Jim Corbett National Park - Traversing the buffer zone
Ramnagar in the Himalayan foothills is a doorway to the famous Jim Corbett National Park. Soon after the monsoon rains we explored the plush greens there. A visit to the jungle's buffer zone...
We started off early, accompanied by the crisp morning breeze, to get a feel of the hills. A walk in the buffer area of the jungle stirred the mind and body beyond words. Being so close to nature was wonderful!
We were about 1300 feet above sea level in this green maze. Pathways formed by the daily use by locals, animals, and even visitors, led us in. Our guide introduced us to them. We crossed boulders, fallen branches, colourful shrubbery, and thumped our way on the soft mud below. The serene silence was broken occasionally by melodious bird-calls. We spotted some perched on the highest of branches and enjoyed their songs. Dew drops shone like tiny diamonds hanging from leaves’ tips. They fell below; gently.
We found monkeys eating Harar fruit and dropping some generously to be eaten by herbivores grazing below.
Lantana - a guest that overstayed its welcome
Dark green, dangerous Lantana bushes spread a mesh over vast areas. Lantana does not let the grass grow as it spreads its own branches avariciously. This interferes with the natural cycle as the herbivores look for greener pastures and so do the predators in search of prey. So the animals desert the area gradually. To avoid this, from time to time the forest keepers get rid of these green-demons to protect the forest and the animals. Incidentally, Lantana is not a native of India, even though it may be rampant in every corner of green wilderness.
Getting a feel of the jungle
As we made our way through the one foot broad, never-ending pathway we witnessed countless plants, flowers, ferns, climbers and creepers on both sides. Most of them were taller than us and in some places made small tunnels for us to bend and move forward. They were all part of this amazing green world, each playing an important role in its own little way. The fragrant greens refreshed each breath.
Teak and Sal trees were impressive with their brilliant green leaves and towering stature. They are generally ready for making furniture in 20 years; the wood is extremely durable and lasts for about 300 years, the jungle guide told us. Tendu trees were in abundance here. We learnt that their dark green, medium sized leaves are used for making Bidis, the Indian avatar of cigarettes.
We spotted a tall, slender, and lone Harar tree. Harar is a chief ingredient of Ayurvedic medicines, such as Triphala. Here, in the jungle, we found monkeys eating Harar fruit and dropping some generously to be eaten by herbivores grazing below.
Food, glorious food - for big appetites
Rohini trees, the favourite food of elephants in this jungle, were in bloom. By March, its ripe, red fruit would dry and give red powder which is natural sindoor or vermilion as we call it.
A tree, which shook on being tickled, was really cute! As we rubbed the trunk gently, its leaves and smaller branches started stirring vigourously. It was an amusing sight!
Packaged-identical mineral water instead of nature-identical mineral water :-)
On sighting rivulets of clean water we were tempted to splash in them. The naturally found, mineral water was a liquid energy resurger for us as we spanned the jungle, stretching our rusty city muscles. Near water, we found a spread of Touch me not plants, flowering a pretty mauve... When our clothes brushed against them, their leaves closed and bid good-night to us in broad daylight!
Hint of a tiger?
A tiger's pugmarks near the muddy banks of the pebble-stewn rivulet made our day! It was a couple of days old, the guide said. We retraced our steps from the jungle, to the tune of bird-choir and occassional jingling of silver bangles worn by women grass-cutters.
Named after the naturalist and hunter Jim Corbett who helped establish this protected forest-haven, Jim Corbett National Park is the oldest national park in India. It was established in the year 1936, and was then known as Hailey National Park. It is located in district Nainital, in the state of Uttarakhand, India. It is a success story with Project Tiger, so far, and a well kept place.
The park is in the lesser Himalayas, bordering on the Shivaliks and Terai region. Because of such a geographic situation, it is richer in flora and fauna than several other jungles in India. It is especially favoured by birdwatchers.
Winter temperature here may range between 5 °C (41 °F) to 30 °C (86 °F). Summer temperature normally keeps below 40 °C (104 °F). Rich monsoons nurture the thick foliage here.
The nearest railheads being at Lalkua and Kathgodam, Jim Corbett National Park, is conveniently located on the suburbs of Ramnagar, which has a mix of resorts, hotels and camps for different budgets and facilities.