Located near the Indo-Nepal border, Dudhwa National Park in Uttar Pradesh is a major wildlife conservation site and an important reserve under the Project Tiger project for the conservation of Indian tigers.
About 222 km north of Lucknow at the foothills of the Himalayas, the national park plays a vital role in maintaining the ecological balance in the region. It was established in 1958 as a wildlife sanctuary for Swamp Deer (Barasinghas), declared a national park in 1977 and a Tiger Reserve in 1988.
The Dudhwa National Park along with Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary and Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary displays an amazing diversity of flora and fauna. The protected areas of the national park and the two wildlife sanctuaries together form the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve under Project Tiger.
The Dudhwa Tiger Reserve covers an area of about 490 sq km. Kishanpur, spread over an area of about 204 sq km, was the first of the three to be declared as a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1972. Katerniaghat with an area of 440 sq km was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1975 and the Dudhwa National Park covering an area of about 680 sq km became a wildlife sanctuary in 1977. The three wildlife reserves form contiguous belts of dense forest enabling the free movement of the wild animals.
The vegetation is mostly deciduous with the best Sal trees found in the region that are favored by the 450 resident and migratory birds. The most popular birds found in the region are Hornbill, Fishing Eagle and Serpent Eagle. Many migratory birds flock to the lakes in the winter making it the ideal time for bird watching. Besides tigers, panthers, leopards, one-horned rhinoceros and barasinghas (swamp deers) along with endangered species like the Hispid Hare and Bengal Florican are commonly found in the park.
Lakes and rivers inside the national park provide freshwater for the reserve throughout the year. Tributaries of the Ghagra River flow through the park. The water bodies also support a wide variety of wildlife like turtles, crocodiles and Gangetic dolphins.
The national park plays a pivotal role in maintaining a vital ecological balance and biodiversity in the region. It is popular among bird watchers, wildlife watchers and photographers.
The park is open from 6 am to 6 pm and entry is open to all for a nominal admission fee.
There are a few forest lodges, a resort, dormitory and a forest hut available for accommodation in the park. All the accommodation options in the park are maintained by the Dudhwa National Park administration. A canteen in the administrative office of the park serves very basic vegetarian food. It is advisable to carry food and water while visiting the park. The best time to visit the Dudhwa National Park is between December and February.