The National Chambal Gharial Sanctuary in Sawai Madhopur is a captivating tourist destination near Ranthambore, offering a unique experience through Chambal River Safari. Apart from the popular Jungle Safari in Ranthambore, the Crocodile Safari or Chambal River Safari at the National Chambal Gharial Sanctuary stands out as an excellent alternative. This sanctuary provides an opportunity to explore crocodiles, Gharials, and a diverse range of birdlife while enjoying boat rides along the Chambal River.
Located at Palighat Village in Sawai Madhopur, adjacent to the banks of the Chambal River, the sanctuary is approximately 45 kilometers away from Ranthambore, taking about an hour to reach. Once infamous for dacoits in the 1970s, the Chambal River is now renowned for its natural beauty and wildlife conservation efforts.
Established on December 7, 1979, as the National Chambal Gharial Wildlife Sanctuary, its primary goal is to protect the rare crocodile species, particularly the Gharials, found in the Chambal River in Rajasthan. The Gharials are less numerous than tigers in the region.
The sanctuary spans an extensive area of approximately 425 km along the Chambal River, with a width of 2-6 km on both sides. It extends across three states: Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh. The Chambal River forms the primary state border between Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh on one side and Madhya Pradesh on the other. The sanctuary begins at Kota Barrage in Rajasthan, flowing through Sawai Madhopur, and covers Morena in Madhya Pradesh and Dholpur in Rajasthan. The Rajasthan section of the sanctuary, near Ranthambore, covers an area of approximately 285 sq. km.
Embarking on a Chambal River Safari offers visitors a chance to witness the rich biodiversity along the river, making it a delightful and educational experience amidst nature.
The National Chambal Sanctuary is home to fascinating aquatic life and diverse bird species, making it a must-visit destination for wildlife enthusiasts during a Ranthambore tour. The main attractions of the sanctuary are the Gharial and Crocodile, and the Chambal River provides a wonderful opportunity to explore amphibians and aquatic animals in their natural habitat.
Pali Ghat on the Chambal River serves as a paradise for bird lovers, boasting over 316 species of migrant and resident birds in the Ranthambore region. The sanctuary is particularly known for its population of rare crocodile species, the Gharial, and is also home to the National Aquatic Animal, the Gangetic Dolphin.
The Chambal River Sanctuary offers a diverse range of bird species, including Indian skimmers, ruddy shelducks, bar-headed geese, Indian courser, black-bellied terns, black-necked storks, Red-crested pochards, common cranes, Ferruginous ducks, Sarus cranes, bar-headed geese, northern pintails, and common teals. The sanctuary features large nesting colonies of Indian Skimmers, Great stone-curlews, and Lapwings. It serves as a breeding site for Indian Skimmers and has reported sightings of the pallid harrier and lesser flamingo.
Apart from its rich avian population, the Chambal River Sanctuary is home to various amphibians and aquatic animals, including Marsh Crocodiles, Gharials, eight species of turtles, 30 species of fish, Smooth-coated otters, and Gangetic Dolphins. The terrestrial mammals found in the sanctuary include Wild Boar, Blue Bull, Porcupines, Jungle Cats, Indian hares, Indian foxes, Hyenas, and Golden Jackals. The Indian wolf has also been reported in the surrounding areas.
Exploring the Chambal River Sanctuary through a safari provides a unique opportunity to witness the diverse ecosystems and wildlife that call this region home.
The flora near the Chambal River includes a variety of plant species that contribute to the rich biodiversity of the region. Some of the prominent plant species found along the Chambal River are:
1. Palash (Flame of the Forest, Butea monosperma): Known for its vibrant orange-red flowers, Palash adds a splash of color to the landscape.
2. Khair (Acacia catechu): Also known as catechu, this tree is valued for its medicinal properties and is commonly found in the area.
3. Ber (Indian Plum, Ziziphus mauritiana): Ber trees contribute to the vegetation along the Chambal River, providing fruits for various wildlife species.
4. Churel (Indian Elm Tree, Holoptelia integrifolia): Another tree species that is part of the flora near the Chambal River.
5. Babul (Egyptian Acacia or Thorny Acacia): Known for its thorny branches, Babul is a hardy tree species adapted to arid conditions.
Most of the vegetation surrounding the Chambal River is characterized by small and thorny plants, with grass patches on both sides of the river. This type of vegetation contributes to the unique ecosystem along the riverbanks.
The best time to experience the Chambal River Safari in the National Chambal Gharial Sanctuary is from November to March. During this period, the weather is relatively pleasant, and it is an ideal time for wildlife enthusiasts to explore the diverse flora and fauna of the region.
For those seeking a distinctive and unforgettable experience in Ranthambore, the Chambal River Safari at Pilighat offers a unique opportunity to witness the natural beauty and wildlife of the Chambal River. It's recommended to bring binoculars and cameras to enhance the safari experience and capture the mysteries of Pali Ghat. The day concludes with a traditional Rajasthani meal served at sunset, providing a delightful end to a day filled with exciting wildlife encounters.