Dudhwa Tiger Reserve lies on the India-Nepal border in the foothills of the
Himalaya and the plains of the 'terai'. The park is spread over an area of
around 811 sq. kms of marshes, grasslands and dense forests. The main
attractions of the park are its Swamp Deer (population over 1,600) and tiger
(population 98 in 1995). It is a home for over 38 species of mammals, 16 species
of reptiles and numerous species of birds. It has two core areas: Dudhwa
National Park and Kishanpur wildlife sanctuary. They are 15 kms. apart with
agricultural land between them. The park is famous for the untiring efforts of
'Billy' Arjan Singh, one of India's leading conservationists, who was
instrumental in the creation of Dudhwa as a sanctuary of the Swamp Deer.
Later he successfully hand-reared and re-introduced zoo-born Tigers and Leopards
into the wilds of Dudhwa.The forests here are reminiscent of the forests of
Bardia on the Nepal side, with huge Sal trees, tall termite mounds, patches of
riverine forests and large open grasslands. Its lakes offer excellent
opportunities for observing Swamp Deer and birds from 'machans'. In the mid
1980s, Indian Rhinoceros was reintroduced into Dudhwa from Assam and Nepal. The
park has a rich bird life, with over 350 species, including the Swamp Partridge,
Slaty-backed Woodpecker and Bengal Florican.
Reasons to visit
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The Dudhwa National Park is spread over 490sq km along
with a buffer area of over 100 Sq km. Besides massive grassland and swamps,
Dudhwa National Park is home to one of the finest Sal (Shorea robusta) forests
in India. Some of these trees are more than 150 years old and over 70 feet tall.
In 1976, the park had a population of 50 tigers, 41 elephants and 76 bears apart
from five species of deer, more than 400 species of birds, crocodiles and some
other species of mammals and reptiles. Dudwa National Park is a stronghold of
the barasingha/ swamp deer, which can be spotted in herds of hundreds. India is
the only country where this species of deer is found. It is interesting to note
that around half of the total Barasinghas on the Earth are present in Dudhwa
National Park. Smaller than the sambar, the barasinghas have 12 antlers that
collectively measure up to 100 cm. A full-grown stag can weigh as much as 180 kg
and measure 135cm. The coat of the animal is slightly woolly, dark brown to pale
yellow, adapted perfectly to camouflage in the tall grasses of the area. During
the winter season the swamps of Dudhwa echo with the frequent wallowing of
rutting stags. This is also the time for mock fights that entail stiff postures
and shrill calls rather than the actual locking of the horns. With the onset of
spring the herd gets ready to welcome the newborn fawns. With the passage of
winter the Barasinghas shed the woolly coats. During this point of time the
fights amongst the male Barasinghas are minimal.
The fauna consist of sambar, swamp deer, cheetah, hog
deer, barking deer, crocodile, python, peafowl, partridges, etc. It is home for
endangered swamp deer or barasingha.
Dudhwa’s birds, in particular, are a delight for any avid
bird watcher- plenty of painted storks, sarus cranes, owls, barbets,
woodpeckers, minivets and many more, including some rare species like the Bengal
florican. Much of the park’s avian fauna is aquatic in nature, and is found
around Dudhwa’s lakes- especially Banke Tal.
En route to Dudhwa, the unique Frog Temple at Oyal can also be visited. The only
one of its kind in India, it was built by the former Maharajas of the Oyal state
in the district of Lakhimpur-Kheri. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the base of the
stone temple is built in the shape of a large frog. The temple is at a distance
of 10 km from Hargaon on the route to Lakhimpur-Kheri and Dudhwa. Built in the
Indo-Saracenic style by the rulers of the Singhai state, Surat Bhawan Palace is
one of the famous palaces of the Terai area. Not far from the Dudhwa Tiger
Reserve on the Lakhimpur-Nighasan-Dudhwa route, the palace is set in a large
green, 9-acre (36,000 m2) retreat. Expanses of lush lawns, fountains, a swimming
pool and interesting architectural details make a visit to the palace