Not very long ago, we brought you this list of the top ten national parks and wildlife sanctuaries that every wildlife photography enthusiast must visit. Today, we point you to Indias most underrated wildlife sanctuaries and national parks in India. Ready to go on these top five off-beat wildlife tours?
1. Pobitora wildlife sanctuary – Assam
Photograph courtesy: Dilip Merala
Often overshadowed by the glorious Kaziranga National Park in the same state, the Pobitora wildlife sanctuary actually offers a better shot at spotting the great Indian one-horned rhinoceros. This quaint region which is just about an hour’s drive from Guwahati spreads across 38.8 sq. km of which around 16 sq. km. is the effective rhino habitat. There is an early morning one-hour elephant safari which begins at 6.30 am. Jeep safaris are available between 7 am and 3 pm daily. Apart from the rhino, you can also spot the Asiatic buffalo, wild boars, and leopards.
2. Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh
The largest national park in Madhya Pradesh, Kanha National Park (also known as Kanha Tiger Reserve) is home to about 300 species of resident and migratory birds. It is the only home in India for the barasingha (swamp deer) and its sal and bamboo forests make spotting the Royal Bengal tiger, leopards, sloth bears, sambhars, chitals, gaur and the Indian wild dog easier here. While the possibility of spotting a tiger at the Bandhavgarh National Park is higher than at Kanha, the entire safari experience is far more fulfilling here. There are several gates to the national park, Khatiya gate being the most popular one. Kanha is also the forest that inspired British author Rudyard Kipling to write The Jungle Book. Still need reasons to visit Kanha National Park?
3. Rajaji National Park, Uttarakhand
Photograph courtesy: Creative commons/hekris
Spread over 820 sq km, Rajaji National Park is a part of three districts of Uttarakhand: Dehradun, Saharanpur and Pauri Garhwal. Three sanctuaries — Rajaji, Chila and Motichur — were merged in 1983 to form the present-day Rajaji National Park. Named after Sri Rajagopalachari, the first Indian Governor-General who was popularly known as Rajaji, the national park is only 9 km from Haridwar and 6 km from Rishikesh. Situated along the Shivalik ranges in Himalayan foothills, Rajaji National Park is home to the largest population of elephants in the state. But it also houses tiger, sloth bears, hyena, king cobra, Himalayan kingfisher and the great piped hornbill. During November- March, the park is also home to large number of migratory birds. The best way to explore the park is on a jeep or elephant safari. Since Song and Ganga also flow through the park, it is home to a large number of fish that include trout and mahaseer among others.
4. Desert National Park, Rajasthan
Covering an area of 3162 sq km, Desert National Park (DNP) is one of the largest national parks in the country. Located in the Thar Desert, 40 km from Jaisalmer, the Desert National Park has abundant bird life and is home to over 120 resident and migratory birds. The park is also home to some of the rarest species of birds like the Great Indian Bustard and reptiles such as Russell viper, saw scaled viper, monitor lizard, krait, etc. Lakes such as Gadsisar, Padam Talao, Rajbaugh and Milak are the main sources of water for the animals and birds in the park.
5. Pench National Park, Madhya Pradesh
Named after Pench river that flows through the park, the Pench National Park (also known as Pench Tiger Reserve) has a varied topography where all kinds of vegetation thrives. Home to over 1200 species of plants, Pench National Parks environs is particularly conducive to Chital and Sambar. With 90.3 animals per sq km, Pench Tiger Reserve boasts of the highest density of herbivores in India. While the tiger remains the key predator, leopards, wild dogs and wolves can also be found in great numbers. The national park is particularly famous for large herds of Gaur (Indian Bison), Nilgai, wild dog and wild pig.