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Jim Corbett National Park is the oldest national parks of the country. Situated in Ramnagar in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand, it was a part of the erstwhile princely state of Tehri Garhwal. Established in 1936 as Hailey National Park, it was renamed as Ramganga National Park in 1954 and again rechristened as Corbett National Park in 1955 after Edward James "Jim" Corbett - the renowned and legendary British hunter and tracker-turned-conservationist, author and naturalist, famous for hunting a large number of man-eating Tigers and Leopards. Under the supervision of Corbett Foundation, three main conservation projects running at Corbett National Park namely Project Tiger, Crocodile Conservation Project and Project Elephant.
Corbett Tiger Reserve experiences temperate weathers with temperature ranging from 25°C to 40°C in summers and from 5°C to 32°C in winters and it rains heavily during monsoons. Though most of the tourism zones are closed for safari during monsoons, visitors can still enjoy the safari in the park during these times in the Jhirna zone, the Sitabani and Kumaria Buffer zones which are open for tourists all-round the year.
Corbett National Park is home to an amazing and exhilarating wildlife with over 50 species of mammals, 600 types of birds, 33 breeds of reptiles, 7 species of amphibians. Apart from the prime focus, the Royal Bengal Tiger, the other attractions of the park include Leopards, Elephants, Python, Sloth Bear, Himalayan Black Bear, Mongoose, Himalayan Goral, Sambar Deer, Spotted Deer, Barking Deer, Hog Deer, Black faced Langurs, Rhesus Macaques etc. Crocodiles and Ghariyals are also found in the Ramganga river at the park.
Corbett National Park is a dense deciduous forest comprising of Sal, Peepal and Mango trees among others. It is home to around 500 of species of plants.
Corbett Tiger Reserve is situated in the foothills of the Garhwal ranges of the Himalayas amidst Indo-Gangetic plains with dense forest full of Sal trees and ample grasslands which creates perfect habitat for migratory and regional birds. Corbett National Park is home to around 600 varieties of birds including the common ones like Crested Serpent Eagle, Hornbill, Common Kingfisher, Robin, Dove and Jungle Babbler. Rare species of flying creatures including Cinnamon Bittern, Great White Pelican, Black-Crowned Night Heron, White Stork and Cattle Egret are also visible here.
Corbett National Park is divided into four tourist zones namely Bijrani, Dhikala, Domunda (Durga Devi) and Jhirna. Entry to the Dhikala zone is through Dhanagarhi, Bijrani zone is through Amananda, Jhirna is through Jhirna gate and Domunda zone is through Durga Devi gate. Though there are various hotels and resorts outside the national park, the real jungle can be experienced only if one stays in the Forest Rest Houses situated in the core areas inside the forest especially in the Dhikala zone.
Safaris are conducted in registered open gypsys and canters in Corbett Tiger Reserve. Day visit Safaris are conducted in open gypsys in all the zones except in Dhikala which can be accessed through Canter safari only. Gypsy safaris are permitted at the Dhikala zone only for visitors with a valid permit to stay at the Forest Rest House located inside this zone.
Dhikala forest zone is the largest and most sought after safari zone in Corbett National Park. Safaris are allowed in this zone only in canters in a pre-set route except for travellers holding the permit to stay in the forest rest house located in this zone who are allowed safaris in exclusive gypsys. Placed at the edge of the Patli Dun valley with Ramganga river flowing across the zone through numerous channels with the Kanda peak in the backdrop, Dhikala offers a superb uninterrupted panoramic sight of the valley.
Entry to the Dhikala zone is through Dhanagarhi gate and the trip from Dhangadi gate to the Dhikala forest lodge is an adventurous one taking the travellers through thick sal forest and the Ramganga and other cyclic rivers.