By Padeep Chamaria,
Travelers finally sensed relief as the restrictions started lifting a few months ago. Also after the success of India’s own Make in India Vaccines, destinations started showing signs of a new life as people returned to vacationing at their favourite locations for various outdoor activities. But, wearing a mask and respecting other people’s space while you go out is still a must.
Public transport is still not such a pleasure. Although social distancing measures are in place on buses and metros, fear of public transport modes not being properly sanitised, and unavailability of water at public places for washing hands are keeping people away from venturing out.
The only mode left is driving in own vehicles and most of the travelers are now taking this route while looking for destinations or activities within comfortable driving distance of places like Delhi. Also traveling small is the in-thing today.
The pandemic era really was the worst of times, but it has also given us the best of opportunities too. Visiting wild life parks in today’s time can be quite pleasant to what it was in the past as the visitor numbers are still low. This is a chance to have a great experience by getting off the beaten path, and visiting sanctuaries to sight animals enjoying their habitats.
There is no dearth of meaningful journeys for wildlife excursions within a couple of kilometers from Delhi. We present to you a few such options available:
Sariska National Park
The park is located 200 km from Delhi and it takes roughly 4 and half hours to get there. Same day return is possible from Delhi but it will be better if you plan a two day vacation. Sariska offers an exciting wildlife experience and is one of the most famous national parks in India located in the Alwar district of Rajasthan. Sariska was the first tiger reserve in the world to have successfully relocated Bengal tigers. You can also sight other species of wild life, such as leopard, chital, sambhar, nilgai, monkeys and many more.
Sariska is also popular for temples, architectural marvels,and lakes, such as the beautiful Siliserh Lake, Pandu Pol, Hanuman Temple, Neelkanth Temple, Kankwari Fort, and a short trip to Bhangarh Fort (45 minutes drive).
Rajaji National Park
Rajaji National Park near Rishikesh, is a great weekend option for wildlife sightings as well as spiritual outing. Rishikesh is 250 kms from Delhi and a six hour drive from Delhi. The Park is an amalgamation of three sanctuaries in the Uttarakhand, Shivaliks-Rajaji, Motichur and Chila, and is known for its pristine scenic beauty and rich bio-diversity and has a good population of Asiatic elephants, tigers, leopards, deer, wild boar, etc. and also many birds and many species of plants, shrubs and trees. The famed reserve is reported to have around 600 elephants, 250 leopards and 16 tigers.
At Rishikesh the gateway to Uttarakhand Himalayas, you can indulge in various other adventure activities like river rafting at Shivpuri. Rishikesh is also a centre for yoga, has Beatles Ashram besides the famous hanging bridge on Ganges, the Laxman Jhoola and Ram Jhoola.
National Chambal Sanctuary
National Chambal Sanctuary is the best option to spend a few hours on a river safari on the Chambal River to sight alligators, gharials (members of the crocodile family), freshwater dolphins, and a variety of both native and migratory birds. The Chambal sanctuary can be reached within one and a half hours from Agra (Agra is four hours from Delhi).
And as you pass through Agra, world’s most romantic destination, spend romantic moments at the Taj Mahal before visiting the markets for shopping some exquisite leather items and relishing Petha, a candy-like delicacy made from ash gourd (white pumpkin), an Indian dessert older than Taj Mahal itself. Also you can come back in the evening to the river Yamuna for boating and enjoying magnificent views of the Taj.
Keoladeo National Park
Keoladeo National Park at Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is a famous avifauna sanctuary and a bird watching paradise listed among UNESCO’s World Heritage sites. Home to over 370 species of exotic and migratory birds like woodpecker, dollar birds, cranes, eagles, wagtails, geese, flycatcher, painted storks, parakeet, egret, spoonbill, herons, cormorants, Siberian crane, and many others, the park is about 4 hour drive from Delhi.
For a very pleasant one day trip, drive over, hire a cycle and pedal around the town, have lunch, pedal some more and drive back.
Jim Corbett National Park
6-7 hours drive from Delhi is Jim Corbett National Park, an ideal weekend getaway for wildlife lovers. You can go for safaris in the jungle and spot the royal Bengal tiger, elephant, species of deer and also more than 650 species of residents and migratory birds. Corbett area now has a number of luxurious resorts where you can relax with your family.
There are many more such locations around Delhi catering to various interests. You only need an inclination to pack up, venture out and have a nice weekend.
(The author is a well-known travel writer. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)