In this section we present some of the assorted National Parks of india that you can explore, learn, appreciate and enjoy with your friends and family.
Bandhavgarh National Park is a strange land. Flowing through a vibrant and luxuriant Sal Jungle, the wind murmurs the [Bandhavgarh Fort, Bandhavgarh National Park] songs of nature in the voice of silence. It seems to be quiet yet vibrant. Leaves rustle! Water trickles! Grasses stop to move! Even the wind pauses to hold its breath and watch the drama unfold! Then all of a sudden the Jungle springs to life! Langurs groan. Deers call, and you hear approaching crushing of dry leaves by something big, behold the King is here. A one time hunting grounds of Maharaja of Rewa, it is today also a hunting ground for the Tigers who roam fearlessly in this Sal and bamboo forest. A touch of history, a taste of rawness, this park gives much more than you anticipate from it. While Tigers reign supreme here, it is home to over 250 species of birds, Sloth Bears, Indian Gaur, Leopards, Langurs, Deer family, Jackals, and sometimes spotted Dholes, one thing assured is that you will never come back disappointed from Bandhavgarh.
Spread in a vast area, encompassing 874 square kilometers, Bandipur National Park is a great example of Project Tiger’s conservation efforts. This tiger reserve was utilized as a private hunting reserve by the Maharaja of Mysore in the earlier times. Along with Nagarhole National Park, Mudumalai National Park and Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary; it forms a part of the highly renowned Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. It is also the largest habitat of Asian Elephants in South Asia. Located in state of Karnataka which is also the Tiger state of India with maximum Tigers it is an ideal place to see lot of wildlife. It is home to Tigers, Elephants, Sloth Bears, Leopards, Crocodiles, and healthy population of wild dogs. Due to it's proximity to Deccan plateay and Western ghats, it has a variety of biome. Teak, Sandalwood and Rosewood are the primary trees here. The big challenge of this park is passing of the national highway through the forest, but the forest department is doing a commendable job in stopping the traffic in the night, thus giving protection to lot of wildlife crossing the road.
Also known as Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary birds are attracted not only from India but also from places like Europe, Siberia, China and Tibet. Action begins just before the monsoons by the resident birds activity on the babool and kadam trees of the park. The park faced a severe water crisis over the years, which was a problem for the migratory birds. But in 2011 after a lot of hard work, water was lifted from Chambal river, and is put in the sanctuary just before monsoons. A one time home for Siberian Cranes the last pair was seen in 2001, and i (Sharad Vats) was fortunate to see the pair. Siberian Cranes came in hundreds just until couple of decades back, but apparently some cullig of birds was done on the migratory route, which has resulted in not only Bharatpur, but India losing the presence of these beautiful creatures. If you happen to be in this part of the country, then Bharatpur is surely a not to be missed destination between November to Jan even if you are not interested in Birds. The sheer beauty of this park will kindle love for Birds.
The Dudhwa Tiger Reserve of Uttar Pradesh includes the Dudhwa National Park, and two nearby Sanctuaries, viz. Kishanpur and Katerniaghat. It is close to the Indo-Nepal border. Founded by relentless efforts of Legendary Prince turned Conservationist Late Shri Billy Arjan SIngh, Dudhwa is a nature lover's forest. Home to Tigers, Asian Elephants, Rhinos, Sloth Bears, Crocodiles, Otters, and over 450 species of birds, this is also one of the most scenic Sal Forest of India. The thick undergrowth does not help in tracking Tigers in this park, but the touch of suspense and expectation will keep you up and about during the safari. My (Sharad Vats) lifetime of a sighting has happenned in this park. A Tiger stalking, and trying to bring down an Elephant calf with it's mother managing to save him, but watching this duel has left an indelible mark on my mind. November to April is good time to visit. Winters are very misty with no sun at times during safaris, but a unique experience.
Solitary home of Asiatic Lions, Gir National Park & Wildlife Sanctuary is a unique place. The efforts of the Government, local villagers, many NGO's are wonderfully synced in conservation of this species. Reselience of the locals towards Lions is heart touching, perhaps that is why Lions visit these villages to say thank you in the night, and often pick on the cattle. But the locals say nothing. Nowhere else in the world would you see such compassion towards any animal species. With over 500 Lions, and 400 Leopards, perhaps the only park with specific count of how many males, females, and cubs. Gir has a rescue centre. The way they treat their animals is seen to be believed. One of the few parks where you will see women take a lead in patrolling and in the rescue centre. Gir also has over 300 species of birds, many types of reptiles, 38 species of mammals, and over 400 types of plants. This is one park where man-animal conflict is rarely heard. The mighty cat lives as friends with it's neighboring villages,
Located on foothills of HImalayas, it is one f the most scenic parks with rich bio-diversity. Tigers, Asian Elephants, Leopards, Sloth Bears, Deers, Crocodiles, Gharials, King Cobras and over 580 species of birds including water fowl, 17 types of woodpecker, raptors like the Pallas fishing eagle, harriers and kites, peafowl, kalij pheasant, the rare chir pheasant, red jungle fowl, minivets, shrikes, cuckoos, drongos and barbets. The stand out point here is the accommodation inside the forest, in the Governmenr managed Rest houses. Located beautifully every rest house is a master piece, but it is Dhikala which is preferred due to its strategic location next to the river, which attracts lot of big and small wildlife. I (Sharad Vats) have had some wonderful experiences while staying here. Basic accommodation, and vegetarian food, and if you are illing to sacrifice the comfort of air-conditioning then this is the place to be while in Corbett.
The experts have predicted, that if ever Tiger faces extinction, Kanha will be amongst the last strong foothold of Tigers. What is it about Kanha that makes it a perfect place for Tigers? To beginwith evergreen forest, lot of undergrowth that provides ambush. The rolling grasslands and meandering streams provide food for herbivores. If the prey has food, then it stays put, and the Predators follows. This 940 sq km of paradise is home to many Tigers, Leopards, Indian Gaur, Deers, Monkeys, Dholes, Jackals, voer 300 species of birds. Ccompared to many other parks, i (Sharad Vats) personally feel that tourism is well managed by the forest department of Kanha. If you are looking at a quality experience then this is a must visit park. The weather in Kanha is something you do not expect from a central Indian park. It will surprise you in peak of summers, the mornings will be nippy, and days pleasant under shade of a tree. The tall Sal trees do not allow the sun to touch the ground in a hurry.
Kaziranga; is home two-third of world's one horned Rhino population. A very successful conservation programme has ensured a population of about 2400 Rhinos in this park. It is also the highest Tiger density park, with over 110 Tigers last counted. Kaziranga is the only park outside Africa which has breeding population of many species of cats, like, Tigers, Leopards, Leoprad Cat, Jungle Cat, and Fishing Cat. Declared as World Heritage Site in 1974, it is also a very Important Bird Area. A healthy population of Asian Elephants, Water Buffaloes, Eastern Swamp Deers. Nine of the 14 primate species are found here including the rare Golden Langur, and the only Ape in India the Hoolock Gibbon is in this park. Protecting such bio-diversity is a huge challenge, and nature does not assist. With the massive Brahmaputra passing through the forest Kaziranga gets flooded every year, thus losing lot of wildlife as well.
Naga (Snake) Hole (Streams), is one of the most popular parks in South India. Not only for Wildlife Lovers, this park also attracts lot of nature lovers. The boat rides on the adjoining Kabini reservoir, the waterfalls, streams make this park very picturesque. Should you wish to click Leopards sitting on a tree, with legs hanging, with green bokeh as a backdrop is a beautiful memory. Nagarhole National Park is a part of Nilgiri Biosphere, and might be recognised as a World Heritage Site. Largest population of Elephants in South India is in this Biosphere. Similarly the Predators, i.e. Tigers, and Leopards, and Wild Dogs have almost equivalent density in this park. Many a times lot of Wildlife of this park is seen outside the park as well. I (Sharad Vats) have seen a pack of about 20 Dholes outside the park. Crocodiles, and Otters can be seen in the Kabini reservoir. In summers huge herds of Elephants conglomerate in the area. It is an Important bird area, with lot of forest birds, and large gatherings of water birds
Nameri National Park is a park easily combined and done with Kaziranga. Just two hours of drive from Kaziranga is this beautiful little paradise where you can do a walking safari, a rafting safari, and lot of birding. Angling has recently been suspended since this park came under the umbrella of Project Tiger. Golden Mahasheer known as Tiger of the HImalayan rivers is the star attraction in Jia Bhoroli river that passes through the park. it is like rafting in paradise. Both sides a pristine forest, view of the Himalayas on one side, and yes be cautious Elephants are seen in the vicinty. When I (Sharad Vats) stepped out from the boat, i was pleasantly surprised to see fresh pug marks of a Tiger, as if he just had come a while back to quench his thirst. Nameri shares boundary with Pakhui Wildlife Sanctuary of Arunachal Pradesh. With more than 320 bird species recorded, one can say Nameri is a birder's paradise and also home to Tigers, Elephants, Leopards, Sloth Bears,Dhole, HImalayan Black Bear and Pygmy Hog.
Panna National Park created history in Tiger conservation. This park lost all Tigers to systematic poaching fron 2006-2008. Subsequently 3 Tigers were relocated from other reserves into Panna in 2009. These Tigers made Panna their home, and today with dedicated efforts of Mr Murthy the then Field Director the Tiger population has reached 34 Tigers (cubs included). But this park is on verge of creating history yet again as it will embrace the Ken and Betwa rivers in it's bosom when these two rivers are inter linked to solve the water crisis in the region. It is said that the backwater from the dam will submerge one third of this pristine forest and biome. But, i think on the contrary this will be a big boon for Panna. This park is home to Tigers, Leopards, Sloth Bears, Crocodiles, Gharials, over 300 species of birds, Deers, and monkeys. Apart from Jeep safaris, boat safaris is a good option to observe the Crocodiles in the river, and the riverine birds.
Pench National Park, a teak forest, located in states of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, is named after the river Pench which divides the park into two. This park shot into prominence when tourism increased in this forest from 2002. Primarily a teak forest this park sees amalgamation of four different hill ranges. Currently a legendary Tigress, named Collarwali, is the heart-throb of Pench. This park also has a very healthy corridor with Kanha National Park. Infact there have been records of Tigers moving from Kanha to Pench, which is about 200kms. There is a healthy population of Tigers in Pench. It is also home to Leopards, Sloth Bears, Indian Gaur, Wild Dogs, Sambars, Langurs, and over 300 species of birds. Visit to the Pench reservoir is a must while doing a safari. Park is good with sightings of Leopards and Dholes (Indian Wild Dogs). Good time to visit is October till April. Infact this park is combined well with Kanha, Tadoba, and Nagzira for a Central Indian Tiger tour.
In 1948, the first Indian Governor General of India was invited to a hunting expedition in this part of the country. He was overwhelmed by the beauty of this forest and the rich wildlife it was endowed with. He refused to hunt, and instantly proposed for the area to be protected for it’s wildlife and forests. Eventually this led to the formation of Rajaji Wildlife Sanctuary, named in honor of C Rajagopalachari fondly known as Rajaji.
In 1983 it got the status of a National Park. Chilla, Motichur, ranges of Dehradun, and some ranges around Lansdowne were merged in this park. The beauty of this park is the Holy river Ganges which cuts through the park right in the centre and goes about 25kms through this rich forest. With Shiwalik ranges on it’s northern side, this park is the westernmost part of the Terai Arc landscape. Famous for Tigers, Elephants, Leopards, about 48 species of mammals, over 300 species of birds, and butterflies, and reptiles, King Cobra and Goral (mountain goat) are some charismatic species found here.
Rann (Salt Marsh) located in Kutch district of Gujarat is famous for the Wild Ass Wildlife Sanctuary and it is the largest wildlife sanctuary in the country, a part of it is also in Sindh (Pakistan). Rann is a very uncommon landscape which was once a part of the Arabian Sea. With desert located on one side and Sea on the other the range of Eco-System in Rann of Kutch varies from Mangroves to desert vegetation. The conditions here are harsh for the wildlife and also the vegetation. Rann of Kutch is home to Asiatic Wild Ass, you will not see this photogenic handsome member of Horse family anywhere else. During the safari you will also see the Blackbucks, Neelgai, Chinkara, Striped Hyenas, Hedgehogs, Indian Fox, Jackals, and some reptiles as well. eclared a Ramsar Site the best birding is at the lakes and marshes where you will see some unimaginable numbers of cranes, pelicans, flamingoes, storks. Rann is also a hunting ground for many raptors. Dasada, Nawa Talo, and Nal Sarovar sanctuary are also good birding sites in some driving distance from Rann.
This park is a pure shocker. It is impossible to believe when you are in Sawai Madhopur town just 10kms away that Tigers are walking freely in closeby Ranthambore National Park. One of the first National Parks of India which came on the world map due to life dedicating efforts of Mr Fateh SIngh Rathore. With a 1000 year old fort ramparts in the background, and huge lakes in the park, the Tigers are at home in Ranthambhore. These lakes have couple of hundred crocodiles, rarely does one hear encounters of Tigers with Crocodiles. In winters these lakes attract lot of migratory birds too. This park has had some legendary Tigers, from Ghengis Khan, to Noor, then Machli, T17, T24, and now T19. It was my first Safari (Sharad Vats) in 1990 that changed course of my life from working in city to taking up Wildlife tourism as a career with a motto of Conservation through Tourism. This park is a must visit for 3 nights when in Rajsthan, and combines well with Taj Mahal in Agra, and pink city of Jaipur.
Sariska National Park lies only 175kms from New Delhi, in the Aravalli hills and is the former hunting preserve of the Maharaja of Alwar. Sariska itself is a wide valley with two large plateaus and is dotted with places of historical and religious interest, including the ruins of the Kankwari Fort, the 10th century Neelkanth temples, the Budha Hanumab Temple near Pandupol, the Bharthari Temple near the park office, and the hot and cold springs of Taalvriksh. Sariska was the first Tiger which was declared bankrupt with Tigers in 2006 due to poaching, it also turned out to be the first reserve where tranlocation of Tigers was done. Not as successful as Panna, as the population did not grow as fast paced as in Panna due to some reasons. Today there are a total of 11 Tigers in the park including 2 cubs. But this place is a paradise for nature and wildlife lovers. Sariska is also home to Leopards, Sambar, Sloth Bears, over 250 species of birds. If you are looking at doing safaris in peace with less tourism this is a good park to be in.
Satpura is an incognito National Park and alonwith Panchmarhi, Bori and Madhai is a highly disparate biosphere. Loacted in central India, this park is not a usual park in the itinerary of most guests, hence it is best protected, and least disturbed. There are varied ways to explore Satpura flora and fauna. The usual Jeep safaris, the boat safaris, and interesting walking safaris. Tigers are present here but no so often sighted as the other parks in this part of the country, but you are almost assured a Leopard and a Sloth Bear sighting in Satpura. Very contrasting landscapes, from hilly to gorges, ravines and plains of Churna. Denwa river flowing through the park is a haven for migratory birds in winters. Indian Gaur, Jackals, Dholes, over 275 species of birds, Sambar Deer, and Cheetal are at home. Recently in a conservation effort some Hard Ground Barasingha (Swamp Deer) have been relocated to Satpura from Kanha. Historically Swamp Deer were a part of this landscape.
Sundarbans National Park is located in World's largest Ganges Delta formed by the confluence of the rivers Ganga, Brahmaputra and Meghana. A national park, a Tiger reserve and a biosphere reserve is home to the largest population of Royal Bengal Tigers in the world. Historically known for notorious man eating Tigers, the number of the conflict have been reduced almost by 75% over last few years due to some intense work by the forest department. Sundarbans is the world's largest estuarine sanctuary. Home to the Royal Bengal tigers along with a sizeable population of spotted deer, wild pigs, monkeys, kingfishers, herons and eagles. The Sundarbans is also known for the Ridley Sea Turtles. Only way to do safaris in Sundarbans is by boats in the flowing rivers, these boats are controlled by the Government. Tiger sightings are rare here, but again a great place for birding. One can also visit the site of Crocodile breeding farm and Sajnekhali Bird Sanctuary.