Before arriving back in England, I had decided to do an overnight safari at Jhilmil Jheel. I was in the hope of actually photographing elephants and possibly sighting of leopard which are residents of the area but rarely seen. Anyhow after a morning and afternoon safari session, we were not even able to sight Chital or Sambar. This was a very disappointing trip in itself but even though I had decided to atleast make the most of it. We saw plenty of water buffalo which were either domesticated or feral or a mix of both. However even though they were also somewhat residents of the forest, it was great to observe them within this environment. The main difference between the domesticated and wild water buffaloes is that the wild ones have larger horns and weigh more than captive or domesticated ones.
Few days back on a Sunday morning, me and a few others had decided to visit Chilla zone of Rajaji National Park. We left around 11:30 from Dehradun and arrived just within the hour. Gates did not open until 2:30pm so we had plenty of time. On this trip, we only opted to do the afternoon jeep safari. We did all the bookings on arrival. Jeep costs are Rs.2000 plus Rs.250 for vehicle road fee and an additional entrance fee of Rs.150 per person depending on the number of people there are for the safari.
My winter visit to Rajaji NP in terms of seeing much wildlife was very dry. It was not much of an exciting trip. I had done few safaris in Jhilmil Jheel conservation zone in the month of November and had then covered Chilla and Ranipur zones in the month of December. Even though, this particular trip to the national park was not all that great but we were still able to capture some wildlife. We did come across fresh paw prints of various animals such as tiger and sloth bear but to no luck, we were unable to spot them. Anyhow here a selection of images taken from the various safaris I done on those two visits.
Other than the wildlife, Rajaji National Park offers amazing views and is a good option for the landscape/nature photographer. Here are some images that I have taken on my previous trips to the reserve. The best time to visit the park or nearby for some landscape photography would be in the winter and images would be less hazy. In addition to this, the dark clouds and mist give the images a bit surrealistic. Here is a showcase of landscapes of the national park. Equipment used is the Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 17-40mm f/4 L lens.
Jhilmil Jheel conservation area is part of Rajaji National Park and a good spot for sighting Elephants, Leopards, Sloth Bear and Swamp Deer. This is located near Haridwar and is 9349.23 acres. It is also the only Terai marshland where Uttarakhands only surviving herd of Swamp Deer live.
This is a small shop located just across the road from Chilla entry gate. It is run by Viru Negi and stocks books, souvenirs, cups, t-shirts, toy or anything related to wildlife. Everything is reasonably priced and of good quality. T-shirts are available for people of all ages, some with tiger prints, some with leopard prints on them.
Rajaji National Park is not only a great place for mammals but also a great spot for birding. Here is a showcase of bird photographs taken at Rajaji National Park. These were taken in the summer.
Here is a selection of images captured during my trips to Ranipur, Chilla range and also Ghori range of Rajaji national park. I had reasoanbly good sighting of animals when I visited the park in the months of May and June. Due to the heat even the animals are not easily seen and are in areas of shade. If planning a trip here in May or June then this is the time when there will be alot of traffic on the roads due to Char Dham Yatra and Rajaji is close to both Haridwar and Rishikesh which attracts alot of pilgrims every year.
Chilla is the most popular zone of Rajaji national park and it is in this zone that I have been able to capture a number of raptors. However the Crested Serpent Eagle is quite occassionally seen compared to the other raptors. The Chilla range has diverse habitat which include Sal forests, grasslands, dry forests, riverine forests, teak plantatations, semi-arid Bhabhar, mixed-moist and semi-moist jungles and due to this it supports a large range of wildlife.
Rajaji National Park is one of the leading wildlife parks in the state of Uttarakhand and it borders with Jim Corbett National Park. This reserve was upgraded to a tiger reserve only recently in 2015 and then in 2016, it became the third reserve to be selected for relocation of tigers. Due to its accessibilty, one can arrive here by rail, road or air and this is bringing in more visitors each year. The reserve has a diverse range of wildlife from mammals of all sizes, birds and reptiles.