Corbett Erstwhile Land of Man Eaters

by pateluday

The reserve is named after Jim Corbett who freed the jungle of Kumaon of dreaded man-eating tigers and leopards. He stalked the jungles with a gun in hand after deadly predators...

There is a story behind this aberrant behavior of the big cats in the Kumaon Region of Uttrakhand in India. It is a sordid saga of stark poverty, deadly epidemics, and constant famine. People died in thousands and with no resources to cremate properly the half-burnt bodies were thrown into the jungles. The rotting cadavers invited the big cats for an unwelcome feast. The terrible scourge lasted for a long time in India's tiger-infested region which now comprises many districts in the picturesque Himalayan Foothills.

For the locals, Corbett or "Carpet Sahib" was a demigod who whenever invited to get rid of the man-eaters obliged. He was a hunter by habit but in the latter part of his life, he turned into a conservationist and wildlife photographer. The tiger reserve and National Park is named after him for his love for India and service to the people. There is a museum in his honor at Kaladhungi in Nainital District near Corbett Tiger Reserve. Worth a visit, the museum is on the road between Nainital Township and the reserve.

Nainital Lake

Sat Tal
Lake At Nainital Forests
Lake At Nainital Forests
Hari Lama

Jim Corbett The Invincible

Legendary "Carpet Saheb"

For the locals, two aspects turned him into a demigod. One was his ability and courage to shoot man-eating tigers and leopards on foot all alone in the deep confines of the dense Kumaon canopy. Another was his nature and if you have read his book "My India" you would appreciate his love for the locals his accomplices and the simple rural folks. 

Edward James Corbett born in 1875 was a colonel in the British Army during the Raj. He was frequently called by the Government and the locals to deal with the dangerous big cats that lurked in the confines of rural settlements to kill and feast on humans and then vanish in the dark, dense jungles of Kumaon and Gharwal. The aberrant big cats are far more elusive and vicious whence they taste human blood and lose the fear of humans.

In the jungles littered with half-burnt corpses, they would get ample opportunity and this transformed their behavioral traits into becoming inveterate man-eaters. Normally tigers whence accidentally chance upon humans at close quarters and kill them sometimes in self-defense but rarely show a predilection for human flesh. 

Jim Corbett penned many books highlighting his bravado against the vicious killers going after the flesh of locals. He had an interesting knack to explain in vivid detail the settings and the act of dealing with the aberrant tigers and leopards. This brought him under the gaze of the public eye and he became popular and a local hero. From a hunter, he turned into a conservationist and was at the forefront of voicing opinions about hunting against the ever-decreasing number of big cats. Hence he can be credited as one among many who encouraged conservation practices in India although the ethos was embedded in the culture since the Vedic Era.      

Some of his iconic publications are: 

  • My India
  • Man-Eaters of Kumaon 
  • The Man-Eating Leopard of Rudraprayag
  • Temple Tiger
  • Champawat Tiger 

The books narrate real-life events and life in rural India during his time. He has written more books on his encounters with dangerous big cats and associated wildlife.  A detailed account of Jim Corbett"s Life is available in an article on Wikipedia.    


Photo Bengal Tiger
Photo Bengal Tiger
Dinesh Makhija

Video CTR

Corbett National Park

The Forest

Indian Wild ElephantsThe tour generally begins with a couple of days spent at Pangot and Sat Tal on the higher ascent for Nainital Lake. After the bird-watching trip more is slated at Corbett National Park at a lower altitude. The drive through the verdant greenery of Kumaon forests is enchanting and exhilarating as well. The fresh clean air impregnated with the fragrance of the Sal forests is mesmerizing all through the drive of eighty kilometers to Ram Nagar with a small spread full of accommodations for tourists visiting the tiger reserve. 

The most visited is the Danghari Gate for the Dhikala Complex in the middle of the core. This is the finest patch of forest with much more to experience. The Government accommodation is basic and the food palatable as best as you can get in the remote confines. But a stay here is worth the money. A tiger safari is rewarding with not only the tiger chance upon herds of wild elephants, peep into the Ram Ganga River for crocodiles, gharial, massive turtles, and the huge Golden Mahseer swimming blissfully without any hindrance in the protected area. The uncommon animals seen here are the hog deer, goral, yellow-throated marten, Himalayan black bear, and common otters among many others.    

Bird watching is not confined to Dhikala Meadow our feathered friends are all over. But a start at the core is rewarding thanks to seemingly unending tall grasslands, dense Sal and mixed jungles, and the Kalagarh dam which bifurcates the jungle, and on the opposite side is the Rajaji National Park wildlife corridor.       

Corbett in the Himalayan foothills encompasses an area of 520.1 sq. km and is part of the contiguous tiger landscape.              

Green Pigeon

Yellow Footed Green Pigeon
Yellow Footed Green Pigeon

Birds of Corbett


For bird enthusiasts, Corbett is spellbinding with more than six hundred species on the checklist. The huge number is due to altitude migrants from higher reaches of the Himalayas and the plains lower down. The migration is affected by the weather and I have seen a remarkable change in species taking place from new arrivals and departures. But a good number of species are residents and local migratory hence these are visible practically throughout the year.    

Some of the star attractions are the Ibisbill (Garjiya Temple) at Koshi River, little forktail, rosy pipit, little pied flycatcher, Rufus gorgeted flycatcher, Great Hornbill, Siberian rubythroat, blue-throated barbet, dollar bird, Pallas fish eagle, wall creeper, common green magpie, ashy bulbul, crimson sunbird, black-throated sunbird, hill partridge, painted partridge, green billed malkoha, chestnut winged cuckoo, Himalayan Vulture, Lesser fish eagle, collard falconet, greater and lesser yellow nape and many more.     

At this tiger reserve, you need to spread your tentacles wide and cover the fringes near human habitations and highways. Mohaan, Laldang, Sitavani, and Koshi Banks are ideal to get a glimpse of interesting avifauna. Outside the park be prepared for long walks. And Psssst keeps an eye on tigers and tuskers. 

A pair of good binoculars are a must along with a spotting scope if possible. A lot of hand guides on Northern avian species are available in India to buy one.    

Ruddy Shelduck

Ruddy Shellduck
Ruddy Shellduck
Jayesh Shah

Tourism at Corbett

Tiger Safari

Jeep SafariAlthough a major tourist attraction is the tigers a large number of tourists visit Corbett for bird watching and both when combined deliver infinite pleasure. 

The field director's office is at Ram Nagar and the booking for safari permits and the Dhikala complex is done here. Online booking is done at the Uttrakhand Government Website. 

Only two nights stay is allowed at Dhikala and nearby forest rest house but this is enough for excursions. You can combine the jeep safaris with birding on the outside if planning to stay for a longer period. The jeep rides are organized from Ram Nagar where most of the local transporters have their offices. Canter rides are also available and inquiries should be made at FD Office.     

Besides Dhikalal there are other zones for tiger safari at Corbett National Park. The tourism zones are:

  • Dhikala 
  • Bijarani
  • Sitavani 
  • Jhirna
  • Dhela 
  • Sonanadi

The zones and permits should be secured from FD Office or can be booked through the tour operators at Corbett or in the Uttrakhand State of India. This should be done much in advance since limited entry is allowed. 

Office of the Director, Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR), Ramnagar (Nainital) Uttarakhand -244715

Uttrakhand Government Site 

Updated: 12/02/2022, pateluday
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pateluday on 11/06/2020

Yes it is most popular core zone of the park. In my opinion Dhikala is worth a stay but two days would be enough. The accommodation is basic and the food simple and clean. I would love go there again. Thanks!

DerdriuMarriner on 11/05/2020

pateluday, Thank you for the pictures and practicalities.
Is it great demand that limits Dhikala stayovers to two nights?

pateluday on 06/19/2020


blackspanielgallery on 06/19/2020

Great images, as usual.

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