Amidst tropical & sub-tropical deciduous forests near Haridwar in Uttarakhand lies a beautiful home of varied flora and fauna. A melodious confluence of trumpets of elephants, roars of tigers, and chirps of birds goes well to complement the gurgles of the streams of the River Ganges that flow through the grasslands that we are talking of. To these animal species, this place is home. But the world knows it by the name of Rajaji National Park.
While many wish to explore the Rajaji Tiger Reserve, not many know much about the place. And it is this knowledge gap that this guide aims to bridge. Read on!
What makes Rajaji National Park so special?
Amid the lush green environs of the Shivalik Hills near Haridwar lies Rajaji National Park; a beautiful place that rightly boasts of its rich flora and fauna. The park was named after the famous freedom fighter and first governor general of free India, Sri C Rajagopalachari, who was popularly called Rajaji. Until 1983, the zone was known as the Rajaji Wildlife Sanctuary (estd. 1948). But it was later merged with Motichur (estd. 1964) & Chilla (estd. 1977) wildlife sanctuaries and Rajaji National Park came into existence.
The national park is home to diverse flora and fauna, including some endangered species of birds and animals. And so, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that wildlife safaris and bird-watching tours are popular here. Furthermore, the several streams of the River Ganges provide opportunities for watersports; such as river rafting and canoeing. These activities, along with the jungle lodges inside, make it one of the best eco-tourism destinations in Uttarakhand.
1. Rajaji National Park Safari
Wildlife safaris in Rajaji National Park are very popular. Both jeep safaris and elephant safaris are available. The jeep safaris are conducted twice every day; from 6 am to 9 am and from 3 pm to 6 pm.
The elephant safaris were discontinued in 2007 after the death of the elephant ‘Arundhati’, who had served the reserve since 1981. However, they were resumed in November 2016 with three tuskers — Raja, Rangeeli, and Radha. Unlike the 3-hour jeep safaris, elephant safaris are shorter and last for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
2. Rajaji Tiger Park
There’s also a tiger reserve in its precincts that is a home to over 50 different species of mammals; including Asian Elephant, tiger, leopard, Himalayan Black Bear, sloth bear, civet, jackal, and hyena. The Rajaji Tiger Reserve came into existence on 20th April 2015.
3. Rafting in Rajaji National Park
Rafting and canoeing are other adventurous things to do in Rajaji National Park. 3-hour-long rafting tours on stretches exceeding 12 km on the streams of River Ganges are offered on request. The jungle lodges inside the national park provide this facility at INR 800 per person.
4. Bird-watching at Rajaji National Park
The open grasslands in the foothills between western Himalayas and central Himalayas enhance the diversity of the bird species and consequently enhance the viewing prospects for the bird-watchers. Greater Scaup, White-naped Woodpecker, Great Hornbill, Black-bellied Tern, Pallas’s Fish Eagle, Northern Goshawk, Black-necked Stork, Yellow-billed Blue Magpie, Scaly Thrush, Snowy-browed Flycatcher, Rusty-flanked Treecreeper, Pale-footed Bush Warbler, Tytler’s Leaf Warbler, Green Avadavat, and Reed Bunting are some of the avian species that can be spotted here.
Bird-watching tours’ routes:
- Around jungle lodges
- On the 26-km-long forest drive at Chilla
- Along the 40-km-long Phanduwala-Kansrao-Motichur trail that runs parallel to Suswa river
5. Eco-tourism at Rajaji National Park
Rajaji National Park promotes ecotourism or responsible travel options by providing opportunities of volunteer travel and generating awareness in the travelers about flora & fauna of the place.
The national park aims to minimize negative aspects of conventional tourism on the environment, enhance cultural integrity of the locals, promote recycling, energy efficiency, & water conservation, and create economic opportunities for the locals.
Places to stay in and around Rajaji National Park
There are many government-run and private providers for stay in and around Rajaji National Park. The official website mentions that eco-friendly cottages and tents are available at Wild Brook Retreat. Furthermore, there are also some Forest Rest Houses at various entry gates. These can be availed through the forest department.
The Wild Brook Retreat: Eco-lodge at Rajaji National Park
This is located near Gohari range of Rajaji National Park; close to Vindhyavasini Temple. The retreat also provides facilities for rafting, safari, trekking, and camping.
Tariff: INR 3,500 per person per night (twin-sharing) | INR 4,000 per person per night (single room)
Other Rajaji National Park hotels, resorts, and eco-lodges
- Eco Wild Camps Rajaji | Tariff: INR 6,500 per night
- GMVN Chilla – Tourist Rest House | Tariff: INR 2,200 per night
- Junglee Resort | Tariff: INR 5,500 per night
Hotels near Rajaji National Park
Both Haridwar and Rishikesh lie within 25 km radius of the national park. Both these cities have numerous stay options. Since the park can be covered within 3 hours, tourists can choose a stay option of their choice in either Haridwar or Rishikesh.
Suggested Read: 6 Best Resorts Near Rishikesh And Haridwar
FAQs about Rajaji National Park
1. How can one reach Rajaji National Park?
Rajaji National Park location: Ansari Road, Mohand Range, Dehradun, Uttarakhand
Nearest airport: Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun (35 km away) is the nearest airport.
Nearest railway station: Rishikesh Railway Station (18 km away) and Haridwar Junction (23 km away) are the nearest railway stations.
The nearest metro city to the Rajaji National Park is Delhi, situated 230 km away. The two destinations are well-connected by roads, rail, and air.
2. Which is the best time to visit Rajaji National Park?
The Rajaji National Park remains open for public from 15th November to 15th June. The park remains closed during monsoons.
Rajaji National Park hours: 6 am to 9 am | 3 pm to 6 pm
3. What are various charges levied at Rajaji National Park?
- Rajaji National Park entry fee: INR 150 per visit (3 hours) per person [Indians] | INR 600 per visit (3 hours) per person [Foreigners]*
- Rent for gypsy: INR 2,000 (3 hours) to & from gate
- Vehicle entry fee: INR 250 per entry per vehicle [Indians] | INR 500 per entry per vehicle [Foreigners]
- Cost of guide: INR 300 [General]** | INR 600 – INR 1,500 [Bird and wildlife guide]
- Still Camera fee: Free [Indians] | INR 50 [Foreigners]
- Video Camera fee: INR 2,500 [Indians] | INR 5,000 [Foreigners]
- Filming Charges for feature films: INR 20,000 + INR 40,000 (refundable security)
- Filming Charges for documentaries: INR 2,500 + INR 15,000 (refundable security) [Indians] | INR 5,000 + INR 40,000 (refundable security) [Foreigners]
*Student discounts available only on certified institutional educational tours. Entry is free for children up to the age of 3 years.
**A local guide per vehicle is must.
4. What are the rules and regulations of the Rajaji National Park?
So, the next time you plan to book an Uttarakhand tour package during mid-November to mid-June, do not forget to consider this land of beauty, wildlife, and adventure.