With its fine Sal forests and dense thickets that open abruptly into magnificent grasslands, the Dudhwa National Park has become one of India’s most vibrant and exciting wildlife reserves — and one of the most vulnerable. Dudhwa is often called The Last Terai, since it holds remains of the dense forests that once existed along the foothills of the Himalayas. An aura of mystery and prehistoric nostalgia thus envelops you as you enter Dudhwa.
A Tiger Reserve since 1879, Dudhwa developed Wildlife in Dudhwa National Park into a National Park in 1977 and adopted the Project Tiger in 1988. Although the Tigers at the Park are plentiful, sightings are rare due to the thick forest that covers the area. It is also one of the best spots on earth to watch birds.
The area comprising the forest was once the playground of the big game hunters. Full of jheels (lakes) and marshland which have now been converted to paddy and sugarcane fields this was once the heart of the most extensive swamp deer ranges. Called barasingha, or 12-pointed deer, the animals had caught the imagination of the huntsmen. Predictably, their population dwindled in the crossfire of hunting and habitat loss. Today, soon after the monsoon in the protected confines of the park, the barasingha herds can be seen raising their antlers skywards.
Other inhabitants include the sloth bear, jackal, wild pig and the lesser cats – the fishing cat, leopard cat, jungle cat and civet. Dudhwa also has an abundance of birds. Its marshes are home to a range of water-birds both local and migratory. There are spectacular painted storks, black and white necked storks, sarus cranes and varied night birds of prey, ranging from the great Indian horned owl to the jungle owlet. Colourful woodpeckers, barbets, kingfishers, minivets, bee eaters, and bulbuls flit through the forest canopy.
Among Dudhwa’s successes is the introduction of a small herd of Indian one-horned rhinoceros into the Park (which shares a border with Kathmandu in Nepal) in 1984 with the active involvement of the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi.
In and Around
Safari in Dudhwa National Park
Coaches and jeeps can be hired from the National Park office at Dudhwa for travel inside the park. Permission to visit the park must be obtained from the Director of Dudhwa National Park at Lakhimpur-Kheri. Elephants are also available for wildlife viewing. Virtually impenetrable by foot, the grasslands must be seen on elephant back to capture its full glory.
From Dudhwa national Park, the tourists can make a fine excursion towards the unique Frog Temple at Oel town which is 12 kms from Lakhimpur on the route from Lakhimpur to Sitapur. This is one of its kind of temple based on the Maduk Tantra and was built by the former king of Oel state during 1860-1870. The temple is actually dedicated to Lord Shiva and is believed to be built on the back of a large frog. The Temple is constructed within an octagonal lotus. The Shivling installed in the temple was brought from the Banasur Prati Narmdeshwar Narmada Kund. The architecture of this temple is based on Tantra Vidya with its main gate opening in the east and another gate in the south as an exit.
Surat Bhawan Palace
Built in 1894, the Surat Bhawan Palace near Dudhwa National Park is made in Indo-Sarasenic style and is composed of ten bedrooms, one large dining room with pantry and two lounges. The palace set in a large green, nine acre retreat is eight kms away from the park with its eastern entrance facing the reserve.
The city of the nawabs is the most visited place for the tourists coming to Dudhwa Reserve where the tourists can find multiple attractions in the name of Bara Imambara, Chattar Manzil, Jama Masjid, Rumi Darwaza, Moti Mahal and much more. The main hub of multiple facets of industries Lucknow is best known for the ancient historical importance.
The park is opened for visitors from 15 November to 15 June. However, for grabbing the best draws of the spot, one must plan the trip between February and April.
How to Reach
The nearest airport is at Lucknow, which has direct flights to all the major cities in India including Delhi and Mumbai
The nearest railway stations are Dudhwa at a distance of 4 kilometers on North Eastern Railway, Palia at a distance of 10 kilometers and Mailani at a distance of 37 kilometers.
Buses are available from Palia to Dudhwa, Bareilly and even Delhi on a regular basis. Important road distances from Dudhwa are Lucknow – 238 kilometers, Bareilly – 260 kilometers, Delhi – 430 kilometers and Palia – 5 kilometers.
Stay / Eat
Where to Stay
Perhaps to avoid disturbance to the natural setting, there are not many hotels or restaurants around the park. However, to facilitate its visitors, the park has well-maintained and green accommodation options available within the premises. But in that case, one must get the bookings done at the office of the Chief Wildlife Warden in advance.
Where to Eat
In the entire expanse, there is only one restaurant to ease your hunger. It is located in the Main Office of the national park. Vegetarian food at reasonable prices is available here.