Indian Safari: National Parks, Wildlife and Places to Visit

The World Wildlife Organisation states that nearly all lions live in Africa, except the small population of Asiatic lions found in India’s Gir Forest National Park. Slightly smaller than their African counterparts, the Asian lions are solitary creatures. Native to India, Asiatic lions are one of the country’s foremost safari attractions.

Every destination has its unique appeal that attracts visitors to the incredible country. For example, Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan has naturalists instead of your run-of-the-mill tour guides. The naturalists’ expertise with the wildlife, their awareness of the park’s inhabitants, and their in-depth knowledge about the landscape make for a thrilling adventure.

Visitors can capture India’s dramatic landscapes, ranging from the fertile Ladakh valleys that contrast with the ice-cold Himalayas to the historical wonders such as the Khajuraho temple in Madhya Pradesh.

India’s biodiversity can be seen in the sheer number of animal species inhabiting the country. Based on IUCN data, India has 91,000 species of animals.

A] More than 100 National Parks Located Throughout the Country

According to the wildlife institute of India, at present there are 104 national parks in India. India ranks third on the list of the countries that have the most natural parks. We’ll narrow down some of the most popular Indian national parks for you.

1. Pench National Park

You must have come across Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book, which has also been adapted into international TV shows and movies. The book characters, Mowgli, Sher Khan and Baloo, were raised in a fictional forest named Seoni, which is based on Pench National Park.

Wildlife: Royal Bengal tiger, bison, chital, leopard, Indian wolfs, jackal, hyena, sloth bear. It also has diverse bird species such as bulbul and minivet.

2. Ranthambore National Park

In 1973, 17 years after its establishment, Ranthambore National Park was declared as a Tiger Reserve, part of India’s tiger conservation project. The park’s primitive appearance with water bodies scattered throughout has been essential for the survival of its inhabitants. It is a primary destination to spot Royal Bengal Tigers.

Wildlife: Caracal, leopard, Nilgai, mugger crocodile, wild boar, hyena, sambar, sloth bear, grey langur, Indian flying fox, mongoose, mole rat, hedgehog, porcupine, five striped palm squirrel.

3. Jim Corbett National Park

Like Ranthambore, Jim Corbett National Park is also a Tiger Reserve. Jim Corbett was the first park, wherein the Project Tiger was launched in 1973. The national park is home to 164 Royal Bengal Tigers. Apart from the tigers, Jim Corbett also has a sizable population of Asiatic elephants.

The park is divided into several zones:

  • Bijrani Safari Zone: Known for its open grasslands and natural landscape.
  • Dhela Safari Zone: The ecotourism zone, known for its abundant wildlife sightings.
  • Dhikala Zone: Jim Corbett’s largest safari zone, Dhikala, is widely known for its exotic fauna.
  • Durga Devi Zone: Bird watching paradise found on the north-eastern boundary of the park.
  • Jhirna Safari Zone: Besides Dhela, Jhirna is the only tourist zone that allows visitors throughout the year.
  • Sitabani Buffer Zone: Known for its beautiful natural landscape.

Other Well-known National Parks in India

  • Bandhavgarh National Park
  • Kaziranga National Park
  • Gir National Park
  • Kanha Tiger Reserve

B] India’s Diverse and Endemic Wildlife

India has 44 endemic species of mammals, 55 endemic species of birds, 187 endemic species of reptiles and 110 endemic species of amphibians. These unique species range from the one-of-a-kind Nilgiri Tahr of the Western Ghats to the numerous bird species found on the Andaman and Nicobar islands. Some of these birds are Andaman serpent-eagle, Andaman teal, Nicobar serpent-eagle, and Nicobar sparrowhawk. Listed below are some of India’s exceptional endemic wildlife species and the best places to find them.

  • Asiatic Lion: Gir Forest National Park, Gujrat
  • Indian Giant Squirrel: Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, Satpura, Madhya Pradesh and Southern Western Ghats, Kerala
  • Kashmir Stag: Chamba Valley, Himachal Pradesh Dachigam National Park, Kashmir Valley, Kashmir Rajparian Wildlife Sanctuary, Kashmir and Sind Valley, Jammu and Kashmir
  • Lion-tailed Macaque: Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu, Silent Valley National Park, Kerala Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala and Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala
  • Malabar Civet: Karwar, Karnataka; Kozhikode, Kerala; Mookambika Wildlife Sanctuary, Karnataka; Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary, Karnataka; and Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu
  • Nilgiri Tahr and Nilgiri Blue Robin: Nilgiri HIlls, Western Ghats of India
  • Purple Frog: Western Ghats of India
  • Sangai Deer: Keibul Lamjao National Park, Manipur

Other unique animal species found throughout the  Indian subcontinent are the white tiger, one-horned rhinoceros, flamingoes, and snow leopards.

C] Natural and Man-made Wonders of India

1. Taj Mahal

The legend of the Taj Mahal accompanied by its ethereal beauty has put the monument on the list of the Seven Wonders of the World. It is considered a symbol of love that attracts visitors from across all countries. The whole of Asia has contributed to the creation of this wonder, with the marble sourced from Makrana, crystals such as lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, jade from China, carnelian from Arabia, and sapphire from Sri Lanka. Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan built the monument between 1632 and 1653 to honour the memory of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

2. Kerala Backwaters

Kerala backwaters is a blissful paradise with houseboats that glide across the palm-fringed waters. A scenic safari destination, it comprises stretches of lakes, lagoons, and canons parallel to the coast of the Arabian Sea. Alappuzha, a city in Kerala, has gained fame for its cruises. At the beginning of the 20th century, George Curzon, the then Viceroy of India, described Alappuzha as the ‘Venice of the East.’ Other places for peaceful scenic cruises are Kollam, Kuttanad, Kasaragod, and Kumarakom.

3. Rajasthan

Rajasthan often referred to as the Royal state, shows us the best of India. Rajasthan offers visitors a slice of true heaven, from its exotic and luxurious heritage hotels to its vibrant ambience. Visitors can plan trips to the country during festivals and fairs, a time when they can witness the colorful events and rustic folk music. Jaipur was painted pink to welcome the Prince of Wales in 1986. Even today, many avenues and buildings retain the pink color, which is why Jaipur is often referred to as the ‘Pink City.’ Jaipur also sells some of the world’s best handloom products and miniature paintings. In addition, Rajasthan is also one of the most popular desert safari destinations in the world.

D] Renowned Temples

  • Khajuraho: Only 25 of the 80 temples have survived the test of time in Khajuraho. These temples belong to two religions – Jainism and Hinduism. These display expert blending of architecture with exotic sculptures, which speaks of a highly developed civilization.
  • Golden Temple: One of the most sacred sites for the Sikhs, the Golden Temple is known for its mesmerizing architecture and peaceful ambiance. Visitors can witness the charity and contentness while partaking in the daily langar (a community-run free kitchen). Golden Temple is one in the lines of many Gurudwara that were previously destroyed by the invading armies. After the temple was rebuilt in 1809, the sanctuary was overlaid with gold foil – giving it the name Golden Temple.
  • Kedarnath Temple: Kedarnath Temple, located in the holy town of Kedarnath, is nestled within the Himalayas. It is one of the most sacred pilgrimage sites for Hindus worshipping Lord Shiva. An architectural masterpiece, the temple was built from large and evenly shaped grey stone slabs. It isn’t just the devout who visit the temple, but a challenging adventure for both hikers and climbers. Visitors can trek through the rough terrain of the Garhwal region or climb the Chandrashila (Moon Rock) summit for an exceptional view of the Himalayas.
  • Sun Temple: Built seven centuries ago, the Konark Sun Temple represents the Hindu Sun God Surya’s chariot, complete with 24 wheels and seven horses that drag the chariot. Chlorite, Laterite and Khondalite were the primary stones that contributed to the creation of this marvellous architecture and its numerous carvings. Once upon a time, the sun idol floated in mid-air, not a miracle but the magic of a single huge magnet paired with an iron plate between every two stone pieces.

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