On a cold February morning, we started off from Jaipur towards Tal Chappar Wildlife Sanctuary. Earlier, driving inside the sanctuary was not permitted but now it’s possible by paying an entry fee for the vehicle. Driving trips are something that I look forward to. It definitely adds to the excitement of traveling.
Tal Chappar is relatively lesser known wildlife sanctuary in India. However, that’s not the case among the wildlife and birding enthusiasts, since it is the only wildlife sanctuary reserved for the Black Bucks.
Tal Chappar is close to 220 Km from Jaipur, located close to Sujangarh, a major town in the vicinity in Churu district in Rajasthan. A popular religious destination, nearby is Salasar, famed for the Balaji or Hanumanji temple drawing devotees from the far and wide. It was an erstwhile gaming sanctuary of the royals of Bikaner state, during the pre-independence period.
Jaipur-Bikaner highway has undergone a big change over the years. Earlier, it was a 2 lane highway but now it’s a 4 lane national highway. I can vividly recall witnessing sand dunes on this highway, which is just not possible anymore.
Jaipur to Sikar section has the highest traffic flow on this highway. We took an exit from the Jaipur-Bikaner highway on the Sikar-bypass section. Switching to the Sikar-Salasar road, we were greeted with a two lane road. The traffic was low and the road was bumpy. The speedometer never crossed 50 Kmph on this road. One gets to experience the rustic side of the rural Rajasthan. There are no highway Dhabas on this route. Commercialization one gets to experience on most of the highways is missing here. Driving between Salasar town to Sujangarh, is one of the best section of this driving journey. This 20 km stretch is a fun to drive with a minimal traffic. Upon reaching Sujangarh, we headed towards the Ratangarh town bypassing Sujangarh through the Mega Highway. Do note that you need to turn left towards Chappar town after around 12 Km. Sujangarh to Tal Chappar is about 16 Km. Upon reaching Chappar town, we took a left turn towards the Tal Chappar sanctuary.
Upon entering Tal Chappar WLS gate, we paid fee for both car and the occupants.
Grassland dominates the topography of Tal Chappar. The grassland in this wild life sanctuary reminds me of the famed African Savannah!
Apart from the Black Bucks, one also gets to see the migratory birds as well as some rare raptors.
Demoiselle cranes, a migratory bird from Mongolian-Siberian region are commonly seen at Tal Chappar WLS between Oct-Feb period.
It’s a good idea to drive an SUV to Tal Chappar as one can get better views due to its high ground clearance. However, the ground surface is flat and poses no problem for even small cars and sedans. Ensure tyers of your car are not worn out with flat treads. I usually depend on CEAT brand for tyres.
After spending some good time observing Black bucks and migratory birds, it was time to head back.
Best time to visit Tal Chappar is October to February.
Accommodation and facilities at Tal Chappar are limited. There is a forest rest house adjoining the sanctuary. When I last visited the sanctuary in 2015, a wildlife enthusiast ran the facilities. I can’t vouch for the current status. I’m sure with limited number of visitors, it’s hard to maintain such facilities. Some of the known birding enthusiasts, who visit Tal Chappar regularly prefer to stay at hotels near Sujangarh Railway station. Do note that these are quite basic. If you are planning to visit Tal Chappar, do check before you visit.
The topography of Tal Chappar WLS is one of its kind in India.
I generally follow these safety precautions during a driving trip.
- I ensure that car is in good condition for a long drive. Tyre, lights, brakes etc must be in a top notch condition.
- I always carry all relevant papers related to the car, insurance, and permits.
- Tyre pressure must be correct. Under inflation or over inflation will wear out Tyre faster. Wheel alignment enhances the life of Tyre. Spare Tyre should be in ready to use condition.
- I prefer to drive at a consistent speed without jumping lanes on the highway.
- I stick to the permitted driving speed as well as the road conditions.
- I always keep the emergency helpline number of car service center handy.