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Chitwan

Situated in the South-Central Nepal along the international borders with India, the Royal Chitwan National Park is home to some of the most endangered wildlife species in the world. The park till recently was a playground of Nepal’s elite who hunted freely, but things have changed enormously and today it is the most protected forest zone in the country. Chitwan derives its name from the local word Chituwa Ban or Leopard Forest, though there are many more exceptions to this theory. According to another theory, the park derives its name from Sita Ban (forest of Sita), after the heroine of great Hindu epic Ramayana. To substantiate the legend, there is Balmiki Ashram at Triveni where it is said that Sita resided while in exile. The park was officially established in 1973. In 1984, it became a World Heritage Site as notified by UNESCO. Drained by two major rivers Rapti and Narayani, the park covers subtropical forests housing a variety of wildlife including elephants, royal Bengal tigers, one-horned rhinoceros, leopard, sloth bear, and wild bison. Migration of wildlife across the borders to Valmiki National Park in India is a common phenomenon.

Sightseeing:

Chitwan National Park:

Sal (Shorea robusta) is the dominant floral species in the park covering almost 70% of the area. There are also grasslands and riverine forests that combine to make a changing mosaic of landscape. Khair, sissoo, and simal are some of the major species of riverine forests while the grasslands present a complex community of over 50 species.

Renowned for its population of one-horned rhinoceros, tigers, crocodiles, and many more species of common wild animals, Chitwan is a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts. Sighting of rhinoceros is almost guaranteed in any safari inside the park. There are more than 43 species of mammals in the park including endangered species like gaur, wild elephant, four-horned antelope, striped hyena, pangolin, Gangetic dolphin, monitor lizard, and python. Some of the other animals found in the park are common leopard, barking deer, sambhar, chital, hog deer, sloth deer, palm civet, wild dog, langur and rhesus monkeys.

With a population of more than 450 species of birds, the Chitwan park is a gifted place for the birdwatchers too. Some of these species have been categorised as endangered like the Bengal florican, giant hornbill, lesser florican, black stork, and white stork. The park is also a favourite transit territory for the migratory birds because of the numerous ponds and lakes here. Siberian cranes and ducks make these water bodies their home in the winter months. March and December are the best time for bird watching.

The park also has more than 45 species of amphibians and reptiles like marsh mugger crocodile, green pit viper, cobra, and many species of frogs and tortoises.

Elephant Ride:

Elephant riding is a major activity in the park. It gives you the opportunity to sight an animal from a close distance.

Boat Ride:

A boat ride on the lakes, ponds, and rivers of Chitwan gives you an opportunity to discover the varied wildlife of the place. Floating down the river on a canoe for around an hour followed by walking back to the camp is popular among tourists. Pedalling down the fast-flowing Karnali and Geruwa Rivers is another exciting option.

Excursions From Chitwan:

Bikram Baba:
This is a famous Hindu religious site revered by Nepalese as well as Indian people. It is situated just 1 km away from the park.

Chitwan Hatisar (Sauraha):
Situated almost 19 km east of the park headquarters, Sauraha is the main entry point to the park. You will find most of the hotels, restaurants, and travel agents at Sauraha.

Devital:
Situated at a distance of 25 km west from Park headquarters, Devital is another place that offers opportunity for bird watching.

Elephant Breeding Centre:
The Elephant Breeding Centre was established at Sauraha in 1987 to train elephants as well as to reduce the number of animals imported from India. The training of elephants starts at the age of two under a mahout and a /”role model/” senior elephant. The elephant stables here hold between 17 to 22 pachyderms.

Gharial Breeding Centre:
The Gharial Breeding Centre was established at Kasara Durbar, the headquarters of the park, in 1977. The centre conducts researches on the gharial, one of the most endangered species in the world.

Lamital:
Lamital is situated at a distance of around 2.5 km from the Kasara Durbar. A man-made lake on the Rapti River, Lamital is flocked by water birds and marsh mugger peckers besides some other exotic species of birds. The region is the pride of Royal Chitwan National Park. A two-hour elephant ride from the park to this place is a must for bird watchers.

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