Apart from the wildlife that can be spotted at this national park, there are many
Apart from the wildlife that can be spotted at this national park, there are manyother reasons to visit Dudhwa: there are no hotels, guides, cars, horns, fumes or music, nothing much by way of infrastructure. Just the ecosystem and you, trying to find your place within it. As the official pamphlet’s ‘tips for visitors’ says, “We cannot promise you a home away from home experience. Please remember that the jungle is the domain of nature and its wild denizens and we are just visitors to their home.”
About 300 sq miles of what is today the Dudhwa National Park was brought under the government for conservation in 1861. The area was declared a reserve forest in 1937. Sonaripur, a sanctuary stretching over 15 sq km, was formed here in 1958 to protect the barasingha (swamp deer). A larger part of the area was included to form the Dudhwa Sanctuary in 1968. It was declared a national park in 1977 and brought under Project Tiger in 1988. The reserve comprises 680 sq km of Dudhwa and 200 sq km of Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary, separated from Dudhwa by the Sarda river and Palia Town.
Dudhwa has one pucca road running through it and various kuccha but motorable forks that lead deeper into the jungle. Like most forests, Dudhwa is a mix of vegetation types. The park is essentially made of sal trees and vast grasslands. Through these run the major rivers Suheli and Mohana as well as several minor streams, nalas and rain-fed taals. The forest has the quality of quietitude but it is rarely silent. Leaf-crunching and wind-rustling are perennials, insects can be deafening, and the sheer survival needs of birds and animals make up an aural universe of alarm, mating and baby-calling sounds. Tigers are present and can be spotted in Dudhwa. Dudhwa also boasts of five deer species, a feat said to be unique among Indian forests. Of these, the swamp deer is a conservation success story, best seen in the Kishanpur WLS. The other four are cheetal or spotted deer, paada (hog deer), kaakad and sambar.
Another success story is that of the one-horned rhinoceros introduced here from Assam in 1984. Dudhwa is thought to have been the home of rhinos once, and the creatures were apparently hunted and wiped out by 1878. Today, these rare creatures, famous for their ‘armour-plated’ hide and unicorn-like appearance can be seen in the grassland, swamps and taals of the South Sonaripur Range Area of Dudhwa. Two other endangered species that the forest supports are the long-eared hispid hare and the Bengal florican.
Park Entry ₹100 per person Vehicle
Entry ₹1,500 Guide ₹300 Park timings 6.00-9.00am & 4.00-6.30pm
THING TO SEE AND DO
Tourists can either opt for a jeep or an elephant safari in Dudhwa. While you can drive to various parts of the park, chances of animal sightings are higher during an elephant ride.
Elephants can only be hired from the main Dudhwa office near the park gate, and from the Salukhapur Chowki. The charges are Rs. 200 per person for about three hours. Four people can comfortably sit on an elephant. The mahout is a fund of information and doubles as a guide, so it would be good to tip him extra.
The Dudhwa Office has a library and an interpretation centre that provides information on the park. Nearby is a Nature Shop that sells Dudhwa T-shirts, literature on the park and souvenirs.
The one-horned rhinos are kept separately in the Salukhapur Range, so you need to organise a trip specifically to see them. You can drive within the rhino area, but, this will restrict you to the main roads and there may not be any sightings. It’s best to drive to Salukhapur Chowki, from where you can hire an elephant.
A Touch of Rajasthan
Do not miss the fascinating story of the Tharu tribals who live inside the park. Legend has it that during the Haldi ghati battle, some Rajasthani women and children, families of Maharana Pratap’s soldiers, were sent to these jungles with their servants. After the soldiers perished, their wives set up families with the servants and settled in the area. That is why the Tharu tribe living in Dudhwa today (about 37 villages are there inside the park) gives a higher social status to women.
WHERE TO STAY AND EAT
Dudhwa and the adjoining Palia Town has very few hotels and no restaurants, while the national park itself has some rest houses with the most basic of facilities. The Dudhwa Forest Rest House (Tel: 05871-233485; Tariff: ₹500) at the main range office is the best bet for accommodation because it has electricity, an inverter and a canteen with simple vegetarian food on offer. There are 17 newly constructed tharu huts (₹500) and a 30-bedded dormitory (₹100 per bed).
The other Forest Rest Houses (Bookings Tel: 233485) are located at the range offices at Bankati, Belrayan, Kila, Salukhapur, Sonaripur and Sathiana. Currently Bankati and Sathiana FRHs are operational. Others are closed for renovations. There is a canteen at Bankati, but for Sathiana, you need to carry provisions. The chowkidar will cook for you. Tariff at both the FRHs is ₹500.
UP Tourism’s Tiger Forest Den (Cell: 09415608122; Tariff: ₹900-1,465) in Bansi Nagar, 4 km from the park, has a restaurant. Remember to pack torches, candles, Odomos, toiletries and towels. You can pick up provisions in Palia.
When to go Open to visitors only from 15 November to 15 June Location on the Indo-Nepal border in the district Lakhimpur-Kheri in Uttar Pradesh Air Nearest airport: Lucknow Rail Nearest rail: Shahjahanpur
Tourist/ Wildlife Offices
Department of Tourism
Rajarshi Purshottam Das Tandon Paryatan
C-13, Vipin Khand
Tel: 0522-2308017, 2308916
36, Chandralok Building,
Tel: 011-23350048, 23711296, 23322251
Regional Tourist Office
Vikas Bhawan, Meerut
STD code 0121
Dudhwa Tiger Reserve
STD code 05871
64, Taj Road, Agra
STD code 0562
National Chambal Sanctuary
Deputy Conservator of Forests
Chambal Wildlife Division
Divisional Forest Officer
Social Forestry Division
STD code 0562
Tourist Bungalow Campus
Chitrakoot Dham. Tel: 05198-224218
STD code 05198
Pathik Niwas, Buddha Marg
Kushinagar. Tel: 05564-273045
STD code 05564
Dudhwa National Park