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THICK FORESTS OF DARAN CENTUARY

Dara Sanctuary established in 1955, is spread over an area of 265 sq. kms between two parallel mountains viz. Mukundara and Gagrola which run across a length of 80 kms (from Murlipura to Rawatbhata). The four rivers which form the boundary of this valley are Ramzan, Ahu, Kali and Chambal. But in the first phase, the Rajiv Gandhi National Park will have an area of 100 square kms. The proposed park will be set up by clubbing Dara Wildlife sanctuary and the Chambal Crocodile sanctuary in Kota. Both Bhainsogarh sanctuary and the Gandhi Sagar sanctuary will be a part of the National Park.

It has been converted into a wildlife sanctuary where the Tiger, Leopard, Spotted Deer, Wild Boar and Sloth Bear can be sighted. There is Dak Bangla (Rest House) for rest, but pre permission must be requested to the forest department for use.

The fauna of this region primarily comprises of Panthers, Hyenas, Langurs, Cheetals, Sambhars and bears. Panther is the top carnivore present in this area. Even a tiger was spotted in this area, after 27 years, which perhaps strayed in the sanctuary from the neighboring Madhya Pradesh. But the poor tiger was hit by a train and met a tragicdeath. The railway line at one side and river Chambal on the other side flank this National Park. River Chambal is another unique wetland nurturing rich variety of aquatic fauna including fresh water Crocodile, Gangetic Dolphin (endangered), soft-shelled Turtle and a variety of endemic fish and other species.

Dara harbours a variety of species primarily Dhok and its associates. The economically valuable main species of this region are Anogeissus Pendula (Dhok), Boswellia Serrata (Salar), Acacia Catechu (Khair) and Dendrocalamus Strictus (Bamboo). Even Anogeissus Latifolia (Safed Dhok) is quite abundant and many medicinal plants are also present. Dara is one of the best forests in Rajasthan as indicated by the presence of Bryophytes which require sufficient moisture for their growth. It is also a true forest in the sense that plantation has been carried on a very small scale, only along the foothills using exotic species such as Babul which are fast-growing and can withstand adverse climatic conditions.

In the rainy season, Dara appears lush green but the best time to observe its rich biodiversity is during the pinch period (in summers when water scarcity is seen) when all the animals come to quench their thirst at a common reservoir. This reservoir is filled by the forest officers by using eco-friendly solar water pump. It is only at this time that the animal counting (census) is done. The Malas or the Shikar Odhis which were constructed by the rulers of Kota in the past for hunting, now help in counting wild animals.

There are eight to 10 villages in the area, where mostly Gujars live whose principle occupation is collecting firewood and animal husbandry. But these families as part of the deal between the forest department and the villagers are being shifted elsewhere.

It offers a panoramic view of the city of Bundi situated in Nagpahari of Aravalli ranges.

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