NOTE: For those keeping track (Read only me), this is my 50th post on FertileBrains. Yay! Half Century! Didn’t think will ever make it this far, so am just glad I kept on writing…..some decent posts scattered amidst some awfully bad ones (the ones which make me squirm every time I re-read them!), but yeah, it’s good to reach a milestone, no matter how small.
Anyway, coming back to the topic at hand, this post about Jim Corbett National Park is long overdue 🙂 So let me just start writing about this weekend trip with a preschooler (read our very own troublemaker, sonny!) to Jim Corbett National Park near Delhi, without any further delay.
Since Sonny’s summer vacation was on from Mid-May, I was discussing with hubby about a weekend family trip somewhere near Delhi. But the heat being quite brutal back then (with temperatures hovering around 45 Degree Celsius mark), I was not quite sure where to go. Our default go-to place, Rishikesh had already lost some of its charms for us and is no longer as tempting as before (it’s crowded this time of year) and considering that we were not sure how to keep sonny entertained at Rishikesh (he not being of “river-rafting” age 🙂 yet!), I was quite happy confining him to his room till we went to my parent’s home. It helped that kiddo was quite happy playing at home in AC (He hates the scorching heat of Delhi, way more than my own dislike for it. His default statement during summer is: “Ma, come inside. It’s too hot outside.”)
So, when Hubby called one afternoon from office, just a few days before our trip to my parents, asking if I would care to go to Jim Corbett for the weekend, my first thoughts were about the heat and whether it would be fun/safe for sonny. Since one of his colleagues was also going there with her family (her youngest is just one year older than sonny), this made deciding in favor of the trip much easier.
Hubby booked a room online at “Corbett Riverside Resort” for 3 Days and 2 Nights (This resort is at Ramnagar very close to Garjia Devi Temple) and we were all set. We could have booked Jeep/Elephant Safari etc. online too – In fact, one of the good things about Jim Corbett is that you can book almost every activity online and there are hundreds of reviews available to give you a decent idea of what to expect – but we were not sure how the weather would turn out to be. Some of hubby’s colleagues had warned him that it would be very hot and uncomfortable this time of the year, especially with a small kid. So, we wanted to keep the schedule flexible enough to fit in relaxation and outdoor activities both, in a manner suited to our and especially, sonny’s pace.
With the booking done, the onus was now on me to take care of the packing part of the road trip and being a pro at that (ahem!), it did not take me more than half a day to get it done. (Check out my tips and tricks for a road trip with preschooler for more details on this.)
Day 1 started for us early morning on Friday, 4:15 am to be precise when we got up for the road trip. My initial thought was that it would take me at least 15-20 minutes to wake sonny up from his sleep at that hour – our plan was to leave home max by 5:00 am – but surprisingly the moment I told him that we were going to see the tiger, he was wide awake and raring to go!
It was a lie, of course. You have to be carrying a four-leaf clover or rabbit’s foot to be able to see a tiger at Jim Corbett. Or, be driven enough to stay there for weeks and go much deeper into the jungle. We did not fall under either category. But whatever gets the job was done, right?
Road Trip to Jim Corbett
We were on the road a few minutes after 5:00 am and sonny was all chirpy and happy about seeing a tiger. For the uninitiated, Jim Corbett is located in Nainital District of Uttarakhand and is about 250 km from Delhi. Our plan was to cover that distance by 6-hour maximum, including stoppage time. Hubby switched the GPS on and we took NH24 via Ghaziabad. It was good that we started early because we were able to avoid office-going traffic during rush hours on NH24 (which could’ve easily killed precious time and more importantly, made sonny extremely cranky).
Anyway, the highway itself was in great shape and sonny enjoyed the smooth car ride a lot. All three of us were in a very good mood during the early morning hours. I gave sonny a chocolate milkshake for breakfast. He nibbled on a cookie and a few chips too on the way, happily looking out the window.
We had earlier coordinated our first and only halt with hubby’s colleague for Bikanerwala at Gajraula, which is about 120 km from Delhi. (Gajraula has other food joints too like Mc Donald’s, KFC, Dominos etc, so the choice of breakfast venue is not limited there.) We reached Gajraula at about 9:00 am. After a leisurely breakfast – during which time all sonny did was run around with his new friend (hubby’s colleague’s daughter) – we were back on the road.
Before leaving, we’d bought a couple of sandwiches from Bikanerwala, just in case sonny got hungry. He ate half of one before falling asleep by the time we had covered barely ten more kilometers. Initially, he had a little trouble sleeping because of the flickering sunlight coming through the windows, but once I covered his eyes with his cap and sunglasses (he insisted on both!), he was fast asleep.
The road was good and our drive was pleasant. But very close to reaching Jim Corbett, we made the grave mistake of not listening to the GPS lady (relying on the sign boards instead) and turning into a road dissecting a small town (forgot its name). The next 45 minutes were horrible as the road was mostly under construction and the people in that town had no driving sense. One old guy scratched our car from the side with his alto, which led hubby to launch a tirade of expletives 😉 long after that guy had turned into a by-lane without one single word of apology. Our major takeaway from the incident was: Follow the GPS lady, even in India 😉 She is mostly right.
Despite the 45 minutes bumpy ride, sonny slept most of the way and we reached Corbett Riverside Resort just a few minutes after noon. The weather was slightly humid, but a nice breeze was blowing and of course, it was way better than what we had anticipated.
Once we checked into our room (which was spacious and clean), sonny was up from his long nap and immediately started jumping on the bed singing, guess what? Five Little Monkeys, of course!
After we had all showered, hubby decided he did not want any lunch as he had a hearty breakfast and promptly, fell asleep snoring loudly 😉 (he was the one doing all the driving, remember?). And sonny, fresh from his nap and shower, decided he wanted to have a tea party instead, Daniel Tiger style (Observant as he is, the tea cups set at the corner table in the room did not escape his gaze). So, there I was, tired and dying for a nap, setting down tea cups with pretend tea for sonny (actually glucose water) and real tea for me (How else was I supposed to stay awake?). After sonny had had enough of his tea party, he finally decided he was hungry and ate another sandwich, drank some more milk and started jumping on the bed again.
In between, our friend’s hubby came to discuss whether we were okay to go on the open jeep safari next morning at 5:00 am. Considering hubby’s deep slumber, I was not quite sure whether he will be up for it the next morning and so told him that we will decide once hubby was awake.
By this time, I was barely able to keep my eyes open. So enter “Chota Bheem” (On this road trip, we had consciously decided to leave sonny’s iPAD behind). The TV in the room was a small portable one, the ancient CRT kind :), with very limited channels, but thank god, it had a couple of cartoon ones. Though sonny doesn’t usually watch “Chota Bheem” back at home, I was grateful that for the next two hours he quietly sat on the bed, played with the limited toys we brought from home and watched “Chota Bheem” and “Tom and Jerry” without bugging us. And I slept like a log!
Once we were awake, we decided to take explore the resort grounds (it covers a vast area with luscious mango, litchi, jackfruit, lemon and other such trees).
Downhill, river Kosi was flowing, overlooking a steep mountain. It was beautiful and serene. The water level was very low. It was barely a foot above our ankles and sonny, our water-baby got all crazy wanting to go into the “ocean”. I had to correct him many times and tell him it was a river, not an ocean 🙂 (Side Note: We seriously need to take him to a beach somewhere!)
I was wearing my sandals and was totally unprepared to cross the huge boulders functioning as a dam, separating the river bed from the resort grounds. Plus, I was not carrying any extra clothes or towels for sonny (We were just out for a walk!), but no one can keep our son away from water. So, very cautiously and slowly, we reached the water, sonny, and hubby, ahead of me, while I precariously held on to the rocks to steady myself. I cut my foot at a couple of places on the way down 🙁 (Major Takeaway: Wear your sport shoes at all times, you never know when kiddo will decide to bathe in the river). Sonny sat in the water for a while in his birthday suit 😉 and watched the tiny fishes float by! We saw a couple of local kids catching fish in the river a few meters away from us. After a while, we decided it was enough. Sonny had to take another shower because the river downstream had a lot of silt in its bed. Not that sonny complained 😉
By the time we freshened up, it was evening and we decided we will visit Garjia Devi Temple, which was barely a couple of kilometers away from the resort.
Garjia Devi Temple
The drive to Garjia Devi Temple was very scenic, plus we saw a few monkeys on the way to sonny’s delight. The temple is situated hugging Kosi River, a couple of kilometers upstream from our resort.
But after all, the walking on the resort grounds and running here and there to catch sonny, I underestimated the power of the temple’s steep stairs. I am not particularly a praying-in-temples kind of person – Temples are always too crowded and loud, plus if god is omniscient and omnipresent, why confine our prayers to a place? – But boy, those narrow and steep 80+ stairs had the capacity to convert even a staunch atheist to a believer, forget about me! By the time I had covered 50+ stairs, occasionally carrying sonny and occasionally prodding him to climb ahead of me, I was completely out of breath and praying to god to just get the climbing over with!
Thankfully, we reached the temple without any major mishaps, except for the nagging reminder of how absolutely out of shape we are! Once we were done praying at the temple, it was time for us to climb back down those 80+ stairs!
Climbing down, rather than up sounds nicer and easier on paper, but it’s kind of scary if one is afraid of heights! By the time we were back at ground level, our legs were all sore and our stomachs empty (We had skipped lunch in favor of a nap, remember!).
We ate a few fresh cucumbers and Jhaal Moori being sold on the temple premises. Then sonny bought a couple of knick-knacks there, including a pair of binoculars, a magnetic doodle board and a bubble maker (If anyone has ever seen Motu-Patlu cartoons, the toy kind of looked like Motu holding a bubble gun). I did not want him to buy that many toys, but there was no way sonny would leave the bubble maker behind (He decided that since Motu had a mustache, it kind of looked like his Naanu and so he wanted to gift his bubble maker to Naanu! Just so you know, this bubble maker is now proudly displayed at my parents’ home 🙂 ). During the drive back to the resort and also all throughout the remainder of the trip, sonny refused to look at things without first investigating them with his binoculars, which was quite amusing for us.
Shortly, we were back at the resort where sonny and his new friend played with the bubble maker for a while and we confirmed the early morning safari plan with our friends. Then, we all went down to the resort restaurant together for dinner at around 8:30 pm. We had a light dinner since we were supposed to get up early again the next morning. Sonny did not eat anything (of course) and spent most of the time running here and there with his friend.
Back at our room, I forced sonny to eat some chow-mien which we had carried back from the dinner buffet. He was so exhausted with all the running around that he fell asleep halfway through his dinner!
In fact, we all slept like babies that night.
Day 2 started early for us, just like the day before and we were up at 4:45 am to get ready for our early morning open jeep safari. Again, waking up sonny was not a big issue because of the tiger 😉
Open Jeep Safari
We started for the safari at around 5:30 am. It was an open jeep safari to Sitabani and Jhirna. Hubby’s colleague’s family and we shared a jeep and sonny was quite excited because he got to be with his friend and his big brother! The early morning mountain air was very refreshing and we started enjoying the ride as soon as we started from the resort towards Ramnagar. One thing that I forgot to take on the ride was a light shawl or jacket. The cold morning breeze made me feel slightly cold and I wished I had an extra layer on.
Nonetheless, the ride was very pleasant overall. We were pretty sure we would not be seeing any major animals in this zone (it’s highly unlikely) but the jeep ride through the beautiful hills, covered with tall trees, was enough for us. We loved it and sonny was very excited throughout the first half of the ride. We saw a few wild boars crossing the road, couple of deer far away (close to the river) and other such small animals here and there, but nothing out of the ordinary (Except perhaps for the one lonely wild chicken, which piqued hubby’s interest and got him into an animated discussion with our guide to discuss how good or bad it will taste 😉 !).
The entire safari was approximately 4 hours in duration. At the about halfway mark, we halted for a break near the only temple within park premises. By that time, the sun was high up and the weather had turned slightly warm (still pleasant, though). We had tea at the single makeshift shop located just outside the temple and tried to coax sunny to eat something without any success. About 20 minutes later, we started for the next part of the safari. And barely, 10 minutes into the ride, sonny was fast asleep on my lap. We enjoyed the next hour and half of the journey admiring the sights, sometimes silently and sometimes engaged in animated discussions. We met many fellow tourists on the way……everyone seemed to have just one question: “Kuch dikha kya?” (Loosely translated: Did we see some animal?)
Anyway, the remainder of the journey was mostly uneventful. As our guide explained, once the sun is high up, no animals come out on the roads. If we really wanted to see more animals, we should have started at 4:00 am or even earlier when the weather was cooler and the jungle was quieter (Duh! Now you tell us!).
By this time, it was quite sunny and I was getting a headache because I did not take my sunglasses :((Remember my recent iLASIK surgery?). Thankfully, we were back at the resort at around 10:00 am.
Hubby went to the resort restaurant for breakfast, but I stayed with sonny who was still napping. Once sonny woke up, I fed him Maggi in the room itself (Yes, the good old days when Maggi was still considered food. Oh, how I miss it!). Thankfully, this time he ate properly (of course! junk food has its powers 🙂 ). Then he played for a while inside the room and watched “Chota Bheem”
In the afternoon, we forced sonny to sleep again (the grown ups needed a break!) and we all caught some much-needed shut-eye for a couple of hours.
Once we all woke up and showered, we went out hoping to find an elephant for a ride. We had not pre-booked an elephant ride or safari and the resort’s rides were all booked, up to three days in advance. Thankfully, within a few kilometers from there, we found an elephant standing with his mahout. She (Kalika) was available and we immediately booked her for a trip to the Kosi riverside. Sonny was first surprised to see an elephant so big!! (He assumed they will be smaller). Then he got pretty excited for the ride and immediately climbed up the ladder. But once we were seated and the elephant started walking, sonny got scared due to the movement. Nonetheless, he stayed put and did not utter another word for the whole journey! The elephant, Kalika, slowly and gracefully ambled on to the riverside, walking past mango groves and other tropical trees.
Elephant rides are somewhat boring to be honest (it’s too slow!) and the weather was humid, so by the time the elephant was back in its shed half an hour later, we were more than ready to get off.
Once we started driving back to the resort, sonny did not seem all too satisfied to be done with the car ride just yet. So I asked hubby to keep on driving and we reached Garjia Devi Temple again. This time we stopped there not for praying (who in their right minds would walk 80+ steps two days in a row, that too with a preschooler!), but to sit on the Kosi River bank.
Since Garjia Devi was upstream from the resort, the water there was much cleaner and devoid of silt.
Of course, sitting at the river bank was never an option. As soon as we reached there, sonny was back inside water, this time in his undies. In fact, most people who visit the temple take a dip in Kosi River there. That day also, the river was full of men, women and children, some fully clothed, some partially, just sitting in the water and enjoying its flow.
I, as usual, did not bring any change of clothes (it was spur of the moment, remember?), which meant I just started from the bank and clicked pictures, while hubby stood in ankle deep water, steadying sonny.
After half an hour or so, we dragged sonny from the water promising him we will come back.
It was time for our next activity, horse ride on the resort grounds and we did not want to miss it.
There were two well-bred (and well-trained) horses on the resort grounds, one named Payal and one named Rambo. There was no need to pre-book them, but the rides were available every evening on a first come first serve basis.
When it was our chance, sonny sat with hubby on one horse while I sat on the other. We rode through the vast resort premises for about half an hour. This time, sonny was not scared, he patted the horses from time to time and prodded them on “Go, Horsie, Go! Go, Horsie, Go!”. And yes, horse rides are far more fun than elephant rides 🙂
After the ride, we walked on the resort premises while sonny ran with his friend till tea time.
It was our last day at the resort. And once we were back at our room, sonny pooped for the very first time since our arrival! (It was my mistake, to be honest, I forgot his portable potty seat at home, no wonder I need my road trip checklist more than anybody else!).
That night after dinner, we sat for a long time on the swing sets at the resort by the Kosi River, listening to the gurgling water below and wishing that the break was longer. A mere weekend is not enough to even scratch the surface of this place!
We had a leisurely breakfast at 8:30 am the next morning. Thankfully, sonny ate a decent meal this time. So, after checking out, we headed straight for the highway back to Delhi and decided we will not take any break unless sonny needs to.
Road Trip back to Delhi
We had a tough time finding a petrol pump in Ramnagar but once we did find one and filled up, the remainder of the drive was mostly uneventful. Sonny was content looking out the window through his binoculars. And we made sure we followed the GPS instructions to the tee. This time we reached the highway without having to cross any under-construction roadways.
Sonny fell asleep halfway through the drive and kept sleeping for the rest of the way. This also meant that hubby drove non-stop till we reached home around 3:00 pm in the evening.
And the moment we got out of the car, it was hot as hell! And we started missing our new-found weekend destination all over again. Sadly, another getaway will have to wait for another time..hopefully soon.
So there you have it: our weekend trip to Jim Corbett National Park. Have you visited it yet? What are your favorite memories of that place?
Don’t forget to check out my review of the Corbett Riverside Resort in case you are planning a visit. Happy Trails!
Corbett Riverside Resort
- Cost Effective: Rs 10, 000 for one Deluxe Room for 3 Days 2 Nights, with Breakfast, Evening Tea, and Dinner complimentary. This is a great offer and the food is good, they have a variety of options for kids too including pasta, noodles, sandwiches etc. besides usual Indian cuisine, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. For a bigger family and longer duration, river front super deluxe or private dens can be opted which have their own private swimming pools.
- Tons of Activities: If you do not intend to go anywhere and just stay inside, there are tons of activities to keep you occupied there itself. Check out their website for more details.
- Quality Of Rooms: Quality of rooms is not uniform for the same category. In our case, we got a good, spacious room with a front balcony and clean bathroom. But hubby’s colleague got one room which was not spacious at all and had dampness on the ceiling. They changed the room upon complaining but one needs to fight for a decent room.
- No Room Service: There is no room service available. If you are hungry, you need to walk up to their restaurant at the riverfront and eat there. Though we have requested food to be delivered to our room for sonny many times during our stay and the waiters have graciously obliged, but it is not an option for able-bodied grown-ups.