12 easily accessible nature reserves of Uttar Pradesh

12 easily accessible nature reserves of Uttar Pradesh
Photo Credit: Up Tourism
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You can visit several wildlife sanctuaries of Uttar Pradesh from Lucknow, Agra, Varanasi and other major tourist destinations

Uttara Gangopadhyay
December 07 , 2015
05 Min Read

Dudhwa National Park
The flagship tiger reserve of Uttar Pradesh, after Corbett National Park went to Uttarakhand. The nearest airport is at Lucknow, around 230km away. Delhi is a little over 400km drive away. It shares its north-eastern boundary with Nepal. The tiger reserve consists of three sections—the Dudhwa National Park, Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary and Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary. A scenic natural forest in the Terai region (as the foothills of the Himalayas are called), the reserve encloses many rivulets and pools. Apart from tigers, the reserve is also home to rhinos, elephants, spotted deer, swamp deer, sambar, sloth bear, blue bull, gharial in the rivers, etc. Over 450 species of birds are found here. In winter, Dudhwa’s waterbodies play host to a large number of migratory birds. For accommodation, permission to visit the forest and safari bookings, apply online or contact Regional Manager (Ecotourism), UP Forest Corporation, 21/425 Indira Nagar Lucknow. Tel: 0522 – 6568121.

Swamp deer (barasinga) and hog deer can be seen more in the Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary. Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary encloses the Girijapuri Dam (a popular bird watching site) and the Girwa River (home to Gangetic dolphins, gharials and maggars or the swamp crocodile).

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Nawabganj Wildlife Sanctuary
Located midway between Lucknow and Kanpur (about 45km each way), this is a huge marshland and a shallow lake with mixed dry forest surrounding them. An interesting place for birdwatching and bird photography, especially in winter when the migratory birds arrive. You can stay at the Priyadarshini Motel (Tel: 05143-277050). Contact: Conservator of Forests, Endangered Species Project, Lucknow, Tel: 0522-2716322.

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National Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary
Pay a visit to this sanctuary while visiting Agra, which is only 70km away. The river is home to the Gangetic dolphin as well as to gharials and maggars. Seven species of turtles are also found here. You can stay in the forest rest house. Contact: DFO, Agra, Tel: 0562-2530091.

Samaan Wildlife Sanctuary
If you are a birding enthusiast, add this sanctuary to your Agra itinerary. The sanctuary is a little over 120 km from Agra and nearly 40km from Mainpuri (bus and railway station). Accommodation—forest rest houses. Contact: DFO, Agra, Tel: 0562-2530091.

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Soorsarovar Wildlife Sanctuary
Another little-known bird sanctuary. It is about 23km from Agra (and can also be visited from Mathura). During winter, migratory birds flock to the artificial islands created in the Keetham Lake. Contact: DFO, Agra.

Kaimoor Wildlife Sanctuary
When the spiritual atmosphere of Varanasi gets a little overwhelming, escape to Kaimoor’s verdure forests. Go looking for antelopes, deer, leopards and the birds. There are a couple of forest rest houses should you want to stay here. Contact: DFO Sonbhadra, Tel: 05444-223168.

Chandraprabha Wildlife Sanctuary
Its nearness to Varanasi (65km away), makes this sanctuary an attractive winter getaway for local holidaymakers. So expect some crowd and noise over the weekends. There two waterfalls here—Rajdari and Devdari. Forest rest houses available. Contact: DFO, Kashi Wildlife Division, Tel: 0542-2668231.

Kachhuwa Wildlife Sanctuary
Another sanctuary near Varanasi, it extends from Ramnagar Fort to Rajghat. This sandy stretch of sand along the Ganga River is a natural habitat of different species of tortoises. Visit the Tortoise Breeding Center to know more about these animals. In winter, you can also catch a glimpse of migratory birds. Contact: DFO, Kashi Wildlife Division, Tel: 0542-2668231.

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Ranipur Wildlife Sanctuary
About 150km away from Allahabad (and 25km from Chitrakoot Railway Station), the sanctuary consists of hills covered by mostly dry deciduous forests with a few streams running through the forest. Leopards, bear and deer are the common animals here. Forest rest houses are located at several points. Contact: DFO, Chitrakoot, Tel: 05198-235616.  

Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary
This little-known bird sanctuary is 44km east of Gorakhpur. The waterbody extending over 29km is said to be Uttar Pradesh’s largest natural flood-plain wetland. The waterbody attracts a large number of migratory birds in winter. Accommodation—forest rest houses. Contact: DFO, Gorakhpur, Tel: 0551-2333108.

Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary
Looking for a short ‘green’ break from Delhi? Zip to this sanctuary, about 40km away from Meerut and adjacent to National Highway 119. Encourage the children to scour the grasslands through their binoculars for birds, deer, mongoose, etc. Contact: DFO, Meerut, Tel: 0121-2641762.

Okhla Wildlife Sanctuary
The bird sanctuary nearest to Delhi (20km from Delhi and 15km from Noida), is situated between the Okhla Barrage and Okhla Weir on the Yamuna River. A lot of migratory birds arrive in winter. Contact: DFO, Gautam Buddha Nagar, Tel: 0120-2505905.

Information: The best time to visit most sanctuaries is from December-March. Most sanctuaries have forest rest houses for accommodation. But do inquire with the forest department about the safety as well as the availability of accommodation, food and other facilities before planning a visit. The Uttar Pradesh Eco Tourism website is quite informative; you can avail the online booking facility.


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