North india’s famous bird sanctuary is having a tough year. With lower than normal rain, most of the Bharatpur’s lakes etc have dried, which in turn has resulted in a steep fall in the visitor count.
Informed people at the park say that it has been one of the worst seasons they have seen….but we didnt know any of this when the sudden weekend trip was planned 🙂
All we knew was Bharatpur needs to be ticked off & its close by…so off we went on a Friday evening knowing that this place is close to Agra/Mathura.
Luckily for us- theres a mall on the highway just before Mathura & we asked the people there for route to Bharatpur.And read acrefully coz its tricky- you need to go past this mall & two flyovers, take a U turn & then find a road that goes towards Bharatpur once u r back on the 2nd flyover.
Bharatpur is just 35 Kms from this mall but what doesnt help is that there are no signs on the road – so ask & ask again !
Another word of caution-there are no signs in Bharatpur – so make sure u reach at a decent hour when you can find some people on the road.We reached there close to midnight & had real trouble finding a hotel.FInally the map in Lonely planet came to the rescue- i guess i should have added “As always” !
The best way to see the park is by renting bikes. The seats are completely uncushioned so you would need to take regular “bum breaks” 🙂
JCNP is the most celebrated of the Tiger Reserves in India but we failed to see the celebrity cat… all we managed were a few pugmarks and the warning calls of the barking deer- rubbing it in, that we missed yet another close encounter.
But the beauty of the jungle & the numerous other species (birds,deers,elephants,reptiles etc) more than makes up for the elusive Tiger. If you ever go there make sure to have your reservation at Dhikala camp. Dhikala is situated on the banks of RamGanga river. The other side is an open ground about 1 km wide which provides good view of the animals coming to quench their thirst.
The park is really well maintained & the camps have good facilities, but what I was unimpressed with was the lack of knowledge about how the tiger census is done. I asked quite a few officials as to how do they get to the exact count of tigers- & i was told it was done through pugmarks. Apparently their pugmarks are as unique as our fingerprints !- I personally dont buy that 🙂
But anyways my doubt was- that howd the officials know that a tiger has died- coz they wouldnt see the pugmarks or the tiger & would assume that the cat is in hiding. I fear its this logic through which they claim that there are 400 tigers @ Corbett! If there were even half as many- we would have surely seen one.
Once inside the park you are not allowed to venture out of the camp between 11am & 4pm- coz thats the time the jungle gets back to normal after all the jeep & elephant safaris.If you have the interest you can get yourself parked at the machan for these 5 hrs- but make sure you take enough water & food with you.
I only wish there was a way to volunteer as a Forest guard for a month…