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“ I am sorry sir, but we don’t allow entry into the park after 6 pm”. The words of the manager at Chukha echoed into my ears. Our expected time of arrival was around 8.30 pm to 9.00 pm. Having made online reservations we had presumed that we could check in at any time according to our convenience. Presumptions and assumptions usually end up with dangerous results. Here was one example.

Chukha Beach

Chukha beach is a part of the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve. A lesser known destination for nature lovers. PTR, as it is popularly known amongst wildlife enthusiasts, is located in the terrai region of Uttar Pradesh. It covers a staggering 720 sq. km of area and is home to around 55 tigers and around 250 bird species. It is in continuum with the Dudhwa National Park, Katarniaghat wildlife sanctuary and the Kishanpur wildlife sanctuary, all of which are located in the terrai region of Uttar Pradesh sharing a part of their boundaries with Nepal. The Chukha Beach on the other hand is the result of a man made reservoir. The Sharda river which comes from Uttrakhhand, divides into three tributaries over here. The point is called a Bifurcation ( although it’s a trifurcation ) point and is a big tourist spot. One tributary heads off to Hardoi district (U.P, ) the other to Lakhimpur Kheri district (U.P) and the last one supplies the Sharda Sagar dam. The banks of this Sharda Sagar spread to around 28 sq. km and form the pristine white sandy beach of Chukha. Chukha is the name of the village that was there and hence the name Chukha Beach.

My friends, and I started at exactly 3 pm from our hometown. The journey was supposed to be a six hours drive with a few chai stops. This was until we called Mr Nigam, the manager at Chukha, and his words put us almost to a standstill. We requested him to help us and he kindly obliged to do so. After driving at giddy speeds and no stops, forget chai breaks, we arrived at Mustafabad, Chukha forest check point at about 7.00 pm, way ahead of out ETA. Mr Nigam met us here and took care of everything else.

Tiger claw marks near the resort

The Chukha beach resort which is operated by the forest department is located four km into the core area of the forest. This is the major reason why the staff is apprehensive of late check in’s. This four km is a mud road and could be a problem to navigate during rains. The place where the huts are located has an electrical fence that runs to around 6 hectares. A precaution to avoid the wild animals. They have four Tharu Huts, one Tree Hut, and one Bamboo Hut. All of them have modern amenities and are beautifully located around the Sharda Sagar reservoir. The Bamboo hut is actually located on the banks itself and during rains when the water levels swell up, the water is actually below the hut, a sight to behold.

Red Headed Jungle Fowl

We reached the huts at around 8 pm and were assigned one Tharu Hut and one Tree Hut. The Tharu Hut is small. It’s a 10 ft X 10 ft room with mud flooring covered and a flimsy carpet. It has thatched roof and the walls are plastered with mud. Its got an almost decent washroom and yes, a one ton airconditioner which prove to be highly inadequate in summers. So when I say modern amenities, read it as basic modern amenities. Well then you cant expect more when you are four km deep into the jungle. The tree house was slightly bigger with the same amenities. Walls are made of wood and the roof is thatched. The fear of heights got the better of my friends but one of them finally agreed to stay there.

Next day we were up and away into the forest by 6 am. Being in the forest means to me, connecting with your inner self. Its like a like a feeling that is entirely different. Its like a sudden calm prevailing over the self.

Black Headed Munia

The forest in and around Chuka is full of life. Once again we missed out on the majestic Tiger, however we did come across a lot of birds. We came across the Green Bee- Eater, Raquet Tailed Drongo, Black Drongo, Serpent Eagle, Spotted Dove, Collared Dove, a dancing Indian Peafowl, Black Headed Munia, a Jungle crow stealing eggs, Shikra, Yellow Footed Green Pigeon, Blyth’s Starling, Rusty back Woodpecker, Red Headed Jungle Fowl – male and female. Amongst the large animals we came across the Hog Deer, spotted deer.


During the visit I realized that there was a lot of artificial plantation in the jungle. The main tree used was Teak. Elephant Grass has also been planted in a large area. Also there was no buffer zone. The forest ends abruptly into paddy fields. Uttrakhand, I was told, does not participate in this conservation programme and hence the forest gives way suddenly at places to human settelments. This could be one of the main reasons for the high number of man animal conflicts in the region. I was told that the past one year saw twenty nine human deaths !!. Now that’s a huge number.

Jungle crow - eggs for breakfast

With clouds covering the sky, the evening saw us visiting the Bifurcation point, a beautiful place to visit. The sheer volume of water is a sight to behold. On the way back we stopped to have dinner at Dashmesh Dhabha. A nice clean place serving delicious food with great love. While we had our dinner a thunderstorm followed by hailstones passed by leaving us stranded out of the forest resort. Late at night at around 10.00 pm we went back to the resort. The last four kilometers drive into the forest with broken tree branches and our fiery imagination made it feel like a never ending road. During this last stretch of night driving in the forest there was pin drop silence in the car. Each one of us was thinking who will get down to open the gates. As the Lord would have it, the gates were open and we heaved a sigh of relief.

The next day morning we departed early and were back at our respective jobs.


Undoubtedly winter months. Sometimes between early December to Late March. Summers could bake you well. Like most national parks Chukha Beach / Pilibhit Tiger Reserve , is closed from 15th June to 15th November. Plan accordingly.


BY ROAD- Chukha Beach is Located around 50 km from Pilibhit. Pilibhit is well connected by road from all major towns.

BY RAIL – Pilibhit is the nearest railway station and is well connected to all major towns. BY AIR - Lucknow is the Nearest airport and is well connected to almost all major cities of India.


If you wish to experience a real forest stay then you have to stay at Chukha. Go to and get your reservations done. Remember , there are only six accomodations available and during peak season this is almost always booked. Other options available are staying at Pilibhit . Pilibhit has many hotels that can cater to ones taste and budget.

WHAT TO CARRY AND PACK Clothes according to the climate. Do carry mosquito repellent creams and lotions. Shoes for the safari. Binoculars. Camera to catch memories. Snacks for your stay. At Chukha there is a canteen that serves vegetarian food. They have a thali on the menu and charge 250 bucks for it. Yes they take a long time for preparing food, so order well in advance, something like during lunch you can place your dinner orders!!


A walk on the pristine white sandy beach at Chuka . Jungle safari should definitely be on one’s mind. A trip to the bifurcation point and finally a dinner at Dashmesh Dhaba. The Sharda Sagar has a large number of gharials and flesh eating turtles, so don’t bathe or go on a boat ride or try to sit with feet hanging in the water etc. Nearby attractions include a visit to the sacred town of Nanakmatta which is home to the beautiful Gurudwara Sri Nanakmatta Sahib . Its around 40 km and should be an hours drive. Nanak Sagar, Nanak Sagar Dam are other popular tourist spots.


Nature Lovers, bird watchers, tiger fans, family holiday, friends. Just about anyone.


1. Plan a one night stay, max two nights if arriving late on day one. Early December.

2. Stay at Chukha. Its worth it . Watch the sunrise over the horizon , feel the cool breeze and get absorbed in the silence of the jungle. Reservations @

3. Spend sometime on the beach with your partner. I promise you will fall in love again. ( please keep this romantic gesture for daytime walks only. A moonlit walk may be more romantic but you could get snacked by a tiger. Remember you are in the jungle.)

4. Jungle safari is a must.

5. A visit to the bifurcation point.

6. Wind it up with a dinner at Dashmesh Dhabha.

Take time out and live your life. Like they say, “Don’t take life too seriously, you may never get out of it”


Take care


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