Thursday, March 13, 2014

Bleak feature for Dhikala grassland at Corbett

Was back to Corbett in March for yet another visit to one of my favorite destinations. The 3N/4D visit this time was split between Bijrani FRH and Dhikala FRH. This was my first night stay at Bijrani range. Dhikala has always been the favorite. The landscape of Bijrani range is altogether different from the Dhikala range. So are the animal dynamics. After a couple of dry years, tiger sighting reports at Bijrani is encouraging. My first trip to Bijrani was not that fruitful as we had missed the majestic animal. Or rather it decided that we need to come again in search of him.  
as mist rises from the Ramganga riverbed, the Dhikla landscpe transforms into a canvas
Bijrani FRH is somewhat similar to the Gairal FRH. However Garial is better located by a river. Bijrani has 4 double bedded rooms and 2 four bedded rooms. The canteen has been taken over by KMVN. There is no running electricty. Solar powerer electricity is provided between 6 pm to 9 pm. If for some reason you want to stay awake beyond that then you have to manage with a solar lantern provided in your room. There is not even a electric plug in rooms for you to charge your camera batteries. Me and my friend decided to sit on the open varandah and observe what happens after lights goes off. Under the moonlight we could see couple of deer and probably a fox roaming around inside the solar powered FENCED campus.

Excitements in safaris at Bijrani were low. The highlight was the rare sighting of a Yellow Throated Morten. We left Bijrani after two safaris and headed for Dhikala. As we left the Dhanagiri gate, we could feel the familiar smell of forest. In Dhikla range, there always is the possibility of facing a rampaging elephant at next corner. We missed the tiger in one of the safaris by a whisker. It came out of the bushes, but went back immediately seeing the waiting vehicles.  So no tigers this time, despite 3 days and 6 safaris. Yet we enjoyed every bit of out four safaris. I do not go to Corbett to see tigers. If you get to see one, then consider it as bonus. Unlike Ranthambhore, the tigers in Corbett are very shy.  

the view from platform at Dhikla FRH

What was of great surprise to me was flooding of the famed grassland at Dhikala. A substantial part of the grassland was submerged under the water released from the Ramganga reservoir. In fact water was flowing upto the walls of Dhikla campus. One can see fishes standing at the wooden platform at the campus. The floor of the grassland is wet and hence grasses had not dried completely. This is preventing forest department from setting them on fire to let new grass grow. Grasses have grown quite tall and are not allowing good game view. With next monsoon due in couple of months, the situation is likely to detoriate. Dhikala may end up losing the grassland again this year. It happened couple of years ago.

Dhikala grassland submerged
Let’s hope for the best and keep our fingers crossed. It has been the wettest March in Delhi (and North) in years. Climate is changing for sure. Before ending, I would like to warn roadies about the extreme condition of the road. Once you leave the NH24 at Moradabad and heads for Kashipur, the road has lost its topping completely. It is as bumpy and dusty as you can imagine. Then you compete with the trucks and overladen sugarcane tractors. Of the 90 odd kilometres thereon, around 10 KM are extremely bad, further around 30 KM are in bad shape. It will take years for tourism facilities in Uttarakhand to revive. Appalled at the road condition, I had booked train tickets for my next visit. Looking forward to my next visit in April first week as part of Canon Wild Click.


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