The national parks in India are protected areas and today there are almost 104 national parks in the country. India is a diverse country rich in wildlife and natural landforms. The natural beauty India has to offer is genuinely ethereal and scenic. While today there are over 110 national parks in the country, in the 1970s there were just about five.
The first national park in the country was established in the year 1936 when India was still under the British rule. The Jim Corbett National Park, initially called Hailey National Park, was the first park in the country and it is located in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. The establishment of more sanctuaries and national parks happened after the passage of Wildlife Protection Act in 1972 and the start of Project Tiger. Therefore, these initiatives increased the protection of the national animal of the country, the Royal Bengal tiger. Later, the government’s conservation program included other endangered animals and birds.
At these parks you can do activities such as go on a safari, go sightseeing, spot wild animals, go for bird watching, indulge in wildlife photography and many other activities. Other than the famous elephants, tigers and deer there are exotic animals and birds too, such as the Asiatic lions, Black Buck, Nilgiri Tahr, Himalyan Monal, Satyr Tragopan, Blue-winged Parakeet, etc. The top 10 national parks in India are as follows:
1. Jim Corbett National Park
The first national park in the country definitely lives up to expectations. Jim Corbett National Park’s main goal is to protect the endangered Bengal tigers of the country. In fact, Project Tiger was first launched here in 1973. Over 650 species of endangered birds call it their home along with other endangered animals like elephants and deer. It ranks number one in the top 5 national parks in India. Over 70,000 tourists come to visit the park every season.
Best Time To Visit: November to June as the weather is not too hot nor too cold. Therefore, you won’t have to face extreme weather conditions.
Things To Do: Safari, Wildlife photography, bird watching, animal spotting, sightseeing.
How To Get There: Road and railway options are there from Delhi (270 km), Nainital (66 km), Moradabad (78 km) etc.
2. Kaziranga National Park
Kaziranga National Park is another famous national park in the northeast region of India. It is in the state of Assam on the banks of the Brahmaputra river. This park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to over two-thirds of the world’s one-horned rhinoceros. There are a total of 2413 rhinos as of March 2018. In 2006, the national park was declared a tiger reserve. Therefore, it is one of the most protected areas for tigers in the country. The length of the park from east to west is approximately 40 km (25 miles) from north to south the breadth amounts to 13 km (8 miles).
Best Time To Visit: From November to April tourists can visit the Kaziranga National Park.
Things To Do: Safari via jeeps, Animal spotting, Photography.
How To Get There: Best way to get there is via road from the closest town which is Bokakhat (23 km).
3. Kanha National Park
Established in the year 1955, the Kanha National Park is among the oldest tiger reserves in the country. It is one of the largest national parks and is located in the state of Madhya Pradesh. It is one of Asia’s national parks with good maintenance. Although it aims to put into action the Project Tiger, it also hosts the deer species called Barasingha. In the park, tourists can spot a variety of animals such as the famous Royal Bengal Tiger, Barasingha, sloths, leopards, hyenas, and others.
Best Time To Visit: If you are planning to visit Kanha Tiger Reserve, the best time is between November and June.
Things To Do: There are a variety of activities for you to do there and they vary from going on a safari to animal spotting.
How To Get There: There are many roads that connect to the national park from Nagpur (244 km via SH 26) and Jabalpur (165 km).
4. Bandipur National Park
The Bandipur National Park is a gem on its own and is near the borders of Karnataka. The park boasts lush greenery and has a population of a variety of grey langurs, leopards, tigers, chital, gaur, deer, red-headed vultures among the rest. It spreads across an area of 874 square kilometres (337 square miles). The park is part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. It totals over 2,183 square kilometres (843 square miles) in area, with the adjoining Mudumalai National Park, Wayanad National Park, and Nagarhole Wildlife Sanctuary. Therefore, it is Southern India’s largest protected area. In addition, the largest population of wild elephants in South Asia is here.
Best Time To Visit: Tourists can plan a trip to the largest habitat of wild elephants in South Asia such as Bandipur National Park anytime between October and May.
Things To Do: There are a variety of activities from tourists to do there from safari to bird-watching, animal spotting, wildlife photography among others.
How To Get There: Tourists can get there via air as the nearest airport is Bangalore Airport (219 km) and also via railway as the nearest station is Mysore (73 km). You can also take a bus from Mysore or Bangalore.
5. Gir National Park
The Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat is famous for their population of Asiatic lions. It is among the top 20 national parks in the country. Currently the population of these lions has increased from 411 to over 500. It is among the protected areas in Asia famous for its biodiversity. Ironically, it was previously a personal hunting ground for the Nawabs of Junagadh before becoming a Reserve Park for the lions. Today it is the only place that Asiatic lions are born. It has full of diverse flora and fauna and is an important part of Gujarat’s ecological resources.
Best Time To Visit: Optimal time to visit the Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is between the months of December and March.
Things To Do: Wildlife Photography, Safari, Spotting Asiatic lions.
How To Get There: Reach the area via road to Rajkot (168 km) and various other cities.
Ranthambore National Park
Established as a national park in India in 1980, the Ranthambore National Park was formerly Sawai Madhopur Game Sanctuary. There is a fortress in the premises of the national park which is an attraction for many tourists from all over the world. It is mainly known for the population of Bengal tigers present in the park as they seek refuge in it since the dawn of Project Tiger. The tigers in the park are easily spotted as compared to other national parks in India. It is situated in the southern region of the Indian state of Rajasthan. Other than the Royal Bengal tiger there are various animals like leopards, jackals, bears that can be spotted in the grounds of the national park.
Best Time To Visit: Ranthambore National Park can be visited by tourists anytime between October and May.
Things To Do: You can visit the fortress that the national park houses as well as spot animals and go on a safari.
How To Get There: You can visit the national park from Sawai Madhopur (14 km), the closest town via road.
7. Sundarbans National Park
The Sundarbans National Park is located in the Ganges Delta of West Bengal and is among the best national parks in the country. Among the national parks in India that are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Sundarbans National Park is one of the most popular ones and is visited by many tourists each season. It is a reserve for Royal Bengal tigers while simultaneously being a biosphere reserve with mangrove forests which are the signature attribute of the place. Earlier, due to less number of tigers and the thick mangroves, it was usually difficult to spot tigers. However, due to the constant efforts of the Forest Department, there has been an increase in the number of tigers present and they are fairly more in number now.
Best Time To Visit: Although the park remains open from September to March, tourists can visit anytime between December to February as it is the best time to visit the park.
Things To Do: The main activity here is spotting the Royal Bengal Tigers via noukas or boats.
How To Get There: Take motor boats from Canning (58 km). Alternatively, you can go via road through Gosaba (37 km) which is the nearest town.
8. Eravikulam National Park
Eravikulam National Park is a must-visit if you are visiting the southern state of Munnar, Kerala in India. The Reserve is spread across 97 square kilometres along the Western Ghats. It gives the park a spectacular ecology full of diverse flora and fauna. This makes it a popular national park in India. Kerala Department of Forest and Wildlife looks after the national park. It has the prestigious tag of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A unique feature of Eravikulam National Park is the plant Neelakurinji, that blooms once every 12 years. At that time the entire forest becomes a deep shade of blue.
Best Time To Visit: September to November and April to June.
Things To Do: You can spot elephants and immerse in the beauty of the lush green hills and wildlife inside the confines of safari buses which are very safe and comfortable. One of the favourite activities here are the early morning and evening treks.
How To Get There: The national park is connected via road from Munnar (11 km).
9. Bandhavgarh National Park
Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve is located in Madhya Pradesh and is famous worldwide. It was declared a National Park in 1968 and is home to 22 species of mammals, and over 250 species of birds call it their home. The animals in it include Asiatic lions, Royal Bengal tigers, Indian leopards, wild boars, Chinkara, Nilgai and others. The National Park received its name from a hillock. According to Hindu mythology, it was given by Lord Rama to his brother Laxamana to protect Lanka. Rich in biodiversity, the park is a must visit with a nice population of tigers which are visible frequently there.
Best Time To Visit: October to June are the months between which tourists visit the park.
Things To Do: Animal spotting is the main activity although wildlife photography is also popular.
How To Get There: Take a cab from the nearest airport that is Khajuraho (226 km via NH39) or if you’re going by train then get down at Umaria Station (32 km) and take a cab from there.
10. The Great Himalayan National Park
This is among the top 5 national parks in India. It is in the northern region of India in the beautiful state of Himachal Pradesh. It got the status of a national park in 1999 although it was established much earlier 1984. The park has one of the most diversified population of flora and fauna. It is spread over a large area of 1271 square km. As a result, it is a habitat to numerous flora and fauna species.
Best Time To Visit: The optimal time to visit the national park would be between April to June and December to February.
Things To Do: Apart from the regular fare of spotting the diverse species of animals and plants, the park hosts many fairs in the months of April, May, August and September.
How To Get There: Taking a cab or bus from Pathankot (264 km via NH 154) is the best route for travelling to the park.
The Forest and Wildlife Department of India has given a major focus to conserving the wildlife and preserving the natural heritage of the country. Therefore, over the years national parks in India have vastly grown in number. They protect the Royal Bengal tiger along with other endangered wildlife animals and birds.