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Jim Corbett, Hunter who saved tigers

 

THIS ARTICLE APPEARED IN NRI ACHIEVERS’ JULY-2016 EDITION

 

Jim_CorbettThis month, we celebrate the birthday of a fearless hunter, who turned into a saviour for tigers in India. I came across this story while I was sitting on the shore of Kosi River of Uttarakhand.

Few days back, I went to Namah Resorts in Dhikuli, Jim Corbett Park. I was interested in the lost temple of Vairapattana, which was supposed to be around this resort. I stayed there for few days, enjoyed the impeccable hospitality, and kept enquiring about the lost Shiva Temple. They pointed me to a direction and surprisingly, at mere 300 steps, I found the remains of Ancient Shiva Temple. My mission was complete, but during my discussions with staff and naturists at this resort, I learned few more things about the area.

One of the resident experts at Namah Resort asked me, if I know about Jim Corbett. I replied with a smile, “Yes! You made us interact with Mr. Imran Khan, the best known naturists in Jim Corbett National Park. He told us everything about flora and fauna.” He continued, ‘No Sir, I meant, James Edward Corbett’. I was quite. I have heard of him, but why is this gentleman emphasising so much. He praised Corbett and we retired to our room appreciating the spectacular sunset view across Kosi river. As I reached my room, I started reading about Colonel James Edward Corbett of the British India Army. By this time, Namah team sent me a wonderful Mocktail as reward for participating in one of their contests. Sipping this mocktail in the balcony of my cottage, I paid my homage to Google Baba and got started.

Colonel Corbett was born in Nainital in 1875 to the postmaster of Nainital, William Christopher Corbett. He spent his entire childhood in the region. During winters, the James Corbett with his other 15 siblings and parents used to stay in their family home downhill, what we now know as Corbett’s Village or Kaladhungi. After schooling, he was employed by Railways. He was so well versed with the jungle, that he could identify most animals and birds by the sounds they make. Soon, he became famous as the hunter, who would save locals from man eating tigers and leopards. His most famous kill was the tiger known as Bachelor of Powalgarh. Powalgarh is a connected reserve near Ramnagar. We were taken to Powalgarh the next day to show the site, where Corbett killed this tiger. We also have the largest tree trunk of this region in the vicinity. Corbett wrote a book titled ‘Man Eaters of Kumaon’. He mentions of several kills that he made and how he accomplished those victories. Interestingly, the only one to accompany him was his favourite dog ‘Robin’. His expeditions were all on foot. His book talks about the strategies he made to hunt man eaters in Champawat, Thak, Muktesar, Chowgarh, Rudraprayag, Kanda, Pipalpani and many more. The Panar Leopard was known to have killed as many as 400 people, before being slayed by Corbett.

Powalgarh

When Corbett analysed his kills, he found out that most of the man eaters had porcupine quills embedded deep in their feet. Some even had un-healed gunshot wounds. While I was discussing this with our nature expert at the Namah Resort, he explained that years of research has revealed that porcupine is the most common reason for tiger’s pain, unrest and forcing him to target slow moving targets like humans. Jim Corbett, when realized this, turned into a saviour of animals. He bought a camera and started filming tigers. I met James Champion a while back. He is son of Frederick Walter Champion, companion of Jim Corbett in his expeditions to understand and save tigers. He gave me few insights on how Corbett turned into a conservationist and led campaigns to protect tigers. Corbett and Champion established India’s first nature reserve, the Hailey National Park in 1936. It was named after Lord Hailey, governor of United Provinces (now Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh) from 1928 to 1934. His efforts laid the foundation of Project Tiger of Government of India, which helped us realize the reducing number of tigers and forced to take measures to save them. Today, his Hailey National Park covers 520 square kilometres of hill area near Nainital (Originally it was 323 sq. Km). It houses around 110 tree species, 50 species of mammals, 580 bird species and 25 reptile species. Initially, the proposal was to make it a Game Reserve, where British could come and enjoy hunting as a sport, while animals move freely. Princely state of Tehri Garhwal had already cleared most of this forest to save from invading Rohillas. When land came completely under British and restoring forest was underway, Jim Corbett played an important role to ensure that it stays as a Nature Reserve and not a Game Reserve. He emphasized on protecting the Tigers. He told, how careless hunting activities are turning tigers into man-eaters. His efforts were fruitful and the park was established. Later, in 1954 it was renamed as Ramganga National Park. But within 3 years, the Independent Indian Government gave credit to Jim Corbett and renamed this oldest national park of India as ‘Jim Corbett National Park’.

Until 1947, Corbett and his sister lived in Gurney house in Nainital. The house was sold to Mr. Sharad Prasad Varma, which is now passed to his granddaughter Ms. Nilanjana Dalmia. Corbetts retired to Kenya, where Jim Corbett kept working hard to protect the wildlife. He was escorting Princess Elizabeth of England during her Kenya visit and they were staying in Tree Tops Hotel when King Geroge VI passed away. Next morning, when Elizabeth was told about this incident, she came down from Tree Tops and left for England as a Queen. Corbett wrote the famous lines that day in the visitor log book of Tree Tops:

For the first time in the history of the world, a young girl climbed into a tree one day a Princess, and after having what she described as her most thrilling experience, she climbed down from the tree the next day a Queen—God bless her.

He passed away on 19th April, 1955. We celebrate Corbett’s 231st birthday this 25th July.

– Vikramjit Singh Rooprai

McLeodganj, Dharamshala (Kangra-Himachal)

TibetFlag McLeodganj, named after David McLeod, teh governor general of Punjab (British-India), is house of the exiled Tibetan Government and is blessed by the presence of H.H. Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama (See my post on Dalai Lama’s Residence). This place is also sometimes called Little Lhasa.

This place is so peaceful and energizing, that you will never feel like leaving it. There are lot of Tibetans and Europeans (mostly Israelis) in here. Nearby Villages are populated with Europeans. I have heard that there are villages nearby McLeodganj, where lot of Drugs and illegal stuff is available. I don’t know if it is true or a rumor.

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I like this place so much that I have been there so many times. Luckily, my father designed couple of shops and restaurants at this place. This helped me make dozens of trips to McLeodganj in past 5-6 years.

It is situated near Dharamshala. Infact, sometimes, it is also called Upper Dharamshala. There is a small road, from where, McLeodganj is only 2 Km from main Dharamshala market. This road is very steep and reaches the Dalai Lama Temple. The other way is lot Stjohnswildernesslonger, but safer. This road reaches the other end of McLeodganj.

But this route, the longer one, is much better as you get a chance to see more scenic views. A very nice place on way is the St. John’s Church. This church, located in Forsythganj, popularly called Church of St. John in the Wilderness, is the final resting place of Lord Elgin, a British viceroy of India (19th Century).

This church is in a really peaceful place hidden under trees. Its view from road is so magical that you can’t resist visiting it.

McLeodganj_Street2The main street of McLeodganj is crowded and loaded with Tibetan shops. You will find Monkalmost every Tibetan handicraft item and Tibetan/Buddhist souvenirs. Besides, everywhere you will see people in traditional maroon dress of Buddhists everywhere.

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McLeodganj_Street4One must visit this place for peace of mind. There are lot other places to visit nearby. If you read this blog, you will find that most of my posts are from Dharamshala, and McLeodganj.

Do check out…

Dalai Lama Temple, McLeodganj

HH_DalaiLamaIt was my pleasure, that I got a chance to visit His Holiness Dalai Lama’s temple at McLeodganj. I have been to Dharamshal and McLeodganj many times. But I went to temple only twice. I hope to see His Holiness some day as well.

When I went there in 2007 with my friend Vinay, we decided to stop for a cup of coffee outside the temple. When we finished our coffee, we saw hundreds of  Buddhist monks coming out of the temple. We felt so sorry because we had missed a chance to see the ceremony and wasted 30 minutes. We could have probably seen Dalai Lama as well.

Here are some pictures from that mighty place…

BuddhaStatue DalaiLamaTemple_Hall DalaiLamaTemple_Interior DalaiLamaTemple_2

TempleLawn Temple_inside

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There is this nice museum outside the temple. This museum contains many artifacts and literature from Tibet. The walls of this museum are covered with banners telling the sad story of how China attacked on Tibet and conquered the land.

Tibet was having very small force. These peace loving people were forced to fight against huge army of china. Then the Tibetan government, including Dalai Lama, were forced to leave their homeland. Indian government then gave them place in Dharamshala, and today, this place is as peaceful as heaven.

A Must Visit Place…

Ekasham Shailkritya Mandir Samooh, Masroor

Ekasham Shailkritya Mandir Samooh, or the Rock Cut Temples of Masroor, Kangra are one of the most magnificent temples I ever visited. It is an outstanding example of monolithic temples in Himalyan region. The entire complex comprises of more than 15 temple shikhars and a large water pond. The beauty of this place is that everything here has been craved out of sand stone rocks. There was a huge hill, and people of 8th or 9th Century, beautifully carved that hill into a series of temples.

Masroor-Temple

Unfortunately, this entire complex was destroyed in a very major earthquake, that almost devastated entire Kangra valley in 1905. Archeological Survey of India has tried its best to save this place. In 1914, this place was declared as a national monument.

Masroor-Temple-back

You can find debris of this majestic Temple all around the complex. One can image, how beautiful this place might be around 1200 years ago, when people were not advance enough to work on such huge projects. This could have been the wonder of that time.

It is a real sad thing to see this nice place destroyed due to earthquake .

Masroor-Temple-Thakurdwara In the center of the complex, stands the principal and the most elaborately carved shrine, the thakurdwara, enshrining the black stone image of lord Rama, Sita and Lakshmana, facing east. I must mention that at this place, I saw the largest lizard in my life. I first thought it to be a small Comodo Dragon, but later realized that it is just a large himalyan species from lizard family.

Masroor-Inside_Temple

This place is few Km away from the main Kangra City. It lies in a village called Masroor. It took us around 2-3 hours to reach there from McLeodganj (Dharamshala) by car. We passed the Main Kangra Bus Stop and Kangra Airport on way to this place.

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Brentwood Sanctuary, Mussourrie

Moving from Mussourrie towards Kempty Fall, half way down you will find a road diverting to Lake Myst. Far on that road, go about 2 Km on this narrow rough path, and you will see a nice lonely building surrounded by high hills on 3 sides. If you check this nice place on Google earth, you will find that it is surrounded by famous places on all sides. On its east, is he Mussourrie Hill Station, On the north, is the Kempty Fall, towards west is Jwala Devi’s temple and to its south, is the house of famous Sir George Everest, the surveyor general of India, after whom, Mt. Everest was named.

 Brentwood-Sanctuary

This plot has road on two sides, and fresh water stream on other two sides. This water stream becomes Kempty fall after 3 Km.

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Brentwood-Sanctuary-4 The water stream is covered totally with trees and greenery, thus giving a feel of amazon. You can spend hours and hours at this place and no one will ever disturb you thus making this place lonely and peaceful. Guys who own this place also arrange for various activities at their premise. Usually companies and tour groups hire this sanctuary for outdoor camping and picnics. Scenic views out here are outstanding.

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I have been there many times. This place gives me peace because I feel that I am totally away from entire world, and relaxing in the heart of nature.

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Kemty-River-1Last, I went couple of months back with my family. Trust me, this is one place that you must go and you should go there with family. Because no matter where you picnic, you are always disturbed by one or other factor. But this place guarantees total peace. When we reached there, it was very hot, but in minutes, it started raining. After one hour, when we opened the window of our room, we were surprised to see that the grass has turned white because of snowfall. But this didn’t lasted for even 30 mins. Then we went out for trekking on hills and had fun in the water stream running along the wall of this place.

If you need any information regarding Brentwood Sanctuary, feel free to ask me. I will guide you to this untouched heaven.

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Galu Devi Temple, near Dharamkot

Galu-Devi-Temple

I went there in 2007. When you start from McLeodganj towards dharamkot, you will find a pleasant scenic view. Soon you will reach Dharamkot, which is a really nice place to be. You cross dharamkot and reach at a height of 2130 mts. and find yourself in a ridge covered with high trees and hills. A small temple of Galu Devi stands there. This is the place, where vehicles stop, and a tough journey of Triund starts. This time, we came back from Galu Devi, but I hope, that next time, I will reach Triund. Here are few pics from this nice small place…

At-Galu-Devi-Hill At-Galu-Devi-Temple

McLeodganj-from-Galu-DeviThis picture is of McLeodganj, as it is seen from Galu Devi Hill top

On-Way-to-Galu-Devi-TempleAh, picture I took on way to Dharamkot. The road is very narrow, but it is a different experience all together. You will surely love it.

Bhagsu Fall (McLeodganj-Dharamshala)

BhagsuFall Ah, finally I got a chance to write about this mesmerizing place. It is far from the road, but still attracts several tourists. However, most tourists stop at the beginning of journey and find themselves happy with the downstream in foots of fall. Very few try to climb to rocks and reach the heart of Bhagsu Fall.

I have made it a point that whenever I go to McLeodganj, I visit this remote place. It is roughly 2-3 KM. from the town. We easily get taxi or rikshaw to there, but I prefer walking along the road.

OnWayToBhagsu My best two visits to this place were with my friend Vinay and with my cousin Satpal. We had real fun. The trekking from McLeodganj to Bhagsu is very interesting in itself. You continuously get a view of Kangra valley as the hill is facing towards Dharamshala. When me, Vinay and one of our other friend were traveling on this lonely road, we found several nice spots to stop and click. There are very small tea stalls and snack shops after every few short while.

Bhagsu-Gate Once you cross the small market of Bhagsu Village, you will find yourself at a gate built by Army. Next to it is Lord Shiva’s Temple. When you cross the temple, you will find yourself at  a small water pond, and people bathing in the cold water.

BhagsuWaterPond

Once you cross this Water Pond, you will see a very beautiful scene, that will hold you there for a long time. Fall is at distance, and the way is breathtaking.

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BhagsuFall_PathWe had real fun while climbing up the rocks through that small path constructed several years back. Stones on that path keep slipping into deep trench. This path is not for weak people, or for those who fear height. But let me tell you, it is not difficult to climb it. Its just that you need a little courage and energy.

Once you reach the heart of water fall, you find crystal clear water, with green shadow from trees all around it. Water is very cold and so wonderful, that you can spend several hours in it. In-fact, the journey will make you so much tired that you will find this water to be the most precious reward you were working for.

BhagsuFall-2 A_Must_Do_Thing Vinay_in_Water

When you are done with the cold effect, the best thing to do is to have a bowl of maggi noodles Happy or a cup of nice coffee.

MaggiNoodles MaggiTime

Bhagsu Now look at this picture. The hut vinay is pointing to is actually more than 1 Km. away from this place and it is where you start you trekking.

After that point, you won’t find anything to eat or drink unless you reach the top. When you reach Bhagsu Fall, the broken path vanishes completely, and you have to climb couple of rocks to reach the top.

BhagsuRocks

But this easy climbing is more interesting then entire journey. The only problem is when you start back because you are already so tired, and after this long rest, you feel like sleeping. You are not in a position to climb back. But there is no choice, and you must walk your way back through those same rocks and cover the long path.

In a nutshell, this is an indispensable place for tourists.

Happy Voyage

Tea Garden at Dharamshala

Beside Palampur, the Tea Gardens of Dharamshala are very famous in Himachal Region. I have made several trips to McLeodganj, the residence of H.H. Dalai Lama. Consider this post to be first part of description of Dharamshala and McLeodganj.

TeaGarden1

When you head for McLeodganj from Dharamshala through the long route (not from the shortcut that goes from within the market), you will find a very wide elbow turn. On the edge, there is a sign board of the Tea Plantation of Dharamshala. At 10 mins. walking distance, you will reach a place, covered with dense green leaves and filled with magnificent aroma of fresh tea. I have been there twice. One with my cousin, and other with one of my best friends Vinay.

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Tea gardens here are not as wide spread as Assam or other North-East states, but they surely are nice enough to keep you busy for hours. Imagine small rocks in between and slope slanting towards a nice green trench. The steps of hill will take your breath.

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TeaGarden6 I have decided that I will go there again on my next trip. When I went there last time, I was coming from Company Garden at Dharamshala, and moving towards Naddi. These two are also very mesmerizing places, that I will elaborate in my future posts. Dharamshala surely has many spots for tourists. Places around Dharamshala and McLeodganj can keep you busy for months. Several tourists are hanging out in these hills for years, and never even think of going back to their native countries.

This is one must visit place

The Kangra Fort

10th February 2007, I celebrated by 24th birthday at a very nice place, that has been ruled by rulers like Mohd. Ghazni, Mohd.Tughlaq, Firoz Shah, Jahangir, Katoch Kings, Raja Sansar Chand, Maharaja Ranjit Singh and finally Queen Victoria. I am talking about the Fort of Trigarta (now known as Kangra).

Kangra-Fort

Trigarta (Kangra) was one of the most powerful hill state of Punjab, and this fort made it undefeatable. Entire kangra valley is occupying the lower parts of Beas and its tributaries and during pre-mohammadan period, it made a part of kingdom of Jalandhar (Punjab Empire). The Kangra Fort is renowned for its strength, stability, strong fortification and impregnability. The walls stand upwards covering a 4 KM circuit, occupying a long narrow strip between Ban Ganga and Manjhi rivers. The cliff along the wall is 300 feet deep.

Kangra-Fort-(river1) Kangra-Fort-(river2) Kangra-Fort-(river3)

Kangra-Fort-(Entry)The only entrance to Fort is from the city side, and that too is very narrow for anyone to pass without encountering hidden soldiers. The long pathway is also having enough room for small army divisions to hide after every few meters.

Kangra-Fort-(Path)

This fort has nice engravings on all walls and has a small temple also inside. Besides, there is a big temple at the City Entrance.

Kangra-Fort-(temple) Kangra-Fort-(top)

Unfortunately this place was destroyed in early 1900 due to a massive earthquake, that destroyed entire Kangra Valley. There are several debris and broken walls that you can see. But this fort still stands as the crown of Kangra.

If you are visiting this place, don’t miss the museum at the foot of fort.

Sobha Singh’s Art Gallery

Sir Sobha Singh is a renowned artist in sikh community. His paintings of sikh gurus are most famous. He was born on 29th November, 1901 at Sri Hargobindpur, Gurdaspur in the family of a Ramgharia Soldier named S. Deva Singh. He himself server british army in baghdad and mesopotamia (now iraq). After independence, he came to Himachal. In 1949, he settled at Andretta near Palampur in Kangra Valley of Himachal, India.

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(Residence of S. Sobha Singh at Andretta, Palampur. The street is called S. Sobha Singh Marg)

 

Prithvi-Raj-Kapoor

His murals are displayed at the Indian Parliament. Once of his creations is gracing his residence’s entrance…

(Prithvi Raj Kapoor, created by S. Sobha Singh)

 

 

 

Guru-Nanak

His most famous painting include Heer Ranjha, Sohni Mahiwal and Sikh Gurus. All his work is shown in his little house, that his daughter is now taking care of. One of his paintings, that is now no where to be found was once painted by my dad, when he saw it in a news paper. Unique thing about this picture is that in this, guru nanak is not wearing a turban. Instead, he is having a selli topi on his head. Most sikhs may not be pleased with this picture, but we must not forget the fact that Guru Nanak actually blended into the place where he went. He dressed like locals and gave gurbani in the local language.

 

When we reached Sobha Singh’s Art Gallery, after crossing mesmerizing tea gardens of Palampur and heavenly valley of Kangra, we were greeted by S. Sobha Singh’s Daughter, who now takes care of her father’s work. She was very kind to show us his work. There is a room full of this original work and a live size statue of him. There is one unfinished painting with a color dipped dry brush in his bed room. On the wall, hangs his honor, that President Giani Zail Singh gave him. I don’t remember if it was Bharat Ratan or Padma Bhushan.

I saw some really nice things in there, and recommend all art lovers to visit this mecca of artists.

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