Tiger Reserves In India: Top 15 Places That Are Perfect for Tiger Spotting

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Photo of Tiger Reserves In India: Top 15 Places That Are Perfect for Tiger Spotting by Adete Dahiya

Poaching, illegal trade, hunting or ‘killing for fun’ – they’ve been subjected to it all. Tigers were on the verge of extinction in India after a demand for their skin and body parts skyrocketed in the black market. It was only after 2006, when the numbers reached as low as 1,411, that the concept of tiger reserves in India gained ground and tiger protection programmes were launched.

As a result of these initiatives, the numbers shot up to 1,706 in 2011, 2,226 in 2014 and 2,500 in 2016. Slowly yet steadily, India regained its reputation as one of the best places in the world to spot tigers. With 50 tiger reserves in the country, the options are plenty! Here are the 15 best places you can head to if you want to get a glimpse of the royal cats!

Photo by HolidayMine

Photo of Bandhavgarh National Park, Tala, Madhya Pradesh, India by Adete Dahiya

If you've ever been on a tiger spotting safari, you know it can be a tough task to witness these cats in its natural habitat. In Bandhavgarh National Park, however, your chances of spotting these majestic creatures increase manifold due to it having the highest density of tigers in the region. Located in the Umaria district of Madhya Pradesh and spread across a massive 100 square kilometres, the national park has 63 tigers as of its last count. At one time, the park was also known as the land of the white tigers, which unfortunately seem to have relocated. The last white tiger was spotted in 1951 by Maharaja Martand Singh of Rewa.

Things to do around: Trek up to one of the oldest forts of India, the Bandhavgarh Fort; visit the Baghel Museum; seek blessings at the Jwalamukhi Temple; get a taste of village life in Tala

How to get here: The closest airport to Bandhavgarh is in Jabalpur (200 km) and there are daily flights here from all major airports in the country. A flight from Delhi starts at ₹4,000 onwards. The closest railway station is in Umaria, which is 35 km away. From the airport and the train station, you will have to journey by road to reach the National Park. It takes about four hours from Jabalpur and about 45 min from Umaria. Buses and taxis are available regularly from both areas.

Best time to visit: October to June

Approximate safari rates: ₹2,500 onwards

Photo by bjoem

Photo of Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan, India by Adete Dahiya

The 1,443-square kilometre national park is a favourite with tiger enthusiasts. Once the hunting grounds of the Maharajas of Jaipur, the park gained popularity in the 1960s when Queen Elizabeth II visited and Prince Philip shot a tiger here. The park introduced protection for tigers from hunters in 1973 and the numbers have only increased since then. The last tiger census conducted in 2014 confirmed the presence of 62 tigers in the reserve. Owing to its picturesque landscape, which is dotted with ancient ruins and ponds, the national park is an absolute favourite amongst wildlife photographers as well as historians.

Things to do around: Spend an evening by the Mansarovar Lake; visit the majestic Ranthambore Fort; feel a divine connection at Trinetra Ganesh Temple; pay a visit to the Rajiv Gandhi Regional Museum of Natural History.

How to get here: The park is located at a distance of about 180 km from Jaipur, which is also the closest airport. A flight from the nearest metro city, Delhi, starts at approximately ₹1,500. One can hire a bus or taxi from the airport directly. It takes about four hours from Jaipur to Ranthambore. The closest railway station is Sawai Madhopur, which is about 20 km from the National Park and takes about 45 minutes to reach by cab/bus.

Best Time to Visit: October to April

Approximate safari rates: ₹1,000 onwards (per person)

Photo by Wikimedia

Photo of Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, India by Adete Dahiya

Spread across a sprawling 2,060 square kilometres, the Kanha Tiger Reserve is not just one of the biggest tiger reserves in the country but also one of the most protected ones. Authorities at this reserve claim to have spotted 80 adults and 25 cubs in the park premises which takes the total tiger population to a staggering 105! The park is primarily divided into four zones – Kisli, Kanha, Mukki and Sarhi and besides the royal tiger, Kanha is also famous for hard ground barasingha which is only found in here. And if you’re lucky enough, you might just spot the famous tiger Munna, which has the trademark CAT marking on its forehead.

Things to do around: Visit the Kanha Museum

How to get here: Kanha National Park is located at a distance of about 160 km from the closest airport, which is in Jabalpur. Cabs and buses are readily available from the airport and take between 4 to 5 hours to reach Kanha. A flight from the nearest metro, Delhi, start at about ₹4,000. The closest railway station from the National Park is located in Gondia, which is about 145 km and takes about 3 hours to reach by road.

Best Time to Visit: November to May

Approximate safari rates: ₹4,000 onwards

Photo by Wikimedia

Photo of Satpura National Park, Hoshangabad, Madhya Pradesh, India by Adete Dahiya

If you’re looking to really explore the wilderness and go for a more personalised tiger-spotting experience, look no further than Satpura National Park. One of the newest national parks in the country, the Satpura National Park was established in the year 1981. Since the park is still relatively new to the scene, it is saved from the overboard of tourists and the authorities try their best to keep it that way with measures such as not allowing more than 12 vehicles to enter the park at any given point of time. Although famous for leopards and sloth bears, Satpura holds a fairly good population of tigers too, 65 as of 2014.

Things to do around: Visit the massive Pandav caves; pay your respects at Shri Nagdwar Swami’s temple; make a stop at the Bee Falls

How to get here: The closest airport is located in Bhopal, which is about 190 km away. Flights from the nearest metro, Delhi, start at about ₹3,500 onwards. It takes between 4 to 5 hours to reach Satpura by road from the airport, where taxis and buses are easily available. The closest railway station is in Pipariya, which is about 45 km away. Most major trains stop here and then you have to traverse the journey till the National Park by road.

Best Time to Visit: October to April

Approximate safari rates: ₹2,500 onwards

Photo by Wikimedia

Photo of Jim Corbett National Park, Ramnagar, Uttarakhand, India by Adete Dahiya

Think of tigers in India and you will definitely think of Jim Corbett National Park. Corbett is the most visited national park in the country, owing to its ease of accessibility and rich history. Established in 1936 as Hailey National Park, the park got its new name in the mid 1950s after it was officially changed in honour of a hunter-turned-conservationist, Corbett. The Wildlife Institute of India, in its report in 2016, declared Corbett as the reserve with the most number of tigers in the country, a total of 215 wild cats! While spotting a tiger in Corbett depends a lot on your luck and your guide, but one thing’s for sure, the endless stories of the dense jungle will keep you hooked!

Things to do around: Visit the famous Garjiya Devi Temple; learn more about wildlife at Jim Corbett Museum; unwind by the Corbett Falls.

How to get here: The nearest domestic airport to Corbett is located at a distance of about 50 km in Pantnagar, while the closest international airport is in Delhi, which is about 295 km. A flight from Delhi to Pantnagar starts at about ₹3,500. Being a popular tourist destination for travellers in North India, Corbett is extremely well connected by road. Uttarakhand Tourism buses ply daily from Delhi, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Nainital and Ranikhet. Cabs are also readily available, although they're a more expensive option. For those looking to drive down to the National Park, the roads are well maintained and you can cover the journey here from Delhi in about 6 hours. The nearest railway station is in Ramnagar, which is about 12 km away.

Best Time to Visit: November to June

Approximate safari rates: ₹4,200 onwards

Photo by Wikimedia

Photo of Pench National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India by Adete Dahiya

Even with the presence of more popular tiger reserves such as Bandhavgarh and Kanha in close proximity, Madhya Pradesh’s Pench National Park manages to stand out and find a place amongst the best places to spot tigers in the country. Fewer tourists and options of camping in the reserve makes for a tiger-spotting experience like none other. As of 2016, the tiger population in Pench stands at 53.

Fun Fact: Collarwali, also known as the supermom of the tiger world, lives within the premises of the Pench National Park. She has been in the news for giving birth to her seventh litter in 2017, which is one of the highest known for any tigress in the wild.

Things to do around: Visit the iconic Mahakaleshwar temple

How to get here: Nagpur is the closest airport, located 88 km away. A flight from Delhi to Nagpur starts at about ₹2,500. From here the National Park is 2-3 hours by road. Taxis are available and so are buses. Nagpur is also the nearest railway station and is well connected to the rest of the country.

Best Time to Visit: February to April

Approximate safari rates: ₹1,000 onwards

Photo by Wikimedia

Photo of Tadoba National Park, Chandrapur, Maharashtra, India by Adete Dahiya

Situated in the Chandrapur district of Maharashtra, the Tadoba National Park is often referred to as the ‘Jewel of Vidharba’ and is the oldest national park in the state. The park was declared a 'Project Tiger' reserve in 1999 and since then, has seen a considerable rise in the tiger population with as many 88 tigers as of August 2016! To add to that, the national park is also a haven for birdwatchers with more than 200 species, including the crested serpent eagle, the grey headed fish eagle and the changeable hawk eagle.

Things to do around: Visit the famous Mahakali temple of Chandrapur; spend time by the Tadoba Lake

How to get here: Nagpur has the closest airport, which is about 140 km away. A flight from Delhi to Nagpur's Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport starts at about ₹2,500. From here you take a taxi to reach the park. The closest railway station is Chandrapur, which is located about 45 km away.

Best time to visit: April to May

Approximate safari rates: ₹2,200 onwards

Photo by Wikimedia

Photo of Panna National Park, Kathari, Madhya Pradesh, India by Adete Dahiya

Just like Satpura, the Panna National Park is also one of the relatively newer reserves in the country. Opened in the year 1981, the Panna National Park is spread across an area of 666 square kilometre. Now a national park, Panna was once a hunting ground for the rulers of Panna, Chhatarpur and Bijwar. As a result of the ruthless poaching, the entire tiger population was wiped off by 1990. It was only later that the tigers resurfaced and now the national park has a fairly good number of tigers, 35 as of July 2017.

Things to do around: Visit Pandava’s Falls and caves; pay your respects at the Mahamati Prannathji Temple; experience the grandiose of Kalinjar Fort.

How to get here: The nearest airport is at Khajuraho, which is about 45km. A flight from Delhi starts at about ₹7,000. The road network to reach the park is very well-maintained. The nearest bus stop is in Panna town, which is well connected to Khajuraho. You can also take taxis from the airport to reach this place. The closest railway station is about 50 km in Satna, which is well connected to all major Indian cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.

Best time to visit: November to May

Approximate safari rates: ₹2,000 onwards

Photo by Wikimedia

Photo of Periyar Tiger Reserve, Kumily, Kerala, India by Adete Dahiya

Located in God’s Own Country, the Periyar Tiger Reserve serves as a perfect setting to experience the wilderness, owing to its rich biodiversity and scenic setting. Apart from a fairly reasonable tiger population (estimated to be between 35-40 as of January 2017), the tiger reserve also houses a decent number of majestic white tigers as well as elephants.

Things to do around: Visit the scenic waterfalls of Suruli & Perunthenaruvi; undergo a soulful experience at the Mangala Devi Kannagi Temple; visit the Hindu pilgrimage centre Sabarimala.

How to get here: Cochin is the closest major airport with daily flights from all major cities. A flight from the nearest metro, Chennai, starts at about ₹1,800. Kottayam at 114 km is the nearest railway station and is well connected to major Indian cities. Kumily at 10 km is the nearest town from Periyar and is well served by both state and private buses from Kottayam, Ernakulam and Madurai in Tamil Nadu. From Kumily, you can take local transport to reach the Tiger Reserve

Best time to visit: October to May

Approximate safari rates: ₹2,500 onwards (per person)

Photo by Wikipedia

Photo of Sundarban National Park, West Bengal, India by Adete Dahiya

The biggest mangrove forests in the world, the Sundarban National Park provides a perfect amalgamation of the choicest species of flaura and fauna including the majestic Royal Bengal tiger. The park is home to approximately 80 tigers who have adapted themselves to the terrain and can swim through the saline waters. The Sundarbans are also home to endangered species such as batagur baska, king crabs and olive ridley turtles.

Things to do around: Witness the ruins of a 400-year-old temple at Netidhopani; visit the famous Halliday Island and watch the sunset at Hiran Point

How to get here: Flying down to Kolkata, the nearest airport, and then reaching Sundarbans by road is perhaps the most convenient way to traverse this journey. Kolkata is about 112 km from here. While Canning is the closest railway station, it is served by local trains only. So Kolkata is the major train head as well. State transport as well as private buses also ply regularly to Godhkhali Jetty, from where the boat to Sundarbans takes off. A flight from Delhi to Kolkata starts at ₹3,000.

Best time to visit: September to March

Approximate safari rates: ₹2500 onwards

Photo by Wikimedia

Photo of Bandipur National Park, Karnataka, India by Adete Dahiya

Karnataka has over the years emerged as every tiger lover's favourite destination in the country and the illustrious Bandipur National Park is one of the biggest contributors to the cause. Established as a tiger reserve in 1974 as a part of the Project Tiger, Bandipur spans an area of 874 square kilometre and shelters as many as 110 tigers as of 2016. Once a private hunting reserve for the Maharaja of Mysore, Bandipur is now officially the most visited tiger reserve in the country.

Things to do around: Visit the picturesque hill towns of Ooty and Coonoor; travel to the historically famed city of Mysore; visit the serene Biligirirangan Hills

How to get here: Mysore is the closest airport at 88 km and is well served by flights from major Indian cities. A flight from Bangalore to Mysore starts at about ₹1,900. From Mysore, you can either take a cab, self-drive car, or a bus to Bandipur. The journey by road takes about 1.5 hours. The closest railway station is also at Mysore, which is again very well connected.

Best Time to Visit: March to June

Approximate safari rates: ₹300 per head on sharing basis or ₹1750 per jeep

Photo by Wikimedia

Photo of Nagarahole National Park, Karnataka, India by Adete Dahiya

Located in the Kodagu and Mysore district of Karnataka, the Nagarhole National Park, together with its adjacent Bandipur National Park forms a major chunk of the state's tiger population. Also known as the Rajiv Gandhi National Park, the park boasts of a variety of terrains including small hills, valleys, dense forests and numerous streams which makes it an ideal habitat for the park's 100 tigers (approximate numbers as of 2016).

Things to do around: Go river rafting at the river island of Kuruva Dweep; spend an afternoon at the Iruppu Falls; pay your respects at the Rameshwara Temple

How to get here: The closest airport and railway station are located in Mysore, which is located at a distance of about 98 km. From here, you can hire a taxi to reach Nagarhole National Park. Private and state transport buses also ply daily from Bangalore and Mysore. Taxis usually charge between ₹1,500-2,000 from Mysore to Nagarhole.

Best time to visit: March to June

Approximate safari rates: ₹300 per head

Photo by Wikipedia

Photo of Nagzira Tiger Resort, Gondia, Maharashtra, India by Adete Dahiya

One of the relatively lesser-explored tiger reserves of the country, Nagzira gets its name from the iconic snake (naag) temple located right in the centre of the park. The forests, which were once ruled by the Gond kings of the region, were declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1970. In 2012, the state government ordered the surrounding green belts to be included in the park's boundaries in order to protect the area's tigers, an initiative that has resulted in conservation of the park's six tigers as of April 2017. The park is not severely affected by large scale tourism as yet, which makes it a must-visit for hard-core wildlife lovers and photographers, who want to spot endangered flora and fauna in the most pristine of environments.

Things to do around: Learn about Tibetan culture at the Tibetan camp; spend an evening by the Hazara Falls

How to get here: Nagzira is easily accessible by air, rail and road. The closest airport is in Nagpur city, from where you can hire a cab to cover the distance of 120 km to Nagzira by road. Gondia district houses the nearest railway station at 45 km. Buses and cabs are readily available from here to the park.

Best Time to Visit: March to June

Approximate safari rates: ₹2,500

Photo by Wikimedia

Photo of Manas National Park, Assam, India by Adete Dahiya

Situated in the foothills of the mighty Himalayas in the state of Assam, Manas National Park is a UNESCO Natural World Heritage site, a Project Tiger reserve, an elephant reserve and a biosphere reserve as well! As if that wasn't overwhelming enough, the extensive flora and fauna present in the park also includes several endangered and rare species apart from the park's ultimate pride, its 30 healthy tigers (as of May 2017).

Things to do around: Go river rafting on Manas River; explore the Bansbari tea plantations; visit the summer palace of the king of Bhutan (without a passport!).

How to get here: Manas National Park cannot directly be reached by air or rails, making roads the only way to access the place. The closest major airport as well as railway station are in Guwahati, which is about 170 km by road. Cabs and buses are easily available on a daily basis from here to the park.

Best Time to Visit: October to April

Approximate safari rates: ₹3,250 per person

Photo by Wikimedia

Photo of Achanakmar Wildlife Sanctuary, Chhattisgarh, India by Adete Dahiya

Located in the Mungeli district of Chhattisgarh, Achanakmar Wildlife Sanctuary was established in 1975 under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, and declared a tiger reserve under Project Tiger, in 2009. Apart from its 35 Royal Bengal tigers, the reserve is also home to over 500 varieties of medicinal plants and hosts over 100 species of migratory birds. Achanakmar also houses an impressive leopard population which makes it an ideal spot for wildlife enthusiasts.

Things to do around: Take a jungle safari; visit local villages in the vicinity of the national park

How to get here: Raipur (200 km) is the nearest airport and is well connected to all major cities. Bilaspur at 60 km is the closest railway station. Local taxis, buses and private vehicles are easily available from both these places.

Best time to visit: November to June

Approximate safari rates: ₹1,300 for private vehicle and ₹2,000 for a gypsy

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