India’s oldest National Park, named after a legendary hunter-naturalist and writer

Corbett National Park

Corbett National Park was the centrepiece of Project Tiger, an ambitious effort launched in 1973 to reverse India’s rapidly declining tiger population. Project Tiger remains the largest species conservation initiative of its kind undertaken anywhere in the world.

India’s oldest National Park, named after a legendary hunter-naturalist and writer

Corbett’s 1300km2 sub-Himalayan terrain comprises the terai, or marshy alluvial plains, and densely forested fertile land rising from the terai to a height of 600 m. The reserve has an elevation range of 400-1600 m. Its hills, river valleys, open plateaus and ravines exhibit distinctive vegetation.

The park is divided into three distinct geographical areas, with hilly areas of deciduous mixed forests, low lying grassland with ravines and vast dense forests of sal trees. The magnificent Ramganga River flows through the heart of the park bringing a continuous supply of water even in the hot summer months, attracting a host of predators and prey alike.

Elephants, tigers, leopards, deer, crocodiles, and over 500 bird species and an assortment of floral and insect wealth await the keen naturalist, but the reserve is best known for the numerous opportunities to watch large herds of elephants or its famed tigers, of whom it holds India’s densest populations and over 200 individuals.

With a bird count of an astounding 550 species, it is an ideal place for birdwatchers. There are excellent birding and wildlife treks and trails in the buffer zone ideal for spotting birds, reptiles and amphibians.

Jim Corbett

The region’s rich big game attracted hunters until Sir Malcolm Hailey, the governor of the United Provinces, assigned a small area for special protection as India’s first national park in 1936. In 1957, its name was changed to Corbett National Park, in honour of the legendary hunter-naturalist and writer, Jim Corbett who played a key role in its establishment.

Jim Corbett’s best-selling books describe his naturalist observations and adventures while tracking man-eating tigers and leopards in much the same landscape that the reserve protects. His books are perhaps only second in popularity to Kipling’s ‘The Jungle Book’ amongst books eulogizing the Indian jungles. They continue to be reprinted regularly and are devoured by successive generations of Indian readers.


Corbett offers the rare chance to stay overnight in a forest rest house within a tiger reserve in India. Dhikala is the biggest and best equipped forest rest house complex. There are other smaller and more authentically atmospheric rest houses sprinkled in the reserve which take you back to the times of Jim Corbett.

Complete your visit by taking a short drive up to Jim Corbett’s old home in Kaladhungi, which is now a small museum dedicated to his work.

From the Director's Travel Diary

After returning from my safari, I spent the evening on the verandah of the Sultan Forest Rest House, watching the rain fall as darkness enveloped the jungle. The only sounds were of rain and jungle calls.

It was the closest I came to experiencing the peaceful solitude of the jungle that Jim Corbett and Kenneth Anderson have written so eloquently about.

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