National Parks in India: A Guide to India’s Best Wildlife Sanctuaries

National parks in India – The number of wildlife sanctuaries and national parks in India is quite high. The natural balance of the country and the survival of its unique flora and fauna depend on these protected areas. The major goal of these sanctuaries is the preservation of wildlife and the protection of their natural ecosystems. There are around 500 wildlife preserves and parks in India. The most national parks per state are found in Madhya Pradesh (9 total) and Andaman & Nicobar Islands (9 total).

The National Park Act of 1964 made it illegal to engage in any form of development, logging, poaching, hunting, or grazing within the park’s boundaries. A region is eligible to become a National Park if it is deemed to be of sufficient ecological, geo-morphological, and natural value by the government. The boundaries of a national park are clearly delineated and private property is not permitted within them. National parks typically range in size from 100 square kilometers to 500 square kilometers and focus on protecting a certain ecosystem or set of animals.

There is at least one National Park in each of India’s 29 states, each of which serves as a showcase for the country’s natural beauty and the species that calls it home. Millions of people go to these parks every year to experience the untamed beauty and abundance of wildlife that can only be found in these protected places.

Importance of wildlife conservation in India

India’s diverse wildlife needs wildlife conservation. From the Himalayas in the north to the tropical woods in the south, India has a diverse environment. Tigers, elephants, lions, rhinoceroses, and more live in the country. These species are vital to the region’s ecological balance and biodiversity.

India’s economic benefits from wildlife conservation. Wildlife tourism generates thousands of visitors annually. Tourism creates local jobs and boosts the economy. Wildlife conservation also sustains agriculture, forestry, and ecological services including pollination, seed distribution, and soil fertility.

India’s cultural history requires animal conservation. Many indigenous groups depend on wildlife for their livelihoods. Thus, cultural diversity requires animal conservation.

Despite government and NGO efforts, habitat destruction, poaching, and human-wildlife conflict have endangered numerous Indian species. To preserve the country’s unique biodiversity, public knowledge, and community involvement are crucial. To protect wildlife in India, the government must strengthen laws, expand surveillance, and promote sustainable land use.

History of National Parks in India

Origin and Evolution of National Parks in India

The British colonial era created India’s national parks to protect animals and forests. Hailey National Park, now Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand, became India’s first national park in 1936. Due to overhunting, the Bengal tiger population was fast dwindling.

India established national parks and protected areas to conserve wildlife and their ecosystems after independence in 1947. The 1952 Species Protection Act protected species and their habitats. This statute allowed for more national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.

India has 104 national parks and nearly 500 wildlife sanctuaries totaling 165,000 square kilometers. Tigers, elephants, lions, rhinoceroses, and other animals live in these parks and sanctuaries. These protected areas preserve the country’s biodiversity and ecological equilibrium.

National parks now encompass scientific research, education, and recreation in addition to wildlife conservation. National parks draw thousands of tourists annually. These protected regions’ tourism has boosted the country’s economy and supplied local jobs.

Finally, national parks and protected areas in India were established during British colonial rule and continued after independence. Conservation, research, education, and tourism depend on these protected regions. India’s national parks represent its dedication to biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.

Key events that led to the creation of National Parks in India

Over the past century, several major events led to India’s national parks. Significant events include:

Hailey National Park, India’s first national park, was founded in 1936 in Uttarakhand. Bengal tiger conservation was the park’s main goal.

species Protection Act: The Indian government passed the Wildlife Protection Act in 1952 to safeguard species and their habitats. More national parks and wildlife sanctuaries were created under this act.

The launch of Project Tiger: In 1973, the Indian government established Project Tiger to conserve the country’s diminishing tiger population. Several tiger reserves were created nationwide under this program, which led to more national parks.

The Biodiversity Convention: India signed the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in 1992 to protect its biodiversity. Thus, more national parks and wildlife sanctuaries were constructed nationwide.

Indian national parks and animal sanctuaries have become popular tourist destinations due to eco-tourism. These protected areas have boosted the country’s economy and offered local jobs through tourism.

These events helped create India’s unique national parks and protected regions. These parks have preserved wildlife, boosted the economy, and created jobs for local residents.

Geographical Distribution of National Parks in India

List of National Parks in India

Year of Establishment         Name of National ParkState
1936Corbett National ParkUttarakhand
1955Kanha National ParkMadhya Pradesh
1955Tadoba National ParkMaharashtra
1959Madhav National ParkMadhya Pradesh
1968Bandhavgarh National ParkMadhya Pradesh
1974Kaziranga National ParkAssam
1974Bandipur National ParkKarnataka
1974Bannerghatta National ParkKarnataka
1975Gir National ParkGujarat
1975Gugamal National ParkMaharashtra
1975Navegaon National ParkMaharashtra
1975Pench National ParkMadhya Pradesh
1976Blackbuck National ParkGujarat
1976Guindy National ParkTamil Nadu
1977Keibul-Lamjao National ParkManipur
1977Khangchendzonga National ParkSikkim
1977Dudhwa National ParkUttar Pradesh
1978Eravikulam National ParkKerala
1979Vansda National ParkGujarat
1979Van Vihar National ParkMadhya Pradesh
1980Simlipal National ParkOdisha
1980Ranthambore National ParkRajasthan
1980Gulf of Mannar Marine National ParkTamil Nadu
1981Guru Ghasidas (Sanjay) National ParkChhattisgarh
1981Dachigam National ParkJammu & Kashmir
1981Hemis National ParkJammu & Kashmir
1981Kishtwar National ParkJammu & Kashmir
1981Panna National ParkMadhya Pradesh
1981Sanjay National ParkMadhya Pradesh
1981Satpura National ParkMadhya Pradesh
1981Keoladeo Ghana National ParkRajasthan
1982Indravati National ParkChhattisgarh
1982Kanger Valley National ParkChhattisgarh
1982Marine National ParkGujarat
1982Periyar National ParkKerala
1982Nanda Devi National ParkUttarakhand
1982Valley of Flowers National ParkUttarakhand
1983Mahatma Gandhi Marine National ParkAndaman & Nicobar Islands
1983Namdapha National ParkArunachal Pradesh
1983Fossil National ParkMadhya Pradesh
1983Sanjay Gandhi National ParkMaharashtra
1983Rajaji National ParkUttarakhand
1984Great Himalayan National ParkHimachal Pradesh
1984Silent Valley National ParkKerala
1984Sunderban National ParkWest Bengal
1985Balpakram National ParkMeghalaya
1986Mouling National ParkArunachal Pradesh
1986Betla National ParkJharkhand
1986Nokrek Ridge National ParkMeghalaya
1986Neora Valley National ParkWest Bengal
1986Singalila National ParkWest Bengal
1987Middle Button Island National ParkAndaman & Nicobar Islands
1987Mount Harriet National ParkAndaman & Nicobar Islands
1987North Button Island National ParkAndaman & Nicobar Islands
1987Saddle Peak National ParkAndaman & Nicobar Islands
1987South Button Island National ParkAndaman & Nicobar Islands
1987Pin Valley National ParkHimachal Pradesh
1987Anshi National ParkKarnataka
1987Kudremukh National ParkKarnataka
1988Nagarahole (Rajiv Gandhi) National ParkKarnataka
1988Bhitarkanika National ParkOdisha
1989Sri Venkateswara National ParkAndhra Pradesh
1989Valmiki National ParkBihar
1989Sultan National ParkHaryana
1989Indira Gandhi (Annamalai) National ParkTamil Nadu
1989Gangotri National ParkUttarakhand
1990Manas National ParkAssam
1990Mudumalai National ParkTamil Nadu
1990Mukurthi National ParkTamil Nadu
1990Govind National ParkUttarakhand
1991Murlen National ParkMizoram
1992Campbell Bay National ParkAndaman & Nicobar Islands
1992Galathea Bay National ParkAndaman & Nicobar Islands
1992Mollem National ParkGoa
1992City Forest (Salim Ali) National ParkJammu & Kashmir
1992Phawngpui Blue Mountain National ParkMizoram
1992Desert National ParkRajasthan
1992Sariska National ParkRajasthan
1992Buxa National ParkWest Bengal
1992Gorumara National ParkWest Bengal
1993Intanki National ParkNagaland
1994Kasu Brahmananda Reddy National ParkTelangana
1994Mahaveer Harina Vanasthali National ParkTelangana
1994Mrugavani National ParkTelangana
1996Rani Jhansi Marine National ParkAndaman & Nicobar Islands
1998Nameri National ParkAssam
1999Dibru-Saikhowa National ParkAssam
1999Rajiv Gandhi Orang National ParkAssam
2003Kalesar National ParkHaryana
2003Anamudi Shola National ParkKerala
2003Mathikettan Shola National ParkKerala
2003Pampadum Shola National ParkKerala
2004Chandoli National ParkMaharashtra
2005Rajiv Gandhi (Rameswaram) National ParkAndhra Pradesh
2006Mukundra Hills National ParkRajasthan
2007Clouded Leopard National ParkTripura
2007Bison National ParkTripura
2008Papikonda National ParkAndhra Pradesh
2010Inderkilla National ParkHimachal Pradesh
2010Khirganga National ParkHimachal Pradesh
2010Simbalbara National ParkHimachal Pradesh
2014Jaldapara National ParkWest Bengal

Unique ecosystems present in each region

Each region of India has its own environment, making it appropriate for national parks. Each region has diverse ecosystems like:

Jim Corbett, Great Himalayan, and Valley of Flowers National Parks are in the Himalayas. Alpine meadows, sub-alpine forests, and Himalayan glaciers characterize these parks. Snow leopards, Himalayan tahr, and musk deer live there.

Western Ghats: Silent Valley, Bandipur, and Periyar national parks are in the Western Ghats, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Tropical rainforests, grasslands, and wetlands characterize these parks. The lion-tailed macaque, Nilgiri tahr, and Malabar giant squirrel are endemic to the region.

Kanha, Pench, and Satpura national parks are in central India. Dry deciduous forests, bamboo forests, and grasslands characterize these parks. The Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, and Indian wild dog are threatened in the region.

Eastern India has various national parks, including Sundarbans, Kaziranga, and Manas. Mangrove forests, meadows, and tropical rainforests characterize these parks. The Indian rhinoceros, Asian elephant, and Hoolock gibbon are endangered in the region.

Each Indian area has unique ecosystems appropriate for national parks. These parks preserve biodiversity and provide local populations with economic advantages and jobs.

Famous National Parks in India

1 Jim Corbett National Park

Jim Corbett National Park is a renowned tourist destination located in the state of Uttarakhand. Situated on the foothills of the Almora mountain range, it is a tiger reserve that offers shelter to the Royal Bengal Tigers, which attract visitors from various parts of India and abroad. Due to its unique location, the park remains open throughout the year, but the best time to visit is from November to June the following year, which spans eight months.

At Corbett National Park, we take full responsibility for ensuring that our visitors have the best possible experience during their stay. We assist them in finding all the necessary services they require during their stay in the forest area. We provide assistance in finding the right package for jungle safari and accommodation in the area of their choice, including Dhikala, Durgadevi, Jhirna, Dhela, Bijrani, and Sitabani. We encourage our guests, whether from India or abroad, to contact us at least 46 days prior to their visit to the forest. Our team of professionals is committed to providing all the necessary support and catering to the needs of our guests.

2 Kanha National Park

Kanha National Park is situated in the Maikal range of Satpuras in Madhya Pradesh, which lies at the heart of India and forms the central Indian highlands. It is a renowned tiger reserve and is being promoted as one of the finest wildlife areas globally. The park is spread across two revenue districts, Mandala and Kalaghat. It was declared a reserve forest in 1879 and reclassified as a wildlife sanctuary in 1933. In 1955, it was further upgraded to a national park.

Covering an area of 940 sq km in the Maikal chain of hills, the Kanha National Park has a total area of 1945 sq km, including the buffer and core zones. The park’s landscapes, including luxurious meadows, wooded strands, and dense forests, offer magnificent sightseeing experiences for nature lovers. The crystal-clear streams flowing through the dense jungle make the environment even more beautiful and create unparalleled wildlife habitat. Rudyard Kipling drew inspiration from this vibrant land, and his famous creation, “The Jungle Book,” is set here.

Kanha National Park is home to a diverse range of wildlife, from the mighty tigers to the most populated Barasingha, as well as numerous species of plants, birds, reptiles, and insects. The reserve’s well-developed infrastructure has fascinated many travelers from around the world. Bammi Dadar, also known as Sunset Point, is the best location to enjoy the park’s beauty.

3 Tadoba National Park

Tadoba National Park near Chandrapur, Maharashtra, is a popular tiger reserve. One of India’s 50 tiger reserves, it’s named Tadoba Lake in the center. The biodiversity-rich park encompasses 625.4 square kilometers.

Tadoba National Park has a diverse ecosystem. The park has teak trees and deep woodlands. Tigers, leopards, wild dogs, sloth bears, sambar deer, barking deer, chital, nilgai, and wild boar inhabit the reserve. Eagles, owls, vultures, and migratory birds inhabit the park.

The reserve’s central lake, Tadoba, is unique. During the dry season, this lake supplies water to park animals. Winter migrating birds flock to the lake.

Wildlife and nature lovers visit Tadoba National Park. The park offers vehicle safaris, nature hikes, and birdwatching. From November through June, the park is greatest for tiger sightings and beautiful weather.

4 Ranthambore National Park

Ranthambore National Park in Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan, is a prominent wildlife reserve. One of northern India’s largest national parks at 392 square kilometers. Ranthambore Fort, located within the park, gives it its name.

One of India’s best sites to see wild tigers in the park. Other wildlife in the park include leopards, sloth bears, wild boars, sambar deer, chital, nilgai, and numerous birds.

Rocks and lush trees characterize Ranthambore National Park in the Aravali and Vindhya mountain ranges. During the dry season, animals drink from the park’s lakes and streams.

Ancient temples and ruins make Ranthambore National Park unique. The park’s hilltop Ranthambore Fort attracts tourists. The 10th-century fort overlooks the park and countryside.

Jeep safaris, nature hikes, and birding are typical tourist activities at Ranthambore National Park. From November through April, the park is greatest for tiger sightings and beautiful weather.

5 Kaziranga National Park

Assam’s Kaziranga National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park’s major attraction is the one-horned Indian rhinoceros, which inhabits 430 square kilometers. The park has the most tigers of any protected area.

Kaziranga National Park on the Brahmaputra River has meadows, wetlands, and deep woods. Elephants, water buffalo, swamp deer, and birds live in the park.

Kaziranga National Park’s rhinoceros conservation is unique. Anti-poaching actions in the park have increased rhino numbers.

Kaziranga National Park is famous for its biodiversity and culture. The Mishing, Karbi, and Bodo tribes live in the park and have distinct cultures.

Jeep safaris, elephant rides, and birding are popular activities at Kaziranga National Park. From November through April, the park is greatest for wildlife sightings and beautiful weather.

6 Gir Forest National Park

Gujarat’s Gir Forest National Park has animals. Its richness and ecosystems make it the exclusive home of the endangered Asiatic lion. The 1412-square-kilometer park has around 400 plant species, 37 mammalian species, 300 bird species, and many reptiles and bug species.

Gir Forest National Park in Saurashtra, Gujarat, has rocky hills, lush forests, and grasslands. Leopards, hyenas, jackals, deer, antelopes, and wild boars inhabit the park.

The Asiatic lion, formerly endangered, is a park draw. From 20 lions in the early 1900s to over 500 now, the park has conserved the lion population.

Gir Forest National Park is noted for its biodiversity and culture. The Maldhari tribe lives in the park. The Maldhari, nomadic herders in the park, have coexisted with animals for decades.

The Gir Forest environment can be seen through car safaris and lion exhibitions in the park. From December to March, the park is greatest for wildlife sightings and beautiful weather.

7 Bandipur National Park

Bandipur National Park in southern Karnataka is a popular wildlife reserve. The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, which includes Nagarhole National Park, Mudumalai National Park, and Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, includes the 874-square-kilometer national park.

Indian elephants, gaurs, tigers, and Indian rock pythons are among the endangered species in Bandipur National Park. The park has around 200 bird species.

Wildlife enjoys a diversified environment in the park’s dry, damp, and scrublands. The Kabini, Moyar, and Nugu rivers supply animals with water.

The park offers jeep safaris, elephant safaris, birdwatching, and trekking. The park is open and the weather is beautiful from October to May. Monsoon rains close the park from June to September.

8 Periyar National Park

Near Thekkady, Kerala is Periyar National Park. The 925-square-kilometer park is noted for its variety and beauty. The 1978-founded Periyar Tiger Reserve includes it.

The endangered Nilgiri tahr, Indian elephants, Indian bison, and many deer and monkey species live in the park. Over 265 bird and butterfly species live there.

The dam across the Periyar River created Periyar Lake, the park’s major feature. Boat rides on the lake offer stunning views of the park’s woodlands and fauna and provide water for the animals.

The park offers boat rides, treks, and guided nature tours. Its spice farms on the park’s fringes show the region’s agricultural methods.

The park is open and the weather is nice from October to March. Monsoon rains close the park from June to September.

9 Sundarbans National Park

Sundarbans National Park in the Bay of Bengal Delta is unique and fascinating. West Bengal shares it with Bangladesh. The world’s largest mangrove forest lies in the park.

The Sundarbans’ biggest draw is the Royal Bengal Tiger. The park is one of the best sites to see these large cats in the wild. The park has tigers, saltwater crocodiles, Indian pythons, spotted deer, wild boars, and numerous birds and reptiles.

Its unique ecosystem and biodiversity make the Sundarbans National Park a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Mangrove forests shield adjacent areas from tidal waves and cyclones. The endangered Irrawaddy Dolphin and Royal Bengal Tiger live in the park.

The park offers guided nature excursions, boat safaris, and bird watching. Visitors can also meet the park’s local communities and learn about their culture. The park’s sustainable tourism concept protects the environment and provides local jobs.

In conclusion, the Sundarbans National Park is a unique and important environment that must be maintained for future generations. It protects the area from catastrophic disasters and is a natural wonder. The park officials have taken various measures to conserve the park and its species, but tourists and local people must support their efforts to preserve this valuable natural asset.

10 Pench National Park

Pench National Park spans Madhya Pradesh’s Seoni and Chhindwara districts and Maharashtra’s Nagpur. Its varied vegetation and animals cover 758 square kilometers. The park’s ecology and species depend on the Pench River, which runs through it.

Tigers, leopards, wild dogs, sloth bears, Indian bison, and different deer live in the national park. The park has many birds, especially winter migrating species. The park is notable for conserving and protecting tigers, which have increased in number.

Pench National Park is famous for its fauna and scenery. Teak, bamboo, and other trees dominate the park, which has numerous attractive waterways. Jungle safaris, bird watching, and nature hikes are among the attractions.

Wildlife lovers, environment lovers, and those seeking a tranquil and scenic escape in India can visit Pench National Park.

11 Nagarhole National Park

Rajiv Gandhi National Park, popularly known as Nagarhole National Park, lies in southern Karnataka’s Kodagu and Mysore districts. Forests, valleys, and rivers surround its 643 square kilometers. Nagarahole is the park’s river.

The park has tigers, leopards, elephants, Indian bison, spotted deer, sambar deer, wild dogs, and numerous birds and reptiles. The forest sustains various indigenous groups who have lived there for ages.

Hills, valleys, and waterfalls characterize Nagarhole National Park. Visitors can tour the park by jeep or elephant. The park includes hiking, birdwatching, and river fishing.

Nagarhole National Park is best visited in October–May when the weather is dry and pleasant. June–September monsoon season closes the park. Forest cabins and campsites are available in the park.

Different Types of Wildlife Found in India’s National Parks

India’s National Parks are home to a diverse range of wildlife. Some of the different types of wildlife that can be found in these parks include:

  • Bengal Tigers: The Bengal Tiger is one of the most iconic species of India’s wildlife and is found in many of the country’s national parks.
  • Asiatic Elephants: India is home to around 30,000 Asiatic elephants, and these magnificent creatures can be found in several national parks, including Kaziranga, Periyar, and Bandipur.
  • Indian Rhinoceros: The Indian Rhinoceros is a rare and endangered species found in a few national parks, including Kaziranga and Manas.
  • Leopards: India is home to several species of leopards, and they can be found in many of the country’s national parks, including Ranthambore and Gir.
  • Sloth Bears: Sloth Bears are a unique species found in India’s forests and can be spotted in national parks such as Bandhavgarh and Kanha.
  • Indian Bison: Indian Bison or Gaur is the largest wild bovine species and is found in national parks such as Bandipur and Nagarhole.
  • Sambar Deer: The Sambar Deer is the largest deer species found in India and is commonly seen in national parks such as Kanha and Bandhavgarh.
  • Indian Wild Dogs: Indian Wild Dogs or Dholes are an endangered species and are found in some of India’s national parks, including Bandipur and Nagarahole.
  • Various species of primates including the Grey Langur, Bonnet Macaque, Lion-tailed Macaque, and many other species.
  • Indian Pangolin, Indian Giant Squirrel, Indian Civet, Jungle cat, Hyenas, Blackbuck, Chital, Barking Deer, Mouse Deer, and many other species of birds, reptiles, and insects are also found in India’s National Parks.

These national parks are a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and photographers, offering a glimpse into the rich biodiversity of India’s natural heritage.

Trekking and Safari in National Parks

The park and laws determine the safari experience in India’s national parks. Common types include:

  1. Jeep Safari – The most popular safari is a guided jeep tour of the park.
  2. Elephant Safari: An professional mahout leads visitors on an elephant through the wilderness.
  3. Canoe Safari – Some parks provide canoe or boat tours to see aquatic life, birds, and other animals.
  4. A knowledgeable guide leads visitors on a walking safari. This immersive safari brings guests closer to nature.
  5. Night safaris let guests observe nocturnal species including owls, leopards, and hyenas.

Not all parks provide all safaris, and some require specific permits or advance reservations. To protect themselves and the park’s wildlife, visitors should follow park rules.

Trekking and Camping Opportunities in National Parks

Indian National Parks allow tourists to trek and camp in the woods. National Park trekking is a great opportunity to explore the forest and see creatures in their natural habitat.

Most National Parks feature hiking paths with guides or forest rangers. Trail difficulty depends on topography and distance. Trekking in national parks is a great opportunity to learn about local wildlife.

National Park camping is another way to experience nature. Most National Parks include campsites for tent camping. Some parks offer cottages and bungalows for more pleasant stays.

Forest Service or commercial travel operators organize National Park camping. The forest agency requires permits and compliance. Camping lets you sleep under the sky and hear the forest.

Camping and hiking in National Parks is a terrific way to enjoy nature. It’s a chance to learn about wildlife conservation and habitat protection.

Best Time to Visit National Parks

The best time to visit India’s national parks depends on location and weather. The greatest season to visit most National Parks is November to February when the weather is cold and dry and wildlife is easier to spot.

During the monsoon season (June–September), some Indian National Parks are closed. Due to excessive rain and flooding, the parks are often inaccessible.

In contrast, many National Parks are hot and humid from March to June, making outdoor activities and animal viewing difficult. However, Jim Corbett National Park, Kanha National Park, and Bandhavgarh National Park are open throughout these months.

It’s crucial to investigate the exact National Park you wish to visit and check their official website or ask a local tour operator for advice on the ideal time to visit based on your interests and favorite activities.

Seasons affect Indian National Parks differently by region and climate. National Parks feature winter, summer, and monsoon seasons.

Winter: Most Indian National Parks are best visited from November to February. Wildlife seeking water is simpler to notice in mild weather. Dry vegetation makes animals easier to spot. This season offers jeep safaris, bird watching, and nature walks.

Summer: From March through June, India experiences scorching, dry summers. However, tigers and other animals near water are easier to notice. Summer heat closes Jim Corbett and Ranthambore National Parks.

Monsoon: National Parks are affected by India’s July–October monsoon. Due to safety concerns, some National Parks may close after severe rains. However, Kaziranga National Park is attractive during the breeding season and has lush flora.

In conclusion, Indian National Parks’ seasons vary by region and climate. To guarantee a safe and pleasurable journey, visitors should check the weather and park schedules before planning.

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