Are you a wildlife photographer who is looking for the best spots in India to catch the wild in the act? Or are you just an animal enthusiast, who wants to start their journey to know and understand the wild? Among the 400 national parks in India, any one can bring you up close and personal with the King of the Jungle! Or maybe lions or rhinos? Whatever be your animal of choosing, check out our list of top 10 national parks in India, which will definitely seal your deal with one of these animals!
1. JIM CORBETT NATIONAL PARK, Uttarakhand
This is one of the oldest national parks in India. Jim Corbett and others built it in 1963- the park gets its name from him. It is located in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand. It was the first park to ever fall under the Project Tiger initiative. This park mainly protects the Royal Bengal Tigers. However, tourism activity in the park is strictly maintained to keep the ecological balance. Consequently, the park is spread over 520.8 Km2 and comprises of riverine belts, marshes, hills and a huge lake. Also, you can spot leopards, jungle cats, barking deer, Indian elephants, Himalayan black bear, Indian gray mongoose, otters, yellow-throated martens, Himalayan goral and Indian pangolins, to name a few.
Best time to visit: Mid-November to Mid-June.
Climate: During the summer: around 40Co.
During the winter: Between 5-30Co
How to reach: By train, Ramnagar is the nearest railway station. Alternatively, one can get down at Kathgodam or Haldiwadi and take the road to Ramnagar.
2. RANTHAMBORE NATIONAL PARK, Rajasthan
Ranthambore National Park is located in Sawai Madhopur, in South Eastern Rajasthan and covers an area of 392 Km2 . It came under the Project Tiger initiative in 1973 and became a national park in 1980. It is famous of Bengal Tigers. They can be seen pretty easily, albeit, with a little patience. It lies at the edge of a plateau, and in between the Banas River and the Chambal River. It was named after the mesmerizing Ranthambore Fortress, which lies within the park. Furthermore, the huge amount of animals which can be found here are Indian leopard, nilgai, sloth bear, striped hyena, wild boar amongst others. In addition, the park is also home to a wide variety of flora, birds, and reptiles- including some of the biggest banyan trees in India.
Best time to visit: November-March.
Climate: During the summer: around 44 Co
During the winter: Between 1-15 Co
How to reach: By train, mostly all trains stop at Sawai Madhopur. Take a car from the station to the park.
By air, Jaipur is the nearest airport, which is 140 Km away.
3. GIR FOREST NATIONAL PARK, Gujrat
This park is situated near Talala Gir, in Gujrat. It was established in 1965 and covers an area of 1412 Km2. This is the only place in India which is the home of the Asiatic lion. Consequently, it is accepted to be the most important protected areas, due to the species it contains. It was previously a hunting ground for the Nawabs of Junagadh. But when the number of lions drastically dropped, Nawab Sir Muhammad Rasul Khanji Babi declared the forest protected and stopped more slaughter. The fauna of Gir includes sloth bear, Indian leopard, Indian cobra, jungle cat, striped hyena, Golden jackal, various mongoose, honey badger, desert cats, porcupine, pangolin, and rusty-spotted cats, among others.
Best time to visit: November- January.
Climate: In summer, around 45 Co
In winter, may drop below 10 Co
How to reach: It is situated at an approximate distance of 65 Km from Junagarh and 40 Km from Veraval. Keshod is the closest airport.
4. BANDHAVGARH NATIONAL PARK, Madhya Pradesh
It is located in the Umaria district of Madhya Pradesh and covers an area of 820 Km2, including the buffer zones. The most popular hillock in the area has given its name to the park. The biodiversity of the park is huge. Supposedly, the park has the highest number of tigers in India. The various type of animals found here is sambar, barking deer, nilgai, Indian wolf, striped hyena etc.
Best time to visit: October-June.
Climate: In summer, 23-46 Co
In winter, 4-32 Co
How to reach: By air, Sanganer airport in Jaipur.
By train, Sawai Madhopur is only 10 km from the park and all major trains stop here.
5. SUNDERBANS NATIONAL PARK, West Bengal
West Bengal’s most famous park is Sunderbans. It lies adjacent to the Sunderban Reserve Forest in Bangladesh. You will get to see a large mangrove forest in the delta. It is also the home of the largest population of Royal Bengal Tigers. UNESCO has declared it a World Heritage Site. You will find various types of fauna here including finishing cat, leopard cat, wild boar, jungle cat, flying fox, Pangolin to name a few. Furthermore, the Bengal tigers over here are famous as man-eaters.
Best time to visit: September – March
Climate: Average temperature is between 20- 40 Co
How to reach: By air, Kolkata airport is the closest (140 km)
By train, Canning Railway is the closest (29 km)
6. KANHA NATIONAL PARK, Madhya Pradesh
Located in Madhya Pradesh, this park houses one of the rarest and most extinct species of deer i.e. swamp deer or locally known as “Barasingha”. Kanha is also one of the most maintained national parks in Asia. The highest point in this sanctuary is also called as the sunset point or “Bamni Dadar” which offers the whole view of the wildlife sanctuary. Hallon (250 km2) and Banjar (300 km2) are the two parts of this park. In the park, you will find Bengal tiger, Indian leopards, wild cats, sloth bear, Indian wild dog amongst others.
Best time to visit: February – June
Climate: In summer, 24-42 Co
In winter, climate reaches 0Co
How to reach: The nearest airport is Jabalpur (160 km)
The nearest train station is Jabalpur (165 km)
7. KAZIRANGA NATIONAL PARK, Assam
It is a national park located in Golaghat and Nagaon district of Assam. It hosts two-thirds of the world’s greatest one-horned rhinos and is a World Heritage Sight. Other fauna species that you will find here are tigers, elephants, swamp deer, etc. Due to a noticeable number of tigers, Kaziranga became a Tiger Reserve in 2006. There are 2401 rhinos here for you to witness.
Best time to visit: November – April.
Climate: In the summer, average of 37 Co
In winter, 5-25 Co
How to travel: By air, Jorhat is the nearest airport (74 km)
By train, the nearest railway station is Furkating (75 km)
8. NAGARHOLE NATIONAL PARK, Karnataka
Also known as Rajiv Gandhi National park, this park is located in Kodagu and Mysore districts of Karnataka. In 1999, this park came under the Project Tiger initiative. It falls under Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. The rich forest, small streams and water bodies, hills and valleys will mesmerize you. Also, Nagarhole has a good number of tigers. Sloth bear, elephant, Indian bison, striped hyena, Indian giant squirrel, porcupine etc. are the other species you can find here.
Best time to visit: September – May
Climate: In summer, average temperature is around 33 Co
In winter, 10- 14 Co
How to travel: By air, Bangalore is the nearest airport (220 km)
By train, the closest rail head is Mysore. It is only 4 hours from Nagarhole.
9. BANDIPUR NATIONAL PARK, Karnataka
In 1974, Bandipur became a tiger reserve. Lush forests of the Deccan plateau comprise of this national park. This is one of the most visited national parks in South India. It covers an area of 874 km2 . It comes under the Gundlupet Taluq of Chamarajanagar district. You will find many animals here such as the tiger, Indian elephant, gaur, sloth bear, four horned antelope to name a few.
Best time to visit: October – May
Climate: In summer, 32 – 38 Co
In winter, 15 – 18 Co
How to travel: Bangalore is the nearest airport (215 km)
Nearest railway station is Mysore city (80 km)
10. SARISKA NATIONAL PARK, Rajasthan
Sariska is located in the Alwar district of Rajasthan. The Government declared it a Tiger Reserve in 1978. Other animals that you will find here are the leopard, jungle cat, golden jackal, striped hyena, nilgai etc. Also, the wildlife reserve covers an area of 866 km2 . This is the first park where the tiger relocation was successful. Consequently, the total number of tigers in the reserve is now 13.
Best time to visit: October – March
Climate: In summer, average temperature is 38.4 Co
In winter, average temperature is 15 Co
How to travel: By air, Jaipur airport is the nearest airport (107 km)
By train, Alwar is the nearest station (37 km)
Excited at the prospects that your (wild) future brings? Time to give these destinations a visit! I hope you’ve enjoyed this list of top 10 national parks in India. So don’t wait! Start packing!
Contributor: Archi Sengupta