National Chambal Sanctuary, named after one of India’s cleanest and longest rivers Chambal, covers an area of 1240 sq kms across the three states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. It was declared a Protected Area in 1979, which includes a 425 kms stretch of the 900 kms long Chambal river and its adjoining forest land, in an effort to protect the forest and river ecosystem, as well as the largest wild population of the endangered gharials. These forests and their freshwater ecosystems are best known for the wide variety of aquatic and bird life found here. They are home to more than 320 resident and migrant birds, and are the only known place on earth for nesting for the threatened Indian skimmers! Of the 26 turtle species found in India, eight are residents of these forests. Other wildlife found here are the critically endangered Gangetic dolphins, smooth coated otters, striped hyaenas, Indian wolves, and the muggers. National Chambal Sanctuary is listed as an Important Bird Area and is a proposed Ramsar Site.
The lifeline of this forest is the Chambal river, which originates from the Singur Chouri peak in the Vindhya range in Madhya Pradesh. It meanders its way across Madhya Pradesh, flowing through Rajasthan, entering Uttar Pradesh and finally draining into the Yamuna to become part of the Gangetic plains. The rich floral and faunal biodiversity of the Chambal Sanctuary is courtesy of this river, which remains untouched and unpolluted. The river and its forests attract visitors from all over the country to spot the three keystone species of the region, the gharial, gangetic dolphin and the red crowned roof turtle.
The headquarters of the Sanctuary is located in Agra and managed by the Wildlife Wing of the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department. In Uttar Pradesh, the Sanctuary covers an area of 625 sq kms, and is easily accessible by road, rail and air. Parts of the Sanctuary in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are also easily approachable from any major town or city in the State.
How to reach National Chambal Sanctuary (Uttar Pradesh)
From Agra: The Sanctuary lies just 70 kms ahead of Agra and can be reached by hiring a cab or driving yourself.
From New Delhi: The Sanctuary is about 270 kms from the capital and attracts many travellers who enjoy road trips. The journey can be covered in about five-six hours by road, (four hours on the new Yamuna expressway). Tourists also take a train to Agra and then drive further towards Chambal.
Entry fee for the Park:
Foreigners - Rs. 600.00 (US$10)
Indian Nationals - Rs. 50.00 (US$1)
Small Vehicles - Rs. 100 (US$2)
Mini-bus - Rs. 200.00 (US$4)
Large Bus - Rs. 400.00 (US$8)
IN THE FIELD UPDATE
The major highlight of the 2015-16 season was the Uttar Pradesh Bird Festival hosted at the Chambal Safari Lodge in December. The next event is scheduled for 2-4 December 2016.
Twenty-nine international experts from 14 countries attended the festival. The 115 experts in attendance included Bird guide authors like Tim and Carol Inskipp, Dr. Pamela Rasmussen, Ben King and Bikram Grewal. Representatives of WWF, BNHS, Bird Life International, British Birdfair attended. More than 2,000 visitors were recorded over the 3-day period, including 400+ school children from around a dozen local schools and from Agra.
The festival included an exhibition of 200 photographs and a dozen paintings contributed by over 30 photographers and painters. Live ringing demonstrations were conducted by experts from BNHS. Environment and wildlife awareness workshops for school children were conducted daily by CEE. Artists Jackie Garner and Dr. Pete Marshal held bird art demonstrations and workshops.
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