RIVERS AT CORBETT NATIONAL PARK
For the survival of such a remarkable scale of floral and faunal species in Jim Corbett National Park, water is a crucial factor. The Ramganga river makes the usual necessary hydrological resource, supplemented by tributaries, most prominent of which are the Sonanadi, Mandal, and Palain rivers. The river Kosi runs nearly close to the Park and is also a significant water resource for nearby areas.
Wildlife is dependent on rivers, more so in the dry season, for they provide drinking water and also form home to several key marine species.
RAM GANGA RIVER JIM CORBETT NATIONAL PARK
The Ram Ganga River is the largest of the precious few perennial sources of water in the Jim Corbett National Park. In fact, for a brief period (from 1954 to 1957) the Park was known as Ram-Ganga National Park.
A rain-fed river originating nearby from Gairsain in the Pretty Himalayas, the Ram Ganga crosses more than 100 km before entering Corbett near Marchula. Inside the Jim Corbett National Park, it flows roughly from east to west for 40 km till Kalagarh where it enters the plains. During this flow through the Park, it gathers waters from the Plain, Mandal and Sonanadi rivers.
A dam on the Ram-Ganga at Kalagarh (built in the mid-1970s) forms a lake of about area 80 square km, the backwaters of which reach up to Dhikala. Downstream from Kalagarh, the river meanders for another 300 km The moon over Ram Ganga valley through the Indo-Gangetic plains and finally drains into the Ganga near Farrukhabad in Uttar Pradesh.
The Ram Ganga River is resided by key aquatic species like mahseer fish, the endangered gharials, mugger crocodiles, otters, and turtles. Many species of birds, like kingfishers, fish-eagles, terns, and storks depend on the Ram Ganga river. During winters the Ram Ganga reservoir attracts many migratory bird species, especially waterbirds from Europe and Central Asia.
The route from Dhangarhi to Dhikala runs along with the Ram Ganga for most of its length. Forest Rest Houses at Gairal, Sarapduli, Khinanauli, and Dhikala are situated alongside the Ram Ganga. The Dhikala watchtower is an ideal spot to view the Ram Ganga in the Patli Doon valley. At Crocodile Pool, High Bank and Champion’s Pool visitors can dismount from their vehicles and see the Ram Ganga river closely. Kanda FRH, the highest rest house of the Park, provides a bird’s eye view of the Ram Ganga river.
KOSI RIVER AT JIM CORBETT NATIONAL PARK
The Kosi river is a perennial river like the Ram Ganga and its catchment lies partially in Jim Corbett National Park. From Mohan through Dhikuli till Ramnagar, the Kosi river forms the eastern boundary of Jim Corbett National Park. Even though the Kosi river does not enter the Corbett National Park boundary, wild animals from Corbett Park use it for drinking especially during pinch periods. Its bottom is covered with boulders and its flow is erratic and often changes course. Kosi river is famous for its unpredictable and damaging torrents during monsoon. Like Ram Ganga, the Kosi River too is resided by mahseer and attracts migratory birds. At places, the Kosi river has steep cliffs flanking its banks. At such points, one can see goral, the goat-like creatures, pasturing on precipitous slopes.
SONANADI AT JIM CORBETT NATIONAL PARK
The Sonanadi river is an important tributary of the Ram Ganga. Titled after this river the Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary adjoins Corbett National Park and forms an important part of the Corbett Tiger Reserve. The Sonanadi river enters the Park from the north-west direction and meets the Ram Ganga at the reservoir. The name ‘Sonanadi’ means ‘river of gold’. At one time grains of gold, found in the alluvial deposits washed down from the more crucial areas, were extracted from the bed sand by sieving, washing and mercury treatment.
MANDAL AND PALAIN
The Mandal rises in the eastern heights in Talla Salan in the Chamoli district. Forming a part of the north-eastern boundary, Mandal flows for 32 km and joins the Ram Ganga at Domunda a little distance above Gairal. During the dry season, the Mandal flows very little water but during the monsoons, it turns into a furious torrent. It forms a vital breeding area for the endangered mahseer.
The Palain is the third important stream of the Ram Ganga and enters the Corbett National Park from a northern direction. It meets the Ram Ganga about 3 km north of the submerged Boxar settlement at the Ram Ganga reservoir.
‘Sot’ is the local name for a seasonal stream. While travelling across the Corbett National Park you may cross several of these bouldery dry streams. Though most of them appear dry and lifeless, they are very important for Sot or seasonal stream the Corbett National Park ecology. Animals depend on these sots for their water drinking requirements for a good part of the year. There are some sots in Corbett National Park that are perennial, important ones being Paterpani, Laldhang, Kothirao, Jhirna, Dhara, and Garjia. Since water is a limiting factor, these everlasting sots provide water to wildlife during pinch periods. Sots also form passageways for animals. Many of these sots are covered with a thick growth of evergreen shrubs and bamboo clumps which form an ideal shelter for many animals including the tiger.
During monsoons, water passes in the sots in a powerful deluge and washes away forest roads and temporary bridges. This is the main reason that Jim Corbett National Park remains closed during the rainy season since roads and bridges have to repaired by the Forest Department after each monsoon.