Chitwan National Park

The name ‘Chitwan’ has several possible meanings, but the most literal translation of the two NEPALI words that make it up: chit or chita (heart) and wan or ban (jungle). Chitwan is thus ‘the heart of the jungle’.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, cultivation in the valley was deliberately prohibited by the government of Nepal in order to maintain a barrier of disease-ridden forests as a defense against the invasion of diseases from the south. Then for the century between 1846 and 1950, when the Rana prime ministers were de facto rulers of Nepal, Chitwan was declared a private hunting reserve, maintained exclusively for the privileged classes. Penalties for poaching were severe - capital punishment for killing rhino - and the wildlife in the area thus received a measure of protection.

From time to time great hunts for rhino were held during the cool, mosquito-free winter months from December to February. The Ranas invited royalty from Europe and the Princely States of India, as well as other foreign dignitaries, to take part in these grand maneuvers, which were organized on a magnificent scale, often with several hundred leopards.

CLIMATE
The Park has a range of climatic seasons each offering a unique experience. October through February with average temperatures of 25oc offer an enjoyable climate. From March to June temperatures can reach as high as 43oC. The hot humid days give way to the monsoon season that typically lasts from late June until September, rivers become flooded and roads are impossible.

In late January, local villagers are allowed to cut thatch grasses to meet their needs, which offer a better viewing of wildlife for visitors. Also, between September and November and February and April, migratory birds join the residential birds and create spectacular bird watching opportunities. While the monsoon rains bring lush vegetation, most trees flower in late winter. The palash tree, known as the "flame of the forest' and silk cotton tree have spectacular crimson flowers that can be seen from a distance.

FEATURES
The Park consists of a diversity of ecosystems-including the Churia hills, Ox-bow lakes, and the flood plains of the Rapti, Reu and Narayani Rivers. The Churia hills rise slowly towards the East from 150 m. to more than 800 m. The western portion of the Park is comprised of the lower but more rugged, Someshwor hill. The Park shares its eastern boundary with the Parsa Wildlife Reserve.

FLORA AND FAUNA
The Chitwan valley consists of tropical and subtropical forests. Sal forests cover 70 percent of the park. Sal leaves are used locally for plates in festivals and religious offerings.

Grasslands cover 20 percent of the Park. There are more than 50 different types of grasses, including the elephant grass (Saccharum spp), renowned for its immense height. It can grow up to 8m in height. The park is home to more than 50 mammal species, over 525 birds, and 55 amphibians and reptiles. The endangered fauna found in the Park are: One-horned rhinoceros, Gaur. Royal Bengal tiger. Wild elephant, Four horned antelope, Pangolin, Golden monitor lizard, Python, etc. Bengal florican. Lesser florican, Giant hornbill, Black stork, White stork, etc.

FACILITIES
The Park offers interesting sites and activities. The display at the visitor centre at Sauraha provides fascinating information on wildlife and conservation program. The women's user groups' souvenir shop offers a variety of handicrafts and other local products for gifts and souvenirs.

Elephant safari provides opportunity to get a closer view of the endangered one-horned rhinoceros. One may also get a glimpse of the elusive Bengal tiger. The Elephant Breeding Center at Khorsor, Sauraha gives you information on captive elephant and the calves born there.

The museum at Kasara, the Park headquarters, has informative displays- near the HQ visitors can see Bikram Baba, a Hindu religious site of archival value. A short walk (1km) from the Park HQ will take you to the Gharial Breeding Center, which is also a home to the Marsh mugger, gharial crocodiles and other turtles.

Inside the Park, there are 7 resorts run by Park concessionaires that can provide lodging and access to wildlife activities. Various resorts and lodges situated outside the park also offer variety of services.

HOW TO GET THERE
Chitwan is linked by public buses, tourist coaches, and air service. There are eight entrance gates to the park

  • Kasara via Jagatpur
  • Ghatgain via Patihani
  • Bhimle via Maghauli
  • Khagendra mali via Bhandara
  • Sunachuri via Sunachuri
  • Sauraha via Tandi (Ratna Nagar)
  • Laukhani via Pragatinaggr
  • Amaltari via Danda
  • Kujauli via Rajahar
Nepal National Park
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Fauna of Nepal
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Sagarmatha National Park
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Sheyphoksundo National Park
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Shivapuri National Park
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Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve
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Parsa Wildlife Reserve
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Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve
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Butterflies of Nepal
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Fishes of Nepal
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Manaslu Conservation Area
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