14 Breathtaking National Parks In India That Will Make The Animal Lover In You Swoon

14 Breathtaking National Parks In India That Will Make The Animal Lover In You Swoon

“I like some animals more than some people, some people more than some animals.”

- Jane Goodall

The concrete jungle is a vast and ever-engaging playground, with plenty of scope for us to interact with one’s fellow ‘social animals’. Who knows that better than us, your weekend genies? From the weekend munchies to gorgeous homestays near beaches and in the mountains, we have been happy to conspire to help you satisfy your wanderlust along with friends with similar inclinations. But as Miss Goodall stated, humans are not all fun and frolic all the time, and a break away from our own species sometimes is the best gift you can give yourself.

Without further ado, Homegrown presents to you some of the most breathtaking National Parks in India. Considered one of the most biologically diverse regions in the world, India has more than 80 National Parks which serve to work towards ecological protection, as well as offer a chance for man to regain his connect with the wild.

It’s time to spam that Whatsapp group and shake your friends from their lazy stupors (or plan that long delayed solo-trip) as species ranging from majestic tigers and lions, to near-extinct species of Red Panda and Snow Leopards, await you in these national parks. Time to go make some ‘new friends’:

I)      Kaziranga National Park

Where: Assam

Best Time To Visit: November-March

One of India’s most famous National Parks, Kaziranga has displayed tremendous success in environmental conservation and protection. Sprawled across both sides of River Brahmaputra, Kaziranga consists of five ‘ranges’ or segregated zones on the expansive property. Recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985, Kaziranga has the highest density of Royal Bengal Tigers among protected areas in the world, and also boasts of a massive bird sanctuary. Wild water buffaloes, swamp deers, gaurs, monkeys, otters and badgers constitute the other residents of this reserve, and one has the option of choosing an Elephant Safari to interact with the massive Asian Elephants up-close or to go in for the jeep safari.

Known for: Housing two-thirds of the prehistoric one-horned Rhino population in the world. 

Image Credit: Chelliah /Image Source: Cesess
Image Source: Real Bharat

II)      Nokrek National Park

Location: Meghalaya

Best Time To Visit: October-May

The West Garo Hills of Meghalaya are home to an ecologically diverse heaven in the form of the Nokrek National Park. As a part of the Nokrek Biological Reserve, it boasts of a long list of rare species. The Hillock Giibbon, Stamp Tailed Macaque, Pig Tailed Macaque and The Himalayan Black Bear are some of the endangered and endemic species which call Nokrek their home, along with a sizeable population of Asian elephants. Nokrek is naturally gifted in terms of its fauna as well, with a rare local species of orange called Memang Narang growing here alongwith natural limestone caves. Of these, the Siju Cave is most popular and said to be miles long and full of water.

Known for: Nokrek is home to the rare Red Panda, a species sparsely distributed across the Himalayas and China. 

Image Source: Tour My India

 Where To Stay: Nearby Town Of WilliamNagar

III)      Manas National Park

                                                                                                                        Location: Assam

Best Time To Visit: November-April

Assam’s Manas National Park boasts of a wide range of rare species which find protection in its scenic beauty. Adjudged as a World Heritage Site in the same year as Kaziranga, it is home to the Assam Roofed Turtle, Hispid Hare, Pygmy Hare, Himalayan Palm Civet and Sloth Bear along with tigers and Asian Elephants, who use the reserve as a corridor for migration to Bhutan.

Known For: The Golden Langur, one of the world’s rarest simian species, first being spotted here in the 20th Century.

Golden Langur Image Source: Wikimedia

 Where To Stay: The in-house resort, Musa Jungle Retreat

IV)      Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park

Location: Andaman Islands

Best Time To Visit: December-April

A group of 15 islands and open-sea creeks form the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park at Wandoor. Opened in 1983, this underwater national park is home to over 135 species of corals which attract not only tourists, but scientists and researchers as well, who study the wide variety of coral fauna in the park. The dense vegetation, rock caves and granite cliffs that make up the national park are home to many land animals such as the Andaman Wild Pig, Civet and Spotted Deer and birds like whistling teal and white-bellied sea eagles. The swimmers and marine enthusiasts have the option of partaking in fantastic snorkelling and scuba diving adventures at the Lacadives Diving School or simply observing the protected reserve through the bottom of transparent, glass-floored boats. If you visit between December and March, you get a chance to witness the jaw-dropping sight of newly hatched baby turtles make their way to the sea from the egg-filled shores.

Known For: Being a nestling hub for turtles such as Leatherback, Hawksbill, Green and the smallest of all, the Olive Ridley, besides hundreds of species of fish. 

Image Source: Global Vision Tours

 Place To Stay: Guest House at Wandoor or Resorts at Port Blair

V)      Nanda Devi National Park

Location: Uttarakhand

Best Time To Visit: April-October 

The base of Nanda Devi, India’s second highest peak, gives way to the expansive Nanda Devi National Park with its unique topography consisting of several habitats, species, and ecosystems. The park was declared a World Heritage Site in 1988, and is relatively devoid of any human or anthropogenic pressure save for the small community-based eco-tourism, an important effort to preserve the biodiversity of the Himalayan region. Nanda Devi National Park is also a delight for bird watchers with the orange-flanked bush robin, Indian tree pipit and blue-fronted redstart forming the crux of the bird population of the region.

Famous For: Some of the rarest species in the world such as the Himalayan Maple, High Altitude Lizard, Himalayan Birch can residing in the region.

Image Source: CNN
Image Source: Nanda Devi Mountains Blogspot

 Where to Stay: Resorts at Joshimath and Badrinath

VI)    Jim Corbett National Park

Location: Uttarakhand 

Best Time To Visit: November-March

India’s oldest, and possibly most famous, national park was set up in 1936 as Hailey National Park, in order to protect the Bengal tiger. The park was renamed after the hunter-turned-conservationist Jim Corbett, who worked tirelessly for documenting and protecting the tigers and animals of the region. An abode for elephants, deers, langur monkeys and several birds along with the tigers, this national park is one of the few tiger reserves in the country which allows for overnight stay within the park premises, while simultaneously having strict restrictions to protect the tiger and animal population.

Famous For: Its thriving tiger population, and for being the first to be a part of the Project Tiger program of 1973.

Image Source: India Marks

VII) Hemis National Park

Location: Jammu And Kashmir

Best Time To Visit: May-October

A visit to this park will undoubtedly involve roughing it: extensive walking, camping and surviving the freezing weather, which can go down to -30 degress celsius in the winters as you traverse through the changing terrain of snowy peaks, barley fields, narrow gorges, rocky cliffs and mesmerizing water bodies. Sounds like a life-changing experience, doesn’t it? The expansive park is most famous for being the spotting ground for the elusive snow leopards, 200 of which survive in the Park, as well as the only habitat for Shamu or the Ladakhi Urial in the world.

Famous For: Being South Asia’s largest national park, and arguably one of the most scenic as well.

Image Source: Outlook Traveller
Image Source: Cheersbye Blog

 Where To Stay: Homestay at Rumbak

VIII) Keoladeo National Park

Location: Rajasthan

Best Time To Visit: October to April

Formerly known as the Bharatpur Sanctuary, the 29 sq km man-made park is another World Heritage Site which boasts of being one of the finest birding areas in the country with 360 species of birds, some of which migrate from countries as far as China, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Siberia. Mammals such as the Golden Jackal,  Striped Hyena, Fishing Cat, Wild Boars and reptiles such as the Indian Python are the other attractions in this avian heaven.

 Famous For: Being frequented by the rare-to-spot Siberian Cranes and the world’s tallest flying birds the Sarus Cranes.

Image Source: Flickr
Image Source: Wikimedia

Where To Stay: Bharatpur Lodge 

IX) Sunderbans National Park

Location: West Bengal

Best Time To Visit: November-February

One of Asia’s most beautiful natural wonders manifests itself in the form of the Sunderbans. The world’s largest mangrove forest cuts across the India-Bangladesh border with an area of 10,200 sq km, which can only be navigated through a complex network of rivers and estuaries. The tour guides on boats will help one spot the different mammals and marine lives of the swamp but spotting the Royal Bengal Tiger will require one to settle on the watchtowers deep within the jungle and keep their eyes wide open. The reserve is home to many varied species, such as the teeming saltwater crocodile population, Gangetic and Irrawady Dolphins, fishing cat, leopard cat, snakes and more than 200 species of birds.

Famous For: Being the largest habitat for the Royal Bengal Tiger in the world. 

Image Source: Arts Travel
Image Source: Prithul Mahmud

X) Periyar National Park

Location: Kerala

Best Time To Visit: November-March

Periyar is one of the most popular national parks in South India, famous for the elephant and tiger reserves within the facility. The dwindling numbers of wildlife and appalling damage to the local ecology saw a redesigning of the park’s strategy, with a special focus on eco-tourism with the help of the local villagers and inhabitants. You are free to indulge yourself in varied experiences within the park with walks, bamboo rafting across the Periyar Lake or join camping like the Tiger Trails to detect one of the 36 big cats residing in the park.

Famous For: How the local communities, many of whom are illiterate, can describe the feeding patterns and features of the animals of the park with amazing precision.  

Image Source: Tourism India
Image Source: Wildlife Tourism

 Where To Stay: Lake PalaceAranya NivasPeriyar House

XI) Dibru Saikhowa National Park

Location: Assam

Best Time To Visit: November-April

Considering the extent of thriving biodiversity of the Sunderbans, where the river Brahmaputra meets Ganga, it isn’t too hard to imagine how fertile the floodplains of the river must be. The richness of the Brahmaputra can be seen quite vividly in Eastern Assam, where the floodplains of the river are home to 380 bird species and 36 mammals, many of which are endangered. The Dibru Saikhowa National park was formed in 1999, making it the youngest national park on the list, to protect species such as the feral horses, the Gangetic Dolphins, Chinese Pangolin and birds like the great-pied hornbills and black-breasted parrot bills.

Famous For: Eastern Assam’s unique ecosystem and landscape. 

Image Source: Madras Wanderer
Image Source: Wikimedia

 Where To Stay: Resorts at Tinsukia

XII) Tal Chhapar Wildlife Sanctuary

Location: Rajasthan

Best Time To Visit: September-March

Tal Chhapar started off as the Maharaja of Bikaner’s personal hunting reserve, and has now undergone radical transformation in becoming a wildlife sanctuary for the protection of Black Bucks. Some of the most graceful antelopes in India, the Black Bucks are considered sacred by the Bishnoi Community. Tal Chhapar is spread over just 80 sq km, which provides visitors with ample opportunity to spot the animals it houses, unlike many of the other national parks on the list which sprawl over much larger areas. The Black Bucks are joined by exotic birds such as the laggar falcon, red-headed vulture and the demoiselle cranes from Himalayas in attracting tourists year after year.

Famous For: The open entry nature of the park where one can stroll/drive through without any safaris.

Image Source: Recitals Wilderhood
Image Source: Flickr

 Place to Stay: Resorts at Churu or Sanctuary Rest Houses

XIII) Bandhavgarh National Park

Location: Madhya Pradesh

Best Time To Visit: February-June

A real treat for the tiger aficionados, a visit to this national park is never complete without spotting the majestic beast. While there are plenty of tiger reserves in the country, few can offer the certainty of spotting India’s national animal like Bandhavgarh. Thriving in the rough terrain of the Vindhya hills, Bandhavgarh also boasts of the largest breeding population of leopards, as well as a wide variety of deers.

Famous For: Having the highest density of tigers in the world, so spotting one is almost guaranteed.

Image Source: Indian Panorama
Image Source: Raj Palace

 Place to Stay: Bandhavgarh Resorts

XIV) Kanha National Park

Location: Madhya Pradesh

Best Time To Visit: November-May

Kanha has played a role in millions of childhoods across the world since 1894, a fact the world is oblivious to. The lush saal, lakes, bamboo forests and streams inspired Rudyard Kipling to write the famous ‘Jungle Book’ series - a fact which will have most people rushing to the park to investigate whether the literary rendition does justice to reality.

Famous For: The ‘Barasingha’ or swamp deers which form the core population at Kanha. 

Image Source: BHP
Image Source: Cesess/ Image Credit: Souvik

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