A gem hiding in plain sight, just across the Ganges from spiritual Rishikesh

Rajaji National Park

A pristine forest once contiguous with the legendary Corbett Tiger Reserve, located just 170 km to the south-east along the Shivalik foothills.

A gem hiding in plain sight, just across the Ganges from spiritual Rishikesh

About 20 Tigers and 250 leopards are the main predators, although the Wild Dog, distinctive in its deep red coat, has also been sighted in these verdant expanses of forests and blue rivers. Hog deer, goral, jungle cats, sloth bears, barking deer, jackals, Indian porcupine, yellow-throated martens and other smaller mammals flourish at Rajaji.

Over 300 species of birds have been recorded here. Red Junglefowl can be usually spotted on many trails and the variety of woodpeckers and hornbills demonstrates the health of the forest. With regard to its avifauna, Rajaji forms an interesting zone of transition between the temperate western Himalaya and the central and eastern Himalaya. In addition, the park marks the transition zone for avifaunal species from the forested foothills to the open grasslands.

The park covers a range of habitats, from lush semi-evergreen forest to tall stands of deciduous sal (Shorea robusta), and from mixed broad-leaved and riverine vegetation to characteristic terai grasslands. Herds of deer are often sighted on the grasslands, while sizeable numbers of Goral, a goat-antelope, keep to the low precipitous hills. The park is approximately the north-west limit of the Asian Elephant’s distribution and has around 600 wild elephants.

History

In 1984, three neighbouring sanctuaries, Rajaji, Motichur and Chilla, were merged to form the 820 km2 Rajaji National Park, named after the first Indian governor-general, C Rajagopalachari. In 2015, it was designated a Tiger Reserve.

Experiences

In addition to jeep safaris, there are birdwatching and nature walks in the nearby villages.

From the Director's Travel Diary

In 2015, just days after the park was declared a Tiger Reserve, I was singularly lucky to be the first visitor to sight a tiger here on a safari. This made my guide and I minor celebrities amongst all the staff, and I remember the joy in the park director’s eye as he shook my hand.

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