Corbett’s Heritage: Himalayan haven

Anisha
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Jim Corbett, the legend...on a map

Signboards and speed-brakers warned us to be careful about animals crossing the road and allow them space and freedom to move. The road actually touched the buffer zone of Jim Corbett National Park.

Ramnagar in the Kumaon foothills took my heart away this October. Tall, broad-leafed Sal forests led the road to Tiger Camp where Mukuljit Singh of Young Adventurers had made reservations for us. The air was fragrant with vegetation in all sizes. Sal flowers and fruit flailed on branches touched by translucent greens; leaves that fought to keep the sunrays to themselves yet the magnanimous rays found ways of reaching the underlying leaves as if through a green veil of the leaves overhead.

Signboards and speed-brakers warned us to be careful about animals crossing the road and allow them space and freedom to move. The road actually touched the buffer zone of Jim Corbett National Park. The road was a National Highway leading to Nainital and kept very busy by night.

Jim Corbett National Park was the first National Park in India in 1935 and named Hailey National Park after Sir Malcolm Hailey, the then Governor of United Provinces. Called Ramganga National Park in 1950 after independence, this park got its name Jim Corbett National Park in 1957 after the man worshipped as god and doted upon by the locals of Kaladungi, Chota Haldwani, Nainital and the surrounding villages. Jim Corbett was born in Nainital on 25th July 1875 and left for Kenya in 1947 where he died on 19th April 1955.

His name is immortal in Kumaon hills because of his deep understanding of jungle life, respect for locals beyond status and caste and the unreserved support to them; be it ridding the land of man-eater tigers and leopards, or providing medication and money. The people of Kumaon were his family and he did everything to stand by them leaving them his property and resources. He worked for the Railways for 25 years and trained 300 Kumaoni soldiers for the Second World War besides keeping vigil on the jungle and its flora and fauna. Jim Corbett was a member of the Nainital Municipality and recommended a bird sanctuary for Nainital.

In 1973 Project Tiger in India was started from Corbett National Park. Over 143 tigers now stalk the forest in 1218 square km green cover. About 500 bird species give to the air a unique orchestra which attracts foreigners in large numbers here between December and February when migratory birds also join the domestic nest. Dhanu our guide regaled with information and anecdotes from the jungle. He marvelled at the sensitivity and focus of the foreigners when visiting Corbett.

Our weekend trip here was memorable for what we learnt about ways of the jungle, intrigued by the sensitive symbiosis of its flora and fauna. As chital deer left their grazing to bid us goodbye and bird calls left us craving to understand their language, we have been inescapably lured to Jim Corbett’s heritage to us. Now we plan to visit frequently over weekends to savour the green haven. With Ramnagar and Kathgodam railheads in place, the jungle sure is accessible.

Mother and Baby Elephant at Jim Corbett National Park, India




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