Top 5 Safari Parks In India
Craving for a little excitement in life ? Want to get closer to nature and experience the wild ? Well, the closest an urban, city-bred, tame individual can handle is wild-life safaris and visits to National Parks. It is quite something to get deep into the dense forests and trail the wild animals, hoping to get a glimpse of the big, frightening ones ! So, hop on….let’s go exploring through the country at some of the bigger Safari parks.
Ranthambore National Park – Rajasthan
Ranthambore National Park is one of the biggest and most popular national parks, located near the town of Sawai Madhopur in Jaipur, Northern India. This massive wildlife reserve lies at the edge of a plateau and is bounded to the north by the Banas River and to the south by the Chambal River. It is named after the historic Ranthambore fortress, which lies within the park. Spread over an area of 392 sq km. along with its nearby sanctuaries like – the Mansingh Sanctuary and the Kaila Devi Sanctuary, this park is very famous for its tigers and is one of the best locations in India to see the majestic predators in its natural habitat.
One can spot the majestic tigers easily during the day time, busy with their regular routine of hunting and taking care of their young ones. Other wild animals include leopard, nilgai, wild boar, sambar, striped hyena, sloth bear, southern plains gray langur, marsh crocodiles, rhesus macaque and chital. The sanctuary is home to a wide variety of trees, plants, birds and reptiles, as well as one of the largest banyan trees in India. Being a major wildlife tourist attraction, hordes of wildlife photographers and lovers throng the Ranthambore National Park.
Ranthambore is also counted as a famous heritage site because of the pictorial ruins that dot the wildlife park. The best time to visit is from October to June, when the park is open, but the ideal time to sight tigers is March – May.
Jim Corbett National Park – Uttarakhand
Snuggled among the foothills of Shivalik Ranges and Himalayas, Jim Corbett National Park is another one of the most famous wildlife reserves in India. This national park, which is a part of the larger Corbett Tiger Reserve – a Project Tiger Reserve, lies in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand. Extending over an area of 520 square kilometers, this park comprises of hills, marshy depressions, riverine belts, grasslands and a large lake.
Inhabiting this oldest national park is the most feared member of the cat family, the Tigers. People from different parts of the world visit Corbett just to get a glimpse of these brilliantly dangerous cats. Besides tigers, Jim Corbett National Park is a habitat of Fishing Cats, Serow, Goral, Himalayan Tahr and several other fascinating wild species.
It is among the few tiger reserves in India that allows overnight stays in the National Park. Nature watch and wildlife viewing in the park is done in an open four wheeler Jeep and on elephant back. Home to a healthy population of tigers and rare species like Otters and the endemic fish eating crocodile, the national park is one of the most sought after destinations for wildlife enthusiasts. Dhikala, situated at the border of the extensive Patil Dun valley, is the most popular destination in Corbett because of its superb location and sheer abundance of wildlife present. If you love bird watching then Corbett is virtual haven for such tourists. Corbett and its surrounding area shelter more than 650 species of resident and migratory birds. To sum up, this finest national park of India is well known for rich and varied wildlife including royal Bengal tiger, elephant, four to five species of deer and rich bird life.
The first national park of India, it was established in 1936 to protect the family of Royal Bengal Tigers. Popularly called The Tiger Capital of India, it is visited by several wildlife lovers every year who wish to catch the glorious sight of Indian Tigers. The best time to visit is from mid November to June end, and the best time for tiger sighting is March to May.
Ramnagar is perhaps the best approach to the Corbett National Park which forms the headquarters of CTR. Ramnagar has a very good network of roads that connects the different cities. The Corbett National Park is situated at an approximate surface distance of 260 Kilometer from India’s national capital Delhi. The state government of Uttarakhand plies buses at a short interval of time from Delhi, Moradabad, Haldawani, and Nainital that reaches Corbett directly.
The drive from Delhi to Jim Corbett takes five and half hours.
Bandhavgarh National Park – Madhya Pradesh
About Bandhavgarh – They say that if you have not spotted a tiger here, you have got to be really unlucky ! This is one park which tops the charts for tiger sightings.
Bandhavgarh National Park, is located in the Vindhya Hills of the Umaria district in Madhya Pradesh. Declared as a national park in 1968, the Bandhavgarh National Park extends across an area of 105 sq.kms and a buffer area of approximately 400 sq km of topography which includes steep ridges and vast stretches of forest and open meadows. Bandhavgarh National Park is known for its density of Royal Bengal Tigers.Similarly, the park also beholds the largest breeding population of leopards and various species of deer. Over the years, the park has shown a great increase in the count of the tiger species and this is the reason why tiger tours are so famous and attract a large amount of tourists to its vicinity. Bandhavgarh is home to some some really large and beautiful tigers.
Bandhavgarh tiger reserve is also densely populated with other species: the gaur or Indian bison which were extinct or had migrated elsewhere are now reintroduced from Kanha; sambar and barking deer are a common sight, and nilgai can be seen in the open areas of the park. There have been reports of the Indian wolf, striped hyena, and the caracal… the latter being an open country dweller. It abounds with chital or the spotted deer which is the main prey animal of the tiger and the Indian leopard.
The Tiger density in the Tala zone of this park puts rest of the parks to shame. The Bandhavgarh Fort which stands tall, the beautiful meadows of Chakradhara, Raj Bhera and Sehra, besides some unimaginably beautiful spots like the Climbers point, Rampur Pahari and Sita Mandap are the captivating features of this Reserve for tourists. The best time to visit this place is from October to May.
Kaziranga National Park – Assam
A World Heritage Site, the Kaziranga National Park is located in the Golaghat and Nagaon districts of the state of Assam, India. The sanctuary, which hosts two-thirds of the world’s great one-horned rhinoceroses, is also home to the highest density of tigers among protected areas in the world, and was declared a Tiger Reserve in 2006. It also shelters large breeding populations of elephants, wild water buffalo, and swamp deer. Kaziranga is recognized as an important Bird Area by BirdLife International for conservation of avifaunal species. When compared with other protected areas in India, Kaziranga has achieved notable success in wildlife conservation.
Kaziranga covers an area of 378 sq.km and a total addition of 429 sq km along the present boundary of the park has been made and designated with separate national park status to provide extended habitat for increasing the population of wildlife or as a corridor for safe movement of animals to Karbi Anglong Hills. Kaziranga is a marshland, a huge carpet of tall elephant grass and dense tropical moist broadleaf forests, criss-crossed by four major rivers, including the Brahmaputra, and the park includes numerous small bodies of water. It has flat expanses of fertile, alluvial soil, formed by erosion and silt deposition by the River Brahmaputra. The landscape consists of exposed sandbars, riverine flood-formed lakes known as beels, and elevated regions known as chapories, which provide retreats and shelter for animals during floods. Kaziranga is also bordered by lush green tea plantations, which contributes heavily to Assam’s economy.
Kaziranga is one of the few wild breeding areas outside Africa for multiple species of large cats, such as Bengal tigers and leopards. Other species include the jungle cat, fishing cat, and leopard cat. Small mammals include the rare hispid hare, Indian gray mongoose, small Indian mongooses, Bengal fox, golden jackal, sloth bear, and many, many others. It is home to a variety of migratory birds, water birds, predators, scavengers, and game birds. Two of the largest snakes in the world, the reticulated python and rock python, as well as the longest venomous snake in the world, the king cobra, inhabit the park along with several others.
Guided tours by elephant or Jeep are available. Hiking is prohibited in the park to avoid potential human-animal conflicts. The park remains closed for visitors from 1 May to end-October due to monsoon rains.
Gir National Park – Gujarat
Besides Africa, Gir National Park in Gujarat is the only place in the world where you can spot lions roaming free in the wild. The Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary (also known as Sasan-Gir) is a forest and wildlife sanctuary near Talala Gir in Gujarat, India. It covers a total area of 1412 square kilometers of which 258 Km forms the core area of the National Park. The entire forest area of the Gir National Park is dry and deciduous which provides best habitat for Asiatic Lions. As per the new statics of 2015, the entire Saurashtra Region is inhabited by 523 Lions and more than 300 Leopards.
Indiscriminate hunting by the people of Junagarh led to a decrease in the population of Asiatic Lions drastically, while they were completely wiped out from the other parts of Asia. With the combined effort of Nawabs of Junagarh in the earlier days and now the Department of Forest Officials who came forward to protect the world’s most threatened species, the population of approximately 20 lions in 1913 has risen to a comfortable 523 according to the 2015 census.
Apart from these two animals the park is a home to two different species of Deer. The Sambar is counted largest Indian Deer. The Gir forest is also known for the Chowsingha – the world’s only four horned antelope. The Jackal, striped Hyena and India Fox are some of the smaller carnivores found in Gir Forest. This national park houses around 38 species of mammals, 300 avifauna species, 37 species of reptiles and over 2000 insect species.
Besides rail or air, Gir forests can be reached easily by roads through buses, cars or taxis from Diu (110 Km), Junagadh (55 Km), Rajkot (160 Km), Veraval (40 Km) and Ahmedabad (408 Km). The national park is open to visitors all throughout the year except the monsoon months, between June and October. But the best time to visit Gir National Park is in the winter season, from November to March. During this time, the weather is cool and the chances of sighting animals are greater. The Sanctuary is open for tourism from 16th October to 15th June every year. National Park attracts large number of tourists to witness the Asiatic lion, as this is the sole place all across the world where these creatures are presently found.
Road Distance or the driving distance from the Gir National Park to Somnath is approximately 50 Kms and it takes nearly 1 hour to cover this distance. GSRTC buses and quite a few private buses ply between both the cities and take you directly to Sasan Gir Forest. If you can’t afford a taxi there are frequent buses that are playing throughout the day. The park is easily accessible from the beautiful beaches of Diu which is about two hours drive. don’t want to take a taxi, pubic buses run regularly to Sasan Gir from both places during the day. People prefer private buses as it conveniently drops them to the Guest houses you want to reach. So in this way they are more convenient than the buses. No prior booking is required as the buses are available on any part of the day.
Picture Credits : Ranthambore National Park – 365hops.com, Jim Corbett National Park – www.corbettnationalpark.in, Bandhavgarh National Park – www.bandhavgarh-national-park.com, Kaziranga National Park – www.kaziranga-national-park.com, Gir National Park – 365hops.com