Betla National Park
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Betla National Park is a national park located in the Chota Nagpur Plateau of the Latehar district of the Indian state of Jharkhand, in India. The park boasts a wide variety of wild life. "Betla" is an acronym of the following words: bison, elephant, tiger, leopard, axis-axis.
Initially comprising the 1,026 km2 of the Palamau Tiger Reserve, an additional 226 km2 was added to the park in 1989 and 63 km2 of the Mahuadar wolf sanctuary. Betla was one of the first national parks in India to become a tiger reserve under Project Tiger. The park is under administration of the forest departments.
The forests of the park have a vast range of vegetation consisting of tropical wet evergreen forests in the lower reaches, mixed (moist & dry) deciduous forests in the middle and temperate alpine forests in the upper reaches including sal and bamboo as the major components along with a number of medicinal plants. There are grasslands in the flowing area of the Koel river. Itself and its tributaries run through the northern portion of the park.
The park has a variety of diverse eco-systems and plenty of wild animals. Elephants in large numbers are seen mostly after the monsoons up to the time when water holes begin to dry up in March.
Permanent residents include as predators sloth bear, panther, and wolf. Jackal and hyena are common scavengers. Large herds of gaur and chital are commonly seen. Large families of langurs are an ever present attraction, as are rhesus monkeys. Other animals to be found in the NP are mouse deer, sambhar, four-horned antelopes, nilgai, kakar, small Indian civets, ant eating pangolin, porcupine and mongoose.
The park's rich bird life features the hornbill, peafowl, red jungle fowl, black partridge, white-necked stork, black ibis, swamp grey, quail, the pied hornbill, wagtails, the harial, doves, drongo, the crested serpent-eagle, forest owlets, the papeeha and other birds usually found in dry deciduous forests. The famous Kamaldah lake attracts several varieties of water birds including the common whistling and cotton teal, the comb duck, snipe and geese. There are currently no tigers.
Other points of interest
There are waterfalls and hot springs.
Inside the park, there are two historical forts. One of them, situated near the Betla at 400 ft (120 m), was erected in the 16th century as the seat of Chero Kings. It is now deep inside the forest, but the main sentinel of the old fort is visible high up on the hill with defences in three directions and three main gates
Described as one of the finest parks in Indias north-east for observing a variety of wild life from close range, there are elephant rides and jeeps available with guides and spotlight for venturing inside the park. Watch towers and ground hides have been constructed to view the wild life.
The park is open throughout the year. Wildlife sightings are highest in the hot season (May to June), when foliage is not as thick. The most comfortable time to visit in terms of climate is between November and March.
Director, Project Tiger (Jail Compound), Betla P.O.Daltonganj Palamau Phone: 0656-286350.
By air: The nearest airport, Birsa Munda Airport in Ranchi, is connected by daily flights to all major Indian cities. Patna airport is around 250 road-km from Betla. Most resorts have pick-ups facilities. Jharkhand Tourism also arranges pick-ups on advance notice.
By rail: The nearest railway station to Betla is at Barwadih Junction; it's 15 km by taxi or bus. The station features connections from Daltonganj, Latehar, Ranchi, Sasaram, Gaya, Patna, Varanasi, Allahabad, Kolkata, Bhopal,Dehri On Sone, Delhi and Amritsar.
By road: 10 road-km southeast of Daltonganj leave the NH75 to take the 15 km to Betla on a secondary road.
Where to stay
The accommodation facilities in the tourist complex include a three star hotel, tourist lodges with canteen, log huts and tree houses inside the forest with fully furnished suites. The tree house overlooks a watering hole a few yards away where the animals gather in the summers to quench their thirst. STD/ISD, Postal and Internet facilities are available in the reserve area.
Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation operates the Van Vihar for accommodation. A stay outside the park is possible at Betla, Kerh, Maromar, Mundu and Baresand.