A very interesting fable revolves around the origin of the Chambal river. They say that the river actually originated from the blood of cows that were sacrificed by a king striving for absolute power. His lunacy, in return, prompted the priestly class to curse the water of the river and label it unholy. Now, this could possibly be one of the reasons why no industrial town was established near it, apart from Kota.
On the flipside, the story has a much positive facet too. The absence of polluting units in the vicinity has essentially contributed to the river Chambal being one of North India's cleanest rivers. Therefore, it's been home to a vast array of fauna. Today, Chambal's nasty predators are the freshwater crocodiles and the gharials-the only surviving member of their species.
And on the banks of the river Chambal, at the confluence of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, the Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary is located. The forest has been devoted to the protection and conservation of fundamentally endangered gharials, the delegated red-crowned turtles and the fragile Ganges waterway dolphins.
There's good news for enthusiastic birdwatchers as well. This is the most famous place to spot the threatened Indian skimmers. In short, the Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary is paradise for the ones who are passionate about catching a glimpse of a rare breed of animals, up close!
How About A Road Trip?
The Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary is an oasis of peace and tranquility; think of fresh air amidst lush green meadows. And all of these merely at a stone's throw away from some of the major Indian cities.
You can opt to head out from Delhi in the morning, drive across the magnificent new Agra expressway, have lunch en route and enjoy a river safari in the afternoon. Otherwise, on reaching, you can also go for a camel safari in the ravines of Chambal, or chase the blackbucks with the setting sun guiding you, or simply take a bird-spotting walk.
Spirituality seekers, visit the temple town of Bateshwar where its long line of ghats are dotted with a series of temples. You can either plan an overnight trip from Delhi, or choose to stay longer to soak the beauty of wildlife all in.
If you're road-tripping from Bhopal, you've to go via Gwalior to reach Chambal Sanctuary. From Gwalior, head towards Morena which is some 12 km away from the Chambal river. The boat ride across the river can show you some gharials, a few muggars at a distance and maybe a couple of Gangetic dolphins too.
And about the red-crowned turtles, even if you're not lucky enough to spot them in the wild, you can definitely check out the hatchings at the breeding centre.
Things You Can Do At Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary
PC: Charles J Sharp
The landscape of this region is splendid which was hidden from most of the outside world because of its notorious past. Yes, these dense forests used to be the infamous hideouts of many dacoits in the past.
However, flowing with the river is undoubtedly the best thing to do at Chambal. In the course of your boat ride, you will get to spot many birds and aquatic animals, which besides a lovely experience also offers ample opportunities for stunning photographs. A river safari by the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department costs ₹ 1,500 for Indians and ₹ 2,750 for foreigners. Timings are 7 am to 11 am and 2 pm to 6 pm.
Birdwatching from this spot can be an extraordinary experience too. In between November and March, you can spot ample migratory birds, such as ruddy shelducks to bar-headed geese. On top of that, the sanctuary is the breeding site of the rare Indian skimmer.
Best Time To Visit Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary
The span in between October and March is preferably the best time to visit Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary. It is during these seasons that the place is going to have pleasant weather conditions and the chances of spotting wildlife also remain much higher compared to the scorching summers.
How To Reach Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary
By Air: The nearest airport to the sanctuary is in Gwalior which is connected with regular flights from Delhi and Bhopal.
By Train: The nearest railway station is also at Gwalior, though Agra is also very close to the sanctuary.
By Road: If you're traveling by road, note that the NH2 connects Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary with Agra and Delhi.