Panna Tiger Reserve > Chambal Sanctuary Dholpur


National Chambal Sanctuary is spread over vast area of approx. 5400 sq. kms. It is also referred as National Chambal Gharial Wildlife Sanctuary and Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary. As Chambal river passes through 3 states i.e Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan thus this wildlife sanctuary is also spread over 3 states. Thus here we are using the name of city Dholpur with Chambal sanctuary so that readers will not get confused. This wildlife sanctuary was first declared on  September 1978 at Madhya Pradesh. Later in same year on December 1978, notification for sanctuary was made. Rajasthan state notification was declared on 1979 and thus National Chambal Sanctuary was formed. This was done to safe-guard the wildilfe surviving on and around Chambal river. Main motive is to do conservation of Chambal river gharials (Gavialis gangeticus) whose population is consistently reducing in India and their area is also shrinking. As Dholpur is on travel route of Agra to Gwalior thus it is most suitable point to explore the Chambal sanctuary.


History of Dholpur shows that it was under influence of Bharatpur state and Gwalior kingdom. It menas, both the powers were trying to took this city under their possession. From 1761 to 1775, it was annexed to Bharatpur state. From 1782 to 1805, it was under influence of Gwalior Kingdom. On 10-Jan-1806, Dholpur became a British protectorate state. In same year Gohar ruler merged their kingdom with Dholpur in same year. During this time, it was under King Kirat Singh who continues to rule under British protectorate. Since Indian independence, it was part of India. If we look at the regions through which Chambal river is passing through, we will notice that it is dry or arid region, land is not fertile thus population density remained low. Due to low human population density, river remain unpolluted and thus Gharial population in whole India was about 10000 in 1946 and today it has reduced to 250 in 2006. This decline has been noticed due to increase in human population nearby Gharial habitats causing killing for skin, doing massive fishing by using modern techniques, taking away their eggs for consumption etc. Another important threat that emerged due to infrastructural developments is sand mining. This is disasterous as it destroys their natural habitat and laid eggs thus new generation is not coming up.


Chambal wildlife sanctuary is mainly for crocodiles, gharials and birds. The Chambal ravines are dry and arid region thus not too rich in other wildilfe species. Here star attraction is Gharials. As we know that Gharials are crirically endangered species, listed in IUCN Red List, since 2007 thus its sighting at any destination is not easy. Although small population is scattered at many locations in India but here Gharial population is good and their sighting is more comfortable in compare to any other destination. This allows wildlife photographers to get some wonderful Gharial photographs at their natural habitat. Thus Chambal Gharial Sanctuary is special for Gharial photography.  In addition to this, location of this site is very convenient and helpful for tour planners as popular destinations like Agra, Bharatpur, Gwalior are so close to this site and tourists staying at hotels of these destionations can also undertake excursion tour but we recommend to stay at Dholpur heritage hotels and observe this place in more detail.

Safari Timing

Chambal wildlife sanctuary is basically a river safari destination thus their is no fixed timing or fixed safari rounds as we usually see in tiger reserves or leopard reserves. Here we can go for Chambal safari in between sunrise to sunset, as per availability of safari boat or vehicle. It is not a crowded destination thus chances are better to have safaris in comfortable manner, even on last moment decision.

Jungle Safari

National Chambal wildlife sanctuary is spread over three states. Each state controls the part falling in their territory. Here we have shared the information on safari activities at Chambal wildlife sanctuary Dholpur. Here major safari attractions i.e. gharials, dolphins, turtles, crocodiles and birds are found on Chambal river. Due to dry ravine region, trees are rarely seen so main safari concentration is within or around Chambal river. Here we can do boat safari in between sunrise to sunset. Boats are limited thus safari takes place as per availability of boats. In addition to this, some local luxury hotel offers guided walking safari on river bank. This helps in underdtanding the site, topography, geographical conditions, local vegetation and birding. Here jeep safari is also offered to explore the ravines and try for land animals sighting like Golden Jackel, Bengal Fox, Nilgai, Wild Boar, Grey Langur etc. Once all this is done, then we have chance to do short excursion tour to explore its surrounding heritage sites like famous Yogini temple, hidden photogenic collection of Bateshwar temples.

Flora & Fauna

Chambal gharial sanctuary is not just limited to gharial population but it has much more to offer to the tourists. Here we can find more than 300 bird species, reptile species, mammals and different vegetation. Lets make a short checklist of reptiles, mammals, birds and trees that we can see during Chambal safari.

Trees Mammals Birds Reptiles
Flame of Forest Golden Jackel Pallid Harrier Gharial
Holoptelea integrifolia Smooth coated otter Blue Rock Thrush Marsh Mugger Crocodile
Ziziphus mauritiana Bengal Fox River Lapwings Three-striped roof turtle
Grewia tenax Jungle Cat Indian skimmer Red-crowned roof turtle
Balanites aegyptiaca Indian Gazelle Woolly-necked Stork Indian narrow-headed softshell turtle
Acacia leucophloea Indian Mongoose Bar-headed Goose Indian tent turtle
Butea monosperma Ganges River Dolphin Red-crested Pochard Monitor Lizard
Flacourtia ramontchii Nilgai Black bellied Tern Crowned river turtle
Balanites aegyptiaca Wild Boar Pallash Fish Eagle Indian Garden Lizard
Capparis sepiaria Porcupine Greater Flamingos Spectacled Cobra

How to reach

Here we have discussed about National Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary part, adjoining to Dholpur city thus we will discuss about accessibility to this part. As Chambal Sanctuary is spread over vast area thus we are covering its one portion only where tourism infrastructure is available. Let us read about reaching Chambal sanctuary part at Dholpur city.
Nearby Airports: Gwalior Airport (65 kms), Agra Airport (60 kms), Delhi Airport (290 kms)
Nearby Railway Stations: Dholpur railway station (105 km), Gwalior railway station (60 kms), Agra Cantt Station (55 kms)
Nearby Destinations: Gwalior city, Bharatpur, Agra city, Mathura, Orchha, Jhansi, 

Best time to visit

Best time to visit National Chambal Gharial Sanctuary is winter season which prevails from November to February. Presence of gharial remains good throughout the year. Due to severe heat in summer, they spend more time in water thus sighting and photography becomes challenging thus monsoon or winter could be better. Now during monsoon, water level increases and color of river water also gets changed, becomes muddy thus visibility of crocodiles, turtles, gharials becomes little bit challenging. Also due to increase in water level, naturally formed sand bank in river becomes invisible thus chances of photography also diminishes. So best time to visit is post monsoon period when river becomes more clear, sand-banks becomes visible and migratory birds begins to show their presence. Thus it becomes ideal combination at the site for boat safaris and photography.

How to Plan

As Chambal sanctuary has main attractions as avi-fauna and gharials thus our plan should be according to their status. Here winter period from November to February is considered good so plan for the visit in advance of 45-60 days i.e. till August-September. If you are on birding trip of India then add Keoladeo national park with it, as it is another highly popular biriding site. For heritage tour also, this period of traveling is ideal. If your plan is to cover some tiger safari destination also in same Central India then consider the period of January to April, when winter is going to end and summer is about to begin i.e. spring time and plan 90-120 days in advance. After Dholpur visit, drive to Ranthambore national park (220 kms) and nearby tiger safari destination. If not interested in Ranthambore than next nearby tiger safari destination will be Panna national park (440 kms) which can be reached either by full-day drive or by taking night halt at Orchha town. Chambal safari is not very costly but here accommodation options are limited so for low budget visitors, they can visit this place as excursion tour from Gwalior or Agra where as luxury traveller may choose one good heritage hotel at Dholpur.


Dholpur can be easily visited as excursion tour from Agra, Bharatpur and Gwalior thus hotels at these destinations can be considered as base to stay on condition that you should have your own regular cab with you. Here in Dholpur one good heritage hotel "Raj Niwas Dholpur" is ideal place for stay and local visit. In order to explore this place in better way, this accommodation option is recommended.

Nearby Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary

Chambal Gharial sanctuary is located in Dholpur city of Rajasthan. It is a tri-junction where state borders for Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are very close to each other thus we have the advantage to enter in any of these three states and visit their nearby tourist destinations. As Chambal sanctuary visit is mostly done by birders or wildlife photographers thus further to this they may explore nearby wildlife destinations like Ranthambore national park (220 kms), Keoladeo national park, Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary etc. In addition to this, tourists have option to visit Agra city, Gwalior city, Orchha town etc. For birders, nearby Ram Sagar wildlife sanctuary (40 km) is another good option for short excursion tour.

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