One of my cousin, who lives in Gorakhpur pinged me on watsapp yesterday. Even before I could exchange pleasantaries, he was quick to entice me with some of the pictures of his latest trip. He asked me, “Have you been to Valmiki Tiger Reserve”? I was quick to reply “Nopes. Where is it?” He not only enlightened me with the details but also shared some very useful information which may be handy for our future travels. I was happy to know about a new place and thus, I decided to blog about it. Valmiki Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park, happens to be India’s 18th Tiger Reserve. It shares its border with Nepal’s Chitwan National Park. I can vouch for the flora and fauna of Chitwan because I have had some great trips there during my trip to Nepal.
Valmiki Tiger Reserve
Not many people know about Valmiki Tiger Reserve of Bihar. It is covered with rich and dense Sal trees. The forests have been declared as Level–1 Tiger Conservation Units (TCUs). Two rivers flow through the park – Gandak and the Masan River. The forests are not only known for tigers but 35 other species. Some of the sightings have confirmed the presence of black bear, leopard, wild dog, wild buffalo, wild boar, hyena, leopard cat, wild cat, fishing cat, languor, monkey, Barking deer, Spotted deer. Monitor lizard and one-horned rhinoceros are easily spotted in Chitwan National Park in Nepal. Thus, they also come to this part of the forest many a times. The lastest news of 2020 also tells us that due to the increase of grasslands in the forest, Indian bisons have also chosen this reserve as their home.
Valmiki Tiger Reserve, first became a wildlife sanctuary in the year 1978. Then it was established as a National park in the year 1990. This tiger reserve is of significance because it is the only Tiger Reserve of North Bihar rather Bihar, which came under ‘Project Tiger’ on March 11, 1994. As per the latest reports of 2018, the most common sighting in these forests of Valmiki Tiger Reserve is that of Sambar and chital. The national park gets it name from the small local town Valmiki Nagar that also makes the way to the forests. The village land around the forest boundary is inhabited by the scheduled tribes ‘Tharus’.
My brother’s experiential account
On 5th of December, I left my home in Gorakhpur at around 9 a.m. on my car (Volkswagen Ameo) and made my way towards Valmiki Tiger Reserve. It is hardly 130 kilometers and I had already booked a suite room. One can book rooms through their website. There are 3 tent huts, 6 Ac rooms, 4 Suite room, 6 rooms without AC and 6 bamboo Non Ac room. And not to forget, there is a tree house as well. If you plan to spend a night or more, you must ensure an online booking. Since there is no network in the forests, you will not be able to book there. Though, you will not be completely disconnected because the town Valmiki Nagar has network. There are two hotels there. Hotel Jungle camp also has a canteen which will help to meet your food needs but it needs improvement.
I along with my wife and kid reached the premises of the forest at 1 p.m. After taking some rest, I drove them to Valmiki Ashram which is on Indo-Nepal border, at is located almost 3 kilometers from the main gate of the forest area. One is required to park the car the India border where the gaurds will guide you. From there, one must walk. On the way, we crossed Tamsa river. The water level is very low, hence it is easy to walk through it. After visiting the ashram, we drove to Jatashanker temple. After that, we went to Kaleshwar temple. It is the place where Tamsa river dwindles and Gandak river takes over. Triveni dham which is located in Nepal can be seen from here. We as a family sat down by the river to enjoy the sounds of nature and the tranquility of the location. After spending some time there, we returned to the guest house and had some snacks. My son wanted to check out the eco-park, so we went there.
After the walk, I took my family towards Gandak barrage, which was hardly a kilometer from my room. The Nepal border is close and one can hire rickshaws to go on the other side. I took my family to Triveni Dham. Bhakteshwar Mandir and Gajendra Moksha temple are also closeby. I did not go there this time because I had been there a number of times and my family wanted to return and take some rest. We had an early safari the next morning.
Jungle Safari at Valmiki Tiger Reserve
The bookings for safari can be done online and offline, both. It costs Rs. 2000 for a safari jeep which may be shared by 6 people. Another option for canter is also available which can be shared by 12 people. I booked this safari when I reached there, so its not necessary to book online only. The safari is only for 2 hours.
We left for the safari at 6 a.m. The moment the vehicle started, we could feel the difference of the air. The forest is gorgeous and the greenary was soothing to both eyes and soul. We did not spot tigers but monkeys and deers kept playing hide and seek with us. It was a wonderful ride and my son and wife loved it. We did not spot the tiger but we were not disappointed. We had to return after the safari but we also decided to come back for more safaris. Every minute spent in the jungle was worth it. The smell of the soil and the fresh air was enough to make me joyous for the coming days.
Whenever you are goin there, do make the most of it.
How to reach there?
It is located in the north-westernmost West Champaran district of Bihar. If you are travelling to any of the nearby cities, don’t miss your trip here. Since UP and Bihar share border, it is an easy getaway for the border cities of the two states.