Rajaji National Park
Lying in a 820 sq km swathe across the Shivaliks, at the foot of the Himalayas,
the Rajaji National Park spreads across three districts of Uttaranchal-
Haridwar, Dehradun and Pauri Garhwal. In 1983, the three wildlife sanctuaries
of Rajaji, Motichur and Chilla were amalgamated into a single contiguous
park consisting of several distinct vegetation zones. These include broadleaved
deciduous forests, riverine vegetation, grasslands, and pine forests in
the upper reaches.
Inhabiting these dense green jungles are an impressive array of creatures-
furred and feathered, docile and dangerous. 23 species of mammals- including
tigers, leopards, elephants, deer, jungle cat, wild boar and sloth bear-
and 315 species of birds are found in Rajaji. The most prominent avian
species include pea fowl, woodpeckers, pheasants, kingfishers and barbets,
supplemented by a number of migratory species during the winter months.
Besides that, the rivers which flow through the park harbour fish such
as trout and mahseer.
Rajajis history of conservation has been rather rocky in the recent
past. The parks been besieged by a host of problems, ranging from
soil erosion to poaching. Despite all these issues, Rajaji continues to
be one of northern Indias major wildlife reserves- and one of the
best places to see the fauna and flora of the terai.
All visitors to Rajaji National Park need entry permits in order to be
allowed into the park. Permits are available at each of the gates to the
park, and cost Rs 30 for Indians and Rs 350 for foreigners. These permits
are valid for three days; if you wish to stay longer, youll have
to pay Rs 20 a day (if youre Indian), Rs 175 per day if youre
not. Additional charges are levied for cameras and vehicles. Still cameras
are free for Indians and Rs 50 for foreigners; vehicles are Rs 500 for
both Indians and foreigners.
One of the reasons for Rajajis popularity is that its conveniently
situated for anybody coming from Delhi. The national capital is only 231
km from the park, and there are convenient overnight trains from Delhi
to Haridwar and Dehradun, from where there are connecting buses to Rajaji.
Similarly, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow, is linked by bus to
Haridwar and Dehradun. From Rajaji, the nearest airport is Jolly Grant,
at Dehradun, while the most convenient railheads are Haridwar and Dehradun.
Both have railway connections to the rest of the country.
Rajaji is accessible through different gates; the Ramgarh Gate and Mohand
Gate are within 25 km of Dehradun, while the Motichur, Ranipur and Chilla
Gates are just about 9 km from Haridwar. Kunao Gate is 6 km from Rishikesh,
and Laldhang gate is 25 km from Kotdwar.
Within the park, the only way of getting around, if you havent
got your own vehicle, is by elephant. Elephant rides of about 2½
hours each are organized by the park authorities and cost between Rs 50
and 100 per person.
Best time to visit
Rajaji National Park is open to visitors between November and June. The
months from December to March are usually the best time to visit, as the
weathers at its best. Beyond April, things start hotting up, though
it never gets unbearably hot.