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Old 4th February 2017, 20:59   #1
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Default Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A short vacation & an angry elephant

Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A short vacation & an angry elephant-rajaji.jpg
The park has been named after Late Sri C. Rajgopalachari (also known as Rajaji), and is spread over an area of 820.42 sq km.
Rajaji NP is open to visitors from Mid-November to Mid-June.


Rajaji National Park is about 5 hours away from Delhi, yet had not been struck off my bucket list for at least 12 years - since the time when I used to work at Rishikesh, a stone's throw away from the actual Park. But then, I don't need to feel so bad about it, because intrepid travellers and wildlife enthusiasts on this forum have never put up a thread dedicated to Rajaji NP - and the place deserves one.

Last edited by SS-Traveller : 13th February 2017 at 11:05.
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Old 5th February 2017, 12:21   #2
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Default Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A Short Vacation & An Angry Elephant

Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A short vacation & an angry elephant-signboard.jpg

Rajaji NP operates pretty much on the lines, rules and regulations of most other National Parks. Apart from elephants that this Park is famous for, it is also a tiger reserve, though tiger spottings are quite rare. There are specific entry times in the morning and evening, details of fees to be paid, and rules about do's and don't's. The safari covers a designated part of the Chilla Range over a dirt track that runs through a dry river bed in some places. Unlike most other National Parks, one is allowed to drive one's own SUV (low-slung sedans are not allowed or encouraged) into the Park while accompanied by a registered guide - there is also the option of hiring a Gypsy. In the dry season, 2WD is adequate, but if it rains even a little bit, 4WD would be a safer bet.

Last edited by SS-Traveller : 14th February 2017 at 23:51.
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Old 7th February 2017, 21:00   #3
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Default Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A Short Vacation & An Angry Elephant

Options to stay around the Rajaji National Park are not too many. There are some (quite overpriced, we thought) private resorts on the fringes of the jungle, or one can drive all the way from Haridwar (nah - not for me). And then there's the GMVN Tourist Resort at Chilla, just about a kilometre away from the entry gate to the Park itself.

GMVN tourist bungalows are most often built in the most desirable of locations, but need not be the most swanky or offer the best service. We booked 2 double rooms for 2 nights (23-25 December 2016) online, and were happy that we got reservations at all on the Christmas weekend.

Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A short vacation & an angry elephant-gmvnchilla-13.jpg

Once we arrived, we were pleasantly surprised. The place looked freshly renovated, and there were a dozen timber cottages, recently constructed. The reception staff and the manager were polite and cooperative, and asked whether we would like to take a look at the family cottages on offer, before we settled into our rooms.

Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A short vacation & an angry elephant-gmvnchilla-18.jpg

The suites looked so inviting that we decided to switch to an available 4 -bedded suite, each of which is a standalone timber cottage, after paying the difference. In the times of demonetization, they accepted IMPS payment - their bank details were prominently displayed, and in a matter of minutes, the payment was done.


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The suites comprised two double-bedded rooms, each with its own toilet & bathroom, both air-conditioned (which was not required, given the ambient temperature) - plus a living area with TV and sofas, and a lobby space. An electric kettle was available, but sorely missed was supplies to make your own tea/coffee. Since we carry our own supplies of tea/coffee at all times, this was a minor inconvenience to us.

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The beds are king-size, so kids don't need extra cots. The balcony outside is a peaceful place to sit out with a cup of tea, but one needs to ask for chairs (or pull up a few from the park).

Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A short vacation & an angry elephant-chilla-5.jpg

Liquor and outside food are banned, but not really enforced - so, many guests were seen indulging in their favourite tipple, but mercifully none of the groups turned boisterous.

A short session outside with the camera on a tripod, and here are the results. It was turning quite chilly, and the rest of the evening was spent indoors.

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Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A short vacation & an angry elephant-gmvnchilla-5.jpg

Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A short vacation & an angry elephant-gmvnchilla-6.jpg

Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A short vacation & an angry elephant-gmvnchilla-7.jpg

Meals can be had in the dining room or ordered from room service. Basic good food, but ordering a la carte is better (and more economical) than the buffet.

Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A short vacation & an angry elephant-gmvnchilla-12.jpg

Sufficient parking space is available in the compound for at least a dozen cars.

Last edited by SS-Traveller : 14th February 2017 at 23:55.
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Old 8th February 2017, 20:08   #4
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Default Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A Short Vacation & An Angry Elephant

Quote:
Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
...the rest of the evening was spent indoors.
But before we did that, the very pleasant and sunny afternoon was spent driving to the Chilla Dam nearby, and over a part of the scenic Chilla-Rishikesh Road running along the canal.

Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A short vacation & an angry elephant-chilla-7.jpg
Parked near the Chilla Dam, the light and shade effect from the fencing alongside H-4® gave it a zebra-esque appearance!


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Fallen leaves set alight - a common practice in many areas, yet, as dwellers of one of the world's most polluted cities, we frown upon such practices.


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The smooth and almost empty road along the canal


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Snatching a bit of together-time, away from the disapproving eyes of their respective families - but unmindful of the warning sign that says one should not be getting off one's vehicle and standing on the bridge because it is part of an elephant corridor.


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The road ends here, and one crosses a dry river bed before continuing on the road on the other side. It is quiet here, and the view is glorious.


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Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A short vacation & an angry elephant-chilla-1.jpg
It's tempting to take the Hawk-On-Fours® down to the river bed for a little while to get the tyres a little wet, and we do. The road on the other side beckons, but the prospect of driving into Rishikesh town is not very attractive. We turn back and return to our room at the GMVN. We did not consider the fact that there would be enough water and dust for H-4® the next morning.

Last edited by SS-Traveller : 13th February 2017 at 12:16.
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Old 13th February 2017, 12:33   #5
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Default Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A Short Vacation & An Angry Elephant


Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) is permitted to enter the Rajaji National Park, in exchange for a fee of Rs.1200, accompanied by a guide.

Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A short vacation & an angry elephant-chillanpmorning-10.jpg

Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A short vacation & an angry elephant-chillanpmorning-1.jpg

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It is a mildly foggy morning as we drive through the jungle, the chatter of birds of various shapes and hues surrounding us. Not adequately equipped with a lens long enough to capture them, and lacking the patience for the perfect frame, we still managed to click some of the beautiful winged creatures.

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Plumbeous water redstart, female


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Oriental Pied Hornbill


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Himalayan Griffon Vulture


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Pied bushchat


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Long tailed shrike


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Long tailed shrike


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Himalayan Griffon Vulture


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Indian Roller (Neelkanth)

Identification of the birds courtesy himadrimondal.

Last edited by SS-Traveller : 13th February 2017 at 12:58.
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Old 13th February 2017, 13:37   #6
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Default Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A Short Vacation & An Angry Elephant

There's a watch tower where we take a break, and climb to the top. The view is glorious.

Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A short vacation & an angry elephant-chillanpmorning-12.jpg

Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A short vacation & an angry elephant-chillanpmorning-9.jpg

Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A short vacation & an angry elephant-chillanpmorning-8.jpg

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Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A short vacation & an angry elephant-chillanpmorning-14.jpg
The tower is covered in nails, to keep the elephants away. The gigantic beasts end up toppling the tower when they attempt to scratch their backs against the pillars.



Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A short vacation & an angry elephant-chillanpmorning-6.jpg

Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A short vacation & an angry elephant-chillanpmorning-7.jpg
What looked at first glance to be snow or frost on the ground are actually funnel webs spun by ground spiders, covered with dew.



Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A short vacation & an angry elephant-chillanpmorning-11.jpg
Back to the drive again...




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The only animals we spotted were deer and monkeys. A group of deer scampered across the path, and I was lucky enough to catch this blurry shot.



Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A short vacation & an angry elephant-rajajianimals-6.jpg

Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A short vacation & an angry elephant-rajajianimals-2.jpg
The 'pseudo-spottings' that are all so common during every safari - the pug marks - which every guide is such an expert at spotting, and speculating the exact time of day when the animal would have passed by (usually about 15 minutes before one arrives at the spot). Elephants and tigers have left their mark on the trail.



Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A short vacation & an angry elephant-rajajianimals-1.jpg

Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A short vacation & an angry elephant-rajajianimals-3.jpg
The strangest sight was this head-like tumour growing out of a tree trunk



Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A short vacation & an angry elephant-chillanpmorning-16.jpg
End of the morning drive.

Last edited by SS-Traveller : 14th February 2017 at 23:45.
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Old 14th February 2017, 18:30   #7
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Default Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A Short Vacation & An Angry Elephant

For the afternoon safari, we decided to take a Gypsy. The chill in the air during the morning drive had given way to a warm sunshine, and a trip in an open vehicle was certainly inviting. But before we occupy the vehicle, the driver-cum-guide needs to take care of some monkey business!

Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A short vacation & an angry elephant-rajajiafternoon-21.jpg

Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A short vacation & an angry elephant-rajajiafternoon-20.jpg

Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A short vacation & an angry elephant-rajajiafternoon-18.jpg


Most of the safari in the afternoon was quite uneventful. The usual deer and sambar, a few monkeys...

Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A short vacation & an angry elephant-rajajiafternoon-4.jpg

Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A short vacation & an angry elephant-rajajiafternoon-5.jpg

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Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A short vacation & an angry elephant-rajajiafternoon-19.jpg
...and this majestic Himalayan Griffon Vulture.

Quote:
This species is distributed from western China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan, east through the Himalayan mountain range in India, Nepal and Bhutan, to central China and Mongolia. It is described as fairly common in parts of Himachal Pradesh, India (especially in Sainj Valley). This species is probably a regular winter visitor in low numbers to the plains of Rajasthan, and in 2013 there were a number of records of vagrants in southern India.

The species has become an almost annual, but rare, winter visitor to Thailand and the Thai-Malay Peninsula, and has reached the Riau islands. Since 2006 some 10-30 birds are recorded annually passing through northern Thailand. It also regularly occurs in Kachin state, and probably also Shan and Chin states, Myanmar, but is probably only a vagrant or rare winter visitor to Cambodia. Most birds recorded in Thailand have been in their first year. It is a scarce and local, but increasing, winter visitor to Bangladesh, where all birds recorded have been immatures.

The species's population appears to be stable in Dehradun District, Uttarakhand, India, and elsewhere in India and Nepal, but appears to have fluctuated in the Upper Mustang region of Nepal, where a decline in 2002-2005 was followed by a partial recovery, probably resulting from immigration from Central Asia.
Source
Towards the end of the safari, while we were about to start crossing another of the numerous dry river beds, the Gypsy ahead of us suddenly stopped. Our driver slammed on his brakes too, and skidded to a stop inches away from the car ahead. Up ahead was the glorious sight of a large elephant mother and her baby parading diagonally across the other side of the river bed, some 400-500 metres away.

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The calf trotted after the mother in comical fashion, while she marched in a stately and majestic manner along the bank of the river. Suddenly our attention was drawn to a loud and repeated trumpeting, accompanied by dust being raised directly ahead, about 200 metres away, on the other bank.

A very angry young male elephant charged at another Gypsy parked there, raising a cloud of dust. The driver of that Gypsy responded by by gunning the engine and taking off in another cloud of dust! The charge was over in a flash - the Gypsy disappeared out of sight around a bend.

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But the male elephant wasn't happy. He remained there, keeping a keen watch in all directions, kicking up some more dust and trumpeting repeatedly, while the mother and calf made their way towards him.

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Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A short vacation & an angry elephant-rajajiafternoon-14.jpg


We remained where we were for the next 20 minutes or so, waiting for the elephant family to reunite and cross the road, and disappear into the jungle alongside the river on the other side of the road. Once the elephants seemed to be far away, the half-a-dozen Gypsies including ours, sprinted across the river bed and drove as fast as possible away from that spot.

Thus ended our afternoon safari, with its thrills at the very end.

The next day dawned with a steady drizzle and dense clouds above. A cold wind made us decide to laze indoors, and we left for an uneventful trip home at midday.

: : : T H E _ E N D : : :


Last edited by SS-Traveller : 14th February 2017 at 23:49.
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Old 14th February 2017, 23:58   #8
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Default Re: Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A Short Vacation & An Angry Eleph

Thread moved from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 15th February 2017, 00:17   #9
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Default Re: Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A Short Vacation & An Angry Eleph

Excellent detailed travelogue. The flora and fauna both are captured beautifully. Loved the golden light in few of the pics.
Rated 5*

Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) gets striped! This pic takes the cake!
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/attach...t-chilla-7.jpg

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Old 16th February 2017, 00:19   #10
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Default Re: Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A short vacation & an angry eleph

Aaah Chilla! Brings back so many memories. I remember going here some 15 to 18 years years back!

Staying at the GMVN resort near the dam. The eyes of a thousand deers glowing up when we switched on the headlight. The machaans. The Garwhal Mandal property and the pretty crappy food that tasted so good after a long safari!

While we spotted no cats, we saw a large group of elephants crossing the road on one of the trips. And we had to reverse a good 100-200 m to be safe. And I remember we used to have a Maruti 1000 at that time. Must be an old story!

Also at that time I remember there used to be a baby elephant called Raja! And what a cuddly animal he was!

PS: I was roughly 10 at that time. So I may not remember everything very clearly. But I remember the mahmout telling me how Raja's parents had dies after being hit by a train while crossing the tracks. And how Raja was absoultely adorable and super playful at that time!
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Old 16th February 2017, 12:42   #11
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Default Re: Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Rajaji National Park, Chilla | A short vacation & an angry eleph

Quote:
Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
The park has been named after Late Sri C. Rajgopalachari (also known as Rajaji), and is spread over an area of 820.42 sq km.
Rajaji NP is open to visitors from Mid-November to Mid-June.
You brought back fond memories of our beloved Gurudutt, who was amongst the luckier of us and had tiger sightings at this place.

He used to tell me that it is pretty tough to spot a tiger there and he was able to do it.
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