Situated in the district of Daltonganj, Palamau Sanctuary is spread over an area of 979sq.km. The core area of 232 sq. kms of the sanctuary was declared as Betla National park in September1989. The park occupies the western parts of the Chotanagpur plateau and was constituted in the year 1960 as an extension of the Hazaribagh National park. Palamau has the distinction of being the forest where the world's first tiger census was enumerated in 1932. The park became one of the earliest 9 tiger reserves in India under 'Project Tiger' in 1974. The forests of the park have a vast range of vegetation consisting of tropical wet evergreen forests in the lower reaches, mixed (moist & dry) deciduous forests in the middle and temperate alpine forests in the upper reaches including Sal and bamboo as the major components along with a number of medicinal plants. The river Koel and its tributaries run through the northern portion of the park. There are grasslands in the river flowing area. It has waterfalls and hot springs too. Once the seat of Chero kings, there are two historical forts, one of them belonging to the 16th century deep inside the forest. The main sentinel of the old fort is visible high up on the hill with defences in three directions and three main gates. The diversity of eco-system promotes a wide variety of fauna consisting of elephant, panther, leopard, wild boar, tiger, gaur, sloth bear, sambar, chital, nuntjac, nilgai, langur, mouse deer, monkeys, small Indian civet, mongoose, jackals, porcupine, ant eating pangolin etc. Elephants in large numbers are seen mostly during the monsoons up to the time when water sources begin to dry up in March. Jackal and hyena are common scavengers. Bird-life is rich featuring the hornbill, peafowl, red jungle fowl, black partridge, white necked stork, black ibis, swamp grey, quail, the pied born bill, wagtails, the harial, doves, drongo, the crested serpent-eagle, forest owls, the papiha and other birds usually found in dry deciduous forests. The famous Kamaldah lake attracts several varieties of water birds including the common whistling and cotton teal, the comb duck, snipe and geese. The rhesus monkey and the common languor provide attraction to children visiting the park. Described as one of the finest parks in the north-east for observing a variety of wild life from close range, there are elephant rides and jeeps available with guides and spotlight for venturing inside the park. Watch towers and ground hides have been constructed to view the wild life. Only group travel is recommended. Timings are from 0500 to 1900 hours. Where to stay : The accommodation facilities in the tourist complex, include a three star hotel, tourist lodges with canteen, log huts and tree houses inside the forest with fully furnished suites. The tree house overlooks a watering hole a few yards away where the animals gather in the summers to quench their thirst. STD/ ISD, Postal and Internet facilities are available in the reserve area. Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation's Van Vihar is available for stay. Phone: 06562-86513 How to get there Air : Ranchi, situated around 140 km away, is the nearest airport with regular air connections to Delhi, Calcutta, Patna and Lucknow. Rail : The nearest important railway station is Daltonganj (25 km away), connected to many places in the region with regular trains. Ranchi and Gaya are also convenient railway stations for the tourists coming from Delhi and Calcutta respectively. Road : Betla is well connected to Daltonganj (25 kms) via Khudia morh (6km), Ranchi (140 kms), Hazaribagh (190 kms), Netarhat (211 kms), Patna (384 kms), Calcutta (575 kms) etc by regular buses run by the state transport corporation and private companies.
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