CALL OF THE WILD IN -----Kanha Tiger Reserve - Gorumara National Park - Kaziranga National Park -The Sunderbans - Keoladeo Ghana -wild adventure in Rasikbill -- Buxa forest --WINTER FUN-Skiing,paragliding,ice skating,ice climbing,mountaineering .....a host of exciting activities await adventure lovers in some of the hottest Himalayan locales ----
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KANHA TIGER RESERVE--
As you drive into the Kanha Tiger Reserve (in Madhya Pradesh),you may feel a sense of deja vu.Because Kanha fits the poet Kalidasa's description of Rishi Kanwa's ashram,where the beautiful Shakuntala played with her animals.You will find yourself in the midst of a deep forest,with peacocks,monkeys and deer grazing all around you.
You can enter Kanha through two gates,Mukki and Kisli,at opposite ends of the forest.Kisli is the main gate and most people take this route.You can arrange for accommodation at either or both spots if you want to explore the forest in depth.In that case,break up the days,spending two days at Mukki and two at Kisli.
If you are staying close to Mukki,do amble to the Mukki river,such a serene and pristine river in Bengal -it's just clear water on rocks.The advantage of staying at Kisli is that it's closer to the Kanha reserve.When you wake up in the morning ,you may be lucky to find your bungalow surrounded by bison,sambhar,deer and chital.What's more,you may also have a brush with a tiger !
How to go : Take a train to Bilaspur/Jabalpur and then hire a car to Kanha.You can also take a train to Katni and then take a car to Kanha
Where to stay : Baghira Log Huts and Tourist Hostel in Kisli;Kanha Safari Lodge in Mukki(MP State Tourism).There are lots of lodges in Khatia outside Kanha.
GORUMARA NATIONAL PARK --
It has the biggest variety of insects and what a world it is,no less fascinating than that of the rhino and bison that have made Gorumara famous.Inside the forest is the Rhino Point.You can see the salt pit from here.Bison and rhinos huddle together to lick the salt.It's a very unusual sight.
The best way to explore the Gorumara forest is an elephant ride.The mahout and his trained elephant will take you deep inside the foliage where you can see birds,rhinos and bison,up close !
The Murti river flows close by the Gorumara forest and if you are staying in Murti Banani,the clear water ripples on a bed of rocks and pebbles.Do take a dip.It's unbelievably refreshing.If you sit by the river for long,you may be lucky enough to catch an elephant amble across the water.
How to go : Take a train to NJP/Malbazar and then hire a car to Murti/Lataguri.
Where to stay : Murti Banani(WB Forest Development Corporation).If you are lucky,you may get the forest bungalow inside Gorumara(run by the WB Forest Directorate).Also,check out the private resorts in Lataguri.
KAZIRANGA NATIONAL PARK -----
To spot rare animals,go to Kaziranga.The enchanting forest with a mix of marshland and semi-evergreen vegetation has water buffaloes,elephants,leopards,tigers and the famed one-horned rhino.The best thing to do is go animal-spotting on elephant-back.
Jiadiphalu and Moradiphalu are the two branches of the Brahmaputra that criss-cross the Kaziranga forest.
While roaming the Paanbari range,you may spot the Hoolock gibbon,the only ape found in India.You will find the gibbons dangling from shimul trees.
How to go : Take a flight or train to Guwahati/Tezpur,then hire a car to Kaziranga.
Where to stay : Kaziranga Resort,Aranya Resort and several other lodges.
THE SUNDERBANS ---
If you go to the Sunderbans expecting to see tigers,you may be dissapointed.Your best bet will be crocodiles,which are amazing,basking in the sun on the glistening riverbank.Choose winter for the best trip when you will also have motley bunch of birds -Brahminy Kite to fishing eagle,kingfisher,curlew,egret and heron.
Do soak in the quiet Sunderbans air,the fascinating mangrove forest full of sundari and hetal trees standing on soft earth.The nights are very interesting ,especially if you are under the skies on the deck in the middle of the river.There is a deathly silence all around and the grey winter sky is star-spangled.Down in the water,the eyes of the crocs gleam in the dark as they prey on thirsty animals.
Sunderbans take on a different form in the monsoon.That's when the Matla and Raymangal rivers rage and churn in the storm.Wait to make a trip during rains-it's amazing !
How to go : Take a train from Kolkata to Canning,and then a motorboat from Canning to Sajnekhali.Or take a bus from Kolkata to Sonakhali,and then a boat to Sajnekhali or Sudhanyakhali.
Where to stay : On board M.V.Chitrarekha.You can also stay at tourist lodges in Sajnekhali,Bakkhali and Piyali (WB Forest Development Corp.).There are several private lodges to stay on.
KEOLADEO GHANA ----
The Keoladeo Ghana Wildlife Sanctuary ,more popular as a bird sanctaury,is nestled in Bharatpur,Rajasthan.Migratory birds from all over the world flock here in winter.
Keoladeo Ghana is worth a visit.It is a favourite haunt of the Siberian crane and chinese coot.A straight road,flanked by waterbodies,leads to the heart of the sanctuary.You can walk,cycle or take a rickshaw along the stretch till the end and come back.As you walk,you will see birds resting,taking off or swooping down on either side.It's a magnificent sight .The sanctuary has a variety of wildlife too,like the sambhar,jackal,snake and monitor lizard.
How to go : Take a flight or train to Delhi/Jaipur,and then a train/car to Bharatpur.
Where to stay : Hotel Brijbihar,Bagh Resort in Bharatpur.Also,the resort run by Rajasthan Tourism.
TRIAL AND ERROR ---
Rasikbill in Alipurduar is home to to exotic birds in winter.Pick season is Jan/Feb.
Next you can head for Buxa.Here u can put up at a resort in Rajabhatkhawa and roam around the jungle for quiet sometime.There's a watchtower inside the forest and after you cross it,you will come across the Bala river.Her u will find makhans are male elephants without tusks.They can't put up a fight with other elephants;so,they are usually lonely and badtempered.
After halting at Buxa,next u head for Jayanti range.There u can enjoy the interesting mammal is so called the Himalayan Giant Squirrel.
Exciting.Thrilling.Addictive.Risky.Loads of fun.In a nutshell this is what adventure sports is all about.In spite of all the risks involved there is no denying that this is one sport which gets the adrenaline soaring within a matter of seconds.As the 'coolest' season of the year unleashes its chilly chapter,it is time to put your adventure caps on and get-going to experience the thrill of winter sports.
SNOW ME THE WAY !
Come winter and it's an ultimate package of exploring the snow-draped peaks and beautiful landscapes,mixed with thrill and adventure that come calling in a sport called skiing.Dressed in fur coats,boots and gloves with a pair of ski,poles and bindings you are all set to discover the terrains of the mountains at break-neck speed.Himalayas are undoubtedly the best place to go for a skiing expedition.The season starts around mid-November after a few bouts of snowfall and continues till March.Incidentally,the first ski club of India was set up in Gulmarg,J&K,in 1927.
Hot Picks : Gulmarg,J&K and Auli,Uttaranchal
Heli skiing is the ultimate winter sport for an adventure enthusiast.It involves a helicopter which drops the skier on top of a snow-capped mountain and then needs to go criss-cross to make his way down,sometimes on completely unknown routes.Heli skiing might be a little risky,but the thrill of exploring valleys and the power of deciding your own route down is something that makes it irresistible for a skier looking for some more adventure.The helicopters can drop keen skiers onto peaks as high as 6,500 metres.Exciting....huh ?
Hot Picks : Hanuman Tibba and Deo Tibba,Manali sholang pass,Himachal Pradesh
MOUNTAINEERING AND ICE CLIMBING
To give in to the lure of white glittery snow on the slopes of the Himalayas is fun.And then comes the excitement of braving chilly winds and conquering the steep slopes.Well,this is what snow mountaineering and ice climbing are all about.Although ice climbing is an offshoot of mountaineering,it demands better experience and use of special tools.To be an ice climber one needs training,experience,control and good judgement.The Himalayas offer every type of challenge and is the best option.
Hot Pick : Zanskar in J&K
ICE ICE BABY !
If you are scared of heights and skiing isn't your ball game then ice-skating is the sport for you.A simple sport that demands just right balance to start enjoying.With moderate levels of risk,ice skating is all about gliding on the surface of ice instead of swooshing down the slopes as in skiing.However,ice-skating demands much better balance than normal skating .The ice skating carnival at Dalhousie near Manali is a must visit for all ice-skaters.
Hot Pick : Shimla,Himachal Pradesh
ABOVE THE GROUND
How about flying like a bird in the open sky,passing through the clouds and seeing cars and buses look like toys in the fantasy world of a child.....Paragliding is thew simplest form of human flight and all it requires is a paraglider which is a non-motorized,foot-launched inflatable wing,easy to transport,launch and land.In good weather conditions,it can stay aloft for over three hours and soar to heights more than 3,000 metres!Chill time.
Hot Pick : Billing in Himachal Pradesh
DOs AND DON'Ts
DOs : Good health is a prerequisite for taking up winter sports.Drink plenty of water or fruit juice and have regular snacks.Always pack extra water,snacks,fruits or candy bars and socks.There are chances of encountering avalanche or snowstorms in the snowy areas and so check the weather conditions before starting.Always stay with your group.Start with modest ambitions.Never compromise on the quality of climbing equipment and accessories.Always try to be dressed in layers,it helps you to stay more comfortably by adding or taking off clothing.
DON'Ts : People with heart problem,high or low blood pressure should not indulge in winter sports.Avoid alcohol or caffeine.Never consume snow.It can contain harmful bacteria.While skiing,don't take on challenging slopes without professional guidence.
TRAVEL TIP : Avoid wearing cotton,it holds moisture,make you feel colder.Taking a few professional classes always helps.Don't forget to carry sunscreen,polarized sunglasses and a small first aid kit in your bag
Far away from the fast-paced life of the city, the Kabini forest is a perfect serene retreat for visitors. Amidst the lush acres of greenery and dense woodlands, Kabini in Karnataka is a storehouse of a vast array of unique plant and animal life.
The conservation history of Kabini Wildlife Sanctuary dates a few decades back when this forest used to be the hunting grounds for the Maharaja of Mysore. After a few years, this land became a sanctuary for the leopard, gaur, antelope, crocodile, tiger, cobra and python. Besides this there are a number of birds like osprey, brown-headed fishing eagle, racket tailed drongos, golden backed woodpecker, stork and peafowl.
a tiger at the Kabini forest
· Where to stay: Kabini River Lodge is the obvious choice. The lodge originally belonged to the Maharaja of Mysore. It is very close to Nagarhole National Park and is a paradise on the banks of the river Kabini. Perhaps nowhere else in India can one sight so much wildlife? International groups regularly visit this place.
Colonial style: There are two blocks seven twin bedrooms each, with modern facilities that have been built as look-alikes of the Maharaja and Viceroy buildings, located in the camp.
Riverside: Six twin-bed cottages with attached bath, overlooking the river.
Tented cottages: Five comfortable tents overlooking the river with attached modern bath.
Kabini River Lodge;
· How to reach:
From Bangalore: 220km by road via Mysore. Frequent buses/trains ply to Mysore.
From Mysore: 80km along Mysore-Mananthavadi road to reach Karapur village. The last 5km is a deviation road.
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