Rajaji National Park is a great holiday destination famous for its majestic beauty and bio-diversity. The national park is the dream holiday destination for nature and wildlife lovers. Rajaji National Park is located along the foothills of Shivalik ranges of the Himalayas. It is extended over an area of 820 sq. km. The three sanctuaries including Rajaji, Motichur and Chilla wildlife sanctuaries, parts of Dehradun, Shivalik and Landsowne Forest divisions were combined together to form Rajaji National Park. The park was created in 1983; it was named after C. Rajagopalachari (Rajaji), the first and last Governor General of independent India and the recipient of the ‘Bharat Ratna’.
The national park is thickly foliated by Sal Forests, which is the predominant species here along with Western Gangetic Moist and Northern Dry Deciduous and Khair- Sissoo Forests. The park is inhabited by Gujjars from a longer period. They came into these jungles during the period of Maharaja Nahan. They are being evacuated now as they present threat to the ecological stability of the environment.Rajaji National Park is home for more than 500 elephants, 12 tigers, 250 panthers, leopards, ghorals and many other exquisite animals and more than 400 species of birds. The park attracts a huge number of wildlife conservationists, nature lovers, bird watchers, photographers, documentary filmmakers and many other regular visitors every year.
Rajaji National Park has a bio-diverse eco system. The forests of this park are a mixture of varied species of plants. The flora of Rajaji National Park is consisted of tropical and sub-tropical moist broadleaf forests. The vegetation which is spread on the upper Gangetic plains is moist deciduous forests of the region. The plants of these jungles are very different and diverse. The national park grows plants like Shorea, Adina, Terminalia, Mallotus,Amaltus, Shisham,Bridelia, Sal, Palash, Arjun, Khair, Semul, Acacia, Chamaror, Aonla, Ber, Kachnar, Syzygium, Bel and Phoebe etc.
The national park shelters a wide range of animals. The park offers a great opportunity to witness wild animals in their natural habitat. Rajaji National Park is the home for animals like Cheetal, barking Deer, Sambar Deer, Spotted Deer, Tiger, Leopard, Panther, Striped Hyena, King Cobra, Python, Jackal, Langur, Indian Porcupine,Indian Hare, Himalayan Bear, Nilgai, Monitor Lizard,Ghoral, Wild Boar, and a large number of the Asian Elephant.
Rajaji National Park is also known as a bird watcher’s paradise. There are more than 400 species of resident as well as migratory birds. Some of the species are Pea Fowl, Woodpeckers, Pheasants, Hornbill, Kingfisher, Barbets, Raptor, Reed Bunting, Oriole, Northern Goshawk, Fish Eagle, Blue Magpie, Flycatcher etc. The river that flows through the park hosts various species of fish like Trouts and Mahseer.
You can enjoy jeep safari in Rajaji National Park in Chilla Range and Motichur Range. All the safaris are booked by the Forest Department. You need to book in advance in order to experience a hassle free viewing of animals in their natural habitat. There is a 34 Km long safari trail inside the park. As you drive through the virgin forest you will discover hilly terrain, magnificent green valleys, river beds, thick forests, sprawling meadows and unadulterated vegetation. If you are lucky you may also spot bunch of elephants passing, peacocks dancing, groups of spotted deer or sambhar browsing. The drive takes 2 to 3 hours which is enough to explore the wilderness of Rajaji National Park. You can also go for elephant rides through the jungle as it can go to the places where a jeep is prohibited to go. Elephant ride in Rajaji National Park provides you a better perspective on the wildlife of this park. You will be offered to ride on a trained elephant and will be assisted by a mahaut (a trained pilot). This can surely become the experience of a lifetime for you.
There are ten forest rest houses in Rajaji National Park. They are located at Beribara, Chilla, Ranipur, Dholkhand, Kunao, Motichur, Kansrao, Satyanarain, Phandowala and Kasarodi along with six Gujjar huts. The accommodation facilities provided are very basic. There is no system of catering, so visitors need to carry their own food and cook on their own. Cooking utensils and crockery are provided here. They charge Rs. 75 to 150 for Indians and Rs. 225 to 450 for foreigners. But Chilla has GMVN Chilla Cottages; they are divided into AC, Deluxe and Executive rooms.
The best safari zones to visit in Rajaji National Park are:
Ramgarh Gate from Dehradun, Mohand Gate from Dehradun,Ranipur Gate,Motichur Gate,Chila Gate,Kunao Gate andLaldhang Gate.
By Air: The nearest airport is Jolly Grant, Dehradun, at a distance of 35 km. There is a regular 55 minutes flight from Delhi.
By Rail: The nearest Indian Railway stations are - Haridwar (24 km), Dehradun (56km) and Rishikesh (19 km).
By Road: The National Park is well connected with roads to nearby major cities. The distance from Delhi is 220 km and Lucknow is 510 km.
The national park is open from mid-November to mid-June. The winter season is the most pleasant time to visit this park. The days remain sunny and nights are bit cold. The spring season is best for outdoor trekking and overnight camping. The summer season is suitable for photography but the temperature raiseshigh during daytime.