Untamed India: Explore the Best Wildlife Sanctuaries in the Country
India is home to some of the world’s most bio-diverse regions, owing in large part to its diverse and expansive topography, which spans mountains, highlands, tropical and temperate forests, plains, grasslands, swamps and island archipelagos. Unsurprisingly, the country has become a hotspot for eco-tourists, who throng to the many natural reserves and wildlife sanctuaries. If you’re looking for an exciting jungle-themed holiday package in India in the company of some of the world’s rarest species, your search ends here: we’ve put together a list of the best wildlife sanctuaries in India that every wildlife lover should visit, at least once in their lifetime.
· Ranthambore National Park
This park offers you your best shot of viewing India’s national animal in its natural habitat. Spread over 1,334 sq km, the Ranthambore National Park is an amalgamation of rocky ridges and scrub, the centerpiece of which is the 10th century Ranthambore Fort. The fort is surrounded by other relics, including ancient temples and mosques, lakes teeming with crocodiles and burial tombs. It is also home to sloth bears, wild boars and sambar deer, in addition to more than 300 species of bids, which make for interesting viewing. Sighting a tiger at Ranthambore is rare — only about 55 tigers remain as of 2016 — so you may need to return more than once.
· Hemis National Park
Located in the scenic Markha Valley, the Hemis National Park spans 4,400 sq km and is inhabited by 16 mammalian and 73 bird species. The park’s most notable resident is the endangered snow leopard — roughly 100 snow leopards live in Hemis. Nature lovers will also enjoy viewing Tibetan argali sheep, ibex, blue sheep, chukhar and golden eagles. The park is closed in November owing to snowfall, so do plan accordingly.
· Jim Corbett Tiger Reserve
India’s first national park dates back to 1936 and is named for the legendary British hunter-turned-conservationist who wrote the famous book ‘The Man-eaters of Kumaon’. The park is also Asia’s first reserve. In addition to tigers (observed most commonly between March and May), you can spot serow, goral and Himalayan tahr.
· Bhandavgarh National Park
Another hotbed for tiger sightings, Bhandavgarh is second to only Ranthambore in terms of your chances of spotting tigers, owing to the dense population of tigers in this area. The park also has 40 leopards, as well as the more sociable deer, wild boar and langurs. February through June is the best period for viewing tigers. The mercury mounts post April, with temperatures often above 40 degrees C, so make sure you plan accordingly.
· Gir Wildlife Sanctuary
Located in the western Gujarat peninsula, this sanctuary holds the rare distinction of being the only place in the world where you can view the Asiatic lion in its natural setting. The park is spread over 1,412 sq km of forests and hills, which you can explore via a safari. The park is also home to several other wildlife and bird species. You will need to obtain a permit in advance to visit the park and participate in the safari. The Devalia Safari Park, a fenced off area of the sanctuary, offers guaranteed lion sightings, albeit in a more staged manner.