Over a decade now, we have been taking vacation twice a year, once during summer breaks and once during the Christmas holidays and practically in all these holidays Basu Family has been our companion. The friendship with Basu’s goes beyond two decades and we have been taking these vacations together for over a decade now, primarily because our chemistry matches to the letter T and both family feel comfortable in each others company.
So last December when we decided to take such a holiday, it was obvious that both families would go together, but where to go? That was the question that we kept pondering for over a week. The choice of destinations ran from Dudhwa National Park to backwaters of Kerala to one of the Islands in Malayasia to Dubai but nothing seemed to work. Then suddenly everything fell in place.
It was a Sunday, Deepika & I was returning home after a South Indian breakfast at Karnataka Sangam, RK Puram, when Santanu Basu called up and asked our views on Chitwan National Park as a destination. Honestly, we had no idea but said that we will get back. I called up my son Ayush at his hostel and asked him to check out. Since everybody was so keen for a break, he called back in precisely ten minutes and confirmed its worth going.
Thereafter, everything went in whirlwind speed, right from booking the air tickets to hotel reservations at Kathmandu and Chitwan. We decided stay overnight at Kathmandu that will give me an opportunity to meet my cousin who is based there for last almost 15 years. Also, because we would be reaching Kathmandu in the evening and there was no point in continuing the journey to Chitwan which was about 6-8 hours.
Chitwan National Park is situated in south central Nepal in the sub tropical lowlands of the inner terai of Chitwan, Makawanpur, Parsa and Nawalparasi districts. The altitude ranges from 110m to 850m above sea level. The park is bounded by the Rapti and Narayani River in the north, Parsa Wildlife Reserve in the east and Madi settlements and India border in the south. Three major rivers Narayani, Rapti and Reu, with their floodplains and several lakes and pools are the major water sources of the park.
Chitwan was a big game area for the royal families, Rana rulers and their guests. The Chitwan National Park has an area of 932 sq km. In recognition of its unique biological resources of outstanding universal value, UNESCO designated it as a World Heritage Site in 1984. The park and the local people jointly initiate community development activities and manage natural resources in the buffer zone.
The park has a range of climatic seasons each offering unique experience. October through February with average temperature of 25o C offers an enjoyable climate. From March to June temperatures can reach as high as 43o C. The hot humid days give way to the monsoon season that typically lasts from late June until September when rivers become flooded and most of the roads are virtually impassable.
The Chitwan is characterized by tropical and subtropical forests. Roughly 70 percent of park vegetative cover is Sal (Shorea robusta) forest, a moist deciduous vegetation type of the terai region. The remaining vegetation types include grassland, riverine forest consisting of Khair (Acacia catechu), Sissoo (Dalbergia sisoo) and Simal (Bombax ceiba). The grasslands are mainly located in the floodplains of the rivers and form a diverse and complex community with over 50 different types of grasses including the elephant grass renowned for its immense height that can go up to 8 meter high.
The park is especially renowned for its protection of One Horned Rhinoceros, Royal Bengal Tiger and Gharial Crocodile. The park harbors not only the world’s largest terrestrial mammal (wild elephant) but also the world’s smallest terrestrial mammal (pygmy shrew). It is also home to 22 globally endangered species like Bengal Florican, Slender-billed Vulture, White-rumped Vulture and Red-headed Vulture.
Elephant safari provides an opportunity to get a closer view of the endangered One-horned Rhinoceros. One may also get a glimpse of the elusive Bengal tiger too if lucky enough. The Elephant Breeding Centre at Khorsor, Sauraha gives you information on domesticated elephant and the baby elephants born there.
A short walk (1 km.) from the park HQ at Kasara will take you to the Gharial Breeding Centre, which is also home to the Marsh Mugger and a number of turtles.