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10 Best Wildlife Sanctuaries in India

Updated on October 8, 2013
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10 Places to Get a Peek into the Diverse Fauna of Indian Wild

India is home to over 400 wildlife sanctuaries out of which 89 fall under the purview of IUCN Category II and declared National Parks of India. These wildlife sanctuaries in India are home to diverse species of plants and animals which includes several endangered species. This diversity of flora and fauna makes wildlife tours in India one of the most sought after travel there.

Mentioned below are top 10 wildlife sanctuaries in India which are renowned for their unique feature and attract most number of tourists not just from India but also from abroad.

Corbett Wildlife Sanctuary and Tiger Reserve

The frolicking tigers inside Jim Corbett National Park, the first Wildlife Sanctuary to be established in India.
The frolicking tigers inside Jim Corbett National Park, the first Wildlife Sanctuary to be established in India. | Source
A markerJim Corbett National Park, India -
Jim Corbett National Park, India
get directions

Jim Corbett National Park in Uttar Pradesh

Jim Corbett National Park

Jim Corbett National Park was the first wildlife sanctuary established in India. Originally named Hailey National Park after Governor Hailey, Jim Corbett National Park was created on August 6th 1936.

This National Park of India also happens to be one of the most bio-diverse ecosystems with home to numerous species of plants and animals.

There are at least 448 species of plants, 33 species of reptiles, 7 species of amphibians and fishes, 37 species of dragon flies, 600 species of birds and an array of mammal species including Royal Bengal Tigers.

There are 3 safari zones in Jim Corbett named Jhirna, Bijrani, Dhikala. Dhikala is one of the best safari zones offering highest probability of spotting Royal Bengal Tigers. June is the best month for spotting wild animals as they come out to water holes to seek respite from heat.

Distance: 250 kilometers from New Delhi by Road

Best Time: March till June for animal spotting

Highlight: 586 species of birds and royal Bengal tigers

Entry Fees: Check out the tariff of Corbett National Park.

Nearest Airport: Delhi

Nearest Railway Station: Ramnagar

Tiger inside Bandhavgarh National Park

Bandhavgarh is renowned for its camera friendly tigers.
Bandhavgarh is renowned for its camera friendly tigers.

Bandhavgarh National Park

Located in Madhya Pradesh, Bandhavgarh National Park is yet another of the renowned tiger reserves in India. This reserve has very high population density of tiger which makes it one of the best places to spot the tiger in their natural surroundings.

Nestled in the Vindya Ranges in Umaria district, Bandhavgarh takes its name from the ancient fort perched atop a hillock inside the reserve area. This national park used to be the former hunting ground of the royal family Rewa.

Bandhavgarh National Park is home to over 30 species of mammals, 250 species of birds and close to 27 tigers and 40 leaopards. This reserve also happens to be the place where the last white tiger was spotted in its natural habitat.

Mammals inside the park include samba, spotted deer, Asiatic Jackal, Wild Boars, Nilgai, Gaur (Indian Bison) and Chinkara among others. Important birds found inside this reserve are Vulture, eagle, stork, kingfisher and peacock. A lot of reptile species are also found in Bandhavgarh including Cobra, Krait and Python.

Best Timefor Tiger Spotting: March till June

Nearest Airport: Jabalpur located 164 kilometers away

Nearest Railway Station: Katni located 102 kilometers away

Safari Timing: 6:30 to 9:30 hrs in the morning and 15:00 to 18:00 hrs in the evening

Safari Cost: INR 2000/4000 for Indians/foreigners per gypsy (max 6 person per gypsy) + 1,800 for gypsy hire + guide and entry cost.

Asiatic Lions, Gir National Park

Gir is the only protected area in Asia for the endangered Asiatic Lions
Gir is the only protected area in Asia for the endangered Asiatic Lions | Source

Nurturing Nature of Gujarat - Lion National Park

The Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary

Jim Corbett National Park was the first wildlife sanctuary established in India. Originally named Hailey National Park after Governor Hailey, Jim Corbett National Park was created on August 6th 1936.

This National Park of India also happens to be one of the most bio-diverse ecosystems with home to numerous species of plants and animals.

There are at least 448 species of plants, 33 species of reptiles, 7 species of amphibians and fishes, 37 species of dragon flies, 600 species of birds and an array of mammal species including Royal Bengal Tigers.

There are 3 safari zones in Jim Corbett named Jhirna, Bijrani, Dhikala. Dhikala is one of the best safari zones offering highest probability of spotting Royal Bengal Tigers. June is the best month for spotting wild animals as they come out to water holes to seek respite from heat.

Location: 360 kilometers from Ahmedabad, the capital of Gujarat and 65 kilometers from Junagadh.

Best Time: From November till mid February is good time weather wise but best time to spot Asiatic Lion and other large mammal is summer month of April and May

Highlight: Asiatic Lion

Safari Timing: 6:30 AM, 9:30 AM and 3:00 PM IST

Entrance Fees for Indians - 400 on weekdays, 500 on weekends and 600 on important festival holidays

Entrance Fees for Foreigners - $40 on weekdays, $50 on weekends and $60 on important festival holidays

Single-horned Rhinoceros

Single-horned Rhinoceros at Kaziranga National Park
Single-horned Rhinoceros at Kaziranga National Park | Source

Kaziranga National Park

Kaziranga National Park is best known for its rhinos. Kaziranga National Park has been inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site due to its natural significance. Kaziranga National Park is home to the 2/3rd of the world’s population of Great One-horned Rhinoceros.

Kaziranga is also home to large number of tigers as well. Other notable species of this national park in India include swamp deer, wild water buffalos and elephants. Two of the world’s most deadly snakes Reticulated Python and Rock Python as well as King Cobra, the longest poisonous snake also inhabit this park.

One of the woes of this park is the rampant poaching which has raised concerns from both national and international conservation organizations.

Location: 217 kilometers from Guwahati in Assam

Open From: Open from November till April is good time weather wise but summer month from March till June offer best opportunity for spotting

Best Time: February and March

Highlight: Great One-horned Rhinoceros

Safari Timing: Elephant Safari from 5:30 AM to 7:30 AM and 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM & Jeep safari from 7:30 AM to 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM to 4:30 PM

Entrance Fees for Indians - Jeep safari for INR 50 per person + INR 1000-2000 per jeep (depending on zone allocated) and Elephant Safari for INR 280

Entrance Fees for Foreigners - Jeep safari for INR 250 per person + INR 1000-2000 per jeep (depending on zone allocated) and Elephant Safari for INR 280

Vehicle Entry Fee: INR 200

Armed Guard Entry Fee: INR 50

Camera Fee: INR 50 for Indians and INR 500 for foreigners

The wetlands of Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary
The wetlands of Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary

Keoladeo Ghana National Park, Rajasthan

Inscribed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Keoladeo Ghana National Park popularly referred to as Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is a bird watcher’s delight. More than 200 species of resident birds are recorded in this Ramsar Site. The diverse ecology of this wetland attracts a large number of waterfowls and migratory birds during the breeding season.

Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is home to over 370 bird species, 27 species of mammals, 43 species of fish and 39 species of reptiles which include python, turtles and lizards. One of the interesting facts about this bird sanctuary is that it was set up as the hunting ground of maharaja of Bharatpur.

In one of the duck shoot organized at Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary in the honor of British viceroy Lord Linlithgow, over 4000 birds were shot in a single day. This park was declared a National Park in India in 1982.

Distance: 220 kilometers from Delhi by road

Best Time: November - January

Nearest Airport: New Delhi

Nearest Railway Station: Bharatpur Junction

Timings: Sunrise to sunset

Entrance Fee: INR 25/200 for Indians/foreigners

A markerKanha National Park -
Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India
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Kanha National Park is located in Madhya Pradesh and is renowned for its Kipling connection.

Kanha National Park

It is said that it was in Kanha that Kipling was inspired to write his famous Jungle Book. Located in Madhya Pradesh this national park was created on 1st of June 1955. The significant presence of Royal Bengal Tiger led to the park also declared a protected tiger reserve.

In total, over 43 species of mammals have been recorded in Kanha National Park. Kanha is also known for its significant bird population. Over 300 species of avifauna have been recorded in this national park. This national reserve is also home to over 26 species of reptile including python and cobra.

The important mammals inside Kanha National Park include tigers, leopard, barasingha, sloth bear and Indian wild dog. Kanha’s pride possession is the Hard Ground Barasingha (swamp deer) as it was here that this only sub species of swamp deer to be found in India were rescued from extinction.

Distance: 155 kilometers from Jabalpur via road

Best Time: Late February till April offer best chances for animal spotting

Nearest Airport: Nagpur 280 kilometers away

Nearest Railway Station: Jabalpur 155 kilometers away

Safari Timings: 6:30 hrs to 12:00 hrs in the morning and 15:00 hrs to 18:00 hrs in the evening

Safari Costs: INR 1500/3000 per jeep (Max 6 person) for Indians/Foreigners + INR 150/400 for guide per trip + INR 1800 for Jeep

A markerSunderban, India -
Sunderbans National Park, Gosaba, West Bengal 743370, India
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Sunderbans is a UNESCO recognized World Heritage Site

Sunderban Biosphere Reserve

The largest delta in the world supporting diverse species of flora and fauna, Sunderbans Biosphere National Reserve is a UNESCO inscribed World Heritage Site in India (and Bangladesh). Speread across over 10,000 kilometers, Sunderbans is a network of connected channels and world’s largest mangrove forests.

Sunderbans Tiger Reserve has the highest concentration of Royal Bengal Tigers in the world but tiger sighting in this reserve is a rare exception due to the topography of this semi-submerged mangrove forest and delta.

Sunderbans Biosphere and National Park has rich diversity of animal and plant species. Officially there are over 58 species of mammals, 300 species of birds and over 50 species of reptiles have been recorded inside this biosphere reserve.

Numerous aquatic species including endangered Gangetic Dolphin and Saltwater Crocodile are also found inside this reserve.

One of the most popular activities inside this reserve is the river cruise. Exploring the canals and mangroves in a cruise experience to explore the rich diversity of flora and fauna along with splendid natural sights is the most sought after activities here.

Visit to a crocodile breeding farm at Bhagatpur, boat safaris, Sagar Island, Buriidabri Tiger Project and Sajankhali Bird Sanctuary are some of the major activities available to visitors

Distance: 110 Kilometers from Kolkata

Best Time: October - February

Nearest Airport: Kolkata 120 kilometers away

Nearest Railway Station: Canning Railway station located 29 kilometers away

Safari Timings: All day

Safari Cost: Boat safari is the only option to explore Sunderbans Biosphere Reserve. Package cost through tour operators could vary from 1000 to 5000 per person depending upon duration and accommodation type. Individually, the cost of boat safari in Sunderbans is INR 600/1000 for half/full day safari, guide charge is INR 300 and the boat permit is INR 50. Entrance fee per person inside Sunderbans Biosphere Reserve is INR 150 whereas INR 300/20 is applicable for carrying video/still cameras.

Tigers of Bandhavgarh

A photo friendly tiger inside Bandhavgarh National Park
A photo friendly tiger inside Bandhavgarh National Park

Ranthambore National Park

One of the most popular national parks in India is the Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan. It also comes under the Project Tiger and this is the reserve you head to for the maximum chances of tiger sighting. Ranthambore National Park is located in the Sawai Madhopur district of Rajasthan.

Before being declared a National Park of India, this park area used to be the royal hunting ground of the Kachwaha Rajput rulers of Jaipur. A massive fort was also constructed after which this wildlife sanctuary is named. Recently Ranthambore Fort was also inscribed in the UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list.

Ranthambore National Park is home to numerous species of flora and fauna with unique topography - located as it is at the meeting of Aravalis and Vindhyas. This geographical feature has blessed Ranthambore with a unique pictorial variety.

Construction of forts, chattris and water holes - mostly in ruins - offer charming vista to photographers making Ranthambore perhaps the most popular national park in India. There are over 300 species of birds and 50 mammals recorded inside this reserve.

Best Time: November till mid February

Nearest Airport: Jaipur located 120 kilometers away

Nearest Railway Station: Sawai Madhopur Railway Station 11 kilometers away

Safari Timing: 7:00 hrs to 10:00 hrs in morning & 14:00 hrs to 5:00 hrs in the evening

Safari Costs: 330 in Gypsy per person + 131/530 as entry fee for Indian/Foreigners + 42 Rs Guide fee

How to Reach Bandipur Wildlife Sanctuary

A markerBandipur National Park -
Bandipur National Park, Mysore, Karnataka 571121, India
get directions

Bandipur National Park

Nestled in the foothills of Nilgiris, Bandipur National Park is a part of Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve in the South Indian state of Karnataka with a rich diversity of flora and fauna. This reserve was formerly the hunting ground of the maharajas of Mysore.

Bandipur is best known for its elephant and it is home to 1/5th of the world’s elephant population. Other important mammals inside this park include tigers, 4 horned antelopes, chitals, gaur and sloth bear. Over 200 species of birds are also recorded inside the park.

Bandipur National Park is located 80 kilometers away from the city of Mysore. One of the popular activities in Bandipur is visit to Gopalaswamy Betta, the highest peak inside this reserve. This peak hoeses the ancient fort of Palegars

Best Time: November till March

Nearest Airport: Mysore located 80 kilometers away

Nearest Railway Station: Mysore located 80 kilometers away

Safari Timing: 6:00 hrs to 11:00 hrs in morning and 16:00 hrs to 18:00 hrs in the evening

Safari cost: INR 50/150 for Indians/foreigners

Conclusion

These are probably the best national park and wildlife sanctuaries in India where you get to have a glimpse of the most precious specimen of Indian wildlife. Winter is coming and it is considered to be the best time to visit the wildlife sanctuaries of India as the weather offers the much needed respite from scorching summers of India.

There are other national parks in India where you could spot some of the rare wild species prowling in their natural habitat. But these listed above are surely the ten wildlife sanctuaries in India for best experiences of Indian wild.


You may also want to check out the 5 best wildlife sanctuaries in India for 5 unique experiences.

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© 2013 Nikhil Chandra

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    • nikhilchandra profile image
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      Nikhil Chandra 7 months ago from New Delhi

      Thanks Sayoni. I guess I need to expand the list. And yes Tadoba has drawn much attention and coverage in recent years. Thanks for the heads up!

    • Sayoni Acharya profile image

      Sayoni Acharya 2 years ago from Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

      Nikhil: well written, I missed TATR in it - the only forest you bet you can't miss out on the big cats!

    • sunilkunnoth2012 profile image

      Sunil Kumar Kunnoth 2 years ago from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India)

      I suggest you also add Mudumalai, Bandipur, Mazinagudi, Nagarhole and Wayanad as these all are part of the Nilgiri Bio Reserve. In Wayanad, there are two famous wildlife sanctuaries viz., Muthanga and Tholpetty. You have beautifully narrated and deserve good appreciation. All the best.

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      Aaron 3 years ago

      Bandipur best

    • Sandeep Manral profile image

      Sandeep Manral 3 years ago

      Wonderful Post, I voted for Jim Corbett for best National Park for tiger spotting. However I wasn't sure because I haven't visited any National Park yet. But I read somewhere Corbett National park the is best.

      Could you tell me your view on above poll?. Thank you in advance.

    • nikhilchandra profile image
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      Nikhil Chandra 3 years ago from New Delhi

      Thanks souvikm16 for the information. I'll keep that in mind while updating the information as per your suggestion.

    • souvikm16 profile image

      Souvik Mukherjee 3 years ago from Bangalore, India

      @Nikhil: The 'Silent valley national park' actually falls under the Wayanad forest division!

    • nikhilchandra profile image
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      Nikhil Chandra 3 years ago from New Delhi

      Vey good idea indeed. I will update this blog to include your suggestion i.e. Nilgiri Bio Reserve. BTW, if I am including Nilgiri Bio Reserve, shouldn't I also mention Silent Valley National Park?

    • souvikm16 profile image

      Souvik Mukherjee 3 years ago from Bangalore, India

      Good list and info. Voted up! Also instead of mentioning just the Bandipur national park you can actually mention about the 'Nilgiri Bio-reserve' comprising of the Bandipur, Mudumalai and Wayanad Wildlife sanctuaries!

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