(Images from Koshy Koshy, Clpramod, Free Spirit and Koshy Koshy) Overview A lesser known wildlife sanctuary located in Rajasthan is the Tal Chappar Sanctuary, also known as the Tal Chaper Sanctuary. During the 1920s, the sanctuary was a game reserve for the Maharaja of Bikaner, Maharaja Ganga Singh. Back then, Maharaja Ganga Singh was fond of hunting for wild animals and his usual hunts were blackbucks and tigers. As such, the sanctuary was established to fulfil for his hunting desires, it is believed that there was a day that he hunted for around 100 plus blackbucks! Fortunately, when hunting was banned in the succeeding years, the Tal Chappar Sanctuary was then established, to preserve the blackbuck population of the region, around the year 1962. However, it was only in the 20th century when the sanctuary gained some prominence, after it was renovated and handled by Mr. Surat Singh Poonia. Location The Tal Chappar Sanctuary is located in Chappar in the Churu district of Rajasthan. It is merely 132 kilometres away from Bikaner and about 239 kilometres away from Jaipur. From Delhi, the Tal Chappar Sanctuary is about 340 kilometres to its west. The sanctuary is situated more to the northeastern part of Rajasthan and is, in a way, more remotely located, as it is on the interior of the state. If you're planning on going by train, the nearest railway stations to Tal Chappar Sanctuary are in Ratangarh and Sujangarh. You can also choose to reach the sanctuary by road from cities like Ajmer, Bikaner and Jaipur. How to Reach 1. By Train - As mentioned above, the nearest railway stations to the Tal Chappar Sanctuary are in Ratangarh and Sujangarh. The Ratangarh Junction Railway Station is about 39 kilometres away from the Tal Chappar Sanctuary. It has direct connections to cities like Delhi, Haridwar and Kolkata. If you're coming from other cities, you can simply reach Delhi and board a train from there going to the Ratangarh Junction Railway Station. The Sujangarh Railway Station is about 14 kilometres away from the Tal Chappar Sanctuary. The railway station has direct trains from Delhi but their frequency is quite lesser. 2. By Bus - The Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation (RSRTC) operates buses from Delhi to various cities in Rajasthan, like Ajmer, Bikaner and Jaipur. You can combine bus journeys to reach the Tal Chappar Sanctuary. For instance, if you're coming from Delhi, you can reach Jaipur first by RSRTC bus. From Jaipur, you can ride another RSRTC bus to Sujangarh which is merely 14 kilometres away from the Tal Chappar Sanctuary. From there, you can just ride a taxi to reach the sanctuary. The RSRTC buses from Delhi to Bikaner also pass through Ratangarh along the way so you can just alight at this city and ride a taxi to the Tal Chappar Sanctuary from it. 3. By Road - If you have your own vehicle, you can take the road to reach the Tal Chappar Sanctuary. Usually, travellers take the Jaipur Bikaner Highway since it passes through the towns of Ratangarh and Sujangarh along the way. The highway is a four-lane one, which takes you through the rural side of Rajasthan. Make sure you bring your own snacks and beverages as the highway is not that developed yet so availability of tourist facilities along the way are sparse. Best Time to Visit There are three distinct seasons in the sanctuary and its surrounding areas, namely: winter, summer and monsoon. The winter season extends from October to February and is undoubtedly, the best time for exploring the sanctuary. Aside from blackbucks, the sanctuary has a healthy population of avifauna which increases in number during migratory winter season. Temperatures during this season range from 10°C to 15°C. But it's also not unusual for temperatures to drop as low as 6°C, as this is one of the coldest regions of Rajasthan. Make sure that you bring some light jackets especially if you're not used to the cold. Winter in Sanctuary (Image from Koshy Koshy) The summer season extends from March to June, which comprise the hottest months of the year. You can easily spot blackbucks plus the other mammal species of the sanctuary during this season. Bird sightings would be more rare though except for the resident bird species of the sanctuary. Temperatures are at their all-time high during this season, reaching around 45°C at times. The presence of hot winds, known as loos, can also add to the uncomfortable atmosphere and sometimes, can also lead to heat strokes. If visiting during this time, it's a must to stay hydrated and wear light cotton clothing. The monsoon season extends from July to September, which sees scanty rainfall in the region. Humidity is also high during this time which can make for a very uncomfortable safari. A good feature of this season though is the denser grassland coverings, which is a treat for the nature lovers. Animal sightings are infrequent and bird sightings are also uncommon except for the last weeks of September, when migratory birds start to flock to the region. Temperatures remain roughly the same at around, 35°C to 40°C. Main Staying Option - Forest House The nearest staying option is the Tal Chappar Forest Rest House, operated and managed by Pratap Singh Rathore. It is just a few minutes away from the Tal Chappar Sanctuary itself. The rest house has a soft pink facade and a traditional Rajasthani design. You can choose from two types of rooms, either an air-conditioned one or a non air-conditioned one. ⤳ Room Rates in Tal Chappar Forest Rest House ⬿ TypeNumber in PropertyAmenitiesRateStandard Non AC Room2Electric Fan, Double Bed and Attached BathroomRs. 2,200Standard AC Room4Air Conditioning/Heater, Double Bed and Attached BathroomRs. 2,900These are the different types of rooms in the property. The Standard Non AC Room features an electric fan, double bed and attached bathroom. It costs Rs. 2,200 per night. The Standard AC Room features air conditioning/heater, double bed and attached bathroom. Each room can accommodate two persons comfortably but can accommodate a maximum of three persons, with an additional charge of Rs. 700 per excess person. Meals are not yet included in the package and you need to pay Rs. 300 per meal or Rs. 900 per day for all meals including breakfast, lunch and dinner. ⤳ Contact Details of Tal Chappar Forest Rest House ⬿ CategoryInformationGeneral Landline01 568 242 351 Caretaker Number (Girdhari)+91 99 2907 2549Owner Number (Pratap Singh Rathore)+91 94 1441 2351The table above highlights the contact details of the owner and caretaker of the property. It's best to book a room in advance and inquire whether they're open to tourists as well. Through the rates are on the higher side, this property is located at the nearest point to the sanctuary. Thus, you can truly enjoy being closer to nature and wildlife if you stay here. Other Staying Options - Guest Houses There are some other staying options in the nearest town of Sujangarh. However, the options are still very basic but can provide a bit more comfort and flexibility for guests. Their rates are generally lower as well so they are good options for those who are on a budget. Do take into account the cost of travelling back and forth from the town to the sanctuary, especially if you intend to stay for a few days in the area. We would highlight two guest houses that you can choose from in the Sujangarh town. The first one is known as the Hotel Rich Garden, located right at the heart of the town. From the guest house, the Tal Chappar Sanctuary is 10 kilometres away while the Sujangarh Railway Station is just 500 metres away from it. The property has two types of rooms that you can choose from, Standard Non AC Room or Standard AC Room. They provide for room service meals outsourced through other restaurants. They also have internet facilities though you need to pay for a surcharge to access it. Rooms are more comfortable here with amenities like television, balcony and direct dial phone. ⤳ Room Rates in Hotel Rich Garden ⬿ TypeAmenitiesRateStandard Non AC RoomElectric Fan, Double Bed, Television, Landline and Attached BathroomRs. 1,167Standard AC RoomAir Conditioning/Heater, Double Bed, Television, Landline and Attached BathroomRs. 1,667The table above highlights the room rates in the Hotel Rich Garden. For the Standard Non AC Room, it costs around Rs. 1,167 per night and for the Standard AC Room, it costs around Rs. 1,667 per night. These rates don't include the meals yet so you have to add that into the cost. Hotel Rich Garden can be found in online booking portals like Trip Advisor or Yatra. But their contact details would also be given below. Hotel Rich Garden Standard AC Room The second one is the Manu Home Stay, also located in Sujangarh. From the guest house, the Tal Chappar Sanctuary is about 13 kilometres away and the Sujangarh Railway Station is about 23 kilometres away. The property has three types of rooms, namely, Single Room, Double Room and Triple Room. Rooms are very basic but spacious, featuring a homely and cosy appeal. The best part is that their rates already include both breakfast and dinner. This is more of a home stay, as their name suggests so the guest house facilities are more limited. ⤳ Room Rates in Manu Home Stay ⬿ TypeAmenitiesRateSingle RoomAir Conditioning, Double Bed and Attached BathroomRs. 1,000Double RoomAir Conditioning, Double Bed and Attached BathroomRs. 1,300Triple RoomAir Conditioning, Double Bed and Attached BathroomRs. 1,800The table above highlights the room rates of the Manu Home Stay. All their rooms have air conditioning even at their very affordable rates. The Single Room costs Rs. 1,000 per night, the Double Room costs Rs. 1,300 per night and the Triple Room costs Rs. 1,800 per night. As mentioned above, the rates are already inclusive of breakfast and dinner. They also provide for railway transfers at a surcharge of Rs. 750. ⤳ Contact Details for Guest Houses ⬿ Guest HouseAddressContact NumberHotel Rich GardenJaipur Bikaner Road, Near Petrol Pump, Ashok Circle, Sujangarh, Rajasthan 331507, India+91 15 6822 4466Manu Home StayLaxminarayan Gurjar, Behind Tantia Hospital, Near Government School, Bidasar, Rajasthan 331501, India+91 88 2690 7085Sanctuary Landscapes Onto the sanctuary itself, it is distinct in that it features a wide area of open grassland. From the desert areas of Jaipur and Bikaner, you would find this oasis known as the Tal Chappar Sanctuary. Interestingly, the forests of the sanctuary are a mixture of acacia and prosopis trees. Though acacia trees are not as dominant now, there was a time when they were found bountiful in the sanctuary premises. Specifically, the Mexican acacia trees proved to be quite notorious for stripping the soils out of water and drying out the sanctuary grasslands. During that time, grasses were sparse in the sanctuary, which where the main source of nutrient of the blackbucks. It was only when Mr. Surat Singh Poonia took over the sanctuary management that things started to turn over for the good. He began by removing the Mexican acacia trees that wreaked havoc in the area. He then started planting local trees that helped in the ecology of the sanctuary. By then, the golden grasses started growing, known locally as Mothiya or simply, Mothi. These grasses have pearl-shaped seeds which lead to their name. They are supposed to have a sweet taste which attracted more blackbucks and birds to the sanctuary. Until now, the Tal Chappar Sanctuary is one of the cleanest sanctuaries in India, thanks to the management of Mr. Poonia and the cooperation of his staff. Landscapes of Tal Chapel Sanctuary (Image from Srikanth Sarathy) With this mixture of large grasslands and forests, the sanctuary is now a deemed paradise of bird watchers. Throughout the years, Mr. Poonia and his staff had also dug out various watering holes for the nourishment of the wildlife of the sanctuary. In local language, the word tal actually means a flat-lying land, which is where the sanctuary is located. The addition of the grasslands and forests, along with the various watering holes, makes the entire tal area a wildlife reserve in itself. Sanctuary Fauna Let's begin with the larger animals found in the sanctuary. Blackbucks are the main residents of the sanctuary, with numbers ranging around 2,000 to 2,500, as of latest estimates. The blackbucks are also known as the Indian antelopes, known for their long and curved horns. They also have a stark black mane though areas around the belly, chin and eyes are usually white in colour. If you're lucky, you might even spot blackbucks fighting with their horns which makes loud noises, the same noises made by those duelling with sticks or swords. Other large animals that you might be able to spot in the sanctuary are desert foxes, chinkaras, nilgais, wild boars and desert cats. Desert Fox in Sanctuary (Image from Srikanth Sarathy) There are some smaller animals that form the main predatory circle of life in the sanctuary. Reptiles like the monitor lizard and spiny-tailed lizard are favourites of the raptors. On the other hand, smaller animals like the hares, hedgehogs, Indian desert jirds and ruddy mongooses are a favourite amongst the desert foxes of the sanctuary. You can also find snakes in the sanctuary mostly of the Indian sand boa specie. Together, these animals account for the larger wildlife of the Tal Chappar Sanctuary. Sanctuary Avifauna There are over 100 resident bird species in the Tal Chappar Sanctuary. During migratory season, the number triples, as you can find over 300 species of birds in the sanctuary. As such, the Tal Chappar Sanctuary is a hotspot for avifauna biodiversity and it's not unusual to spot over a hundred bird species in just a few hours of stay. The sanctuary is also known for its raptors, bird species that feed on preys, which are quite abundant that it's not uncommon to find such birds while having their fresh kills. It's best, especially for non-expert bird watchers, to hire a guide so that you can spot such bird species more easily. For the resident bird species, one of the most commonly seen ones in the sanctuary is the black drongo. Black drongos feed mainly on small insects like termites, bees, ants, moths and beetles. They can be distinguished by their glossy feathers and distinct fork in the tail. Quite aggressive in nature, the black drongos are notorious for fighting even with birds larger their sizes. Another commonly seen bird in the sanctuary is the Indian roller. It's easy to distinguish them due to their beautiful bluish feathers and stark brown breast area. Other commonly spotted resident bird species are spot-billed ducks, Indian white-backed vultures, Indian peafowls, Indian coursers, common crested larks, jungle crows and house crows. Indian Roller in Sanctuary (Image from Koshy Koshy) If you can visit during the migratory season, then you're in luck, because then you would find a wide variety of bird species. A favourite amongst tourists is the demoiselle cranes, which are found in abundance during migratory season. Did you know that to reach India, these birds have to cross the Himalayan mountains? The journey is very difficult and unfortunately, many of them die during the migration. Known for their greyish appearance and loud trumpeting, you can also easily spot this bird specie. Raptor migratory bird species such as common kestrels, long-legged buzzards, pallid harriers, Western marsh harriers and steppe eagles can also be found during this time in the sanctuary. If you're truly lucky, you might even spot threatened or endangered species of birds like the white-rumpled vultures, Eastern imperial eagles, red-headed vultures, cinereous vultures and lesser kestrels. Common Kestrel in Sanctuary (Image from Koshy Koshy) Sanctuary Safari The Tal Chappar Sanctuary is open daily, from sunrise until sunset. Unlike other wildlife reserves in India where your safaris are timed, you can actually spend as much time inside the Tal Chappar Sanctuary as you'd like, as long as it's between sunrise to sunset. Thus, you can truly maximise your visit and enjoy bird watching. However, unlike other wildlife reserves as well, you cannot book your safari online nor does the sanctuary have their own jeeps, canters or buses. Thus, your only options are either bringing your own vehicle or hiring an SUV or jeep to tour the sanctuary. Make sure that you have a vehicle with a high ground clearance as the terrains of the sanctuary are rough and bumpy. ⤳ Entry Fees in Tal Chappar Sanctuary ⬿ Guest TypeEntrance FeeEco-Development FeeTotalIndianRs. 30Rs. 20Rs. 50ForeignerRs. 120Rs. 180Rs. 300Indian StudentRs. 14Rs. 6Rs. 20These are the entry fees for the Tal Chappar Sanctuary, as stated by the Forest Department of the Government of Rajasthan. For Indians, the entry fee is at Rs. 50, for Indian students, the entry fee is at Rs. 20 and for foreigners, the entry fee is at Rs. 300. These are just the entry fees so you need to add them accordingly depending on the type of vehicle you're bringing inside the sanctuary. ⤳ Vehicle Fees in Tal Chappar Sanctuary ⬿ Vehicle TypeEntrance FeeEco-Development FeeTotalJeep/CarRs. 50Rs. 150Rs. 200BusRs. 100Rs. 200Rs. 300MotorcyleRs. 8Rs. 22Rs. 30RickshawRs. 15Rs. 45Rs. 60The table above highlights the various vehicle fees for the Tal Chappar Sanctuary. For smaller vehicles such as jeeps, gypsies, cars or canters, the designated fee is at Rs. 200 per vehicle. For buses, the designated fee is at Rs. 300 per vehicle. For an auto-driven two-wheeler like a motorcycle, the designated fee is at Rs. 30 per vehicle. And finally, if you plan to hire an auto-rickshaw, it has a designated fee of Rs. 60 per vehicle. Conclusion This completes our guide for the Tal Chappar Sanctuary. With this guide, you can now plan your journey into one of India's most extensive blackbuck and bird sanctuaries. Located at a more isolated region in Rajasthan, the Tal Chappar Sanctuary is less famed than the Keoladeo Ghana National Park. However, when it comes to bird spotting, the sanctuary won't disappoint and is a hub for many rare bird species during winter. Even during non-migratory season, the sanctuary is home to various bird species, some of which are endemic to India itself. If you want a more rustic and authentic jungle experience, the Tal Chappar Sanctuary would serve that purpose.