These national parks in India are the few places you can see the threatened regal beast

William Blake had eloquently coined a poem for the tiger – he knew, even back then, that the maker crafted this being with such precision and perfection, that no other creature could ever look as majestic as the great tiger.

I am very inclined to agree. I have been to most of the top national parks in India where you can go tiger crawling, and whenever I have had the privilege of spotting one, I have been utterly mesmerized and awestruck by the sheer size and beauty of this majestic beast. There is no feeling in the world that can compare to seeing a tiger in his natural habitat, surrounded by his aura, immersed in his flame. He is the master of his domain and you have no doubt (when you do come close to one) that you are in its presence – it’s actually a privilege that he lets you bask in his glory.

Top ecotourism destination India is one of the few places on this planet where you can see this regal beast in his natural habitat. Each national park is unique and worth visiting, and of course, this is green travel at its best! Also, you can watch them responsibly as Project Tiger in India has made great strides in tiger conservation.

Tiger Love. Paul Bass via Flickr national parks

Tiger Love. Paul Bass via Flickr

Bandhavgarh National Park

Bandhavgarh in Madhya Pradesh is where you are most likely to spot a tiger as it has the highest tiger population in India. The park used to be a hunting ground for the Maharaja of Rewa but is now a protected national park of India.

The best time to visit is between November and February as the monsoon has revived the jungle and it teems with life, colour and freshness. If you want a sure shot chance at spotting a tiger (and can brave the Indian summer) then the months between March and May are also good as most of the watering holes have dried up and it is easier to spot a tiger at one of the few water reserves.

Cities like Jabalpur, Satna, Umaria, Khajuraho are at a reasonable driving distance. The nearest railway stations for Bandhavgarh National Park are Umaria and Katn and the nearest airport is Jabalpur and Khajuraho.

For more information, visit their website.

Tigress in Bandhavgarh National Park India. Photo: Archith via Wikimedia Commons

Tigress in Bandhavgarh NP. Photo: Archith via Wikimedia Commons

Jim Corbett National Park

This park bears the distinct title of being India’s oldest national park. It was established during the year 1936 and it is also the park where the prestigious Project Tiger was launched in 1973. While it is known for its tigers, Corbett also has a wide variety of birds, crocodiles, leopards and other small animals like the otter. Please note, do NOT take the elephant ride but opt for the jeep safari instead.

The best time to visit is November to May as the park is shut from July to October at the onset of the monsoon.  Jim Corbett National Park is situated at the Sub-Himalayan belt in Nainital districts of Uttarakhand just 260 km away from India’s capital Delhi and the nearest railway station Ramnagar is around 50 km away.

For more information, visit their website.

Bengal Tiger, Corbett national park Uttarakhand. Photo: Soumyajit Nandy via Wikimedia Commons

Bengal Tiger, Corbett, Uttarakhand. Photo: Soumyajit Nandy via Wikimedia Commons

Kanha National Park

Kanha National Park was the inspiration behind Rudyard Kipling’s famous The Jungle Book. This park is magical and when you are inside this forest you half expect Baloo to come out serenading you with his version of Bare Necessities.

Well, at least I did!

Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh is set in such beauty that it inspires all to help with its preservation and it is now one of the most well maintained national parks in Asia. The best time to visit would be during the months of November through May. Most parks in India will be closed during July to October as the monsoon season can be quite unpredictable and torrential.

By road, the nearest town is Mandla, which is 65 km away. The closest railway station is Jabalpur, 160 km away and the nearest airport Nagpur is 266 km from Kanha.

For more information, visit their website

Paul Mannix via Wikimedia Commons. Bengal tigers - male and female - interacting national parks

Paul Mannix via Wikimedia Commons. Bengal tigers – male and female – interacting

Ranthambore Tiger Reserve

Ranthambore National Park is as majestic and imperial as its home state Rajasthan also known as the Land of Kings. At a distance of just 120 km from the capital city Jaipur, Ranthambore is a Tiger Reserve like no other. It is the biggest and the most popular of all national parks in North India, but the reason why it is so spectacular is because of the ancient fort that is situated in the core area of the park. Imagine an old ruined fort swarming with all kinds of life, lingering around old rocks. I have seen a tiger, perched lazily upon an old pictorial ruin, and that glorious sight is etched in my memory for eternity.

Rajasthan being a desert gets very hot in summers so the ideal time to visit would be between the months of November to May.

For more information, visit their website

India tiger national parks

In repose. Photo via Pixabay

Sunderban Tiger Reserve

Sunderban Tiger Reserve is situated on the southeastern tip of West Bengal. The Sunderbans are known the world over because it is a part of the world’s largest delta formed by the rivers Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna.

This reserve got its name from the “sundari” tree, which is abundant in this area and forms a natural boundary with the rivers. The unique aspect of this park is that the visitor travels by boat for the safari and not by jeeps or elephants as they do for the other parks.

The best time to go is during the months of December to February even though the park is functional between the months of September to March. The closest airport is Calcutta and the nearest railway station is Canning while Gosaba is the closest town.

For more information, visit their website.

ALSO READ: These People Quit Cushy City Life for A Tiger Reserve

Tiger in Training! Photo: Keven Law via Wikimedia Commons national parks

Tiger in Training! Photo: Keven Law via Wikimedia Commons

DID YOU KNOW?

Tiger numbers are declining due to to habitat loss, hunting, poaching and climate change. The persistent threats meant that as few as 3,200 tigers remained in the wild. Now, the decline has been reversed for the first time in conservation history.

As top predators, tigers help to keep their habitat healthy by preying on other animals – mainly herbivores, such as deer. Without the tiger, too many herbivores would overgraze and degrade habitat, and disrupt the balance of the ecosystem. Hence, the tiger is also important for people who depend on healthy ecosystems for food, water and many other resources.

ALSO READ: How You Can Help Wildlife On The Edge Of Extinction

Tiger At Ranthambore National Park, India. Photo: Shishir Kumar Jain

At Ranthambore National Park. Photo: Shishir Kumar Jain

Now that you know where to spot them, here are some fab facts you didn’t know about tigers:

Tigers have better short-term memories than humans

Their memories are made with stronger brain synapses which means that their short-term memory lasts approximately 30 seconds longer than ours does.

Tigers are great impressionists

In some parts of the world, tigers feed on bears because of overlapping territories. To lure the bears in, tigers are known to imitate the sounds of their prey.

A tiger’s back legs are so strong it can remain standing even when dead

Highly unpleasant but very impressive fact alert: tigers’ back legs are so strong that they’ve been known to remain standing once they’ve been killed.

A tiger’s stripes are completely unique

No two tigers have the same stripes. But one thing most tigers do have in common is that the markings on their foreheads are the same as the chinese character for ‘king’.

Tigers have excellent manners

Lions often fight over a kill (sometimes to the death) but when a tiger bumps into another tiger during a hunt, they’ve been known to share the catch together. Male tigers also often wait for females and cubs to feed first before they sit down to dinner.

Tiger urine smells like buttered popcorn

Enough said.

To check out the full list of amazing facts, visit the original post on the Greenpeace blog and let’s make everyday International Tiger Day!