Top 12 National Parks & Wildlife Sanctuaries in India

Nature has blessed India with mixed geographical conditions, making it a suitable place for a wide range of flora and fauna to flourish. Its unique topography dotted with green lush terrains, mountains, dense forests, plains, uneven landscapes, etc. have resulted in a lot of physical and climatic conditions. The country’s varied topographies are shelters for an extraordinary number of species that are on the verge of extinction, hence allowing them to live in their natural habitat.
Due to mass extinctions of wildlife, the country has established numerous wildlife sanctuaries and national parks for conversation of such species. While the first national park of India was opened in 1936 as Jim Corbett National Park, India only had 5 national parks till 1970. It came as a shock when the total number of wild tigers reduced to just 1800. This led to the formation of Project Tiger and Wildlife Protection Act in the next two years to regulate and increase the tiger count. At present with more than 100 national parks and 50 tiger reserves, the country has been able to preserve its flora and fauna up to a remarkable extent which is an ongoing process. Today, the country stands as a wildlife tourism hub for nature lovers with a large number of rare wildlife species.
We have picked up the top 12 national parks in India to visit which will take you to an adrenaline-pumping journey deep into the woods where you will get to witness some of the most extraordinary wild-species. Pick your camera and start a jungle safari to see beautiful big cats to one-horned rhinos.

1. Jim Corbett National Park

Established as Hailey National Park in 1936, this park was later named after Jim Corbett who was a known naturalist and hunter. The park has around 500 species of flora and fauna. One of the most visited national parks in India, famous for its wildlife safari; Jim Corbett NP is spread in an area of around 520 square kilometers and is dotted with lakes, marshy land, grasslands, river belts, hills, etc. The park provides natural habitat to nearly 200 tigers, 300 wild elephants whereas sloth bears, peacocks, crocodiles, otters, several species of monkeys, etc. can be found roaming freely. Tourist activities are only limited to few specified areas of Corbett Tiger Reserve.
Location – Nainital, Pauri Garhwal (Uttrakhand)
Best Time to Visit – November to May
Famous for – Elephants, Leopards and Tigers
Nearest Airport – Dehradun (156km)
Recommended Responsible Tourism Accommodations
• Aahana The Corbett Wilderness
• The Golden Tusk
• Jim’s Jungle Retreat

2. Kanha National Park

Among the famous Tiger reserve parks of India, Kanha National Park covers an area of around 1940 square kilometers. Established on 1st June 1955, this national park was earlier divided into two sanctuaries namely Banjar (300 square kilometers) and Hallon (250 square kilometers) in the 1930s. In 1973, Kanha Tiger Reserve was formed to protect and provide shelter to tiger species. At present, this park serves as a natural habitat for sloth bears, wild dogs, royal Bengal tiger, antelopes, etc. The inspiration behind the famous Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling came from the jungles of Kanha. One of the most picturesque national parks, Kanha NP is a perfect destination for witnessing India’s exceptional wildlife.
Location – Mandla (Madhya Pradesh)
Best Time to Visit – October to June
Famous for – Bengal Tiger
Nearest Airport – Jabalpur (160km)
Recommended Responsible Tourism Accommodations
• Singinawa Jungle Lodge
• Kanha Earth Lodge
• Banjaar Tola – Taj Safaris

3. Bandhavgarh National Park

Established as a national park in 1968 and as a tiger reserve in 1993, Bandhavgarh National Park is known for its tiger population density with around 8 tigers in every square km. The forest of Bandhavgarh was earlier used as a game reserve or hunting area by the then Maharajas. The national park has impressive flora and fauna surrounded by green lush thick Sal forest which makes the most suitable natural home to the flora and fauna. With three zones i.e. Magdi, Bamera and Tala, the national park shelters around 36 mammals including blue bulls, dhole, leopards, bison, cheetals, sambars, other than white tigers.
Location – Umaria, Madhya Pradesh
Best Time to Visit – January to March
Famous for – Tiger
Nearest Airport – Jabalpur (200km)
Recommended Responsible Tourism Accommodations
• Kings Lodge
• Mahua Kothi – Taj Safaris
• Tree House Hideaway

4. Kaziranga National Park

Spread in two Assamese districts, Nagaon and Golaghat, Kaziranga National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located on the banks of Brahmaputra River, this national park is known for a large population of one-horned rhinos which accounts for two/thirds of the world’s total. Established in 1908, Kaziranga NP covers a whopping area of around 430 square km. Declared as a tiger reserve in 2006, this park also provides natural shelter to swamp deer, buffalo, elephants are other wild animals. Also, BirdLife International has recognized this park as an Important Bird Area for avifaunal species conservation. A network of several water bodies nourishes the vegetation of the park including tropical moist broadleaf forests and elephant grass.
Location – Golaghat & Nagaon (Assam)
Best Time to Visit – November to April
Famous for – One-horned Rhinos
Nearest Airport – Jorhat (97km)
Recommended Responsible Tourism Accommodations
• MV Mahabaahu
• Diplu River Lodge
• Niltava Resort

5. Nagarhole National Park

A part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, Nagarhole National Park is under UNESCO consideration as a heritage site. Also known as Rajiv Gandhi National Park, the literal meaning of the name Nagarhole is Naga for snake and hole for streams. The park is said to have the highest herbivores density in Asia. A leading wildlife gateway, Nagarhole NP was established in 1988 and 1998 declared as a tiger reserve. With an annual rainfall of around 1440 millimeters, the park is full of several water bodies including 41 artificial tanks, 47 streams and 4 lakes which keep it green all the time with thick foliage. You can spot several wild animals such as ussuri dhole, sloth bear, Bengal tiger, leopard, barking beer, elephant, sambar deer, gaur, leopard, etc.
Location – Kodagu (Karnataka)
Best Time to Visit – October to May
Famous for – Highest Herbivores Density in Asia
Nearest Airport – Mysore (100km)
Recommended Responsible Tourism Accommodations
• Waterwoods Lodge and Resorts
• Evolve Back Kuruba Safari Lodge
• The Serai

6. Ranthambore National Park

The park was formed in 1955 as Sawai Madhopur Game Sanctuary. It was declared as Project Tiger Reserve by Indian Government in 1973 whereas on 1st November 1980, the park was declared as a national park. Known for its Bengal Tigers and a treat for wildlife photographers and nature lovers, the park protects several wild species including mugger crocodile, rhesus macaque, sloth bear, sambar, nilgai, southern plains gray langur, striped hyena, Indian leopard, etc. and several other reptiles and bird species. Surrounded by Kaila Devi Sanctuary and Mansingh Sanctuary, Ranthambhore is North India’s biggest national park covering an area of around 392 sq km.
Location – Sawai Madhopur (Rajasthan)
Best Time to Visit – November to May
Famous for – Bengal Tiger
Nearest Airport – Jaipur (182km)
Recommended Responsible Tourism Accommodations
• Khem Village
• The Oberoi Vanyavilas Wildlife Resort
• Sherbagh

7. Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary

Among the most popular national parks of South India, Periyar National Park came into existence in 1982. Located high in the south Western Ghats in Pandalam and Cardamom Hills, the park is spread in an area of around 777 sq km, the park organizes several wildlife adventure activities, rafting and jungle safari which attract thousands of tourists and wildlife lovers across the globe. There are two rivers which pass through the park, Periyar and Pamba. Nestling in a hilly forest, the enchanting environment fills it with a mystical feel. More than 45 reptiles’ species, 266 birds’ species and around 160 species of butterfly can be found here along with a good population of Bengal tigers.
Location – Idukki and Pathanamthitta (Kerala)
Best Time to Visit – December to March
Famous for – Bengal tiger, rafting, safari
Nearest Airport – Madurai (136km)
Recommended Responsible Tourism Accommodations
• The Wildernest
• Spice Village
• Cardamom Country by Xandari

8. Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary

Also named as Sasan Gir, this protected forest area and wildlife sanctuary was established in 1965 and is home to several rare animals including the Asiatic Lion. Spread in an area of 1412 sq km, the entire region is divided into the protected national park covering 258 sq km and the sanctuary covering 1153 sq km. The park had 52 giant pure Asiatic lions in 200, a species that was on the verge of extinction. Conservation projects have increased the number of these big cats. Gir NP remains closed in the summer monsoon from June 16th to October 15th. Around 40 mammals and 300 bird species can be found here. One can see Indian mongoose, golden jackals, wild boars, nilgai, chital deer, four-horned antelopes, ratels, etc.
Location – Junagarh, Gir Somnath and Ameril (Gujarat)
Famous for – Asiatic Lions
Best Time to Visit – December to March
Nearest Airport – Rajkot (160km)
Recommended Responsible Tourism Accommodations
• Woods at Sasan Resort and Spa
• The Fern Gir Forest Resort
• The Gateway Hotel Gir Forest

9. Manas National Park (Manas Wildlife Sanctuary)

This UNESCO World Heritage Site, established in 1990, is an elephant reserve, a biosphere reserve and a tiger reserve. Known for the wild water buffalo population, the sanctuary was formed on October 1st, 1928 whereas the biosphere came into existence in 1973. In the core of the park, Pagrang village is located while the park is surrounded by around 56 villages. Based on the sloppy foothills of Himalayas, the vegetation and biodiversity of the park are flourished by its main river, Manas River which is a major tributary of Brahmaputra River. With more than 380 species of birds, 3 species of amphibians, 50 species of reptiles, this park is a natural habitat to several endangered wildlife.
Location – Baksa, Bajali, Kokrajhar, Darrang, Udalguri, Chirang, Bongaigaon (Assam)
Famous for – Wild Water Buffalo
Best Time to Visit – October to May
Nearest Airport – Guwahati (180km)
Recommended Responsible Tourism Accommodations
• Musa Jungle Resort

10. Satpura National Park

This biodiversity-rich national park was established in 1981 which is named after Satpura Range. The park’s uneven landscape is dotted with narrow gorges, dense forests, ravines and sandstone peaks. It is said that Captain James Forsyth of Bengal Lancers explored this area in 1862 while he was in search of Tantya Tope (Indian freedom fighter). The park was declared a Tiger Reserve in 2000. Covering an area of around 1427 sq km along with Bori and Pachmarhi Sanctuaries and Satpura Tiger Reserve, this park has a unique highland ecosystem. You can spot a wide range of wild fauna species including nilgai, chital, sambar, leopard, bear, black buck, wild boar, flying squirrel, chinkara as well as flora species of teak, mahua, bamboo, sal, and several medicinal plants.
Location – Hoshangabad (Madhya Pradesh)
Famous for – Tigers
Best Time to Visit – October to June
Nearest Airport – Bhopal (200km)
Recommended Responsible Tourism Accommodations
• Reni Pani Jungle Resort
• Cheetal Resort
• Forsyth Lodge

11. Sunderbans National Park

A part of Sunderbans on Ganges Delta, this national park was established in 1984. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a natural habitat of Royal Bengal Tigers and is famous as the largest mangrove forest in the world. Adorned with several roaring rivers, forests, estuaries, this national park is both a biosphere reserve and a tiger reserve. Nestling between India-Bangladesh border, Sunderbans National Park is nature’s jewel on the planet with a fine ecological balance between its flora and fauna. With a population of more than 400 Bengal tigers, this national park offers a wonderful opportunity to the wildlife lovers who want to get soaked into the natural enchanting environs.
Location – South 24 Parganas (West Bengal)
Famous for – Royal Bengal Tigers
Best Time to Visit – September to March
Nearest Airport – Kolkata (100km)
Recommended Responsible Tourism Accommodations
• Sunderbans Tiger Camp
• Tora Eco Resort and Experience Center

12. Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve

Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve is composed of Andhari Wildlife Reserve and Tadoba National Park which has got fame as ‘land of tigers’. Formed in 1995, the reserve is spread in an area of around 578 sq km with a protected forest area of around 32.51 sq km. The name is derived from the tribal god Tadoba or Taru who is said to live in dense forests. As per the tribal legends, a tiger killed the village chief in a mythological encounter. Later, Taru was worshiped and his shine was made near Tadoba Lake. The forest reserve is dominated by southern tropical dry deciduous forest where one can find barking deer, sambar, chital, honey badger, crocodile, leopards, small Indian civet, dhole, gaur, sloth bears, etc.
Location – Chandrapur (Maharashtra)
Famous for – Tiger
Best time to Visit – April to May
Nearest Airport – Nagpur (140km)
Recommended Responsible Tourism Accommodations
• Svasaara Jungle Lodge
• Limban Resort
• Tiger Trail
A favorite wildlife destination, India is always in consideration of saving its exceptional flora and fauna through its protected parks, reserves and biospheres. Be it a winter break or if you crave for spending some time in tropical environment, India’s national parks with fascinating wildlife are best for you to pick from wildlife jungle safari to camping under the starlit sky. From folklores to several famous books, these forests have been a matter of pride for the country adding to the natural aesthetics of the country’s biodiversity. It’s an incredible experience to watch the tigers and lions and roar and roam freely in their natural shelters and take a photograph that will remind you for the lifetime.

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