Rajaji National Park: An Excellent Weekend Getaway from New Delhi

By Mridula Dwivedi August 22, 2005 29 Comments , ,

Rajaji National Park is a wild life reserve in Uttaranchal, India. It falls in the lower Shivalik regions of the Himalayas. It is a peaceful and a quick getaway from the capital of India, New Delhi.

We traveled from Delhi to Haridwar in February this year . The name Haridwar will translate roughly as ‘the gate of gods’. We took a night train from Old Delhi Railway Station and reached early in the morning. From Haridwar, the Chilla gate of Rajaji National Park is just 9 km away. But at 5.30 in the morning we could find no buses to the park. The private taxi operators were asking for a lot of money. Then, there is a vehicle called ‘Tempo’ that is a four-wheeler, runs on diesel, makes a lot of noise and moves slowly. We decided to hire it. Later, we discovered that buses run from Haridwar to the park but start only after 9.00 in the morning.

It was an early February morning, and it was chilly on the way. We had to pay Rs. 70 as entrée fee for the vehicle to the park. The Tempo dropped us near a market place and from there we walked for 1 km on foot.

We were under the impression that there were many options to choose for lodging at the park. But that is true of the Haridwar city only. At Rajaji National Park, there is only one tourist guesthouse run by a Government Agency, GMVN (Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam). Though we traveled without any prior booking, during school or public holidays in India, it is better to book an accommodation beforehand. We inquired at the reception about availability of rooms. We were greeted nicely and asked to sit. Then the manager informed us that there are only ‘hut’ style rooms available and the rest are taken. We gladly took the offer. The manager offered us tea, saying we must be cold after traveling so early in the morning. I must say that was very thoughtful of him and contrary to how most of the government accommodations are run in India.

The wild life sanctuary is spread in 820 sq Kms. It is open from 15th November to 15th June and is closed during the rainy season. After the tea, as we were walking toward our hut, we found the grounds of the guest house very well kept and full of seasonal flowers in bloom. A lot of birds were chirping in the tress and generally, there was an air of peace and quiet (disturbed occasionally by loud music systems in cars and people partying in the lawns of the property). In front of us at a little distance the Ganga Canal was flowing. After having breakfast, we decided to catch up on all the lost sleep due to traveling. We woke up in the afternoon and after lunch; we decided to go to the park.

There are two options for traveling in the park, one, to take a jeep ride and second, to take an elephant ride. Of course, we were interested in the elephant ride. But the person handling the elephant was away for some errand to the city. So, we had to settle for a jeep ride. Again, fee is to be paid to enter the park. We got an uncovered jeep and both my husband and I were standing at the back hanging on to the rails so as to not to lose balance. Very close to the entrance itself, we saw two elephants. As our journey progressed, we witnessed many deer, peacocks and wild boars. In terms of large animals, we did not see much and our driver said February was not such a good month for animal spotting. According to him, summer is much better season.

But the two-hour drive through the forest itself was exhilarating. I remember on the ride initially, I was continuously trying to tie my hair as it was coming unstuck from my ponytail. But later, I just let it loose and my fondest memory is of the wind playing on it for hours as I was busy taking photographs (many of which did not turn out well) and not thinking about anything much but living only the moment.

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29 thoughts on “Rajaji National Park: An Excellent Weekend Getaway from New Delhi”

  1. oh god 2 hour standing in the jeep?? thats tough mridula..(^o^);; ganga canal and deer look wonderful!! i want to go there next time. thank u very much for great info!!

  2. Ganga, thanks a lot for stopping by, the hut style accomodations look great but they are very basic.Teri, thank you so much.Niki, do go there and have a nice time. You can choose jeeps where you don’t have to stand.

  3. The description is so vivid….i strongly feel an urge to visit the park… wonderful pictures…..specially the ‘A View from the Park’…

  4. Very nice pic of the Ganga. I only wish it was as clean as it looks serene…sigh! Wonderful description of the park…very picturesque 🙂

  5. Avik, that is my favorite too. But I guess Rajaji National Park is not as spectacular as say Corbett National Park. Though I have only read descriptions of Corbett only but it seems wonderful.Pooja, the atmosphere was actually very serene. A lot of birds in the trees, near our accommodation. There were only two other vehicles on the way at the park, apart from ours, and all of them quite some distance apart. And when we were walking at the banks of the canal, we had it entirely to ourselves. Maybe, it was because of the off-season. We went there in February.Deepak, the canal looked relatively clean but the river is sadly another story.

  6. One of the things I really like about your posts is that they show a very different side of India than we usually see in the States. It’s nice to be reminded that India has more to it than just the crowded cities. It has far more diversity than I had realized when we decided to visit and I’m sure it would take a lifetime to see it all.Thanks for the excellent link to park info. Tom really, really wants to look for tigers, so we’ll probably try to get to Corbett at least.

  7. Lily, I know tigers will hold fascination. If you wish follow this link to Corbett National Park. It is extensive information and sidebar devoted to it.http://www.gonomad.com/features/0507/corbettpark.htmlI gess I also feel India is urban and chaotic, that is why we take care to go on vacation to places that are not on the main tourist map.Crystal, there are serene places in India no doubt but for most of us work opportunity is in crowded cities.

  8. wonderful pictures and your description makes me want to go there. I have been to corbett twice, ranthambore once and once to one wildlife park in bengal, not jaldapara. not once did i spot a tiger but all the place made for awesome experiences. i love wildlife parks for their atmosphere. I remember as a kid we had gone with our parents and their freinds to some jungle, i was too young to remember where, had stayed in a tent, there was a river and it was a proper jungle had some villagers to help us, saw some ruins…such experiences are fantastice!

  9. SARISKA …I HAVE BEEN HERE 3 YEARS AGO ON A SAFARI LOOKING FOR TIGERS…WE CD CATCH GLIMPSE OF PEACOCKS,DEERS ETC BUT NOT THE TIGERS NOW AFTER HEARING POACHING OF TIGERS HERE,I FELT CHEATED..UMA

  10. Uma,I hope Lily is taking not that there are more people who have not seen a tiger than probably people who have. Even I have not managed to see one till date.

  11. I know we’d have to be really lucky to see a tiger, so I’m not counting on it, but I know we’ll enjoy the wildlife parks anyway.We’re planning our route now, so I’d appreciate any travel tips or must-see places to visit. We’ll be there for five weeks in December and January, starting in Delhi and flying home from Mumbai.Mridula, thank you so much for your wonderful posts. I can’t even tell you how valuable and interesting first-hand impressions and experiences are.

  12. Lily, I myself started blogging because I found personal accounts quite helpful in planning my trip to Ladakh. Tell me something what kind of places you want to see more? Will you like to have a mix of Jaipur-Agara and Lower Himalayan Regions? Try to have at least one out of the tourist trap kind of a place and you will see a different kind of India. I can give some suggestions for places around Delhi, so how long do you want to spend around Delhi out of those five weeks?

  13. I would love any suggestions you could make. Right now, we’re thinking of starting/around in Delhi for a few days, then going to Agra, Jaipur and Udaipur. We’d like to stop at the bird sanctuary outside Agra on the way to Jaipur. We’ve allowed 2-3 weeks for this area.We’d also like to get down the south around Mysore and explore Kerala and spend some time on the beaches, then work our way up to Mumbai for departure.We’ll skip a longer time spent in the south if we feel like there’s too much to see in the north. It’s the big center section that we’re not sure of yet, and the best to travel that far. It seems like the train would take an awfully long time, but maybe not? I doubt we’ll go much farther north than Delhi, unfortunately, but I guess we’ll just have to come back, hey?

  14. Lily, trains do take long long time to reach from North to South. For example, New Delhi to Bangalore by the best train named ‘Rajdhani’ is 42 hours. But these days there are a few low fare airlines operating in India and you could consider it? Air Deccan and Spice Jet are two low cost airlines. But their flights do get delayed.I have not explored south much but Mysore and Kerela are both beautiful. In the north, I can think of two places. Very near to Delhi is the tranquil town of Rishikesh (and Haridwar) situated right on the banks of Ganges. It is an interesting place, with a lot of temples and color. For Rajasthan, I have seen both jaipur and Udaipur. I liked Udaipur more. The shopping options at these two are enormous. Rajasthan jewelry is very pretty and one can buy both expensive as well as not so expensive ones. They do very good stonework.The Rajasthani print and colors are also unique; one can pick up skirts in very striking mirror work and patterns. But if possible, include Jaisalmer and beyond as it is from there that the true desert starts.

  15. Thanks for the info. The train from north to south actually takes less time than I thought it would, although I’d want to stop somewhere to break up the trip. We had also considered flying, although the fares seem to go up during the time we’ll be there.I’ve seen Rajasthani jewelry and clothing. It’s beautiful and I’ll probably have to control myself very strictly to stay on budget.It’s good to hear about Jaisalmer. We were trying to decide if we should go there or not.Thanks again, and you can always feel free to email me directly if you’d like.

  16. Emma that was February 2005! I last went to Ladakh in June 2005 and the next best that I can see is November when I go to Bangalore, and that is a visit to family.

  17. Hi Mridula,If you go to Bandhavgarh in MP then you are more likely to see one there especially if you go in the summer season when they are more likely to come out to go to the water holes. Also if you go with the intention of seeing a tiger then maybe you will feel bad if you don’t see one but if you have no expectations then you may actually be lucky to see one and it will also be a bonus for you. Like they say it is a very elusive animal and most probably you may not see him but surely he will see you!!! Sad that the poaching is finishing off all the tigers in India and not many left for our future generations to enjoy but then I suppose we are all to blame for the mismanagement of our wildlife. Just about 2500 left in the wild now!!! A shame to see such a magnificent animal go the way towards possible extinction. Hope things improve soon for the tiger as well as us to see him in the wild and not in some zoo and that too in a foreign country!!!

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I am Mridula Dwivedi, I love to travel! I started my travel blog in 2005. I have been going places since! For more details do check out my media kit! In another life I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur. I was a professor when I quit my job in 2015.

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