For quite a few months I have been living a mechanical life and working like a robot. I wanted to get away from all the hustle bustle to a place which is more like a hideaway. A “wayward pine” where there is no network, no television. A place surrounded by nature where I would wake up and hear the birds chirping and not a car honking. September comes with lots of work pressure but then I managed to get few days off and headed to Ramnagar. The destination was Vanghat resort. Surrounded by the densely forested hills on two sides and the river Ramnganga flowing in between, it is a true hideaway with no cellular network, no television and away from the regular crowd. The place is around 30 km away from the Ramnagar town and from the last motorable point, one needs to walk around 2 km and cross the Ramganga river twice – first time you take a bridge and the second time you use a wooden raft.
But after monsoon up until till October, the water level in the river is too high to use a wooden raft. So we had to take an alternate route to avoid the river but the new route was 5km long. When I completed the trail, the pedometer recorded around 8000 steps and it indicated that we climbed to an equivalent height of 62 floors. It was not a difficult job but because of humidity, the walk was unpleasant. Although we choose to walk in the morning hours, our clothes were drenched in sweat within minutes and we all were dehydrated by the end of the trail. So after having few glasses of fresh lime water, we headed straight to the river for a much needed swim.
The river is the lifeline here and we spent a lot of time near the river. We saw a few mountain goats(ghorals) on the other bank of the river – on a steep hill side. I watched the mahasheers gently swimming in the river. I observed the ripples, I followed the tiny streams flowing into the river and at times, I sat down on a rock letting the river touch my feet and watched the crested kingfisher flying inches above the water.
*More clips at https://flic.kr/s/aHskkmwnvD
The resort has plenty of guava trees which attracts birds including the leafbird. List of birds which we saw there includes crimson sunbird, scaly breasted munia, a female khaleej pheasant, a golden oriole, blue-bearded bee-eater, green bee-eater, chestnut-headed bee-eater, a flock of white throat-ed laughingthrush, few crested kingfisher, a little blue kingfisher, few brown-headed barbets, a great barbet etc. There are plenty of butterflies, many different types of bugs and wildflowers around this place. A macro kit will always come handy here.
The five kilometer long trail starts near Ramganga Resort, Marchula and goes through a buffer forest area which is connected to the Durga Devi Zone of Corbett National Park. A fresh pug mark of a tiger raised the level of excitement. I screamed with joy when I suddenly came across a monitor lizard. A verditer flycatcher played hide and seek with our cameras. Overall it is a beautiful trail, specially for the winter and ideal for beginners. The maximum climb is around 200 meters and the trail goes between an altitude of 450m to 650m.
While returning, at the end of the trail we went to a waterfall near the Ramganga Resort and took a bath under the waterfall which fell from a height of around 15 meters. That was good enough to rejuvenate us after having walked under high humid conditions. But that was not all. It is hard to avoid a safari when you visit Ramnagar. So we managed to book a safari for the afternoon in the Jhirna Zone of Corbett National Park and were lucky to find a small herd of elephants. Due to off season, only two zones were open for safari. The other zone was Dhela zone – a newly developed forest area with a huge grassland, adjacent to the Jhirna zone. Till few years back there was a village in the area and people from the village were using the land for cultivation and grazing their cattle. They have been re-allocated by the forest department to protect the jungle and the area has been developed as a grassland. Now this grassland is a prime grazing field for deer and elephants. A tigress with four sub-adult cubs is also living around the grassland. We heard few alarms calls but did not spot the tigress. Dhela is the only zone where forest department is offering a walking trail to visitors for bird watching.