While sitting on the Hathi-Shila, what I could see—were only stars above in the sky. It was pitch-black. The absolute silence was broken by a thunderous roar.
The over enthusiastic forest guard who accompanied me on the Hathi-Shila whispered, “ye female hai.” (This is a female tiger).
I asked, “How do you know?”
He replied, “I have spent almost all my life here. I know.”
I kept mum.
After a while, the roar was more frequent. And it was much closer than before. The tiger was on the mud road just across the wired fence of the premises where I was staying. It was the mating season for tigers, and the guard told me that the female tiger was communicating her sexual receptivity.
Jim Corbett National Park is known for its rich biodiversity, lush green saal forest, and over 208 highly elusive and difficult-to-spot Royal Bengal tigers. However, staying within the park may maximize your chances of feeling their presence around. And Jhirna Forest Rest House (FRH) is one of the best options to spot the big cat from the closest quarters.
There’re six eco-tourism zones –Dhikala, Bijrani, Jhirna, Sonanadi, Durgadevi, and Dhela—in the national park. However, accommodation facilities are available only in Dhikala, Bijrani, Jhirna, and Sonanadi zones.
- Dhikala Zone – Dhikala FRH, Sultan FRH, Sarpduli FRH and Gairal FRH
- Bijrani Zone – Bijrani FRH and Malani FRH.
- Sonanadi/ Durgadevi Zone – Kanda FRH and Lohachur FRH.
- Jhirna Zone – Jhirna FRH
I stayed in Jhirna FRH for two days. I would like to make one thing very clear; these FRHs are very basic—no electricity and mobile network (you may get network connection for BSNL and Vodafone at times at a few places within the premises). However, this is the best that you can get inside the jungle. Those who get room reservations for FRH Dhikala and Bijrani need not carry food with them; these two FRHs have good canteens. Rest of FRH’s have kitchens with all necessary utensils for cooking; however you would need to carry a lot of things if you want to have a memorable stay in Jim Corbett National Park.
Things you need to carry
Staying in the FRH means you will get the chance to go on safari twice a day— both morning safari and evening safari. If you are visiting in summers you would need good sun protection – a hat or a cap, a good sunscreen, and light cotton clothes. Since morning safaris are colder, it is advisable that you carry light woolen clothing during these months. Beside this, there are certain wildlife safari etiquettes that you need to know before venturing out in the jungle.
A flashlight/torch is must since there’s no electricity in the FRH. Electricity is supplied from a generator only in the evening between 7 pm and 9 pm, and you would need to complete all cooking and other things between these hours. Once the generator is turned off, you can’t see anything!!!
You need to carry a good DSLR with a telescopic lens or else you will repent like me. Don’t forget to charge the batteries in advance. Use it judiciously. You won’t be able to charge it. Remember there is no electricity at the FRH. An 8x 40 or 8×42 binoculars is a must. I spotted the tiger from a distance of more than 300 meters. Jhirna and Dhela ranges are also great for bird watching, which is nearly impossible without a pair of binoculars.
You would also need mosquito and insect repellents. Full sleeves clothing would be a better option.
If you’re not comfortable with drinking tap water, you may carry bottled water which may be purchased from Ramnagar.
If you’re staying at FRH Jhirna, you’ll have to carry everything you want to have during your stay. Make sure that you’ve enough to accommodate one extra person. The driver will be dependent on you. Non-vegetarian food and alcoholic beverages are strictly prohibited. Guards and other staff will be more than happy to help you in cooking.
Also forget not to carry your medicines. You may also keep a first-aid box and ORS in case you may need it.
- Don’t speak loudly.
- Don’t litter. As there’s no one to clean after you left the place.
- You’ll find several wild animals especially spotted deer within the premises, don’t disturb them or try to feed them.
- Don’t play music. You’re there to enjoy the silence. If you love music stay home.
- Strictly follow the rules laid down by the forest department. Entry gate of the FRH premises remains open throughout the day. And it’s really dangerous to be near the gate. All around, there’re tall grasses, which are favorite hide out of the tiger.
- Never get down from the vehicle during a safari. Listen to your guide/driver.
- Minimize carbon footprint. Use available resources judiciously.
Feel free to ask if you have any question relating to FRH-Jhirna!