Pilibhit is one of few well-forested districts in the state of Uttar Pradesh. According to 2004 figures, the district of Pilibhit has over 800 square kilometres of forests, comprising approximately 23 per cent of the total area of the district. Pilibhit forests have at least 36 tigers and a good base for surviving predators. Pilibhit forests are part of Terai forests that together with the surrounding grasslands form the habitat for more than 127 animals, 556 species of birds and 2,100 flowering plants. They also house about 6 million people who rely on the resources of the forests for their livelihoods. The distinct lack of public transportation in the general area of Pilibhit meant that I had to book a comfortable and affordable taxi service in Bareilly for this trip.
Guide to Pilibhit Tiger Reserve Trip
I reached Bareilly from Lucknow. For my own convenience and comfort, I decided to book a cab from Lucknow to Bareilly for a comfortable road trip. On reaching Bareilly, I was duly met by the cab service I had booked. The ride from Bareilly to Pilibhit was a truly beautiful one. The driver was very friendly and he told me various stories about his experiences in this wonderful forest land. It took us about one and a half hours to reach Pilibhit from Bareilly.
A Green Wonderland
On reaching Pilibhit, I was welcomed by the sight of a lush green landscape. The forest spread as far as the eye could see. Forests include mainly Sal trees and wetlands which provide food for predators and prey alike. The Park includes a variety of wild animals and endangered species like wolf, swamp deer, and blue horse roam these grounds in relative safety. In terms of bird species, more than 1300 birds are found here including species such as jungle babbler, fish owl, snack bird, hornbill, peafowl, serpent eagle, black neck stork, etc.
One place everyone must visit while they are in Pilibhit is Chuka Beach. It is situated between the dam and the canal at Sharda. It’s a lovely tourist destination with one bamboo hut, one treehouse, and four huts in Thara. Between October and April is the best time to visit Chuka Beach. It is a serene location which remains quiet throughout the year. I spent a good couple of hours in Chuka beach, revelling in its serenity and isolation. I also had a wonderful lunch here, consisting mainly of fresh seafood that had been hauled in by the local fishermen.
Jaisantri Mata Temple
This is one of the most sacred places in Pilibhit and devotees believe that visiting the temple will fulfil all their wishes. At this temple, a major fair is organized on special occasions. It attracts thousands of tourists each year. There is a lake near the temple and devotees usually go to the temple to take a bath or a dip in the water.
An Evening Safari
The main attraction of visiting the tiger reserve in Pilibhit is the evening jeep safari through the heart of this dense forest. I was really excited about this activity as in all honesty, this is what the whole trip was all about. The thought of seeing a wild tiger in its natural habitat filled me with a sense of awe. I hoped against hope that I would get to see this magnificent beast in all its glory. We started off in a jeep and soon entered the core area of the forest. The safari guide warned the tourists not to make any strange and unnecessary noise as that could spook the animals and make them act in an unpredictable way. The best part about this evening safari is that it is designed in such a way so as not to disturb the wild creatures. This not only is less stressful for the said animals but also gives the visitors a chance to observe them in their most natural. We came across many strange and beautiful animals on that tour.
I saw various kinds of deer like the Chital, Barasingha and the Indian hog deer. I also saw a strange creature called a civet which I had never encountered before. But sadly, I failed to catch a glimpse of the tiger, which I had been craving the most. I was aware that it is very rare to see a tiger but still the disappointment I felt was really palpable.
Even though I did not get to see a tiger, the tour of Pilibhit Tiger Reserve was a really pleasant experience. The people are really friendly and the scenic beauty is truly beautiful. I would definitely like to return here for another jungle safari. Maybe next time, I will even catch a glimpse of the ever-elusive tiger.
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