is the oldest national park in India and was established in 1936 as Hailey National Park to protect the endangered Bengal tiger. It is located in Nainital district of Uttarakhand and was named after Jim Corbett who played a key role in its establishment. The park was the first to come under the Project Tiger initiative.
The park has sub-Himalayan belt geographical and ecological characteristics. An ecotourism destination, it contains 488 different species of plants and a diverse variety of fauna. The increase in tourist activities, among other problems, continues to present a serious challenge to the park's ecological balance.
Corbett has been a haunt for tourists and wildlife lovers for a long time. Tourism activity is only allowed in selected areas of Corbett Tiger Reserve so that people get an opportunity to see its splendid landscape and the diverse wildlife. In recent years the number of people coming here has increased dramatically. Presently, every season more than 70,000 visitors come to the park.
Corbett National Park comprises 520.8 km2 (201.1 sq mi) area of hills, riverine belts, marshy depressions, grasslands and a large lake. The elevation ranges from 1,300 to 4,000 ft (400 to 1,220 m). Winter nights are cold but the days are bright and sunny. It rains from July to September.
Dense moist deciduous forest mainly consists of sal, haldu, peepal, rohini and mango trees. Forest covers almost 73% of the park, 10% of the area consists of grasslands. It houses around 110 tree species, 50 species of mammals, 580 bird species and 25 reptile species.
Some areas of the park were formerly part of the princely state of Tehri Garhwal. The forests were cleared to make the area less vulnerable to Rohilla invaders. The Raja of Tehri formally ceded a part of his princely state to the East India Company in return for their assistance in ousting the Gurkhas from his domain. The Boksas—a tribe from the Terai—settled on the land and began growing crops, but in the early 1860s they were evicted with the advent of British rule.
Efforts to save the forests of the region began in the 19th century under Major Ramsay, the British Officer who was in-charge of the area during those times. The first step in the protection of the area began in 1868 when the British forest department established control over the land and prohibited cultivation and the operation of cattle stations. In 1879 these forests were constituted into a Reserve Forest where restricted felling was permitted.
In the early 1900s, several Britishers, including E. R. Stevans and E. A. Smythies, suggested the setting up of a national park on this soil. The British administration considered the possibility of creating a game reserve there in 1907. It was only in the 1930s that the process of demarcation for such an area got underway, assisted by Jim Corbett, who knew the area well. A reserve area known as Hailey National Park covering 323.75 km2 (125.00 sq mi) was created in 1936, when Sir Malcolm Hailey was the Governor of United Provinces; and Asia's first national park came into existence. Hunting was not allowed in the reserve, only timber cutting for domestic purposes. Soon after the establishment of the reserve, rules prohibiting killing and capturing of mammals, reptiles and birds within its boundaries were passed.
The reserve was renamed in 1954–55 as Ramganga National Park and was again renamed in 1955–56 as Corbett National Park The new name honors the well-known author and wildlife conservationist, Jim Corbett, who played a key role in creating the reserve by using his influence to persuade the provincial government to establish it.
The park fared well during the 1930s under an elected administration. But, during the Second World War, it suffered from excessive poaching and timber cutting. Over time, the area in the reserve was increased—797.72 km2 (308.00 sq mi) were added in 1991 as a buffer zone to the Corbett Tiger Reserve. The 1991 addition included the entire Kalagarh forest division, assimilating the 301.18 km2 (116.29 sq mi) area of Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary as a part of the Kalagarh division. It was chosen in 1974 as the location for launching Project Tiger, an ambitious and well known wildlife conservation project. The reserve is administered from its headquarters in the district of Nainital.
Corbett National Park is one of the thirteen protected areas covered by the World Wide Fund For Nature under their Terai Arc Landscape Program. The program aims to protect three of the five terrestrial flagship species, the tiger, the Asian elephant and the Great One-horned Rhinoceros, by restoring corridors of forest to link 13 protected areas of Nepal and India, to enable wildlife migration.
• Dhikala : is a well-known destination in the park and situated at the fringes of Patli Dun valley. There is a rest house, which was built hundred of years ago. Kanda ridge forms the backdrop, and from Dhikala, one can enjoy the spectacular natural beauty of the valley.
• Jeep Safari : is the most convenient way to travel within the national park; jeeps can be rented for park trips from Ramnagar.
• Treks : tourists are not allowed to walk inside the park, but only to go trekking around the park in the company of a guide. The winter season is cold, so tourists should make proper arrangements for their clothing, if they are traveling in the winter season.
• Walking Safaris : are possible in the buffer zone areas - and very rewarding with Corbett having a very healthy and lush, rich buffer zone around; look for lodges around with trained staff for the same.
• Kalagarh Dam : is dam located in the south-west of the wildlife sanctuary. This is one of the best places for a bird watching tour. Lots of migratory waterfowl comes here in the winters.
• Corbett Falls : is a 20 m (66 ft) water fall situated 25 km (16 mi) from Ramnagar, and 4 km (2.5 mi) from Kaladhungi, on the Kaladhungi–Ramnagar highway. The water falls is surrounded by dense forests and pin drop silence.
• Garjiya Devi Temple : is sacred to Garjiya Devi and is mostly visited by the traveller during the Kartik Poornima (November – December). It is a prominent temple located on the bank of river Kosi, amidst the hilly terrains of Uttarakhand, nearby Garjiya village, at a distance of 14 km. from Ramnagar, Uttarakhand, India.