Discover India Series: Jhalana, the Home of Leopards in Rajasthan
India, famed for its intriguing wildlife, has a lot to treat the eyes of wildlife lovers. Featuring a diverse mix of habitats like jungles, alpine forests, and deserts, it homes spectacular flora and fauna worth encountering.
And if India’s outdoors fascinate you, particularly legendry leopards, Jhalana Leopard Reserve in Jaipur, Rajasthan should be high on your list. It takes perseverance, and of course, a bit of luck to spot out wild cats, but Jhalana won’t keep you waiting.
In the bygone era, shikar expeditions were the big games exclusively reserved for the Royal families. Tucked away amidst the rugged Aravallis, Jhalana was the famous hunting ground of the Jaipur royals who shot down tigers and Leopards there.
Overlooking the forested valley, Shikar Oudi, the hunting palace, still stands tall above the centuries-old boundary walls and is a watchtower that is now open to visitors.
Back in 1943, the last tigress was hunted down from the ramparts of the palace by the erstwhile Maharani of Jaipur, Gayatri Devi. Since then, tigers were spotted irregularly in the area, and ultimately there was no sign of them in Jhalana. It was then, the territories of Jhalana were taken over by the Indian Leopard.
In the year 1949, post-independence led to Jaipur becoming the capital of the larger Rajasthan State. The expansion of the city of Jaipur increased the risk of encroachment of the forest covers. To stop urban construction, Jhalana was declared a Forest Reserve in the early 1960s. This step slowly revived the local wildlife, and Leopards became the apex predators of Jhalana.
With the inception of Project Leopard - India’s first leopard protection and conservation programme, in the year 2017, Jhalana was officially declared a Leopard Reserve.
Kikar (Prosopis juliflora) and khejri (Prosopis cineraria), dry grass, and species of thorny plants grow in the Jhalana Reserve that stretches across 400 acres. Grasslands here serve as hiding spots for a Leopard’s prey and also affect the predator’s movement filling its hunting territory with obstructions.
Towering grasslands also offer the benefit of an excellent camouflage to the Leopards with pale yellow color coats marked with a rosette that blend perfectly into the craggy terrain. These exceptional climbers can be spotted resting on the branches of a tree, or enjoying a nap in the thickets.
A wildlife safari across Jhalana’s natural habitat opens up a window into the wild kingdom. Apart from Leopards, striped hyenas are known, predators. One can witness the presence of foxes, jackals, chital deer, langurs, wild pigs, nilgai, and monitor lizards.
A hotspot for birdwatchers, Jhalana also homes spotted owls, rock-eagle, pigeons, robins, partridges, buntings, peacocks, doves, and woodpeckers. Eurasian and Indian rollers, Indian pitta, honey buzzard, sparrow hawk, short-toed eagle, and serpent eagle are the migratory birds that pay a visit at Jhalana.
The Jhalana Leopard Reserve remains open round the year for visitors to delight in safari tours. Unlike most protected wildlife reserves that stay closed in the monsoons, Jhalana remains open, even in the rainy season.
The visitors have to abide by the entry timings as per the seasons.
November to April serves the perfect time of the year to visit the Jhalana Leopard Reserve. Nature lovers, bird watchers, and wildlife photographers can hop in for a Jhalana Leopard Safari and enjoy close encounters with the big cats.
This time of the year is pleasing, and nature is in full bloom, making the surroundings extremely enchanting. The lush green wilderness and the fresh air make Jhalana an ideal spot for tourists.
Nearest Airport: situated at a distance of 8.1 km from the Jhalana Wildlife Sanctuary, Jaipur International Airport is the nearest airport. One can hire either a taxi or a shared vehicle from the airport to reach the destination.
Nearest Bus Stop: positioned at a distance of 10 km, Narayan Singh Circle is the nearest bus stop to the Jhalana Wildlife Sanctuary. One can hire either a taxi or a shared vehicle from the bus stand to reach.
Nearest Railway Station: sited at a distance of 13 km from the Jhalana Wildlife Sanctuary, Jaipur Junction is the nearest railway station. One can hire either a taxi or a shared vehicle from the bus stand to reach.
If you haven’t visited Jhalana yet, now is the time to hit the gaunt lanes of this natural paradise. Spying a leopard in the jungle will be an experience that is going to stay with you for a lifetime.
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