I have visited Rishikesh many times in my life. Every time the Rajaji National Park was missed due to some reason or the other. This time when I went to Haridwar, I got an invitation to stay at the Chila Guest House of Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN). I thought to myself that I will do a jungle safari once, spend one night in this guest house and stay in Haridwar for the rest of the day. But I liked the atmosphere of Chila so much that I finally stayed in this guest house for four days. Haridwar used to go to see the city only during the day.
I reached the Chilla guest house of Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam at lunch-time. There was not much time left. Quickly ate some food and left for safari. The main gate of Rajaji National Park was adjacent to our guest house. After completing the necessary formalities, Rajaji went ahead to experience the National Park. Kundan Ji was with us, playing the role of both the driver and the visitor.
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History of Rajaji National Park
800 sq. km. It is a relatively large garden spread over an area of more than Rs. Surrounding the holy cities of Haridwar and Rishikesh, this park is spread over the districts of Saharanpur, Pauri Garhwal and Dehradun. From this, you can guess that before the expansion of these cities, most of the area here would have been forest. The park is so close to crowded cities, yet its biodiversity remains untouched even today. You can see many types of wildlife and birds here.
Initially, there were 3 wildlife sanctuaries here. Chila Sanctuary established in 1977, Motichur Sanctuary established in 1964 and Rajaji Sanctuary established in 1948. In 1983, these three sanctuaries were merged to form Rajaji Wildlife Sanctuary. 2015, it was given the status of Tiger Reserve. In fact, it was named after the first Governor General of independent India, Shri C Rajagopalachari.
Rajaji National Park is more known for elephants. I had heard many times that you can see herds of elephants while passing through these forests. This is the north-west end of the presence of elephants in India. From here if you go some more distance to the north or west, you will not find these wild elephants there.
Chila Reserved Forest – Rajaji National Park
The Chila Reserved Forest is near the hydro-electric house. A tributary of the Ganges, supplying water to this power house, is visible here. Many seasonal rivers also meet in this tributary. The guest house of Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam is built on one such confluence, on a narrow strip of earth.
Ganga is about 24 km from this park. flows for a distance. During this time many seasonal rivers come and merge in it. These rivers otherwise remain dry and extinct.
Story of Mundal Dev
We slowly entered the national park. It was a rough road. Only powerful vehicles suitable for forests could move on it. Our first stop was a small temple. There is a small temple inside the forest and there is no story for it, how can it be. Kundan Ji told me that this temple is dedicated to Mundal Dev. Mundal Dev is considered to be a local protector who protects the forest and the animals of the forest from poachers. In his honor, even today, all the villagers offer the crop to him before selling or selling it for personal use.
Kundanji told me that the locals also call it fiancé. I was very surprised. Whose fiancé could this river be! Here also Kundanji pacified my curiosity. He told this story:
A Breathtaking View of The Sunset At Rajaji National Park
Once the Mundal river, but I would say a river, fell in love with the river Ganges. He wanted to marry her. He asked for the hand of the Ganga from Lord Shiva and other gods. The gods were confused. The Mundal, which was generally dry, looked very attractive in the weather. Ultimately the gods, giving their consent, left the final decision on Ganga. Ganga was not inclined to marry Mundal. But she knew that Mundal would not easily accept her decision. Therefore, when Mundal placed a demand for marriage before Ganga, Ganga accepted his demand conditionally. The condition was that the Mundals came to him in the summer with a procession. You already know that Mundal becomes non-existent in summer while Ganga is eternal.
This legend, telling the story of the existence of a lost, emerging seasonal river and the imperishable river the Ganges, had enthralled me.
Deer Visiting Rajaji National Park
Our jeep proceeded from Mundal Dev temple. On the way, we saw many herds of deer. Jumping and jumping, sometimes they wandered in the forest and sometimes they reached near the river and drank water. Sometimes suddenly running in front of our car and crossing the road, sometimes seeing them, we would stop the car ourselves so that they could go across it.
Sambar stood attentive with his ears raised. Hope arose that now we will see a tiger or a leopard. But our wishes were dashed. We laughed too. We saw such sambar standing at every turn of the road.
Gajraj Among Tall Grass
Elephants were visible in small herds. Sometimes every elephant was accompanied by a child. These herds appeared to be a family of elephants. In the distance, a pair of elephants were grazing with their calf. Then I realized the height of the grass. In their tall slender stalks, they were almost completely hiding these elephants.
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Goh – Rajaji National Park
The iguanas, the monitor lizards, were running here and there. Sometimes he would lie quietly on the soil of the road and suddenly disappear into the grass. His disguise was merging him with grass. It was getting difficult to find.
Birds of Rajaji National Park
It was the end of May. There was an afternoon safari on it. No bird sightings were expected this summer. say no! When there is no expectation, then events come as a surprise. This summer also we found many birds. Now I want to come here once again in winter when this park will be full of birds.
First of all, I saw the eagle i.e. Hawk Eagle. He had big round yellow eyes. It has one feature. Even when it is near, it does not fly away in fear. Let’s sit quietly and have a darshan. You can capture as many pictures as you want. I remember I had taken good photographs of it in Bandhavgad National Park too.
Near the water sources, we saw the rivers Kurari and Tithari walking here and there and drinking water. His reflections falling on the surface of the water were looking very beautiful. Wanted to go near and take his pictures. But for this, I had to get off the jeep. It is not allowed inside the national park.
Many colourful birds like Patringa, Neelkanth, Dhelhare parrot, Ramchiraiya, and Harial were flying all around. Because of their bright colours, they were often seen getting up. Suddenly my eyes fell on a parrot peeping through a small hole in the trunk of the tree. The parrot was outside inside the trunk as if it was playing a prank on me. He made my heart happy.
National Bird Peacock – Is Someone More Colourful Than This
Peacocks were the largest and most colorful birds in all of them. With his precious feathers, he was roaming here and there in majestic opulence. You will see them everywhere in this park.
Even the wild chickens were running here and there eating the insect food. There are so many colors inside the feathers of bun poultry that you will get tired of counting. Taking pictures of them is also a challenge in itself. To capture them on camera, one has to bow down before them.
Black and white daisies or robins and wild mynah were hopping on the bushes.
Fake or Pied Pigeons were sitting idly on the branches of the trees.
Many Dhanesh were also seen flying. The problem was that they were always hiding on the groves of trees located away from the road. It was getting difficult to take pictures. Finally, success was achieved in drawing a picture of a child of Ganesh.
As usual, the seven brothers were grumbling among themselves. Apart from these, there were many other birds which I could not recognize. Still, it was a pleasure to stare at them. I wish it was in everyone’s control to live so freely.