Jim Corbett National Park is the oldest national park in India. The park-named after the hunter-turned-conservationist Jim Corbett who played a key role in its establishment-was established in 1936 as Hailey National Park. Situated in Nainital district of Uttarakhand the park acts as a protected area for the endangered Bengal tiger of India, the secure survival of which is the main objective of Project Tiger, an Indian wildlife protection initiative. The park has sub-Himalayan belt geographical and ecological characteristics. An ecotourism destination, it contains 488 different species of plants and a diverse variety of fauna. The increase in tourist activities, among other problems, continues to present a serious challenge to the park's ecological balance.
Corbett has been a haunt for tourists and wildlife lovers for a long time. Tourism activity is only allowed in selected areas of Corbett Tiger Reserve so that people get an opportunity to see its splendid landscape and the diverse wildlife. In recent years the number of people coming here has increased dramatically. Presently, every season more than 70,000 visitors come to the park from India and other countries. The Jim Corbett National Park is a heaven for the adventure seekers and wildlife adventure lovers alike. Corbett National Park is India's first national park which comprises 520.8 sq km. area of hills, riverine belts, marshy depressions, grass lands and large lake.
The elevation ranges from 1,300 feet (400 m) to 4,000 feet (1,200 m). Winter nights in Corbett national park are cold but the days are bright and sunny. It rains from July to September. Dense moist deciduous forest mainly consists of sal, haldu, pipal, rohini and mango trees, and these trees cover almost 73 per cent of the park. The 10 per cent of the area consists of grasslands.It houses around 110 tree species, 50 species of mammals, 580 bird species and 25 reptile species. The endangered Bengal tiger of India resides here. The sanctuary was the first to come under Project Tiger initiative.
It has numerous ravines, ridges, minor streams and small plateaus with varying aspects and degrees of slopes. The park encompasses the Patli Dun valley formed by the Ramganga river. It protects parts of the Upper Gangetic Plains moist deciduous forests and Himalayan subtropical pine forests ecoregions. It has a humid subtropical and highland climate. The present area of the Reserve is 1,318.54 sq km (509.09 sq mt) including 520 sq km (200 sq mt) of core area and 797.72 sq km (308.00 sq mt) of buffer area. The core area forms the Jim Corbett National Park while the buffer contains reserve forests (496.54 sq km (191.72 sq mt)) as well as the Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary (301.18 sq km (116.29 sq mt)).
The reserve, located partly along a valley between the Lesser Himalaya in the north and the Shivaliks in the south, has a sub-Himalayan belt structure. The upper tertiary rocks are exposed towards the base of the Shiwalik range and hard sandstone units form broad ridges. Characteristic longitudinal valleys, geographically termed Doons, or Duns can be seen formed along the narrow tectonic zones between lineaments.
The weather in the park is temperate compared to most other protected areas of India. The temperature may vary from 5°C (41°F) to 30°C (86°F) during the winter and some mornings are foggy. Summer temperatures normally do not rise above 40°C (104°F). Rainfall ranges from light during the dry season to heavy during the monsoons.
A total of 488 different species of plants have been recorded in the park. Tree density inside the reserve is higher in the areas of Sal forests and lowest in the Anogeissus-Acacia catechu forests. Total tree basal cover is greater in Sal dominated areas of woody vegetation. Healthy regeneration in sapling and seedling layers is occurring in the Mallotus philippensis, Jamun and Diospyros tomentosa communities, but in the Sal forests the regeneration of sapling and seedling is poor.
Over 586 species of resident and migratory birds have been categorized, including the crested serpent eagle, blossom-headed parakeet and the red junglefowl-ancestor of all domestic fowl. 33 species of reptiles, seven species of amphibians, seven species of fish and 36 species of dragonflies have also been recorded. Bengal tigers, although plentiful, are not easily spotted due to the abundance of camouflage in the reserve. Thick jungle, the Ramganga river, and plentiful prey make this reserve an ideal habitat for tigers who are opportunistic feeders and prey upon a range of animals. Leopards are found in hilly areas but may also venture into the low land jungles. Smaller felines in the park include the jungle cat, fishing cat and leopard cat. Other mammals include four kinds of deer (barking, sambar, hog and chital), Sloth and Himalayan Black bears, Indian Grey Mongoose, otters, yellow-throated martens, ghoral (goat-antelopes), Indian pangolins, and langur and rhesus monkeys.
Corbett National Park is situated in Ramanagar in the district of Nainital, Uttarakhand. The town of Ramnagar is the headquarters of Corbett Tiger Reserve. There are overnight trains available from Delhi to Ramnagar. Also, there are trains from Varanasi via Lucknow to Ramnagar. Reaching Ramnagar, one can hire a taxi to reach the park and Dhikala. Ramnagar is also well connected by road with Lucknow,Bareilly, Nainital, Ranikhet, Haridwar, Dehradun and New Delhi. One can also drive from Delhi (295 km) via Gajraula, Moradabad, Kashipur to reach Ramnagar. A direct train to Ramnagar runs from New Delhi. Alternatively, one can come up to Haldwani/Kashipur/Kathgodam and come to Ramnagar by road.
- Dhikuli: This well known destination in Corbett is situated at the fringes of Patli Dun valley. There is a rest house here which was built hundred of years ago. Kanda ridge forms the backdrop, and from Dhikala, one can enjoy the spectacular natural beauty of the valley.
- Jeep Safari: Jeeps Safari is the most convenient way to travel within Corbett national park, and can be rented for the park trips from Ramnagar.
- Kalagarh Dam: This dam is located in the south west direction of the Jim Corbett wildlife sanctuary. This is one of the best places for the bird watching tour. Lots of migratory waterfowl comes here in the winters.
- Corbett Falls: Corbett Falls is situated 25 kilometres from Ramnagar. 4 kms from Kaladhungi, on the Kaladhungi - Ramnagar highway The Corbett Water Falls, surrounded by dense forests and pin drop silence. This is a 20 meter fall.