With a coastline of 7,517 kilometres, disparate topography that spans the Himalayas, Ghats, Thar Desert and Sundarbans and four distinct climates, India is indeed a veritable continent. Rich and precious biodiversity runs through the country from the Arabian Sea to the Bay of Bengal and from Kashmir to Kerala.
India has close to one hundred national parks that total just over 1% of the nation’s land mass. While urban India, from Mumbai to Jaipur, Kolkata to Pune, is rife with charm, the country’s national parks display a side seldom seen.
The Umaria district of Madhya Pradesh state is a popular destination because of Bandhavgarh National Park. Tigers dominate the 437 km² reserve in numbers rarely seen on the subcontinent. As with so many other national parks in India, Bandhavgarh also has a fair share of cultural attractions as well.
Another vital tiger preservation area, Bandipur National Park is within the state of Karnataka and links with Mudumalai National Park in the state of Tamil Nadu. A potential new UNESCO World Heritage Site, the park features leopards, elephants, sloth bears, wild boars and wild dogs.
A short drive south of Bangalore in Karnataka, Bannerghatta National Park is popular as a place to admire the singular beauty of white tigers and white lions. The park also features a butterfly sanctuary.
Within the Bhavnagar District of Gujarat state, Blackbuck National Park at Velavadar is relatively close to the Arabian Sea coast. Once the private reserve of a Maharaja, the park is famous for herds of blackbuck antelope.
The eponymous park of British hunter conservationist Jim Corbett is a wonderful gem. The first national park in India lies within the Nainital district of the Greater Himalayan state of Uttarakhand. A pioneer in ecotourism, Corbett National Park has 25 reptile species, 580 bird species, 50 species of mammals and 110 tree species. It was also the first park to launch a Project Tiger conservation initiative.
The Idukki district of Kerala is the perfect place to admire the Western Ghats mountain range, preferably from the confines of Eravikulam National Park. Another potential UNESCO World Heritage Site, the park has some impressive animal residents, from golden jackals to gaurs, porcupines to jungle cats.
At over 4,000 km², Hemis National Park has the most land mass in all of India. The park is also the only one north of the Himalayas. As such, it offers incredibly exclusive peeks at some of the most spectacular natural scenery in the world. From cultural landmarks like the 17th century Hemis Monastery to Tibetan wolves, snow leopards and Asiatic Ibex, the park is extraordinary.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site in the remote, northeastern state of Assam, Kaziranga National Park has many significant claims to fame. For one, the park is home to two-thirds of the planet’s Great One-horned Rhinoceros population. Another feather in the park’s proverbial cap is that it contains the highest density of tigers of any conservation area in the world. Just two supreme reasons to visit the scenic and culturally vibrant state of Assam.
Though conservationists worry about the potential harmful effects of iron ore mines in the Kudremukh mountain range of Karnataka state, the national park still has a bevy of impressive attractions. Sloth bears, wild dogs, Malabar civets and the Hanumana Gundi waterfall lure scores of visitors every year.
Also known as Rajiv Gandhi National Park, Nagarhole is less than 100 km from Mysore in Karnataka. The tropical conservation area teems with elephants, macaques, leopards, wild dogs, bison and has a notable tiger population as well.