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DUDHWA A BIRD WATCHERS PARADISE

“Do you think it would be worth it visiting this place in this month of May. Don’t you think its going to be pretty hot.” My wife was all apprehensive about our trip to Dudhwa National Park. Located in the terai region of Uttar Pradesh, bordering its territory with Nepal, Dudhwa is famous as a tiger reserve. Not many are aware that this beautiful place is home to around 350 bird species apart from the many large mamamals that roam freely here. Dudhwa is a marshy grassland and covers an extensive area of more than 450 sq km with a buffer zone of around 180 sq km.

We embarked on this beautiful journey from Lucknow at around 1 PM. The road was pretty good almost all the way except for a few stretches that were under construction or were worn out. Overall I felt comfortable driving in my small tata tiago and we enjoyed our drive. As soon as we crossed Lakhimpur kheri the topography starts to change with marshy grasslands and wetlands covering most of the place. Honestly speaking since this was our first trip on the route , I was a little bit apprehensive and wanted to reach my destination before sunset. Always advisable to be on the safer side. We reached Dudhwa at around 7 pm and settled in the Tharu Huts built by the forest department. The name hut is a misnomer as its basically a room having all modern amenities including air-conditioning and fortunately no television!

The next day morning we were greeted by Mr OP who was to be our guide for the safari. OP was a small guy who had a fairly good knowledge about birds of the terai region. I was vocal about my thoughts and clearly said to OP that I am a bird watcher and that I am not interested in tigers. “ They all look the same to me”, I said. It is just then that my wife, a large animal lover, dropped in and specified that we just cannot overlook the large animals, specially the tiger,” mujhe to tiger hi dekhna hai” ( I have to see the tiger). Well all said and done Mr OP finally agreed to fulfill our wishes and we were whisked off into the jungle in a tata xenon vehicle that unfortunately resembled a green coloured gypsy. It is later in the evening during the evening safari when we got stuck in sand that I realized that all green vehicles are not gypsies!! Unfortunately untill now I had taken it for granted that a safari is conducted in a gypsy. Please make sure you ask for a 4x4 vehicle and take a proper look at what you getting into.

The forest of Dudhwa is just beautiful. There are no words to describe the place. With the early morning cool breeze gently brushing my face I simply could’nt feel better. With my binoculars by my side and camera slung around my shoulder, I was ready to explore this beautiful creation of Mother Divine.


Great Hornbill

We came across quite a few bird species like the Paradise Flycatcher ( male and female ), Crested serpent eagle ,Grey Headed Fish Eagle, Emerald dove, Alexandria Parakeet, Plum Headed Parakeet, Great Slaty Woodpecker, Rusty Headed Woodpecker, Oriental White Eye, Chestnut headed Bee-Eater, Spotted Owlet, Red Headed Jungle Fowl, Great Hornbill and many more. Among the large animals we saw were Swamp Deer, Barking Deer, crocodiles. Unfortunately we could not come across the majestic tiger. At one point we did spot tiger pug marks near a water source and did wait for quite a while but in vain. My wife missed out on the tiger but she was very happy to have witnessed the barking deer.

Barking Deer

WHEN TO VISIT:- Although I planned my visit in the month of May, I personally feel it would be better to visit in the winter months. The evening safari did get a lot of sweat out of me and at one point we felt like we should stop and head back. Sometimes between November last to March end is the best time.. All National Parks , barring a few, are closed from 15th June to 15th November. So you can plan your trip accordingly.


HOW TO REACH:- We used google maps as we were driving from Lucknow . I think that is the most useful and sane thing to do if you are behind the wheels. Otherwise -

NEARSET RAILWAY STATION – LAKHIMPUR KHERI,

NEARSET AIRPORT – LUCKNOW

I have no knowledge about a ship / boat / raft reaching there but yes Dudhwa in Lakhimpur Kheri is well connected by roads.


WHERE TO STAY:- This one has a lot of choices but I would highly recommend the Tharu Huts of the forest departments. The location is just beyond compare. It is located within the forest, well almost. You can visit www.upecotorism.in and make online bookings for the room as well as the safari.


MY RECOMMENDATIONS:-

Get your bookings done @ upecotorism.in. Staying anywhere else is a waste of precious time and money.

Go in a group with friends and go in the last week of November or first week of December.

Take at least 2 nights and 3 days off – obviously you live only once, but if you live right once is enough.

Last but not the least take a binocular and a camera with you so that you can capture not just pictures but memories :)


Add Life To Days, Not Days To Life.

Take care

Ravi.

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