There isn’t a greater delight than witnessing the wildlife in full glory. As urban dwellers, we rarely get the opportunity to see a variety of animals and birds. Luckily for us, India has plenty of national parks, spread across the country. In fact, there are as many as 80 of them which provide a home to tigers, deers, wild buffaloes, rhinos, crocodiles and several other animals, and birds. We pick the 7 best national parks that are guaranteed to impress you with their rugged natural beauty.
Feature Image Credits: Jagran Josh
Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand
Jim Corbett National park is a part of the larger Corbett Tiger Reserve situated in the picturesque Nainital district of Uttarakhand. Established in 1936 as Hailey National Park, Jim Corbett is today one of the oldest and most reputed national parks. In 1973, Project Tiger – an initiative to save the dwindling tiger population – was launched here. It went on to become a success in saving tigers from extinction. The park spans over 500 square kilometres with hills, grasslands and a lake as its topography. You can take the usual safaris in partially open vans or engage in an elephant safari, bird watching, trekking and biking. Stay is not a problem since a variety of hotels are available near the park premises. When there, do not forget to check the Jim Corbett Museum.
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Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh
Kanha National Park is huge. Spread across 940 square kilometres, the park is located in the Maikal range of Saputaras in Madhya Pradesh. According to its website, it has been declared as “one of the finest wildlife areas in the world”. Kanha is home to tigers, leopards, wild dogs, sloth bears, and a variety of other animals and birds. The area is characterised by heavy monsoons, resulting in lush greenery and scenic surroundings. Apart from safari, you can try bird spotting, shopping for hand-made local products, and seeing the sunset at the famous Bamni Dadar. You won’t have any problem finding accommodation in and around the park. From value offerings to luxury hotels, there is a place to stay for every budget.
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Pench National Park, Madhya Pradesh
Not too far from Kanha is the Pench National Park. It is situated in the districts of Seoni and Chhindwara. The “Pench” is derived from the pristine river Pence which flows through the park. The area has been popularised by the stories in Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. Since its inception as a wildlife sanctuary in 1965, Pench has been home to several animals including tigers, deer, wolves, sloth bears and many birds. There are luxurious hotels where you can enjoy a comfortable stay, in close vicinity of the park. It must be noted that the park is closed for tourists in the monsoon due to heavy rains, and it is a breeding season for wild animals. Summers are not advisable as temperatures can be very high. Winters are the best time to visit the park.
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Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan
The Ranthambore National Park is one of the most renowned national parks in India. Located in the Sawai Madhopur district of Rajasthan, Ranthambore is home to the Royal Bengal Tiger, hyenas, Sambar deer, Nilgai, Jackals, Indian Wild Boar amongst others. The park is equally famous for its birds. There are around 320 species of birds that nestle in Ranthambore including Woodpeckers, Indian Gray Hornbills, Common Kingfishers, Bee Eaters, Cuckoos, Parakeets, Asian Palm Swift, Owl, Nightjars, Pigeon, Dove, Crakes, Snipes, Sandpipers, and others. It is a delight to anyone who is into bird watching or bird photography. Hotels catering to all budgets are available. Ranthambore also houses some of India’s finest wildlife resorts.
Sunderbans National Park, West Bengal
‘Sunderbans’ means beautiful forests in the local dialect. It’s not hard to see why they call it that. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sunderbans happen to be the world’s largest mangrove forest. Resplendent in their natural scenery, these forests house the Royal Bengal Tiger, crocodiles, and Ganges river dolphin. Unlike the van safaris at other places, here, you have to see around in a boat. It immediately makes the experience more enthralling. You can surely spot some rare birds and splendid flora. Sunderbans are also characterised by their Sundari trees which have roots that grow upwards as this area is notorious for waterlogging. These trees are blessed with several medical properties too. There are many resorts for you to stay in, including some that specialise in sustainable living.