We all have been fascinated by the beauty of this magnificent creation of nature belonging to the cat family, i.e., a tiger. According to the Tiger Monitoring and Conservatory Board of India, there are currently 2967 tigers according to the 2021 census, and the number is yet growing strong, which is a positive sign.
Following are the 20 best tiger reserves in India you must visit:
1. Ranthambore Tiger Reserve
Located in Rajasthan, Ranthambore Tiger Reserve is one of the largest reserves in India. It was once a hunting ground for the royal families of Rajasthan. The whole area is spread over 1.134 Sq.km, which has the densest amount of tiger population, which in turn makes tiger spotting easier for wildlife enthusiasts. The tigers can mostly be spotted here in the summer season, drinking water from three lakes inside the reserve, viz., Padam Lake, Raj Lake, and Malik Lake.
2. Jim Corbett Tiger Reserve
This National Park was started in 1936 and was named after a famous environmental conservationist Jim Corbett. This reserve boasts a sprawling 500 sq. km area which can be navigated through different parts and gates located in and around Jim Corbett city. Its beauty lies in varied landscapes. There’s a total of 5 gates/zones that are operational for tourists, and each zone will bring you into a different landscape.
3. Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve
This tiger reserve is located in the state of Madhya Pradesh and is the most flocked tourist destination. This reserve is spread across 1530 sq. km. Along with tiger spotting, this reserve is also known for its bird species. All different types of migratory birds, such as flamingoes, hoopoes, barbet, etc., can be spotted, and it can be a fun activity to share with family and friends.
4. Nagarhole National Park
This national park is located in the famous city of Mysore, Karnataka state, which not only boasts wildlife of mammal species but also brings together a beautiful amalgamation of flora and fauna. Nature in its best landscape can be seen in this place. Landscapes such as rivers, waterfalls, mountains, and hilly areas can be seen here, which increases the chance of spotting a tiger.
5. Sunderban Tiger Reserve
This tiger reserve is the original home of the Royal Bengal tigers as this marshy land reserve is situated in West Bengal itself and covers a large area of 2588 sq. km, which has been credited by UNESCO as a heritage site. The safari here is very adventurous as you need to navigate the jungle by boat, and the river is a breeding ground for crocodiles. However, most of the Sunderban tiger reserve is marked as restricted by the government.
6. Kanha National Park
Another National Park is situated in Madhya Pradesh which is located in the mountainous region of the state. The perfect natural habitat for tigers which consists of reservoirs, forests, and hills, is naturally gifted to this region. 4 zones in this national park can be used for the elephant as well as tiger safari. The biggest city nearby is Jabalpur.
7. Pench National Park
The chances of spotting those wild cats in this National Park are the highest as the numbers are still growing monthly. Spread across 500 sq. km, the habitat makes it perfect for wild animals to crawl and hunt for their prey. This national park joins the boundaries of two states, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. The famous author Rudyard Kipling wrote the ‘Jungle book’ while taking inspiration from this park.
8. Bandipur Tiger Reserve
Established in 1974, this reserve has also been now opened for safari and lies in the state of Karnataka. Karnataka being the closest to Maharashtra boasts the second-largest population of tigers in India. Due to the higher tiger population, this tiger reserve has been a famous tourist attraction. The best time to visit any tiger reserve is between October-March; however, for visiting this tiger reserve, the best time is May-June due to the grassland landscape.
9. Panna Tiger Reserve
Located in the Panna District of Madhya Pradesh, which is not only known as the diamond district but is also known as the district of tigers. It was awarded as the best tiger reserve by the Tourism Industry of India in 2007. But currently, ten tigers have been relocated here, and now those tigers also have cubs, so the population is increasing due to the small area of the park, and the chance of spotting a tiger here is high. In all the other parks, you can navigate the jungle using the government safari vehicle, but in this park, by paying around Rs. 250, you own a car.
10. Periyar National Park
If you want to experience the true beauty of nature along with the tiger reserve, this is an ideal place for you. Elephants and boars are also major attractions here. The safari here can be done by vehicle as well as through houseboats. But, the chances of spotting a tiger here are low, and the best season to visit the sanctuary is October to June.
11. Saputara National Park
This is a lowkey park as it is not known to many tourists. This was established in recent times, and only 12 safari jeeps are allowed at one time here. It is the only national park wherein the tourists can walk and not take the safari jeep by paying a certain amount of park entry fees. The apt time to visit is in the winter, but during summer, the best wildlife spotting can happen. The nearest airport city is Bhopal, and you can stay in the jungle as well.
12. Tadoba Tiger Reserve
This park is located in Maharashtra and is one of the biggest and oldest in the state. The open-air safari car is a major attraction here besides spotting the tigers. There are three gates here, but safari can only be done via two gates, viz., Mohurli and Kolara Gate. But in the summer season, it gets extremely hot for a safari but also the best time to spot tigers. The best time to visit this forest is actually in the summer, from March to May.
13. Sariska Tiger Reserve
This tiger reserve is not so popular due to the rare chances of tiger spotting. But wildlife photographers are very much interested in going to this park situated in Rajasthan. Why is it so? It is because of the highest number of male tigers. It is said that male tigers are very shy and can’t be spotted easily. Apart from tigers, this reserve also has a good number of Indian leopards.
14. Nagarjunsagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve
This tiger reserve is located in Andra Pradesh and covers a large area of approximately 3000 sq. km. This is the largest in the country but also difficult for tiger spotting, which was set up in 1983. You can find leopards, bears, and other reptiles as well. Jeep safari with a guide is available here, and the best time to visit is October to June.
15. Manas National Park
This park is located in Assam and has been given the status of a protected tiger reserve by UNESCO and has been included under Project Tiger. Inside this tiger reserve, you can have a jeep safari, a self-driven car, river rafting, an elephant safari, and bird watching as well. The best time is visit is between October to March.
16. Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary
Not a lot of people know this reserve that is located in Maharashtra in the Vidarbha region. It’s the most lovable terrain for tigers to venture out as it is rocky and dense with deciduous forests, which form a thick cover.
17. Kaziranga Tiger Reserve
This tiger reserve was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 2006 and has also been granted the protected reserve tag. Kaziranga Tiger Reserve is also located in Assam. It has a high density of tigers in India. It is also home to many grass habitat animals like elephants, buffaloes, rhinos, etc.
18. Rajjaji Tiger Reserve
This has been declared as a reserve very recently in Uttarakhand, the second one after the famous Jim Corbett tiger reserve. The wildlife here includes tigers, leopards, elephants, and other small wild animals that act as prey for these predators.
19. Simlipal Tiger Reserve
This tiger reserve is situated in Odisha and spreads across 2300 sq. km. It is a reserve that has been made by combining three reserves together. It also has a separate elephant sanctuary. This tiger reserve has been home to bulls, gaur, Asian elephants, etc.
20. Madhumalai Tiger Reserve
This national park is in south India, Nilgiri mountains, where the famous Sabarimala temple is located. It is located at a height and is covered by the boundaries of Kerala and Karnataka state. However, there is one part of this reserve that is restricted to date. Tourists are only allowed up to the buffer zone, which is 19 km.
Currently, there are 53 tiger reserves, out of which 35 have been opened as tourist attractions. Many wildlife photographers and enthusiasts visit these reserves around the year just to click a running picture of this cat.