India is an incredibly beautiful country and one of the major tourist attractions of the world. Traveling in India can be an invaluable experience in many ways, and the best thing is that you don’t even have to burn a hole in your pocket – it’s not expensive! India is well-known for it’s diverse and exhilarating wildlife, comprising of a wide range of flora and fauna. So, for the adventure seekers out there looking for a wildly exciting experience, we bring you India’s best top ten wildlife sanctuaries:
10) Chilka Lake Bird Sanctuary
Chilka Lake is not only the largest coastal lagoon in India, but second largest in the world as well. It is Asia’s biggest internal salt water pond and the largest wintering ground for migratory birds on the Indian sub-continent. Located on the south-west of Puri in Odisha, it covers a vast distance of 1100 sq km, imbibing one of the most supportive ecosystems. This place is a paradise for bird lovers, as it attracts a large number of birds, including species like white bellied sea eagles, graylag geese, purple moorhen, flamingo jacana and herons. This brackish water lagoon is the biggest breeding places of flamingos in the world. You will also get to see various animals like blackbucks, spotted deer, golden jackals and hyenas, to name a few. Apart from its flora and fauna, Chilka Lake Bird Sanctuary is also famous for it’s dynamic sunrise and sunset views.
9) Mudumalai National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary
‘Old Hills’, is what Mudumalai literally translates into. Situated at the tri-junction of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka on the north-eastern slopes of the Nilgiris, it is one of the first wildlife sanctuaries in India and the best in visual beauty of it’s changing seasons. Declared as a tiger reserve, the sanctuary is home to endangered and vulnerable species including Indian elephant, Bengal tiger, gaur and Indian leopard. It has a wild bio-diversity consisting of 266 bird species, which include severely endangered birds like the Indian White-rumped vulture and the long-billed vulture. Apart from the bird species, the wildlife here has about 50 species of fishes, 21 species of amphibians, 34 species of reptiles, and 55 species of mammals. It has a wide range of flora as well, highlighting the scenic and natural beauty of the sanctuary.
8) Keoladeo Ghana National Park
The name ‘Keoladeo’ is derived from an ancient Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, located near the Ghana National Park. Formerly known as Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, Keoladeo National Park in Bharatpur, Rajasthan, is a famous Avifauna Sanctuary and a major tourist attraction for many ornithologists and bird-watchers in hibernal season. Home to thousands of birds in winter, it is the world’s most important bird breeding and feeding grounds, with more than 380 local and migratory species of birds including the Common, Demoiselle and the rare Siberian Cranes. It was declared a protected sanctuary in 1971, and in 1985, it was declared as a world heritage site. Apart from the large number of bird species, it is a host to various mammals like Golden Jackal, Jungle Cat, Striped Hyena, Sambar, Fishing Cat, Nilgai, Blackbuck and wild Boar.
7) Ranthambore National Park
This National Park got it’s name from the historic Ranthambore fortress within the Park. Located in south-eastern Rajasthan, Ranthambore National Park is the biggest and most famous National Park in North India. It is a major attraction for wildlife lovers and a dream come true for wildlife photographers, as it is one of the finest places to view animals in their natural jungle habitat. Declared as a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1957, it gained the protection of Project Tiger in 1974. It is famous for it’s tigers; they can be easily seen during the day. It is also a shelter to other major wild animals like leopard, boar, antelope, sambar, hyena, sloth bear, southern plains gray langur, chital and rhesus macaque. Furthermore, the Sanctuary comprises of various birds and reptiles different plants and trees, including the largest Banyan tree in India.
6) Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary
Periyar is one of the 48 tiger reserves in India and one of the most renowned National Parks in the southern part of the country. Set high in the Western Ghats in Kerala, Periyar is an epitome of picturesque beauty and charm, embellished with a beautiful 100 year old man-made lake located at it’s heart where animals quench their thirst. It is the most protected area for elephants and tigers, but it’s rich bio-diversity includes over 35 species of animals (some of which are endangered) such as Wild Pigs, Sambar, Gaur, Mouse Deer, Dole or Barking Deer, Indian Wild Dog. The flora comprises of tropical evergreen and moist deciduous forests, grasslands, eucalyptus, and lake and river ecosystems. Other attractions at the Sanctuary include the Cardamom Hills, the holy Mangla Devi Temple and the beautiful boat rides, to name a few.
5) Bandipur National Park
Bandipur National Park is a tiger reserve under Project Tiger, famous for it’s wildlife and biomes where deciduous forests are predominant. Situated in Karnataka, it was once a personal hunting reserve for the kings of Mysore, now considered to be one of the best managed national parks of India. It has been attracting tourists since years, because of it’s mesmerizing view of the beautiful Nilgiri hills topped with mist, surrounded with luscious plants and trees. It’s fauna includes so many different kinds of species including the vulnerable ones, such as gaur, elephant, sambar, chital and even the occasional tiger or leopard, muntjac, the tiny mouse deer, wild boar, pangolin, giant squirrel, slender loris, langurs and macaques. Apart from it’s rich fauna, there are various plant species in flora as well which include teak, rosewood, and sandalwood to name a few.
4) Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary
Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat is the only abode of Asiatic lions in the world. Recognized as one of the nation’s best and most protected areas, Gir was declared as a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1985 and a National Park 10 years later. Though there are only about 300 lions in the Sanctuary, their conservation efforts of the past century have been successful. It’s bio-diverse fauna includes leopards, cobras, jungle cats, golden jackals, Indian mongoose, striped hyenas, Indian palm civets and honey badgers. There are over 400 species of plants and prominent water reserves in the area.
3) Kanha National Park
Luscious sal and bamboo forests, grassy meadows, and ravines of Kanha were a source of inspiration to Rudyard Kipling’s Magnum Opus, “The Jungle Book”. Situated in Madhya Pradesh, Kanha National Park is the largest in the State. It’s most accomplished achievement is the preservation of the endangered Barasingha (swamp deer) also known as the “jewel of Kanha”, preventing it from extinction, which is why it’s one of the most well maintained National Parks in Asia. It’s major attraction point is the Bamni Dadar, known as Sunset Point, which gives the tourists a jaw-dropping and awe-inspiring backdrop against the flourishing forests and grasslands, grazed by the swamp deer. It has a rich bio-diversity of flora and fauna and we can easily spot tigers and deer roaming around the Park.
2) Jim Corbett National Park
Named after the tiger-hunter turned naturalist Jim Corbett, this national park is the oldest and most prestigious in the Country. It was the first National Park to be established as a tiger reserve under the Project Tiger initiative. It is home to a large number of Bengal tigers which can be seen in abundance, and to other animals such as Asiatic elephant, leopards, wild boar, sloth bear, jackal, mongoose and crocodiles. It consists of about 488 plant species providing a natural atmosphere to the tourists.
1) Kaziranga National Park
Declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Kaziranga National Park in Assam is abode to two-third of the world’s great one-horned rhinoceros. It is also a tiger reserve with a high density of tigers and swamp deer. It is the oldest National Park in Assam, and a shelter for animals such as elephants, panthers and bears, among many others. It’s flora consists of a large number of plant species, including thousands of trees, providing the visitors a tranquil and salubrious environment.