A country full of colour, natual beauty, incredible wildlife and remarkable architecture, as well as a rich tapestry of races, cultures and philosophies, India is a soul-stirring and wondrous place to visit. The diverse landscapes, from the towering mountains of the north to the sun-soaked beaches of the south coast, are breathtaking, while the national parks, with their range of flora, fauna, scenery and attractions, provide ample opportunity of close encounters for wildlife enthusiasts.
Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan is one of the best places to see India's wildlife, most notably Bengal tigers. Covering almost 400 sq km, it was originally establised as a game sanctuary in 1955, became a Project Tiger Reserve in 1973 and a national park in 1980. Today it offes one of the best chances to see tigers in their natural jungle habitat. Other animals to look out for include leopard, wild boar, sambar, striped hyena, sloth bear, langur and rhesus macaque. The majestic fort, which gives the park its name, towers over the landscape. The best time to visit is November to March (it's closed during the monsoon season July to September).
Bandhavgarh National Park, a relativley small reserve in the foothills of Vindhyas in Madhya Pradesh, has one of the world's highest densities of Bengal tigers. It was here that the first white tiger, Mohan, was captured in 1951, now stuffed and on display in the palace of the Maharajas of Rewa. The park is also home to a large breeding population of leopards, sambar, chital and barking deer, nilgai, striped hyena and bison as well as more than 250 species of birds and about 80 species of butterfly. The park is open October to June while April, May and June are ideal for tiger sightings.
The oldest national park in India, Jim Corbett National Park, was established in 1936 to protect the endangered Bengal tiger. With stunning scenery - forest, hills, grassland, riverine, marshland and a large lake - and diverse wildlife, it's also home to 50 mammal species including elephant, sloth bear, leopard, hyenea, Himalayan goral and crocodiles, 25 reptile species, 580 bird species and 488 plant species. It's one of the most popular national parks in India, with about 70,000 visitors each season.