Monday, 18 June 2018

Eco-Tourism in the Jim Corbett Park and Foothills of Uttarakhand

Come May, June and everyone from the plains rushes to the mountain destinations, especially Mussoorie, Nainital, Shimla and Manali. Unfortunately, this places a lot of strain on these tourist hotspots. Getting stuck in a traffic jam a couple of kilometres from Mussoorie can be a daunting experience what with locals making fun of the poor tourist stuck in the traffic. The Mussoorie crawl can take ages to clear and then when you reach the town, you are faced with another daunting task, that of parking your vehicle in a parking lot a couple of kilometres from your hotel.

It is because of the fact that some of the most popular tourist destinations have become crowded areas that people have begun to explore other options, options that are easily accessible, far from the madding crowd, places that offer some peace of mind. These options are often located in lesser-known villages far away from city centres. Often these locations have resorts that are close to villages. One such location that we visited this year for our summer vacations was a resort in the Dhela Village before Ramnagar. The Resort, Corbett Treat, is just adjacent to the electrified fence of a portion of the Jim Corbett National Park and it offers peace of mind.

While visiting the Jim Corbett National park, one is likelier to spot a wider range of wildlife than in the more populated areas of the hills. We were lucky to spot a tiger while driving back to our resort on the way back from Ramnagar. For people like me, the greatest attraction of visiting a hill station lies in the ability to spot a wide range of flora and fauna. While it might not be just about spotting a tiger, it might be something as simple as watching Munnia Birds playing or a Sunbird sipping nectar!
Eco-tourism is a growing trend not just in the plains but also the mountains of India. Resorts are being built close to villages and they provide employment to the youth. The reduced amounts of pollution, the sight of large vistas of farmlands, farmers sowing seeds or even harvesting provide a suitable break for eyes that have seen nothing but concrete jungles and madly driven cars. The sounds of birds calling to each other, crickets making a noise in the bushes, or perhaps even the call of a tiger is a big draw for discerning tourists.

It is the small pleasures of looking at nature in all its glory that makes you want to visit a place that is not overcrowded, I mean you become so fed up of the mad rush of the towns and cities, that it gives you great joy to connect with nature. The chameleons are so big, the flowers so fresh, the air so clean and what better than to see the clear sky with the stars shining at night!

You hardly get to see a bumble bee in the plains and seeing two is luckier still! Looking at the farmlands stretching till the horizon, or even the scarecrows in the fields all of these sights can be most welcoming at times.

While on an early morning walk you might come across strange sights in the field like for example, I thought there was a very tall woman standing in the field, but then when I got closer I noticed that it was a quilt that had been draped on to a pole!

The earthy scents, the sight of dew-drops on leaf ends, the quiet passage of a gust of wind, these are the treasure that one is bound to miss out when visiting crowded towns in the mountains.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

A Trip to Dhela Gaon in the Jim Corbett National Park

This year too, the summer vacations were a long-awaited moment for us to chill out. Like always, we decided to visit someplace that would not be overcrowded like the major towns in the hill stations. One spot we have been visiting almost every year is the Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand. Thus, we started looking for resorts that would offer us comfort, adventure and perhaps the chance to spot a tiger! Our choice turned out to be a resort called the Corbett Treat Resort in Dhela Village a little before Ramnagar. It was a 300 kilometres journey from Gurgaon and the morning drive was refreshing. We started at 4:30 a.m. and reached at 12:45 p.m.

At the reception, we were greeted by the G.M., Mr Kapil Mehta who wasted no time in making us comfortable by accommodating us in four suites in the same block. The USP of the resort is that it is bang in the middle of the Jhirna portion of the Jim Corbett park and the resort itself is fenced off from the forest with an electrified fortification similar to the one in the film, Jurassic Park although less tall. 

Well, the big question, did we see a tiger? The answer to that question, hovering on the tongues of many is 'Yes!' It was on the third day of our stay, that we spotted one. No, I couldn't take a photograph as I was driving and it happened rather abruptly! We were returning from Ramnagar at about 12:30 p.m. when just 1.5 kilometres from our resort, my brother Sanjay shouted, 'Tiger!" I applied brakes and reversed the car just in time to see a tiger ambling in the jungle just to our left even as it entered into some bushes. That was an amazing moment for all of us, and our first sighting of a tiger in the open from the road itself. We were later told that tigers have been sighted at that spot a number of times. Mr Kapil later told us that we had been very lucky to have sighted one. He told us that there was a shrine close by and that tigers could often be seen close to it. Incidentally, the movie, Kaal had been shot in that vicinity.

On the second day, we went for a 'Nature Walk' in the jungle accompanied by Nitin, one of the employees at the resort. We were able to spot some deer in the distance and a mongoose, not much else, although Nitin did point out to a spot where the ground had been scratched by a tiger according to him-little did we know that we would spot a tiger the next day!

The rest of the days we just chilled out in the swimming pool or taking photographs of the exotic birds in the resort itself. We were able to spot Munnia Birds, Purple Sunbirds, Bee-Eaters, and Green Warblers, besides some of the largest Chameleons, and Bumble Bees too!

Yes, we did take candy with us! One of the reasons why we chose the resort was that it is pet-friendly.

To enjoy the natural beauty of the surroundings, you need to wake up early in the mornings so that you might catch the Munia Birds playing around, or perhaps capture one of the most amazing sights of the rising sun with a backdrop of mountains towering in the distance!

One of the most amazing sights was to see a mother Green Warbler bird feeding her chick food. The grub was probably too big to fit into her chick's beak, but then it was a sight that brought out the tenderness of feelings that a mother has for her children!

We were left feeling fulfilled and satiated by our three-day visit to the National Park. We'd left Gurgaon on the 11th of June and returned on the 14th, back to a dusty environment with all that mad pace that has become the very essence of Gurgaon. Strangely enough, there is so much that we have lost sight of in Gurgaon. The humble Sparrow, the bumblebee with its rather loud buzzing sound - all of this is reason enough to visit the Jim Corbett National Park!

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Whispers - A Poem

The corridors echo not with footsteps but
With whispers, faint-ephemeral, tenuous,
Of people long gone, not dead but out of
Time, detractors, mockers and schemers.

One that played a game of intrigue and
Laughed behind backs, in turn tasting his
Own defeat, a farewell ending in shame 
Told to get out of what was once his office!

Another who  had a throne and a kingdom,
But was greedy for favours & commissions 
Was toppled down after  inquisition forced
To flee from town lest  shame be heaped.

A doctor he was, not a healer of wounded
Sprits, but a scourge, to strike terror into
Kindred souls, reduced into a ghost, pride
Long gone, holding on to life with medicines.

She was full of art, to make fun of others was
Her desire, a clever schemer and mistress of
Malice she was. Toxic doses she fed, to remove
All opposition was her forte e'en as she smiled.

But, alas, all that remains of are empty echoes,faint
 In the corridor, of those who once were, but are there
No longer, not dead, but gone from sight, dim shadows
Fading tendrils of memory, ephemeral and tenuous!

It saddens to wake up to see that they no longer exist.
Surely they'd made life so much more exciting even as
They plotted and schemed to achieve their goals. Surely
I once did know them and wonder how they might be!

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Bluster-A Poem

 You set to flush me
Out of my lair with water,
But then I waited.

I waited quietly
In the depths of my home,
Waiting for you.

Alas! the water,
Doused my flame, forced
Me into the open.

You fear me not,
And dare to stare at me,
An eye to eye!

You just wait!
Cousin's is bigger than me,
Lessons will be taught.