If you’re an animal lover, wildlife sanctuaries in India are the place for you. This culturally rich country is considered a megadiverse – meaning that you can find a huge amount of the earth’s fauna and flora within its borders. The rapid urbanization of many regions around the world, unfortunately, threatens animal habitats. But thankfully, Indian culture celebrates animal life, and there are many sanctuaries where animal lovers can reconvene with nature.
- Best Wildlife Sanctuaries to Visit in India
- 1. Assam
- 2. Bangalore
- 3. Gujarat
- 4. Madhya Pradesh
- 6. Kerala
- 8. Maharashtra
- 7. Rajasthan
- 8. Uttarakhand
- 9. Uttar Pradesh
- 10. West Bengal
Best Wildlife Sanctuaries to Visit in India
This UNESCO World Heritage site is located in northeast India along the floodplains of the Brahmaputra River. It features wetlands, grasslands, and forests, allowing visitors to experience great biodiversity. The park is famous for its great one-horned rhinos, but wildlife enthusiasts can also find tigers, elephants, water buffalo, swamp deer and leopards. One of the tourist attractions near Kaziranga is the ‘Tea Gardens.’ Visitors can tour these tea plantations and factories. Kakochang waterfalls are another popular attraction only a few hours’ ride from Kaziranga. Consider planning a trip during the winter months, from November to February, when the weather is dry and mild. It is also a great time to explore the extraordinary park’s birdlife.
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Manas National Park
Manas National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site, has a lot of projects afoot. It is not only a tiger reserve but also a dedicated elephant reserve. In addition, it is a biosphere reserve. Manas National Park, located in Assam at the Himalayan foothills, is separate from the Royal Manas National Park. Royal Manas National Park is in Bhutan, but they do share a border. Manas has a unique combination of sub-Himalayan bhabhar teria formation with the riverine succession and the mountain forest. The extensive habitat diversity ensures diversity in wildlife species.
The park’s numerous endemic species include golden langur, hispid hare, Assam roofed turtle and pygmy hog. Visitors can plan a trip to the Summer Place of the King of Bhutan that overlooks a beatific valley with spectacular vistas. As the palace is across the border, visitors will get the opportunity to take a boat trip in the Manas river. The ideal time to visit the Manas National Park is from October to April when the pleasant weather offers plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities.
Bannerghatta National Park
A small portion of the Bannerghatta National Park has been reserved for the Bannerghatta Biological Park. The park lies in Karnataka near Bangalore, one of India’s most popular metropolitan cities. It is also a wildlife corridor for elephants and connects Sathyamangalam forest and BR Hills. It is a common misconception that Gir National Forest in India is the only place outside Africa that has lions.
Bannerghatta National Park has 19 Asiatic lions that visitors might be lucky enough to see on a lion safari. Bannerghatta also has a host of other species such as Indian elephants, Royal Bengal tiger, flamingo, pelican, Indian wolf, Himalayan black bear, and striped hyena. Kurudmale, Shravanabelagola, Hassan, and Srirangapatna are destinations with pilgrim spots and ancient temples. These attractions are only a few hour’s drive from Bannerghatta National Park. The cool and pleasant weather from October to June makes it a great time to visit Bannerghatta national Park. Visitors can also take in the beautiful lush landscape during their visit.
Apart from Africa, Gir National Park is the only place in the world to have a large healthy population of lions. Other than Gir, Bannerghatta is the only park with lions in India. It is also known as the Sasan Gir – a forest and wildlife sanctuary. Located in Gujarat, the park has almost 700 Asiatic lions whose population has risen by 29% between 2015-2020. Apart from lions, the park also has Bengal fox, jungle cat, Asiatic wildcat, Indian leopard, golden jackal, and striped hyena. After spending some time on a game drive, visitors can head over to some of the nearest attractions such as the Somnath Temple, Durbar Hall Museum, and the Nalsarovar Lake, which happens to be a bird paradise. Gir National park and Wildlife Sanctuary remains closed for the monsoons. Therefore, visitors can only plan a trip during Winters and Summer from October to May when the weather is calm.
4. Madhya Pradesh
Bandhavgarh National Park, also known as the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, is located in Madhya Pradesh, an epicentre for India’stiger population. Apart from tigers, the park’s extensive biodiversity includes a large healthy population of leopards as well as several deer species such as chital, sambar, and barking deer. Visitors might also come across sloth bears, wild boar, chital, chinkara, barking deer, sambar, nilgai, and common langur. Additionally, it has over 300 bird species, including some as beautiful and unique as Indian roller and the white-throated kingfisher. People can also visit the nearby attractions such as the Bandhavgarh Fort, Baghel Museum, and Village Tala. The best time to visit this park is between November and April when the bush is green, the bird life is sensational and temperatures are in the mid 20°C.
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- One of India’s many tiger reserves, Kanha Tiger Reserve is home to over 150 royal Bengal tigers. Also known as the Kanha-Kisli National Park, it is one of the largest national parks in Madhya Pradesh. The park is home to numerous types of forests, including moist peninsular sal forest, tropical forest, deciduous forest, and highland forest. These high areas of biodiversity are home to some of the world’s most ferocious carnivores, the Indian leopard and royal Bengal tiger. The park has also focused on the reintroduction and conservation of barasingha, an Indian deer species. Visitors can also plan a sightseeing trip to one of the nearby attractions, such as Kawardha Palace, Jabalpur, Kanha Museum, Bamni Dadar, and Pachmarhi. Kanha National Park offers ample wildlife viewing opportunities from April to May. It is especially a great time for spotting tigers in the region.
Pench National Park
- ‘The Jungle Book’ written by Rudyard Kiplings was set in an imaginary forest based on the Pench National Park. Pench is located in Madhya Pradesh, and within it is Pench Tiger Reserve, a part of the Project Tiger initiative. Visitors are likely to spot herbivores such as four-horned antelope, sambar, chital, and nilgai. It also hosts carnivores such as Indian wolves, Indian leopards, Indian wild dogs, striped hyenas, and the royal Bengal tiger. On their trip to Kanha, visitors can also check out other attractions such as Bhedaghat, known for its mini waterfalls, and Sanchi, an ancient Buddhist monument. Pench can also be reached through neighboring state Maharashtra, specifically from the city of Nagpur. October to February is a great time to visit Pench National park. Not only is the weather pleasant, but the lush forests also make for great landscape views.
Satpura National Park
- Named after the Satpura range, a range of hills in central India, the Satpura Tiger Reserve is in Madhya Pradesh. The park’s terrain is extremely rugged, consisting of narrow gorges, ravines, sandstone peaks, and dense forests. A highly biodiverse wildlife sanctuary, the Satpura Tiger Reserve is home to 50 species of mammals including chinkara, blackbuck, mouse deer, and barking deer. Of its 254 bird species, the honey-buzzard, Malabar pied hornbill, paradise fly-catcher, and Malabar whistling thrush are popular to see. There are also several attractions near the park, such as the Sanchi stupa, Pachmarhi, Bhimbetka, Ujjain, and Jabalpur. The best time to visit Satpura National park is between October to June when the rains have let up and the weather is great.
Panna National Park
- Panna National Park spans over two districts of the Indian state, Madhya Pradesh. It also happens to be one of the many Tiger Reserves in India. Vastly biodiverse, Panna has fragmented deciduous forests and tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests. Like many of its neighbouring wildlife sanctuaries, Panna is home to sloth bear, sambar, nilgai, chinkara, Indian leopard, and Bengal tiger. Within the wildlife sanctuary lies a place rich in Hindu mythology, the Pandava’s falls and caves – one of the must-see destinations in the park. Panna also has India’s only active diamond mine. Panna National Park is best enjoyed from October to March during the afternoons when the animals wander out in the open, soaking up the heat during the cold winter days.
Bandipur National Park
- Located in the southern state of Karnataka, Bandipur National Park was once the hunting grounds of the Maharaja of Mysore. In 1974, the Indian government initiated Project Tiger that helped to establish this park and put tiger conservation at the forefront. Tourists can visit this place all year round, although the best time is March through June. Visitors can explore Gopalswami Hills, the highest peak in the Bandipur National Park, a spot that Bandipur’s wildlife, including Indian elephants, choose to frequent. Although the park is open year-round, the ideal time to plan a trip to the park is from November to June when the wildlife is out in the open.
Nagarhole National Park
- Nagarhole National Park, one of the tiger reserves in India, spans over the Mysore and Kodagu districts of Karnataka. Large areas of the park have deciduous forests, while some regions have swamp forests. These habitats are home to many wildlife species such as wild boar, leopard cat, Asian palm civet, small Indian civet, and golden jackal. Irpu, a lush waterfall, and the Mysore City known for its heritage palaces and monuments are two of the best places to visit near Nagarhole. Coorg and Wayanad are two nearby hill stations that you can visit during the safari trip. For Nagarhole National Park, the summer months of April to May offer the best wildlife viewing opportunities.
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
- A wildlife sanctuary for both tigers and elephants, Periyar National Park is a repository for rare wildlife. Periyar’s diverse habitats include deciduous forest, evergreen forest, grasslands, rivers, and lakes. These ecosystems are home to Periyar’s numerous wildlife species, such as Salim Ali’s fruit bat, Nilgiri marten, Nilgiri langur, Indian giant squirrel, and Travancore flying squirrel. Periyar is also home to lion-tailed macaque – an old-world monkey species endemic to India. Safari guides will likely warn you about venomous snakes such as striped coral snakes, Malabar pit viper, and king cobra. Visitors can also explore other Periyar attractions such as Vandamedu, known for its cardamom production, Ramakkalmedu – a hill station rich in mythology, Kumily – a scenic town, and Chellarkovil waterfall. October to May is a good time to visit Periyar National Park. These are the dry summer and winter months, with great opportunities to spot the park’s wildlife.
Cycling Safari Trip on Kerala Backroads
Eravikulam National Park
- Eravikulam National Park was the first established national park in Kerala. It stretches over two districts, Ernakulam and Idukki. The park’s diverse ecosystem consists of high-altitude grasslands, shrublands, forests, plateaus, and perennial streams that flow into the Periyar and Cauvery Rivers. Eravikulam’s unique ecosystems house wildlife, such as dhole, dusky palm squirrel, Indian muntjac, and sambar deer. It also has over 132 species of birds, amongst which endemic species such as Nilgiri pipit, Nilgiri flycatcher, Nilgiri wood pigeon, and black-and-orange flycatcher flourish. Eravikulam’s elevation allows visitors to take in the views of the Munnar Mountains. They can also visit Anamudi, the highest peak in India, south of the Himalayas. Lakkom waterfall is another of Eravikulam’s beautiful attractions. Visitors should visit the park between September to February, especially during the summer months of April to May, when wildlife viewing is at its peak.
Hemis National Park
- Home of the elusive and endangered snow leopards, Hemis National Park is a high altitude national park in the Ladakh region of India. Living in the rugged mountain terrain, it can be hard to spot snow leopards, but if you’re lucky it’s an incredible experience. Hemis also has the great Tibetan sheep, blue sheep, Asiatic ibex, Tibetan wolf and Eurasian brown bear (also endangered in India). In addition, it is home to various birds of prey. Visitors can also explore the Hemis Monastery situated at the foothills of Indus, one of the largest monastic institutions in Ladakh, north India. The view of the monastery against the Himalayas is a stunning sight, no matter what time of the day. The monsoons make the road to the park inaccessible making it impossible to visit the park. Therefore, visitors have to plan their trips from October to May when the weather is much more accessible.
Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve
- Found in the heart of Chandrapur, Maharashtra, the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve is the state’s largest and oldest national park. Like many of India’s national parks, Tadoba’s primary ecosystem is a tropical dry deciduous forest with dense woodlands. The last known count of royal Bengal tigers in Tadoba is around 115 individuals. Tadoba lake is home to mugger or marsh crocodile, a medium-sized crocodile known to hunt prey as formidable as Indian pythons. Other reptile species include Russel’s viper and Indian cobra. Tadoba also has a Butterfly Park, which has planted nectar plants. These attract butterflies, allowing visitors to glimpse some of the most beautiful local species. Sevagram, a must-see destination, is an ashram set up by Mahatma Gandhi, about 2 hours drive from the park. Summers and Winters offer suitable climates to visit the park, and tiger sightings are especially great from March to May.
Mount Abu Wildlife Sanctuary
- Mount Abu Wildlife Sanctuary lies nestled within one of India’s oldest mountain ranges, Aravalli. Mount Abu is primarily known for its diverse forests and vegetation that is home to a large number of animal species. The Indian crested porcupine, Indian hedgehog, Indian grey mongoose, Indian pangolin, and Indian hare are some of the endemic wildlife species that have made a home in Mount Abu Wildlife Sanctuary. With over 250 species of birds, the park also attracts quite a few birdwatchers.
- Mount Abu Wildlife Sanctuary has a healthy population of green avadavat. It is a rare species of bird, not commonly found in other regions. After spending enough time in the wild, visitors can check out other attractions near the wildlife sanctuary. Mount Abu hill station is a major tourist attraction near the park. Other attractions near the parks are Nakki Lake – the first artificial lake in India and Guru Shikhar – the highest point on the mountain range. Mount Abu offers abundant wildlife viewing opportunities from October to June, making it a great time to plan a visit.
Ranthambore National Park
- This park in northern India is one of the best places to spot the royal Bengal tiger that are most active between November and May. It is named after a historic fortress nearby and surrounded by two rivers. With plenty of jungle for its famous big cats, the park was home to one of the first recorded instances of a male tiger raising his cubs; Zalim – the tiger – cared for his offspring when their mother died. The most popular and best way to discover the park is on a morning or evening game drive, giving you access to an impressive list of wildlife, including tigers, leopards, crocodiles and monkeys. The period between October to March is a great time to visit the park since it offers pleasant weather conditions.
Jim Corbett National park
- As the first wildlife sanctuary established in India, the park is a must-visit destination on your Indian wildlife trip. It was created in 1936 as Hailey National Park to protect the endangered Royal Bengal tiger. Located in the sub-Himalayan region, the majority of the park is covered in forest. With rich flora and fauna and its conservation efforts, the park is known for its Bengal tigers. Leopards and wild elephants are also found here along with hundreds of species of birds (586). Rishikesh, a pilgrimage town, is one of the holiest places for Hindus. It has become India’s adventure capital with activities, such as bungee jumping, river rafting, and mountain biking. It is one of the best places to visit near Jim Corbett. Most of Jim Corbett National park is accessible from mid-November to June. The Jhirna zone is the only exception and can be visited year-round.
9. Uttar Pradesh
Dudhwa Tiger Reserve
- Dudhwa Tiger Reserve stretches across the Bahraich and Lakhimpur districts of Uttar Pradesh. It comprises Dudhwa National Park, Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary, and Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary. Dudhwa’s unique ecosystem consists of deciduous forest, seasonal swamp forest, semi-evergreen forest, grasslands, and alluvial plains. The habitat diversity in the park coincides with the species diversity. Dudhwa has over 350 bird species. One of them is the Bengal florican – a rare and endangered bird species on the bucket list of many avid bird watchers. Apart from the park’s many attractions, visitors can also head out to the nearest attractions, such as the world’s only Frog Temple in Oel, Lakhimpur Kheri, Uttar Pradesh. Visitors should plan a trip to Dudhwa Tiger Reserve between November to April, when the climate is pleasant and wildlife opportunities great.
10. West Bengal
Sundarbans National Park
- Sundarban National Park, found in West Bengal, is a part of Sundarbans. Sundarbans are one of India’s most renowned mangrove areas. It is also a tiger reserve with one of the highest concentrations of royal Bengal tigers (over 400). The Sundarbans get their name from the mangrove tree, Sundari, that grows ferociously around the delta. Sundarban hosts wildlife species such as dog-faced water snake, red-tailed bamboo pit viper, rat snake, and checkered keelback. Saltwater crocodile, royal Bengal tiger, and hawksbill turtle are of the park’s most endangered species. For tiger viewing, visitors can go to Sudhanyakhali or Sajnekhali watchtowers. These offer a great vantage point. Bird enthusiasts can head over to the Sajnekhali Bird Sanctuary. Sundarbans National Park is best visited from September to March. It coincides with the winter months followed by summer. The rest of the summer, from March to May, has high temperatures, making it difficult to enjoy the wildlife.
- More Wildlife Sanctuaries in India
- The wildlife sanctuaries in India are among the most bio-diverse in the world. However, be wary of wildlife attractions that allow you to interact too closely with wild animals. India also has fantastic history and culture, so be sure to combine your wildlife trip with a visit to temples or palaces, or perhaps even a beach.
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