Smell of damp earth combined with the smell of Sal trees is what lures me to the woods of Dudhwa again and again. This smell has an immediate calming effect on humans. Few deep breaths and the gush of wind that hits you in the face while driving through the magnificent sal trees should make you fall in love with Dudhwa.
It is important to explain this because unlike taking a picture you cannot capture this emotion in an image and propagate its beauty over the Internet. And yet it is such a powerful and addictive feeling.
Dudhwa Tiger Reserve lies in the Terai belt, on the Indo-Nepal Border in the state of Uttar Pradesh, Nothern India. Terai is a lowland region characterized by tall grasslands, scrub savannah, sal forest and clay rich swamps.
All of that, means, there is lot of water in this region and the forest is dense and green, year-round. The magnificent background that one gets in their pictures made here, are a joy to all photographers.
The Tiger reserve has three major tourist zones. Dudhwa, Kishanpur and Katerniaghat. Tiger being the major attraction in all tourist zones.
Dudhwa is mostly dense forest, with few patches of grassland. Prominent species one can see during the open jeep safaris are tiger, sloth bear, elephant, rhinoceros, spotted dear, sambar deer, hog deer, barking deer, jackal.
Kishanpur is a small but most sought after zone amongst tourists for its consistent tiger sightings. This zone has a huge water body called Jhaadi Tal. Much of parks avian fauna that is aquatic in nature are found around this lake. The lake is also a magnet to the migratory birds. Huge flocks of birds settle here during the winter migration. Big population of swamp deer is also seen in the lake.
Katerniaghat is situated on the banks of river Gerwa, which is a pristine habitat for gavials, muggers, gangetic dolphins, tiger, rhinos, elephants and vultures. Katerniaghat also has fascinating numbers of snakes represented by species like banded krait, Burmese rock python, red coral kukri snake amongst others.
The list of rare species seen in this park cannot be mentioned here in one article. Bengal Florican is one such bird, which is regularly photographed here and is of great interest amongst birders.
Dudhwa adjoins Shuklaphanta National Park in Nepal, while Katerniaghat adjoins Bardia National Park in Nepal. I am yet to explore the Nepal side of this beautiful forest but hope to do so in near future.