India is home to diversity which is not only evident in its colorful culture, languages and landscapes but also in its Flora and Fauna. Almost, every state here houses some sort of Eco garden or sanctuary for conserving the wild life typical to that particular region.
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Unfortunately, for India its wild life has been dwindling so has been its forest area due to continuous development and expansion of cities which is now encroaching the jungles and villages thereby disturbing the eco balance as well as wild life. Therefore, sanctuaries and national parks are a reason for not only giving an audience to the nature but also a few peaceful days away from the usual rush of a city life. I am covering five wild life sanctuaries in five different directions – North, South, East, West and Central.
Jim Corbett National Park
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Corbett is located in state of Uttarakhand spreading over Nainital and Pauri over an area of almost 1300 Sq Kms. It is the first National Park of India set up during British Era in 1936. Corbett National park is as famous for its Wildlife as it is famous for its breathtaking landscapes and lush green forests. Corbett is around 300 Kms from Delhi and you can reach here by Rail, road or Air. The nearest Airport is Pantnagar around 50 Kms from Park. Ramnagar is the nearest Railway Station.Road Transportation is amply available outside the station and Airport to reach National Park.
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The best time to Visit is from November to June, when all zones of the park are open to tourists. I recommend making it between November and April since Corbett gets its own share of Heat in summers. If you are visiting during winters, carry heavy woolens as the temperature tends to dip to almost five degrees whereas summers are well into Thirty to Forty Five degrees. Nestled in the hills, this place attracts tourists and wild life explorers equally towards its tiger reserve. At present the population is said to be 160 Tigers, which is a big number considering that not many tigers are left in India. Apart from Tigers, Elephants, Leopards, Crocodiles are also found here.
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There are many lodges and hotels in the park for stay, however same requires permit from the government. If you are visiting only during the day, then entry pass at the gate will suffice. There are lodges, luxury camp sites inside the park with tariff ranging from Rs. 1500 to 8000 per night according to how much you are willing to shed for the stay. There are packages also during the season that you can avail from Time to time. Various adventure activities are also available like Jeep Safari, Elephant rides, fishing and Water Rappelling.
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More famous as Gir forests, located in Gujrat around 400 kms from Ahmadabad and 160 kms from Rajkot. Nearest Airport is 60 Kms away at Keshod. Passes for Gir Forest are available at the reception counter. For staying you can choose from the hotels in Sasan, of which Gir is a part. There is Sinh Sadan, Lion Safari Camp, Maneland Jungle resort and Amidhara Resort.
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The accommodation is not very cheap, specially near the forest. Staying inside the forest is also not allowed and roaming around in the forest without guide is considered quite dangerous. Gir forests are famous for the Asiatic Lions which are around 300 in numbers and have a sizeable population of leopards, Cheetal (Spotted deer), Wild Boar. Though the forest is open for tourists throughout the year, but best time to visit is during winter as summer is hot in these parts. Jeep Safaris are arranged inside the forest and you can check at your hotel to find the packages available.
Periyar Wild Life Sanctuary
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This national park and tiger reserve is situated in “God’s own country- Kerala” in cardamom hills and derives its name from Lake Periyar which is right inside this national Park. It is surrounded by a dam and the dam is also a reason behind lake’s vast existence which covers almost 5500 Hectares of forest area. The best time to visit this sanctuary is between October to June. Avoid going after june due to heavy rainfall that this place receives. Infact even April to June would be hot. This sanctuary is covered under thick vegetation of evergreen forests and grasslands and you can expect to find mainly tigers, elephants and Langurs here.
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The nearest Railway station from Periyar is Kottayyam which is at a distance of 160 kms and nearest Airport is Cochin about 200 Kms away. The wildlife sanctuary provides a range of accommodation arrangements for all kind of pockets, there are various forest lodges as well as luxury hotels. There is also a government property Aranya Niwas . Amongst luxury hotels you can choose from Taj Garden Retreat, Spice , cardamom county and Lake palace which provide th best of comforts at a tariff of Rs. 5000 onwards. There are several budget properties too viz. Hotel Ambadi, Silver Crest and Lake Queen with Tariff from Rs. 1000. You can also indulge in Boat Rides, bamboo rafting, taking hike at the tiger trails and visit to spice plantations.
Kaziranga National Park
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Kaziranga is located in Assam on the banks of Brahmaputra river. It’s the only sanctuary that is home to India’s one Horned Rhinoceros. The park is spread over an area of 430 Sq Kms. Kaziranga is also famous for its elephants and birds. The ideal time to visit the park is winter season between November to April. Summer can be hot and during monsoon most of the park is flooded and closed. The National parks is on NH 37 so easily accessible by road . The nearest Airport and railway station is at Jorhat, around 97 Kms away.
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Kaziranga is a paradise for Bird Watchers with almost 500 species staying inside this park. You can find Bengal FLorican, wreathed Hornbill, Great spotted eagle, Stork, white vented Mynah and slender billed vulture amongst others. The vegetation here is thick with tall elephant grass growing every where. To move around you will find jeeps and even elephant rides at very reasonable rates. There are three good properties very close to the National Park. Aranya Resort run by the government around 3 Kms from the park, Wildgrass Resort, Boni Lodge, GL’s Kaziranga resort and Bonhabi resort. The tariff is very reasonable within the range of 500- 1500 per night.
Bandhavgarh National Park
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Bandhavgarh National park is in Madhya Pradesh spread over 437 Sq kms in Umaria District. It is 280 Kms from Khajuraho, the nearest Airport and nearest railway station is Umaria at a distance of 35 Kms. It is well connected from road too and can mbe reached from Jabalpur and Khajuraho which are almost the same distance from the national park.This park also boasts of the highest density of tiger population.
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The vegetation of forest is a mix of grasslands, Sal and Bamboo. And like most of the sanctuaries, best time to visit here is winter season. The entry to park is allowed only twice a day, during winters it is between 7.30 AM to 9.30 AM in the morning and 3.00 PM to 5.30 PM during evening. In summer the morning timings are 6.30 AM to 9.30 AM and 4.00 PM to 6.30 PM in the evening. The jeeps are available at the park that will take you around the park during these times. There are various options if you choose to stay at Bandhavgarh near the National park right from Luxury to Budget.
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The options in luxury are Bandhav Vilas, Treehouse Hideaway, Bundela Jungle lodge and King’s lodge with tariff from 5000 onwards. Budget options are- Tiger Den Resort, Baghela Resort, Tiger Haven Resort and Golbro Tiger View with Tariff Rs. 1000 onwards. In fact the options in Bandhavgarh are ample when it comes to luxury and high end accommodation whereas Budget hotels are little limited here. That is why it is recommended that bookings are done much in advance.
So, here is the compilation of five National parks in Five Regions of India. Though Most of the sanctuaries in India are famous for their tigers, but the Flora, Fauna and landscape that houses these tigers are very different from Each other. All in all Winter looks to be the best season to explore these national parks. So next time you want to spend a peaceful time close to nature, make sure you take a trip to one of these cradles of Nature.