National Chambal Sanctuary
Once home to Phoolan Devi and Paan Singh Tomar, the National Chambal Sanctuary is now teeming with rare and endangered species.
Chambal was once infamous for its denizens – the dacoits and bandits; almost every Indian who grew up in the ’70s, ‘80s and ’90s are familiar with these notorious names – Daaku Maan Singh, Phoolan Devi a.k.a. the Bandit Queen, Paan Singh Tomar and many more. The labyrinths of the Chambal ravines and its dry scrub forests gave generations of bandits a safe shelter to play hide and seek with the governmental forces. But the presence of these bandits and dacoits saw the area benefit from an environmental perspective. Due to their presence, the area has seen no industrial development and the absence of polluting units in the vicinity has essentially contributed to the survival of the Chambal river and for it to thrive untouched and unpolluted. In fact, today, it is one of India’s most pristine rivers.
A 400km stretch of the Chambal river with up to 6km wide ravines on either side, this sanctuary is a tri-state protected area with a total area of 1235 sq. km.
Rajmata Vijaya Raje Scindia Airport, popularly known as Gwalior Airport (IATA Code: GWL) (106km approx. from National Chambal Sanctuary/ 3-hour drive via NH719) is the nearest airport. There are regular flights from Kolkata, New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad by Air India, Indigo, Air Asia & SpiceJet.
Delhi International Airport is a 5-hour drive via the Agra-Lucknow Expressway.
The nearest railhead is in Agra, just 70km away. Gwalior could be another option, which is around 106k from the sanctuary.
Situated on NH45, National Chambal Sanctuary is well connected to all the major cities in North India like Delhi, Agra, Gwalior, Lucknow, Jaipur and Bharatpur. You can drive your own car or hire a car from Agra or Delhi to reach National Chambal Sanctuary.
Best Time To Visit
Though the sanctuary is open all through the year, the wildlife activity varies from season to season.
- Winter (November – February): National Chambal Sanctuary draws maximum influx of visitors during the months of October – November and February – March every year. However, the October – November period is considered the best time to visit Chambal. Winter is cool and pleasant, the mercury doesn’t dip too low and it ranges between 10°C at night to 30°C during daytime. During this time, the wetlands of Chambal act as a temporary home to a myriad of species that migrate from the suburbs of Europe, China, Serbia and Mongolia, making it a haven for bird watchers and photographers.
- Summer (April – June): Summer is not a good time to visit Chambal. It is extremely hot and dry, making the travel experience very unpleasant. The day temperature rises up to 45-47°C. There would be hardly any animal activity during this time.
- Monsoon (August – September): The region receives heavy rainfall during monsoon. This makes boat safari very risky. It is better to avoid Chambal during monsoon.