Chambal, Uttar Pradesh


The once notorious land of dacoits, Chambal has finally emerged out of its infamous reputation to woo nature lovers, who are raring to ‘shoot’ (the non-violent way) rare birds and animals. If you’re looking at a day trip, you could stay at Agra (3-hour drive) or Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary (2.5-hour drive) and for a longer stay there are several forest rest houses. But the heritage Chambal Safari Lodge is possibly the best base close to Chambal National Sanctuary. Thanks to Draupadi’s curse, the Chambal River has an ‘unholy’ status and hence is not polluted by bathing devotees. A leisurely boat ride in search of Gangetic River Dolphins, ghariyals, turtles, otters and over 330 species of birds is a lovely treat. And a camel or jeep safari is the best way to explore remote villages and meet the elusive black buck at the Sarus Conservation Reserve. Fort Ater, which has  witnessed several wars between Rajputs, Mughals and Marathas, is a must visit. Cycle through villages and watch villagers collecting water chestnuts, from marshy water, in their round metallic boats, or walk through yellow mustard fields. By the River Yamuna is the Bateshwar temple complex, which has over 100 temples, dedicated to Lord Shiva; this is also where you’ll find the snake-worshipping Naga Sadhus, who live in little caves carved out in the ravines.

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