Chitwan literally means “heart of the jungle”. In recent years Chitwan tops the list of things to do in Asia. Chitwan is a true wildlife adventure. Jungle safaris on elephant back or in jeeps, birdwatching, and canoe trips offer a different perspective of the teeming forest.
Nepal’s best-known and most accessible national park, Royal Chitwan National park , is invariably associated with the Royal Bengal tiger and the great one-horned rhinoceros, both endangered species. Chitwan is also the home of the interesting ancient ethnic groups of Nepal, the CHepangs in the mid hills, and the Tharus in the Terai region.
The Royal CHitwan National Park is the prime attraction of this region. The newly developed Chepang Hill Trail, offers yet another option and a peak at the mid-hill lifestyle and culture of the region.
ROYAL CHITWAN NATIONAL PARK
The Royal Chitwan National park is one of the most popular tourist hubs in the country. Owing to its rich nature the Park was declared a UNESCO Natural Heritage Site in 1979. Located in the central ineer Terai wildlife and is famous for its tiger population. Sal forests cover 70 percent of the area and there are about 600 species of plants. The park is home to the only significant number of one-horned rhinoceros and other endangered species like the Royal Bengal tiger, the Gangetic dolphin and the Gharial crocodile. There are more than 43 species of the large mammals, 526 species of birds, 150 different types of butterflies, 126 species of fish and 49 species of reptiles.
The fauna of the Terai is Striking and the most obvious are the handsome black-faced, gray langur monkeys and the common brownish red rhesus monkeys. Other animals likely to be seen in the Royal CHitwan National Park include leopards, gaurs, buffaloes, sloth bears, wild boars, various species of deer, and marsh mugger crocodiles. Smaller mammals include jungle and civet cats, mongoose, jackals, otters, martens, porcupines and squirrels. Other species are the pangolin, rattler, python, king cobra and Bengal florican. Another factor adding a distinct touch to the Chitwan experience is the colorful Tharu Culture.
One of the most famous trekking destination in Chitwan is Chepang Hill Trail.
CHepang Hill Trail:
The Chitwan Chepang Hill Trail, offers a rare combination of cultural and sightseeing experience. One of the most interesting aspects of the trek is getting a glimpse of the Chepangs and other local communities which live in this mid-hill region of Nepal. Accepting the invitation of the villages to stay in their beautiful homes as guests and sharing their meals is a journey of discovery in itself. The unique culture in this area, bird watching, and other natural attractions add to the experience. The CHitwan CHepang Hill trail begins at Hugdi, between Mugling and Krishna Bhir in Dhading district about 80kms from Kathmandu, and ends in Shaktikhor. IF one is coming from the Royal Chitwan National Park the trail can also be started from Shaktikhor ending at Hugdi.
Hattibang, a major stop on the way, offers good scenery of the surrounding mountains and trek through pristine mid-hill forests. Here one can also experience Magar, Chepang and Giripuri culture, at the several community-run home stay and community-managed guest house. On request the community members will also perform cultural shows for visitors. Local Handicrafts are available here to take back home as souvenirs. A tour of the village and visit to the community lodge is recommended at Hattibang.
Siraichuli (1,945m) , one of the highest hills of Mahabharat range, offers, spectacular views of the mountains and magnificient sunrise and sunset views. The view includes a wide range of Himalayan peaks such as Rolwaling, Gaurishankar, Langtang, Gorkha HImal, Peak 29, HImalchuli, Manaslu, Annapurna range, Dhaulagiri, and the Royal Chitwan National Park in the Terail. The trek to Siraichuli from Hattibang is challenging through rough landscape and vegetation. Jyandala village on the trail is a Chepang settlement where tourists can have a cultural experience. A tour of the village and accommodation at village home stay is recommended. Next is Chisapanitar, which is a popular bird-watching site. More than 250 varieties of bird species are found here. The dense forest in this region is also home to the other wild animals.
Another interesting place is Uppardang Gadi which used to be the headquarters of Chitwan till early 1962. The remains of a historic fort that defended the surrounding countryside are still here. There fort which sits at 1,275 metres is said to have been built by Shatrun Bhanjan Shah, the oldest son of Bahadur Shah. The area also offers spectacular views. Shaktikhor, where the trek formally ends give ample opportunity to visitors for a wholesome cultural experience. Home-stay facilities are available here where visitors can taste the local food and be a part of the local livelihood. Tents from camping up to 10 people are also available here. Cultural shows are also performed by local community members for visitors.
Getting There :
Chitwan is southwest of Kathmandu, near the Indian border. It is accessible by air with a flight from Kathmandu to Bharatpur or Meghauli, and by road from Kathmandu or Pokhara. You can either take a bus from Kathmandu or a raft trip down the Trishuli River to begin your trek. The trail climbs uphill from Hugdi Khola through Gakla Chautara and Khor Bhanjyang, a campsite among terraced fields. The best time to trek in this area is from September through to Mays warm, temperate and pleasant.
Food and Accomodation:
Accomodation and other tourist facilities are availale in the Chitwan Chepang Hill area. Besides home-stay facilities managed by community members are available in SHaktikhor and Hattibang, tea shops are available in Siddhi and camping site is available in Uppargandaki, Hattibang, and Jyanjala. The nearest point where all major tourist facilities are available is Sauraha near the Royal Chitwan National park or district Headquarters Narayanghat.