is always late. In my tour, I was that person. I was mesmerized so much by the beauty of the place and birds that my teachers and friends almost dragged me out of the place. And finally after a good lecture session from my teachers, we made our way to Dhangari Museum. You can’t afford delays on the Corbett trip as being an extremely sensitive area; any sort movement is not allowed after 8. We were already late for an hour, and that’s why we had just 30 minutes to see the museum and purchase some souvenirs from the shop as the closing time was near. The museum exhibits the history of Corbett Nation Park and rear images. Prime attraction of the museum is the glass boxes containing the head of tigers and elephants, which were killed in fights, long time back. As a token of remembrance, I took wooden items, carvings, caps, t-shirts and even some books and literature from here the store. With a good number of shopping bags, we headed back to resort.
Evening- Fun-filled activities @ resort
It was a hectic day as we were awake since 4 in the morning. Some of my friends decided to hit the bed while some wandering souls like me visited the riverside nearby the Solluna Resort. It was a beautiful evening, and the icing on the cake was the soothing music that was played by many my juniors and of course the chattering noise of the river. While relaxing at the riverside, I kept on glancing the sky to see its changing colors. I even had a stone throwing competition with my friend. After some time, our teachers called us back to resort as it was not safe to stay there in the night as wild animals approach the river stream to quench their thirst. After a finger licking good dinner, we headed to our cottage for a good and early sleep as tomorrow we had to go for a jeep safari.
Jeep safari @ Dhikala: 0600 hrs to 1000 hrs I readily accept the fact that despite being such a hectic day, I didn’t sleep that night. Just because I was so excited for the jeep safari, a highlight of the corbett wildlife holiday. Usually, I am the last one to approach the bus but this time, I was the first person to reach; seeing this my teachers were completely shocked and surprised. Finally at around 6: 45 in the morning we reached the gate and there our jeeps were waiting to take us to the highlight of the trip, Dhikala zone. As soon as the clock struck 7, our guide crossed the entry gate and took us on a roller coster ride. We were sleepy but excited about our first trip to the park. The terrain of Corbett is beautifully varied with ravines, ridges, plateaus and numerous small streams. In my 3 hour ride, I saw deer, monitor lizard, elephant, lagoons, sambars, but not tigers. I was little disappointed that I couldn’t spot any tigers despite several rounds of safaris inside the Park. But there were many other “charms” to see like Kingfishers, Indian Roller, Hawk-Eagles Green Bee-Eaters, and Jungle Fowl, to name a few that kept me happy throughout the journey. Even the guides say that spotting tiger isn’t possible every time as there are only 340 in 520 square kilometers area. Also, they are used to human interference. All thanks to my friend’s company and some birds, my overall safari experience was good. At 9, we drove back in a jiffy to the main gate to board our buses.
On my way back to the resort, I was tired to the core as all those sleepless nights showed their impact on me. We reached out hotel by 11, and our teachers instructed us to have breakfast and be there by 12 at the reception to check-out. It was tough for me to leave this place, the time spent were was awesome – I explored new things, did weird stuff, and made new friends. It was a fun trip, and my friends and teachers even made it more memorable for me. At 1:00, we checked out from the resort and started walking towards the bus. In the bus, I took the last seat, despite it being the most uncomfortable so that I can turn and see an unobstructed view of the jungle disappear as the bus rocks around the last of Corbett’s road serpentine curve. Seeing the barren roads swallowing the forest left me nostalgic. And on this beautiful note, my 48 hours trip to Corbett National Park came to an end.