Name: Chitwan National Park
Type: National Park
Established Date: 1973
Area: 952.63 sq. km.
Buffer Zone: 729.37 sq. km.
Location: Central Terai of Nepal
The first national park of Nepal, Chitwan National Park was established in 1973. Gaining the status of a world heritage site in 1973, it is located in the inner terai lowlands of the south-central part of Nepal covering an area of 952.63 sq. km and a buffer zone of 729.37 sq. km. It is extended to four different districts, Nawalpur, Parasi, Chitwan, and Makwanpur of Nepal. Its altitude ranges from 100m to 815m from river valleys to Sivalik Hills. Narayani and Rapti rivers separate the park from the village in the northern and western part of the conserved area while Parsa National Park covers the eastern boundary and Indian Tiger Reserve Valmiki National Park Covers the park from the southern part. Chitwan National Park includes a huge diversity of flora and fauna leading to a diverse unique ecosystem. In modern days, Chitwan national park is the best wildlife to experience as it has become the home for a large number of birds, animals, and plants. It is mostly famous for One horn Rhino but other animals like the Royal Bengal Tiger, Sloth Bear, Leopard, and various species of reptiles and birds also live here.
According to the natives, Chitwan national park was the best hunting area for the high-class ruling family of Nepal during the 19th century. Cold winter was the most preferred time to hunt animals and explore the heart of the jungle by the ruling class. It was opened for human settlement and hunting of wildlife when people started moving to Chitwan valley in the search of cultivable lands. Before the establishment of proper transportation, people used to walk for several weeks to reach the National Park. Setting up the camps and hunting the encountered animals were the routines for couples of months to the people in the past. About 800 rhinos settled themselves in the forest of the National Park in late 1950 when the grassland and forest area was extended over more than 2,600 sq. km. The law to conserve rhinos and their habitats was established in 1957 but by the end of the 1960s about 70% of the forest was cleared and DDT eradicated malaria. The number of human settlements increased while the number of rhinos reduced to 95. The drastic reduction in the number of rhinos attracted the attention of the government and introduced the Gaida Gasti. In the verse of prevention of rhino from extinction, in 1970 Chitwan National Park was announced with borders outlined in 1973. After the establishment of the National Park, Tharu communities settling around or within the area of the park were forced to move out at gunpoint by the government. The houses were burned down, and fields were trampled using elephants. All the rights and ownership of the land within the boundary of the park were denied which led the people of the Tharu communities to go under the poverty line. The national park was further extended to the area of 952.63 sq. km (The present area) in 1977. The gharial and turtle preservation breeding centers were established near Kasara, the headquarter of the park. The breeding center for one of the critically endangered species of Nepal, the vulture was established in 2008 to hold up to 25 pairs of the two Gyps vulture species.
Chitwan National Park located in the central climatic zone of the Himalayas experiences a tropical monsoon climate throughout the year with high humidity. The temperatures heat up to 43°C during March and June. The monsoon brought by mid-June is swept away by late September during which most of the annual rainfall of 2,500 mm falls making the rivers flooded and roads impossible. The monsoon clouds withdraw, dropping the humidity after mid-October. Until late December, day temperatures range from 36 °C (97 °F) to 18 °C (64 °F) while the temperature during nights cools down to 5 °C (41 °F). local villagers are permitted to cut thatch grasses during the period of late January to fulfil the need of villagers to promote a better view of wildlife to visitors.
About 70% of the Chitwan national park is covered with Sal trees as there are Himalayan subtropical broadleaf forests in the inner part of Terai. The well-drained lowland ground at the centre possesses the purest stands of Sal tree. Local peoples usually use the leaves of the Sal tree to prepare the plates during the time of religious offerings and festivals. The remaining part of Chitwan national park is covered with grasslands which are 20 %. The southern slope of the park is covered with Sal scattered with Chir pine whereas the northern slopes are covered with small flowering trees and shrub-like Beleric, Axlewood, Rosewood, etc and creepers like Spatholobus parviflorus and Bauhinia vahlii. More than 50 varieties of grasses are found in the grassland of the park. Among those grass elephant grass (Sacchrum spp) is highly famous for its enormous height as it can grow up to 8m in height. Several other species of true grasses can also be found in the grasslands of the park. Every year monsoon washes away the Kans grass which is the first grass that colonises new sandbanks.
Chitwan National Park has become the shelter for more than 700 species of wildlife. Other 17 varieties of snakes monitor lizards, and starred tortoises can be found here along with king cobra and rock python. There are uncounted numbers of butterflies, moths, and insect species inhabiting the park. 113 species of fish and mugger crocodiles are recorded to be living in the Narayani-Rapti River system and myriads of oxbow lakes. About 235 gharials were recorded in the Narayani River in the early 1950s which drastically reduced to the number of 38 in 2003. Due to this, the eggs of gharials are collected along the rivers to hatch them in the breeding centre of the Gharial Conservation Project. The animals are reared there from the age of six to nine years.
Chitwan National Park has become the habitat for 68 species of mammals. The alluvial floodplain of the terai is the best habitat for tigers in the world. “Bengal Tiger” known as the king of the Jungle has been living in the Chitwan National Park whose small population of 25 individuals increased to 70-110 in 1980 but reduced due to poaching and floods in some years. According to the information collected from the camera traps, the density of tigers ranged between 4.44 and 6.35 individuals per 100 sq. km in 2010 and 2011 and it was concluded that the temporal activity patterns of tigers were minimum during the daytime when they were peeped by the humans.
The boundary of the park is especially inhabited by Indian leopards which co-exist with tigers. The clouded leopard was spotted and captured outside the protected area in 1988 and was later released into the park. About 200 to 250 individuals of sloth bears occur in Chitwan which is the place with the highest density of sloth bears. Smooth-coated otters, Bengal foxes, spotted linsangs and honey badgers can be found in the jungle roaming here and there in the search of prey. In the south of Churia Hills, Striped hyenas can be spotted easily. The camera trap survey of 2011 recorded that the southern and western slopes of the park were inhibited by wild dogs, fishing cats, jungle cats, Asian palm civets, golden jackals, crab-eating mongooses, leopard cats, and yellow-throated martens. The number of Indian rhinoceros has increased to 544 individuals since 1973. During the time of epidemics, the animals have shifted annually from Chitwan to Bardia National Park and Shuklaphata National Park to ensure the survival and preservation of endangered species since 1986. But still, the number of Rhinos reduces due to the practice of illegal poaching. 37 Rhinos were killed to obtain their highly valuable horns in only 2002. Chitwan has become the home for the largest population of Indian Rhinoceros. About 605 to 645 Rhinos were recorded in Nepal as of 2015.
In the southern part of the national park, the Churia hills have mostly become the habitat of Gaurs (Indian Bison). They spend most of their time in Churia hills whereas during the time of spring they move down to grassland and riverine jungle to graze and feed themselves. From 1997 to 2016, the number of the world’s largest wild cattle species has increased from 188 to 368. Another 112 animals were recorded in Parsa Wildlife Reserve. The animals are allowed to move freely between these two parks. Beside these endangered species, other numerous numbers of wild boars, sambar deer, red muntjac, hog deer, and four-horned antelopes live here. It has also become the home for animals like Rhesus Monkey, Indian porcupines, Indian pangolins, grey langurs, and many other species of flying squirrels, Indian hares, and endangered hispid hares.
Chitwan National Park was recorded to be the habitat for 543 species of birds in 2006. About 2/3 of Nepal’s globally endangered species of birds can be found in the national park. In the spring of 2008, 20 black-chinned Yuhina, a pair of Gould’s Sunbird, a pair of blossom-hearted Parakeet, and one slaty-breasted rail were spotted and recorded. Critically endangered species of birds like Bengal florican, lesser adjutant, grey-crowned Prinia, Swamp Francolin, and other many species of grass warblers are recorded to be inhabiting alluvial grasslands of the national park. In 3 different types of grasslands, more than 200 slender-billed babblers were spotted in 2005. Chitwan National Park has become the breeding area for one of the globally threatened spotted eagles. Other species of birds like Oriental darter, egrets, bitterns, storks, kingfishers, Peafowl, and jungle fowl are also found in the Chitwan national park. Besides those permanently inhabiting species of birds, other 160 varieties of migrating bird species arrive at the national park to spend their winter during the time of autumn. Among those species of bird eagle, the eastern Imperial Eagle and Pallas’s Fish-Eagle are highly sighted. As quickly as the winter migrants of birds leave the park, the birds from southern latitudes arrive during the summer. The spring starts with the calls of Cuckoos. During the time of the monsoon, the colourful pitta and various species visit the park for breeding purposes.
The native ethnic community of Tharu people serves the best and warm hospitality to the people visiting Chitwan National Park. The heart-warming traditions and culture of the Tharu group of People fascinate the visitors providing a unique and pleasant traditional experience while vibing wildlife. The visitor can enjoy the cultural performances and shows of the Tharu community people.
People can enjoy every core of Chitwan National Park through Jungle Safari. It can be done by joining a Jeep or Bullock cart or one can take a walking safari. Travelling the Jungle on foot can be a more satisfying and fun safari rather than the tour taken on jeep or bullock carts as walking on foot is a more peaceful way of getting close to nature. But sometimes encountering a huge rhino while on foot can be dangerous.
Canoe Riding is the next most exciting and pleasant thing to do while in Chitwan National Park. It is an activity of riding on the traditional dug-out canoe along the rivers of Narayani and Rapti. The rider can experience the diverse range of birds and the beautiful landscape along with the view of thin-snouted gharial crocodiles which are highly endangered but very common in Chitwan. The riders can enjoy the peaceful and beautiful scenery of nature through the ride.
Cycling through the villages can be the best activity to blend yourself with the traditional local life. The villages and towns are small, and the visitor can take a short bicycle tour to experience the life of the local people there. Sunset bike riding can be the best way to end the day.
Bishazari Tal is an attractive oxbow lake system located at the buffer zone of Chitwan National Park in the southern corner of Bharatpur. The bishazari tal not only offers a beautiful view of the lake but also is the point of attraction for bird watching. Several crocodiles have inhabited themselves in the lake.
Another attraction of Chitwan national park is Green Park Chitwan Resort, the beautiful home away from home located at the heart of the jungle offering luxury and tradition in the lap of nature. The visitors can rest and enjoy the traditional vibe in the jungle. It can be the best place to throw away your tiredness and enjoy the beauty and pleasure of nature. The hospitality and services at the Green Park Chitwan will make you forget all the sufferings and tiredness of your journey.
After the exploration of nature, the visitor can further go on religious and cultural tours around Chitwan. This activity helps people awaken their spiritual faiths and beliefs. Apart from mesmerising beauty of nature, Chitwan offers the diverse experience of various lifestyles, cultures, and traditions. The unique tradition of different ethnic groups of people like the Tharu community and Chepang community lets you understand the lifestyle of people living in the terai region of Nepal.
Chitwan National Park experiences a diverse range of climates providing varieties of unique encounters. The average temperature in October and February range around 25°C which offers a perfect and enjoyable climate and from the climatic point of view, the time frame between October and February can be the best time to visit Chitwan National Park.
The visitor can take public buses, tourist coaches, or any airline services linked to Chitwan.
There are 9 different entrance gates to get into the park and you can enter the park through the gate you are comfortable with.
1. Kasara via Jagatpur ,
2. Ghatgain via Patihani ,
3. Bhimle via Maghauli,
4. Khagendra mali via Bhandara ,
5. Sunachuri via Sunachuri ,
6. Sauraha via Tandi
7. Laukhani via Pragatinaggr ,
8. Amaltari via Danda ,
9. Kujauli via Rajahar
Chitwan National Park is the home to diverse varieties of flora, fauna, mammals, and birds and one explores endangered animals like the one-horned rhino, Royal Bengal Tiger, gharial crocodiles, and many other species of animals, birds, and plants.
The jungle safari for the exploration of Jungle, grassland, and wildlife gives unforgettable memories and experiences of wildlife and nature.
The encounter of unique and diverse cultures and traditions of local peoples there lets visitors blend with nature in a cultural vibe and lets visitors explore the very beautiful lifestyle of locals.
The sightseeing and village tour along with a boat ride on Rapti river watching the mesmerising beauty of birds offers the intense pleasure of nature that visitors can never forget in their lifetime.