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Facets Of India: Jim Corbett - Tribute To A Master Story Teller - 2

...Corbett Park is one huge complex of wild life, woods and water . Originally created by Jim Corbett and his friends as “Hailey National Park”, this 201 sq. mile sanctuary was renamed in his honour within a year of his death...

Poet and columnist Hariharan Balakrishnan continues his series of articles on Jim Corbett, a remarkable man in the history of India during British rule.

Later, in the 1970s, I was amazed to find a Pharmacology professor (of all people!) who had translated at least three of his books into Oriya. Oriya (“Odia” as it is correctly spelt and pronounced today) is a language spoken and written by a few million people in the east coast of India which has a rich tradition and lineage of literary, graphic and dramatic history that dates back many centuries. I was thrilled, since I belong to this State. Professor Prafulla Kumar Kar, who later became the principal of the oldest Medical College in this State, has also passed into history. But then, he proved that legends live on by inspiring future generations.

I got a chance to visit the Corbett Park a few years ago. The trip was made possible courtesy my good friend C V Raju who read my story about the legendary domesticated tigress Khairi in a magazine. (More on that in a future essay). The leader of our group was V R Chitrapu, an IFS (Indian Forest Service) veteran recently retired as the top Conservator of Tamil Nadu in South India.The 380 km drive from Delhi further north should have normally taken 8 hours. But we lost a good 3 hours due to the enveloping fog en route. Visibility was often near-zero, a surprise in mid-February. For me, the abiding picture of Uttar Pradesh en route was one of fabricated four-wheelers run by diesel engines normally used for farm pumps. As we entered Uttaranchal, there was a visible change in the scenario and a palpable difference in people’s body language, mores, and modes of transport. Each State in India has its unique style, I thought.

At last, we reached the Corbett Park. Before getting into the Park, we had to fill forms, get permission for accommodation and pay the fee at the office in Ramnagar, which is the village closest to the Park. In Ramnagar, Jim Corbett’s name is evoked by any shop or service- eating place, meeting place, cyber café or saloon. Corbett Park is one huge complex of wild life, woods and water . Originally created by Jim Corbett and his friends as “Hailey National Park”, this 201 sq. mile sanctuary was renamed in his honour within a year of his death. Today, 110 species of trees, more than 50 of mammals, about 600 bird species and 25 kinds of reptiles find a home in this vast haven of conservation that is a fitting tribute to the man.

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