Jhalana forest safari: is the proposed hike in ticket price justified?
Jhalana is now a hot tourist destination in Jaipur, but lacks even basic facilities for tourists
Update: The state government has announced new rates for Jhalana Jungle safari. Click on the link below to know more:
Jaipur: Tourists coming to Jhalana for a forest safari currently pay Rs 350 to take their own cars into the jungle. Besides, the forest department charges Rs 100 and Rs 800 per person as entry fee for domestic and foreign tourists respectively. But from April 21, the ticket price will likely go up dramatically as tourists will have to hire gypsies to be provided by a private contractor. The price may go up to Rs 3,000.
While the entry fee is yet to be announced officially, it is quite obvious that the forest department wants to milk the growing popularity of Jhalana safari on the lines of Ranthambore tiger reserve and Sariska tiger reserve.
Jhalana Nature Park has become a hot tourist destination in Jaipur, but the forest department has done little to ensure basic facilities for tourists.
“They don’t even have toilets. The whole area around the ticket window stinks. And, they are planning to raise the ticket price. It is definitely not justified,” said Kailash Sharma, a wildlife photographer from Jaipur who visit Jhalana forest frequently.
The Rajasthan government is privatizing ecotourism destinations in the state. As part of the project, the forest department has roped in a private contractor to take tourists on forest safari in Jhalana.
Spread over 33 sq km east of Jaipur, the Jhalana forest area is said to have 20 leopards. Located barely 3.5 km from the World Trade Park, the forest, over the years has become a favourite leopard sighting destination.
It was yet unclear whether the forest department would allow visitors to opt for trekking on foot or on bicycles. Currently, visitors can enter the Jhalana Reserve Park after showing an identification document and paying a nominal entry fee.
Jhalana forest has emerged as a great alternative to Ranthambore and Sariska. While the main attraction of the Jhalana forest is the growing population of leopards and panthers, there are many other attractions which draw wildlife lovers.
There are nearly 20 panthers, 2513 blue bulls, 19 wolves, 46 chinkara, 35 hyenas, 25 wild cates, 22 black bucks, 91 foxes, 71 sehi and several other wild animals including Indian rock python, according to the latest census. Jhalana forest is also home to several species of birds like grey francolin, white-breasted kingfisher, yellow-throated sparrow, and grey-backed shrike.