Postcards from Chitwan, Nepal

Chitwan is one of the 77 districts in Nepal and get its name from Chitwan Valley, which is one of the Inner Terai Valleys of Nepal between Siwalik and Mahabharat ranges (Himalayas' foothills).

[Did you know: Inner Terai Valleys of Nepal consist of several long rivers and is enclosed by the Himalayas; Siwalik and Mahabharat range]

Chitwan is predominantly inhabited by farmers who grow crops like wheat, rice, beans, lentils, vegetables and are also in to beekeeping. It is also rich in flora and fauna and supports rich diversity which is said to be more than any other place in the Indian sub-continent. Chitwan also houses the first National Park of Nepal which covers an area of 953 sq km in Chitwan.


[Did you know: Chitwan is a Sanskrit word and it means the heart (chit) of jungle (van)]

More about Chitwan National Park which was established in 1973 and been given the status of World Heritage Site in 1984 through the following postcards, "Different Postcard Different Story".

NAMASTE


I was in Chitwan in the month of June 2019 on the invitation from Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) in association with Himalayan Travel Mart (HTM). The main aim of this grand event with about 150 delegates from around the world (consisting of only 40 travel bloggers among them) was to promote Nepal Tourism with the vision "Visit Nepal 2020". The above picture depicts the same. 

Although it is a sunset but it is a beautiful one reflecting on the Lake in the middle of the jungle. Sunsets always resonates with me even though I find its beauty unfathomable and uncanny.

INDULGE IN LOCAL STORIES
& LEGENDS


On my Village Walk with Dr. Nawal Bhatt from Green Mansions Jungle Resort (the resort where I stayed during my two days in Chitwan) who is a bundle of knowledge about Jungle, its flora, fauna, and even people; told me about Tharu Village which adjoins Chitwan National Park.

He informed that Tharu village dates back to the 17th century and comprise of only Hindu residents who migrated in the 17th century from Thar village of Rajasthan (India) as they didn't want to live under the reign of Mughals. [The origin of the name "Tharu" is "Thar"]. They live here in Tharu Houses which are made of elephant grass with clay plastered on it [Elephant grass grows up to 3 to 4 m and is the food of elephants]. There're no windows in these houses as the residents fear ghosts. 

The other story he told me was about the girl residents of Tharu. There is a custom of getting them tattooed on arms and legs. If the girl doesn't have a tattoo they won't be married with. It was more like an eligibility criterion to get married. But as informed by Dr. Nawal, this tradition is changing. It is not being followed no more, and I am happy that things are changing. In the above picture, you can see old women of the village relaxing in the farm. It was nice to see them like this but I couldn't help but notice those tattoos on their legs which was painful.

PLAYFUL


This is love and not fight. Siblings playing hand in hand.. Oops! Trunk in Trunk 😋

I took the above picture at the Elephant breeding center in Chitwan National Park. Though the site of the adult elephants in chains disheartened me, these adorable baby elephants, free and happy made me feel hopeful. The adult elephants in here are not only for breeding but are here for entertainment too. Tourists gladly indulge in Elephant Safari but to be honest, I didn't like the sight. Wild animals are supposed to be living in their habitat, in the wild and shall not be chained or be used for entertainment. I understand that it all started with the purpose of employment but it is not right to take away the freedom of anyone. 

First, we enter their habitat due to ever-increasing human population and then we domesticate them. That's not right. We should ask ourselves "how will we feel on being imprisoned against our will?"

GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK


This is the Narayani-Rapti river which acts as the line of control and separates the wilderness and the human-populated habitat. In this river live the large and predatory semi-aquatic reptile, crocodile. We went for the adventurous and thrilling canoe safari in this river full of crocodiles. As soon as I spotted one, adrenaline rush catapulted in my body and my heart was in my mouth. We were warned not to put even our finger in water as it can be dangerous. The best thing was that those crocodiles weren't moving but chilling lazily in the water with their eyes half-open. We also canoed from near the burrows, the house of crocodile which they dig in the side of the lake/river on the banks for their deep, peaceful sleep.

Hats off to the rowers, one per canoe which takes around 8 to 10 persons for the safari in one go. To add, these canoes are very narrow and your seat is below water level. Interesting but frightening, huh! Do it, it is once in a lifetime kind of opportunity, eye to eye with danger.

In the very first picture, you can see our group in the wooden canoe.

LET YOUR INNER CHILD OUT ONCE IN A WHILE


Post canoe safari and witnessing many crocodiles resting in the river another adventure was waiting for us, the Jungle walk. I have done many nature walks before but jungle walk is different where you literally walk through the jungle with the complete chance of encountering wild animals. We were given instructions before starting the walk on what to do in case of such an encounter which varied from animal to animal. Fortunately or unfortunately we didn't witness any animal during the walk but we did see some rare birds, and trees. 

In the above picture, I am climbing Sal tree and that's parasitic branches engulfing it which are on their way to crushing the life out of the host tree. "Sounds harsh and creepy". During my walk I found many parasitic branches asphyxiating host trees. Since it is not a good sign for a forest, parasitic trees / branches are destroyed at regular intervals. 

EXPLORE


Jungle safari was like living a dream. I love when animals are free and living in their home rather than in zoos. There may be a variety of animals in the zoo and you can see them easily but it is not right because they are caged.

It was a quite safari as it is supposed to be with only the tires or engines making noise and wilderness creating a beautiful symphony. High above the ground, it was easy for us to see far away but not that easy to spot the animals, one needs luck along with the right strategy to witness them. We kept advancing deep in to the jungle with elephant grass on both sides which is not just the food for elephants but tiger and rhinos also venture through these, especially at night.

PEEK-A-BOO


The first animal I saw during my jeep safari was Sloth Bear. It was big, brown and fast. As it was crossing the trail, it looked right at us and then ran towards the jungle, alas, I missed taking its picture. Dr. Nawal told us that this was, in fact, the baby bear and an adult bear is much larger in size. Then the first animal I could capture in my lens was langoor who was playing hide and seek behind the jungle trees. 

DON'T DISTURB ME


As a kid, I spent many summer vacations in Haridwar part of which used to be a road trip that always happened to cross through the jungle area. That's when I had witnessed many deer and peacocks; running, dancing and enjoying their habitat. It is a beautiful memory. When I saw deer during this jungle safari I was in awe. It was after a long time that I was seeing them and it was a sight to behold. 

Let's not disturb their home no more. Let it be a green jungle and not a concrete jungle.

WAIT WATCH CLICK

It takes a lot of patience to appreciate the beauty that is wilderness especially birds who can fly in flash of a second. I saw many during my sa but could capture only few. I don't know their names except for the peacock but I am glad that I did get to see them. 

SAY YES TO ADVENTURES


This was like jackpot. Spotting animals in jungle is pure luck and I must say my luck worked when I saw this beauty. One-horned rhinoceros or the Indian rhinoceros or the great Indian rhinoceros, is native to the Indian subcontinent. It is big, it is heavy (A male rhino weighs around 2,100 kg while a Female 1,600 kg). I think it was her bath time. We were there for good 20 minutes while she lay happily in the water. It was also my first time seeing a rhinoceros.

[Did you know: As per WWF (world wild life): The greater one-horned rhino is the largest of the rhino species. Once widespread across the entire northern part of the Indian sub-continent, rhino populations plummeted as they were hunted for sport or killed as agricultural pests. This pushed the species very close to extinction, by the end of 20th century less than 200 of them remained. Their recovery rhino is one of the greater conservation success stories in Asia. Today there are around 3,500 rhinos combined in northeastern India and the Terai grasslands of Nepal.]

CONNECT


We were around 18 people in the group that day who ventured together only to be separated by three different jeeps 😋 This was my group for 5 hours. "Divided by ethnicity, United by travel love." 

I love traveling and meeting new people and when people connect, the journey becomes lovely and memorable. 

As they say, "We don't meet people by accident. They're meant to cross our path for a reason".

THANK YOU


Chitwan National Park was a success for me and it could happen only because of Dr. Nawal Bhatt and I am thankful to NTB & HTM for making this beautiful memory happen.

Appreciate because turning the clock back only happens in reel & not real life.
Live and let live, free and happy.

Yours Truly,
Me and My Suitcase

Note: 
The complete rights of all the pictures rest with Stuti Shrimali of Me and My Suitcase unless otherwise mentioned.
I was hosted by Nepal Tourism Board but review and views are mine and in no way influenced by any third party.

Comments

  1. Chitwan National Park is one of its kind. I liked the canoe ride in a river full of crocodiles. I spotted one rhinocerous. I can go back again.

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  2. Chitwan National Park is beautiful. And I found the folklores quite interesting, especially the tattoo one. Yes, we need to say yes to adventure without disturbing the wildlife much. Loved the pictures from Chitwan!

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