India is home to some of the most beautiful forests in the world. From lush green pines and deodar trees to diverse wildlife ranging from tigers to elephants, Indian forests are home to some of the most amazing living species. A vacation in the middle of one of these forests can prove to be a rejuvenating and rewarding experience. Not only will this make you feel closer to nature, but it will also give you a better understanding of your country and the beings who reside there.
1. Gir National Park
- Area: 1,412 km²
- Founded: 1965
Gir National Park in Gujarat is the only place in the world where you can spot lions roaming free in the wild. It covers total area of 1412 square kilometers of which 258 Km forms the core area of the National Park. Indiscriminate hunting by the people of Junagarh led to their decrease in population drastically, while they were completely wiped out from the other parts of Asia. It was the kind effort of Nawabs of Junagarh who protected the queen royalty in his own private hunting grounds. Later in due course of time Department of Forest Officials came forward to protect the world’s most threatened species. From a population of approximately 20 lions in 1913, they have risen to a comfortable 523 according to 2015 census. There are 106 male, 201 female and 213 sub-adult lions in the wilderness of these four districts.
How To Reach
Junagadh is perhaps the best approach to the park. The railway station in Junagadh receives trains from different cities like Ahmedabad and Rajkot and other major cities. From Rajkot-On reaching Rajkot Railway Station or Airport you can take a cab or bus and to reach a Limda chowk. There are a number of privately operated that go to Junagadh at frequent intervals. Junagadh is nearly 105 Kms from the city Rajkot and it takes nearly 2 and a half to 3 hours to cover the distance.
2. Kaziranga National Park
- Area: 430 km²
- Founded: 1908
Kaziranga National Park – a world heritage site, the park hosts two-thirds of the world’s Great One-horned rhinoceros. Kaziranga also boasts the highest density of tigers among the protected areas in the world and was declared a Tiger Reserve in 2006. The flora of Kaziranga National Park is categorized into three types – alluvial inundated grasslands; tropical wet evergreen forests; and tropical semi-evergreen forests. The national park is primarily popular for its dense and tall elephant grasses intermixed by small swamplands which are left behind by the receding floodwaters of the river Brahmaputra.
- Jeep Safari : Jeep Safari is possible subject to weather and road condition on the months of May & October.
- Morning Jeep Safari : 07: 09:30
Afternoon Jeep Safari : 01:30: 3:30
- For Elephant Safari : Elephant rides are available from 1st November to 30th April that start in the early morning and continues for 1-1&1/2 hrs.
- Best Time to Visit: Kaziranga National Park is best visited between the months of November and April.
- How To Reach: Guwahati being located at around 200km from the park serves as the nearest airport to reach Kaziranga. The nearest railhead is at the distance of 200 kms from the Kaziranga National Park in Guwahati.
3. Gir National Park
- Area: 1,412 km²
- Founded: 1965
Gir National Park is located near the coast of the far west-central part of India in the state of Gujarat. The national park area covers an area of 545 square miles (1,412 sq km). There are seven perennial rivers flowing through the park with four dams that have created four reservoirs. These water sources are some of the best places to catch the views of wildlife. The seven rivers are Datardi, Godavari, Hiran, Machhundri, Raval, Shetrunji, and Shingoda. Hiran, Machhundri, Raval, and Shingoda are the four rivers that have dams. Although there are only 38 species of mammals, the collective wildlife accounts for over 2,300 species. Insects account for the majority with 300 species of birds and 37 species of reptiles. The Asiatic lion, Indian leopard, jungle cat, hyena, Desert cat, honey badger, and mongoose make up the predators of the park. Other popular wildlife encounters include blackbucks, boar, chinkara, chital, four-horned antelope, nilgal, porcupine, rabbits, and sambar. Some of the popular reptiles include crocodile, Indian cobra, monitor lizard, and the tortoise.
How To Reach: The nearest airports to the Gir National Park are Keshod airport and Rajkot airport. The Keshod airport is located around 70 km from the park, whereas the Rajkot airport is at a distance of around 160 km. Junagadh and Veraval railway stations are the nearest railway station from the Gir national park, located at around the same distance from the park.
4. Jim Corbett National Park
Established in 1936, this is India’s first national park. It is named after the legendary naturalist and conservationist Jim Corbett. Located at the Himalayas’ foothills, near the popular hill-station of Nainital, the beautiful Jim Corbett National Park, is famous for being home to a large number of tigers, the highest among any Indian national park. Spread over 1318.54 sq km, of which 520 sq km is the main area, and the remaining is buffer; the park is spread over the picturesque landscapes of Pauri Garhwal, Almora, and Nainital. The jeep safari into the dense forest to see the wild animals in their natural habitat is a must-have experience. And if you are lucky, then you may get a chance to even spot a tiger. While on the jeep safari, enjoy the lush green forest’s views cut across by streams and rivers and a few waterfalls. There are accommodations available inside the park for night-stay as well, which offer you once-in-a-lifetime experience.
How To Visit: The nearest railway station from Corbett is Ramnagar which is around 12 km from the park and the station is directly connected to the railway stations in Delhi. A direct train named Ranikhet Express runs from Delhi to Ramnagar which is the best train to reach Corbett from Delhi.
5. Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
- Area: 305 km²
- Founded: 1982
In this astounding location of Kerala, the Periyar National Park is considered as the most protected area for the elephants and the tigers. One of the most renowned national parks in South India, the Periyar National Park is set high at the Western Ghat ranges. The protected area is widespread along the area of 925 sq km (357 sq mi). The rest of 350 sq km (140 sq mi) of the core zone was declared as the Periyar National Park in the year 1982. Apart from Elephants, the other animals can be found in the Periyar Sanctuary are, Wild Pigs, Sambar, Gaur, Mouse Deer, Dole or Barking Deer, Indian Wild Dog and Tiger. There are, now estimated counts of 40 tigers in the Periyar National Park. The major four species of primates are also found at Periyar – the rare lion-tailed macaque, the Nilgiri Langur, Gee’s Golden Langur, Common Langur and Bonnet Macaque. Periyar is also being considered as the habitat of the elusive Nilgiri Tahr, which can rarely be seen but commends its presence. The Periyar Tiger Reserve consists of tropical evergreen, semi- evergreen and moist deciduous forests. There are around 49 species of mammals, 246 species of birds, 28 species of reptiles, 8 species of amphibians, 22 species of fishes and 112 species of butterflies found in the Periyar sanctuary.
- Boat Cruise Safari Timings : 7:25 AM, 9:15 AM, 11:15 AM, 1:30 PM, 4:00 PM
- Jeep Safari Timings :
- Night safari : 11.00 PM to 03.00 AM
Full Day Safari : Max 03.00 PM Last entry
- Elephant Safari : Every day for Half an Hour: 06.00 A.M. to 05.00 P.M.
- How to Reach: Kochi (Cochin) at 200-kms or Madurai in Tamil Nadu at 140-kms is the nearest airports from Periyar. Kottayam at 114-kms is the nearest railhead from Periyar. Kumily, the nearest town from Periyar is well served by both state and private buses from Kottayam, Ernakulam and Madurai in Tamil Nadu.