Who doesn’t wish to have a thrilling and spine-chilling experience once in a while? In this article, we have gathered the top ten national parks in India for enthusiastic travellers a rendezvous with the wild. National Parks are not a destination which you would give you a peaceful experience. Even in the calm, excitement and adventure is lurking at every turn you take. Most of the National Parks in India are acres and acres of land covered with rows of trees like Sal and Pine and unique flora. On your safari, you would be able to get sightings of peacock, deer and elephants. Lucky ones may even get to see the king of the jungle as well.
The forests in the southern part of India have a thin, spindly characteristic. While as you move towards the Western Ghats, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, it’s lusher. Unruly and dense, but with different hues of green. But, at the same time, there are long stretches of reserved forest areas in South India which are unkempt yet green. Even they have their share of dense greens. For example, the 30 km reserved forest which comes in the route from Valparai to Athirapally. Or the portion of the route which comes when you are travelling from North to South Goa. Let’s take a look at the major ones.
List of top 10 National parks in India
- Gir Forest National Park
- Ranthambore National Park
- Kanha National Park
- Sunderbans National Park
- Bandhavgarh National Park
- Pench National Park
- Jim Corbett National Park
- Mudumalai National Park
- Kaziranga National Forest
- Nagarhole National Park
1. Gir Forest National Park
Also known as Sasan Gir located near Talala Gir in Gujarat is in the top 10 national parks in India list. Last home of the Asiatic lion, going there on a safari is an unforgettable lifetime experience. It’s also one of the most famous national parks in India. Much has been said and heard about Gir and the wildlife which it boasts of. A good 5-6 days should be kept in hand if you really wish to get the complete feel of this sanctuary. Take an early morning ride through the forest when the dawn light filters through the leaves and shadows of the trees play around. But, please make sure that you do it in a group. Never venture alone.
Every year Gir National Forest lures thousands of visitors to catch a glimpse of the Asiatic lion in the wild. Due to the relentless conservation efforts, the number of Asiatic lions has recovered. The central zone of the park which was declared as a National Park in 1975 extends for almost 260 sq km. The rugged and hilly landscape of the forest makes it a preferred home for various wild animals. Do not be surprised to stumble upon a deer, antelope and also jackals and leopards. The forest is also a perfect habitat for crocodiles and over 300 species of resident birds.
- Best season to visit Gir: December to April
- Safari Timings: 6:30 am – 9:30 am / 9:30 am – 12:30 pm / 3:30 pm – 6:30 pm
- Safari Bookings: INR 400 for Indian residents.
INR 1000-1500 for hiring an open jeep
INR 100 (Guide cost)
2. Ranthambore National Park
A heavenly experience for wildlife lovers, it’s one of the top ten national parks in India map. Needles to say, Ranthambore is one of the most important national parks in India. Sawai Madhopur town is the gateway to the national park which has thriving biodiversity. Set amid several human-made lakes and ancient structures, Ranthambore National Park is considered to be a prominent heritage.
The fact that ancient ruins and cenotaphs are found there makes it an even more interesting place to visit. The total area of the forest comprises 1334 sq km of wild jungle hemmed in by rocky ridges. Open from October to June, this is the best place to spot wild tigers in Rajasthan.
As you venture out into the forest, you would be awestruck by the scattered ruins — hunting pavilions, vine-covered chhatris and as told before – human-made lakes. If you are lucky, you might even spot the tigers in actual other than just hearing tales about them. They come down to the lakes at a specific part of the day. To be precise, the park has about 32 tigers in total. Plan on a continuous safari for 2-days and might spot one.
- Best season to visit Ranthambore: October to March
- Safari Timings: 7:00 AM-10:30 AM / 2:30 PM – 6:00 PM (October)
7:00 AM-10:30 AM / 2:00 PM – 5:30 PM (November to January)
6:30 AM – 10:00 AM / 2:30 PM – 6:00 PM (February to March)
6:00 AM – 9:30 AM / 3:00 PM – 6:30 PM (1 April to 15 May)
6:00 AM – 9:30 AM / 3:30 PM – 7:00 PM (15 May to 30 June)
- Safari Bookings: INR 974 for Indians (Gypsy)
INR 617 for Indians (Canter)
3. Kanha National Park
Chances of spotting a tiger might be slightly lower in Kanha than it’s neighbouring Bandhavgarh. Yet, it doesn’t make this national park shine less. Since decades, Kanha has been receiving lakhs of tourists every year. Now wonder, it still sits like a king in the top ten national parks in India list. With vast acres of sprawling forest area, it’s one of the largest national parks in India.
And for the most exciting lucky tiger encounters, yes, this is still the place. At present, this national park is divided into two sanctuaries. Hallon and Banjar. Spread over an area of 940 sq km, this park has a significant population of Royal Bengal Tiger and Indian Leopards. As for other wildlife, you would find plenty of wild boars, sloth bear and barasingha crossing the road.
The vastness of the place allows you to venture deep into the forests and have a thrilling tale to tell. There have been recent surveys made which indicate that the sal forests and meadows contain a population of 125 tigers. And, it’s a growing population to be precise. Kanha is also one of the first national parks for tiger reserves to work for Project Tiger. Also, it’s the oldest, and you would get the actual feel of an ancient forest as compared to the other National Parks.
- Best season to visit Kanha: Mid-October to June
- Safari Timings: 6:30 am – 12:00 pm / 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm
- Safari Bookings: INR 4800 approx (Entry Ticket: INR 2400 + Jeep Cost: INR 2200 + Guide charges: INR 200)
4. Sunderbans National Park
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this is one of the most famous national parks in India. Needless to say, it surely does come under the top ten national parks in India map. A National Park, a Tiger Reserve, and a Biosphere Reserve, it is a part of the Sunderbans on the Ganges Delta. Also, it is near to the Sunderbans Reserve Forest in Bangladesh. Covered densely by mangrove forests, this reserve is one of the largest for the Bengal tiger. Spread over approximately 10,000 sq km, the Indian part of the forest is made up of 102 islands. And, just over half of them are inhabited.
What’s unique about this forest is that it’s the only mangrove jungle in the world to have tigers. And that too in huge numbers. There are sturdy nylon net fencing installed on the forest boundaries. That way, Tiger doesn’t have any scope of entering the villages. There have been too many incidents of tiger attacks on villagers before this. Hence, this was a necessary measure that had been taken by the Forest Department. There are also several watchtowers that can be visited. Popular ones are Sajnekhali, Sudhanyakhali, and Dobanki.
- Best season to visit Sunderbans: November to February
- Safari Timings: 6:00 am – 6:00 pm
- Safari Bookings: INR 60 for Indians (Entry Fee), INR 400 (Boat ride + Guide cost)
Tips: Make sure to carry a substantial amount of cash as there are no ATM’s except the SBI at Gosaba. Plastic is banned, so, take your trash back and if possible, don’t use plastic at all.
5. Bandhavgarh National Park
It’s the perfect place for exploring wildlife. Considered as one of the top 10 national parks in India, Bandhavgarh is located in the Umaria district of Madhya Pradesh. With an area of 105 sq km, it was declared as a national park in the year 1968. Most of the tourists set their base in the small, laid-back village of Tala. A beautiful forest and a tiger reserve which would surprise you with the frequent sightings of these majestic beings. A good 3-4 days at Bandhavgarh should net you a tiger sighting. Unlike Kanha, you don’t actually need to get lucky here. Bit of patience and you would be rewarded with a lifetime experience.
The park has got a diverse range of other wildlife creatures as well. Rarely seen leopards, and commonly seen wild boar, gaur, deer and languor. With large biodiversity, the density of the tiger population in Bandhavgarh is the highest known in India. Also, the fertile riverbanks where the wild animals come down to relax have lush vegetation with 300 species of flora.
- Best season to visit Bandhavgarh: November to May
- Safari Timings: 6:30 am – 11:00 am / 2:30 pm – 5:30 pm (November – 15 Feb)
6:00 am – 11:00 am / 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm (16 Feb – 31 March)
5:30 am – 10:00 am / 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm (April – 30 May)
- Safari Bookings: INR 2500 (vehicle cost) + INR 360 (guide cost)
6. Pench National Park
Located in the Seoni and Chhindwara districts of Madhya Pradesh, it is one of the top 10 national parks in India. The national park has derived its name from the Pench river which flows through the jungle. Currently, there are less than 50 tigers in the park, but daily sightings are reported. The forest is spread over such a vast area that it only comprises a domain of Madhya Pradesh but, also Maharashtra. The enchanting beauty of this jungle had inspired Rudyard Kipling to create his best novel – Jungle Book. Rocky trails, wooden hills, glassy rivers and gushing streams. Pench is a beautiful sight in itself.
Explore this forest in the early morning sunlight to capture some of the most stunning forestscapes. Flocks of resident and migratory birds live in the park. Also, for you to enjoy a comfortable trip in the wilderness, there are a number of cottages and resorts lined up. And, that too inside the jungle. Comfort and adventure together! The trees sway, and the streams gurgle and both together seem to be a harmonious combination. Several activities like elephant safari, bonfires, bird watching and cycling keep the tourists engaged.
- Best season to visit Pench: November to June
- Safari Timings: 7:30 AM – 10:30 AM / 3:00 PM – 5:30 PM (Winter)
6:30 AM – 9:30 AM / 4:00 PM – 6:30 PM (Summer)
- Safari Bookings: INR 15 for Indians (Entry Fee), INR 150 (Minibus ride + Guide cost)
7. Jim Corbett National Park
Have you heard of the famous book, The Man-eaters of Kumaon? Written by Jim Corbett, this book gives a detailed description of the jungle, it’s inhabitants and their behaviour. For the ones who plan on visiting this forest, do read the book. Along with being habitat to the largest number of tigers, Corbett has some stunning scenery to be viewed. It’s a blend of tranquillity and adventure at the same time.
Tourism activity is quite restricted in the park. Only selected areas are allowed to be covered by tourists to get an opportunity to see the landscape and wildlife. Jungles, hilly terrains, riverines and grasslands. This park is obviously more than all these summed together. The reason it’s one of the top 10 famous national parks in India.
Corbett has been a hunt and loved destination for tourists and wildlife lovers for a long time. Apart from the tigers, you would also find Himalayan Black Bear and sloth bear. The forests are dense and have plantations of sal, haldu, peepal, Rohini and mango trees. The rich biodiversity and vastness make it one of the top 10 national parks in India. Divided into six zones, each zone provides you with a unique experience. Dhikala is the most famous among them. There, you can easily spot wild animals roaming freely.
- Best season to visit Jim Corbett: November to February
- Safari Timings: 6:30 AM – 10:00 AM / 1:30 PM – 5:30 PM (Jeep and Elephant Safari)
6:00 AM – 11:30 AM (Canter Safari)
- Safari Bookings: INR 1000 (for Jeep Safari), INR 300 (for Elephant Safari), INR 200 (Entry Fee)
8. Mudumalai National Park
A national park and a wildlife sanctuary, Mudumalai is also a declared tiger reserve. In the foothills of the Nilgiris, it’s a newly enlarged 765 sq km of a forest stretch. As you enter, you would be engulfed by the eerie silence perforated occasionally by the rustling of sal leaves. And, insect sounds. The road while driving is smooth and the ones who are riding a bike or travelling by car would have one lovely experience. There are frequent roads on the left, which takes you to small villages where the locals stay. Along the whole way, spindly trees and light-slotted leaves conceal a spotted deer. If you are lucky enough, you might even get to see peacocks in their full glory.
Recent data showed that there are more than 60 tigers, which makes it one of the important national parks in India. Spotting a tiger is almost like striking gold. Other than Tiger, the protected area is home to several endangered and vulnerable species. Indian elephant, gaur and Indian leopard.
- Best season to visit Mudumalai: October to June
- Safari Timings: 7:00 AM – 9:00 PM / 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM
- Safari Bookings: INR 15 (Entry Fee), INR 130 (for Jeep Safari)
9. Kaziranga National Forest
Considered as one of the top 10 national parks in India, Kaziranga is situated in the Golaghat and Nagaon districts of Assam. What’s unique about this national park is that, rather than tigers it is home to two-thirds of the world’s great one-horned rhinoceroses. The national park is located on the banks of River Brahmaputra and has been declared as world heritage site by UNESCO.
In the year 2006, Kaziranga was declared as a tiger reserve as it also had the highest density of tigers. Along with rhinos and tigers, the park is a beautiful habitat for elephants, swamp deer and wild water buffalo. Kaziranga is also recognized as a prominent birdlife area with hundreds of species of local and migratory birds.
The flora in this park comprises of tall elephant grass, dense tropical broadleaf forests and marshland. And, along with Brahmaputra, there are three major rivers which cross the national park area.
- Best season to visit Kaziranga: November to April
- Safari Timings: 7:00 AM – 10:00 AM / 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM (Jeep Safari)
- Safari Bookings: INR 50 (Entry Fee), INR 3600 (for Jeep Safari)
10. Nagarhole National Park
A forest area located in the Kodagu and Mysore district of Karnataka, Nagarhole is one of the top 10 national parks in India. It’s one of the premiere tiger reserves along with the adjoining Bandipur National Park. Packed with raw natural beauty, the park is home to a myriad of wild animals. Elephant, Jackal, Tiger, Panther, Gaur, Sambar, Spotted deer, Mongoose, Civet cat, Hyena, and Sloth Bear. And, almost 250 species of birds. With a varied topography, the place provides a beautiful sight of flowing streams, verdant forests, gentle slopes and shallow valleys. Bounded by the Kabini River on the north, the park also has stunning vegetation and plantation.
The rich flora comprises of trees such as sandalwood, silver oak, rosewood and teakwood. Sprawling over 643 sq km, it’s one of the top national parks in India. Between July and October, the park can remain closed for long stretches due to the heavy downpour it receives.
- Best season to visit Nagarhole: April and May
- Safari Timings: 5:30 AM – 10:00 AM / 3:00 PM – 7:00 PM (Jeep Safari)
6:00 AM – 9:00 AM / 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM (Bus Safari)
- Safari Bookings: INR 300 (Jeep Safari)
India is home to some of the best national parks from north to south and west to east. Each state is gifted with it’s own kind of sprawling forest areas. The ones who take the route through roads would know the best. Driving through rows and rows of trees, and sometimes unruly dense patches can be quite thrilling. And gathering such experiences would create memories for a lifetime.