For any avid traveler across the globe, this experience is incomplete without a visit to India and the national parks of India. The spectrum of wildlife variety present in this country is rarely found anywhere else in the world. Be it a bird watcher, marine life enthusiast, forest explorer or admirer of reptiles; India has an incredible experience in store for all.
The country’s rich wildlife heritage is preserved in 120 national parks, 18 bio-reserves and more than 500 wildlife sanctuaries across the region. Each of these is as magnificent others.
“Seeing wildlife is like seeing celebrities, only better.”
To meet these celebrities in all their glamour, roaming about in their world with utmost nonchalance is stuff that dreams are made of. At least for us nature lovers, it is. Such an experience brings such jubilation, awe, exhilaration, and excitement that is difficult to put into words, still, we are trying to present a brief list of the top national parks of India from our point of view:
Ranthambhore National Park, Rajasthan
Spread across an area of 1,443 square kilometers, the sanctuary of Ranthambhore is an all-time favorite of nature enthusiasts and wildlife photographers. The wide variety of flora and fauna present here attracts them all alike. It is located in south-eastern Rajasthan, particularly the Sawai Madhopur district.
You can spot two of the majestic big cats – tigers and leopards here. Sloth bears, hyenas, jackals, Indian foxes are also frequently found. The reserve is also home to several marsh croc reptiles like Indian python, Russell’s vipers and more.
The best opportunity to meet these animals presents itself at the three lakes – Padam Talao, Raj Talao, and Malik Talao found inside the park area. The park residents tend to assemble here for their hydration routine.
Ranthambhore has a unique historical legacy. In the times of royalties, this reserve used to be the most desired hunting destination of Maharajas from Jaipur.
Sunderban National park, West Bengal
With an enormous area of 2,585 square kilometers, Sunderban is a UNESCO world heritage site and the largest Tiger Reserve of Indian Subcontinent. It is also the largest National Park.
This reserve has everything enigmatic to draw you to itself. The tiger population stands at an excellent 400. This is inclusive of the much celebrated and exalted Royal Bengal Tigers. The park is home to several highly endangered species of both terrestrial and aquatic type. The marine life here consists of variegated crabs, fishes, crocodiles, and turtles.
This National Park stands over the meeting point of three rivers, Namely the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna with the gorgeous Bay of Bengal. It has the largest Mangrove forest and hence, is a unique estuarine mangrove ecosystem. It uses not the jeeps and roads but boats for transportation.
This is also an excellent place for bird photography and location. Around 248 species of birds flock here including the migratory varieties. These migrating guests arrive during winters. They present a mesmerizing colorful spectacle to the curious eyes.
To reach this place via air, you can fly to the nearest Calcutta airport. For travelers by train, Canning is the nearest railhead. You can also reach Gosaba, the nearest town, by roads. The unique geographical characteristics of this place have enthralled and dazzled lovers of nature, environmentalists, and visitors for decades.
Sariska National Park, Rajasthan
Located in the Alwar district of Rajasthan, the Sariska is merely 200 km away from Delhi and 107 km from Jaipur. Needless to say, it makes an ideal choice for a weekend getaway.
It was declared a national park in 1982 and is spread across an area of 866 square kilometers. It constitutes of tropical, dry, deciduous and tropical thorn forests. The area is widely popular for its dhok trees.
Sariska Tiger Reserve has a rich variety of flora and fauna. One can spot relocated Bengal Tigers, Indian leopard, wild boar, hyenas, and several other wildlife species. The place is ideal for bird watchers as some of the rarest feathered species are found here. Kankadwari Fort gives a panoramic view of these flying beauties.
Special attractions of this park include Kankadwari Fort, the Sariska Palace, and Hanumanji Temple. The Palace is believed to be associated with Alwar kings. It was perhaps their hunting lodge. The Temple has mythological significance and is regularly flocked by visitors.
Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh
An appealing mixture of plateaus, meadows and bamboo-sal forests, Kanha Tiger Reserve extends over 940 square kilometers. It is spread across two districts Mandla and Balaghat of Madhya Pradesh. The meandering streams flowing randomly through its picturesque landscape cast a cooling effect.
This reserve is home to almost 300 species of birds and diverse varieties of Indian reptiles such as python, cobra, viper and rat snakes. It pets tigers, sambar, chital, bison and tens of other species.
The hard-ground Barasingha or swamp deer is a unique presence. It is an endangered species exclusively found here. To celebrate its presence, the mascot of the reserve is called ‘Bhoorsingh the Barasingha’.
The park is accessible by road, rail and air transport. The closest in proximity is the town Mandla which is 65 km away. Jabalpur railway station lies at 160 km from the park. Nearest airport stands 266 km away in Nagpur.
Tadoba National Park, Maharashtra
Standing in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra, Tadoba is one of India’s 50 ‘Project Tiger’ reserves. It extends over an area of 1,727 square kilometers. 88 tigers reside within the reserve area. 58 others have found the home in the forests immediately outside the park.
The name ‘Tadoba’ comes from the God Tadoba worshipped by tribals inhabiting the region. ‘Andhari’ stands for the Andhari River flowing through the middle of the forest area.
Bengal tiger aside, Tadoba pets around two dozen mammal species. It also has several endangered species of reptiles and insects including Indian python, danaid egg-fly, Indian star tortoise, dragonflies etc. It boasts of 195 bird species and 74 species of butterfly, making it an ideal destination for watchers of these mesmerizing flyers.
Tadoba National Park is popular for its jungle safari trips. One can easily avail open top Gypsy vehicles and buses with trained local guides for witnessing the best of this enriched place.
The nearest airport from this reserve is 140 km away in Nagpur. The nearest railway station Chandrapur is 45 km away. You can also get here by bus. The closest bus stand is Chandrapur. Merely 32 km from the park.
Manas National Park, Assam
The Manas Wildlife sanctuary is a National Park, a Tiger Reserve, an Elephant Reserve as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The reserve is located in Himalayan foothills of Assam. Its name originates from the Manas River which passes through the heart of the park.
A total of six rivers, including Manas, flow through the park. Well-irrigated river beds and sub-Himalayan forests mean that it is one of the richest in terms of biodiversity. The serenity of flowing waters in the backdrop of Himalayas gives this place unmatched exotic beauty. It is a specimen of how our planet perhaps appeared before the existence of man.
Particularly well known for its tigers and elephants, this reserve has a long list of rare and endangered species to flaunt. It houses a record 55 species of mammals, 380 of birds and 50 of reptiles. The Assam roofed turtle, pygmy hog and golden langur aren’t found anywhere else in the world.
It is the only national park offering night excursions to explore its terrain. Other exciting activities like Tiger Spotting, Elephant Ride and Boating in Manas River are also available.
So, what you are waiting for? Plan out your day and surrender yourself to nature in the national parks of India.