Inspired to undertake a trip after reading a book on it? For many of us, books are our window to the world. Book-lovers turned travelers roam the streets of Paris after a perusal of ‘The Three Musketeers’ by Alexandre Dumas, discovering the sights of Pont Neuf and Pala is Royal mentioned in the book. Fans of Satyajit Ray’s Feluda flock to Jaisalmer for a tryst with the ‘Sonar Kella’ Readers of Jim Corbett’s thrilling travelogue – ‘Man-Eaters of Kumaon’ also follow suit. The Kumaon region of India was home to hunter-naturalist Jim Corbett between the 1900s and 1930s. His book ‘Man-Eaters of Kumaon’ records his adventures of big-game hunting during that period. Easy to reach, there are many trains which serve Ramnagar – the nearest railway station to the Corbett National Park. Listed below are a few must-visits if it is the steps of Jim Corbett you wish to retrace during your holiday at Kumaon.
Champawat – The tale of the man-eating tiger of Champawat is the first incident of hunting Corbett notes in his book. Now, Champawat is a sleepy old town. Nature-lovers also visit Champawat for the enchanting forests which surround the region. From teak to babool, Saigon bale to eucalyptus – the local flora and fauna is diverse and dense. Jamun trees are also found in abundance. Visit the Pancheswar Dam. It is a rock-filled dam on River Sarda which marks the international boundary between India and Nepal.
Chowgarh – On government request, Jim Corbett shot man-eating tigers in Chowgarh. He had to stalk the beasts for several months before he could put them down. Chowgarh is a place which leopards and tigers call home, towards the eastern Kumaon. The Sitabani Forest Reserve is close by. It is not a part of the Corbett National Park. A haven for bird-watchers, you will also spot barking deer, tigers, leopards, wild boars and elephants here. It is also a place of great mythological significance. Sita, the wife of Lord Rama, is said to have been exiled here. Discover the place on an elephant safari. Jeeps are also available.
Powalgarh – Corbett had also slayed the ‘Bachelor of Powalgarh’. This was a trophy-tiger, not a man-eater – a controversial choice that ecologists cannot make their peace with. When you visit Powalgarh, you will find the Forest Reserve House. This is in the Powalgarh Conservation Reserve – an area notified due to its continued contribution to wildlife conservation.
The Kumaon Waters – In Chapter Six of ‘Man-Eaters of Kumaon,’ Corbett talks about his love for fishing for ’masheer.’ This ‘tiger of fishes’ derives its name roughly from the words ‘mahi’ meaning fish and ‘sher’ meaning tiger. The Kosi River flows along the eastern side of the Corbett National Park. Inhabited by ‘masheers,’ it is also frequented by animals to drink water. Keep your camera with you to capture a few pictures of these beautiful beasts at play. You will also spot many migratory birds here.
An informed traveler is always an interesting conversationalist. As you travel back home by train, your kitty will be full of tales and experiences you have gathered at the Kumaon. The book and the vacation go hand in hand.