Tiger Reserves in India are extremely significant to the entire world. The reason being 80% of tigers of the world reside in India. Around 50 protected areas are designated as Tiger Reserves; out of which, I will tell you about a few today. Today is the 29th of July which is observed as International Tiger Day, across the globe. The day is dedicated to raise awareness and encourage tiger conservation. This idea of a dedicated day was formed in 2010 at Saint Petersburg Tiger Summit in Russia.
Jim Corbett National Park – Uttarakhand
Uttarakhand’s Jim Corbett National Park ranks first among the Tiger Reserves in India with respect to the tiger population. ‘Bengal Tigers’ in India are declared national heritage. Jim Corbett National Park is the oldest National Park in India, established in 1936. It is named after the famous hunter, naturalist, and author, ‘Jim Corbett’. The sub-Himalayan ecological characters make Corbett National Park extremely scenic. The rolling hills, dense deciduous forest as well as wet grasslands with 500 species of animals make it one of India’s most popular travel destinations.
This picturesque National Park is spread across 1314 square kilometers (Core – 521 square kilometers). The park is situated at an elevation ranging from 1300 to 4000 feet, at the Himalayan foothills. It is extremely popular for safaris and bird watching. Dhikala is the core area of the National Park and Jim Corbett’s bungalow still exists there. Tiger sighting is common here. The forest is well protected and veterinary and scientific practices are world-class.
The nearest railway station for reaching Corbett National Park is Ramnagar, 50 kilometers away. There are connecting trains from Delhi to Ramnagar. Pantnagar, 83 kilometers from the National Park, is the nearest airport. It is a 2 hours’ drive. Jim Corbett National Park is easily accessible from India’s favorite hill station Nainital (60 km).
Tadoba Andhari National Park – Maharashtra
Tadoba is paradise to the big cat lovers with a large number of tigers and leopards. Among the Tiger Reserves in India Tadoba has the second-highest number of tigers. The National Park is open from October to June. Tadoba is spread across 626 square kilometers. It has a dry deciduous type of vegetation with spots of the dense forest of teak. The forest together with hilly terrains and a few lakes, make the place suitable for tigers. India’s largest male tiger, Wagdoh, resides here and is called the ‘King of Tadoba’. It weighs 300 kilograms and is also called ‘Big Daddy’ or ‘Scar face’. This elusive tiger is quite a sight if the safari stars are lucky.
Tadoba National Park is easily accessible from Nagpur. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport at Nagpur is 140 kilometers away from the National Park.
Ranthambore National Park – Rajasthan
We have all heard or seen photographs of Machali. She is the highest photographed tigress in the world. She lived at Ranthambore National Park, 180 kilometers from Jaipur. Once one of the famous hunting grounds of the Maharajas of Jaipur; the Ranthambore National Park today is a major wildlife tourist attraction. Among all the Tiger Reserves in India, Ranthambore attracts the highest number of tourists every year. Ranthambore National Park is spread across 1344 square kilometers (Core – 344 square kilometers); with the ancient Ranthambore fort within it.
Did you know that the big cats love ruins? These ruins are the chief attraction of the safaris. The fort comprises red stone temples of Hindus as well as Jains built around the 12th or 13th century. There are many lakes within and around the National Park. Padam Talao is the largest among them. The ruins of Jogi Mahal at the edge of the lake and a giant banyan tree are photographers’ delight. This banyan tree is India’s second-largest banyan tree.
Jaipur International Airport, 180 kilometers away, is the nearest airport. Sawai Madhopur Railway Station, 14 kilometers away, is the nearest Railway Station.
Bandhavgarh National Park – Madhya Pradesh
Spread across a sprawling 716 square kilometer, Bandhavgarh National Park in Madha Pradesh is one of the most popular Tiger Reserves in India. Tala, Magdhi, and Khitauli are the three main zones of the National Park. Tala is the richest in terms of biodiversities, especially tigers. The ancient 11th century Bandhavgarh Fort on the Bandhavgarh Hill at the center of the National Park dominates the park. It is home to several species of endangered vultures. A few ponds around the fort are large reservoirs for turtles. There is a temple on Bandhavgarh Hill. This hill is of mythological significance and its reference is found in ‘Ramayana’. Do not miss the Baghel Museum.
Besides the thrill of the safaris and the mesmerizing beauty of the landscapes; it is also important to know about the Baiga Adivasis of the region. Staying in one of the luxury resorts in the vicinity is an experience in itself. Jabalpur Airport also called Dumna Airport, 8 kilometers away, is the nearest airport.
Bandipur National Park – Karnataka
Bandipur National Park in Karnataka lies 80 kilometers from the city of Mysore; on the route to one of India’s most favorite tourist destinations, Ooty. It is spread across 874 square kilometers. The safaris at this National Park enable the sighting of elephants and tigers most of the time. Bandipur together with a few other national parks form the largest protected area of Asiatic elephants in Southern Asia.
Episodes (India) of Bear Gryll’s famous show ‘Man vs Wild’ was shot at Bandipur; with the superstars Rajnikanth and Akshay Kumar.
Mandakalli Airport, Mysore, is the nearest airport (73 km). However, Bandipur is easily accessible from Bangalore too (215 km).
Sundarbans – West Bengal
Sundarbans is the world’s largest mangrove forest. It is spread across 10000 square kilometers; out of which a little more than 4000 square kilometers is in India and the rest is in Bangladesh. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area comprises a national park and three wildlife sanctuaries. Sundarbans National Park is one of the unique Tiger reserves in India. It is a residence for the world’s deadliest tigers. The Royal Bengal Tigers are super intelligent. They can swim across wide rivers and they often hunt (man-eaters).
As a ritual, the locals pray to BonBibi (the forest goddess) before leaving their homes for work like fishing or honey gathering. It is believed that BonBibi protects the locals from tigers. Safari here is on a boat on the waters. There are islands with watchtowers and resorts where guests can land or stay. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport at Kolkata is 100 kilometers away from Sundarbans.
Empirical evidence demonstrates that ecotourism must be encouraged in the Tiger Reserves in India. The raise of funds from tourism and providing alternative employment to the locals are significant. Responsible tourism helps in reducing man-animal conflict and that is the only way to coexist.
A versatile writer and travel freak, discovering the world in her own casual way. Loves to immerse into the core of Mother Nature and extract her inherent beauty.