10 fabulous wildlife parks in India you probably don’t know about

These days, wildlife safaris have become very popular. But look beyond the usual suspects when you’re picking which sanctuary to visit. On the occasion of World Wildlife Day (March 3), we bring you some lesser-known ones filled with a rich variety of flora and fauna, which make a compelling case to head to the jungles soon.
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Safari vehicles and forest guides are a part of the wildlife spotting experience. Image: Shutterstock/Anuradha Marwah.

Wildlife in India is a delight as it is varied and unique based on the topography of the region. We list ten unusual national parks that must be on your next ‘wild adventure’.

Suggested read: Indian Wildlife bucket list: 7 fantastic creatures and where to find them

Nameri National Park, Assam

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A Binturong takes a catnap on a branch. Image: Shutterstock/tomava.

River Jia Bhoroli flows through this scenic national park spread across 200 sq kms in Assam. Some of the distinct species you can see here include the Clouded Leopard, Burmese Ferret Badger, Binturong, and herds of elephants. This is also a bird watcher’s delight as it is home to species like the Greater Spotted Eagle, White Rumped Vulture, Palla’s Fish-eagle, Lesser Adjutant Stork, Long Billed Vulture, White Winged Wood Duck, Black Bellied Tern, Rufous Necked Hornbill, Wreathed Hornbill, and the Great Pied Hornbill.

Getting there: The nearest airports are at Tezpur (34 km) and Guwahati (220 km).

Phawngpui Blue Mountain National Park, Mizoram

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The rare Blyth’s Tragopan. Image: Shutterstock/Dipankar Phorography.

Named after the blue mountain peak Phawngpui, in Mizoram, which means grassland in English, the Phawngpui Blue Mountain National Park is spread over 50 sq kms. The park is home to Slow Loris, Serow, Goral, Stump-tailed Macaque, Asiatic Black Bear and Capped Langur, Barking Deer, Leopard, and Hoolock Gibbon, and birds like the Dark Rumped Swift, Blyth’s Tragopan, Hume’s Pheasant, Mountain Bamboo Partridge and Long Billed Pipit.

Being in the Lawngtlai district of the state, the entire mountain and surrounding reserve forest are part of the park and a must see here are the native orchids, bamboo, oak, and rhododendrons set amidst the tropical evergreen and sub-tropical broadleaf forests. When you are here do check out the Thlazuang Khâm, a stunning semi-circular cliff.

Getting there: The nearest airport is Aizawl (300 km).

Manas National Park, Assam

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The Tiger is truly royal. And a measure of a forest eco-system’s health too! Image: Bindu Gopal Rao.

Manas National Park has the unique distinction of being a Project Tiger Reserve, Project Elephant Reserve, a biosphere reserve as well as a natural heritage site. Located in the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas, with the Manas River, a tributary of the Brahmaputra adjacent to it, makes the park a hotspot for wildlife. Apart from the Royal Bengal Tiger, you can see Wild Buffalo, Assam Roofed Turtle, Pygmy Hog, and Hispid Hare in this 950 sq km space. The park has over 20 endangered species of birds and animals and offers jeep and elephant safaris and river rafting where you can see different species of birds.

Getting there: The nearest airport is Guwahati (180 km).

Hemis National Park, Ladakh

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The Himalayan Marmot is well equipped for the weather. Image: Shutterstock/Pisit Kitireungsang.

Located in East Ladakh, Hemis National Park is not just the largest national park in South Asia but also the largest contiguous protected region after the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve. The 4,400 sq km park is home to Leopards, Tibetan Argali, Bharal, Tibetan Wild Ass, Red Fox, Asiatic Ibex, Tibetan Wolf, Eurasian Brown Bear, Himalayan Marmot, Mountain Weasel and Himalayan Mouse Hare.

This is the only place where you can see the Ladakhi Urial in the country. Bird lovers will love the park as it has species like the Lammergeier Vulture, Himalayan Griffon Vulture, Brown Accentor, Robin Accentor, Himalayan Snowcock, and the Fire-fronted Serin, among others. The ancient Hemis Monastery is within the park where camping and trekking are commonplace. The Indus and Zanskar rivers meet near the boundary of the reserve.

Getting there: The nearest airport is Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport, Leh (five km).

Keibul Lamjao National Park, Manipur

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A pair of Wild Boar in action. Image: Bindu Gopal Rao.

Southwest of the Loktak Lake in Manipur is the world’s only floating national park — the Keibul Lamjao National Park. Said to be the last natural habitat of the Brow-antlered Deer or the Sangai, this park has a unique wetland ecosystem with a decomposed plant material called phumdi being an integral part of the landscape.

You can also spot species like the Hog Deer, Otter, Wild Boar, Large Indian Civet, Jungle Cat, Asian Golden Cat, Bay Bamboo Rat and Musk Shrew in this 40 sq km space. This is where you can also see reptiles like the Python Molurus, Keel Back Tortoise, Viper, Banded Krait, Asian Rat Snake and Checkered Garter Snake and birds like the East Himalayan Pied Kingfisher and the Burmese Pied Myna.

Getting there: The nearest airport is Imphal (45 km).

Keoladeo National Park, Rajasthan

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Siberian Cranes are grace personified. Image: Shutterstock/Wang LiQiang.

Called the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, the Keoladeo National Park was once a royal hunting reserve and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With 370 species, you can spot the Basking Python, the rare Siberian Crane that only nests here, as well as Jackals, Black Buck, Fishing Cats, and Otters.

The marsh lands with kadam forests, grasslands and shallow water bodies are home to a thriving species of migratory birds including Pelicans, Cormorants, Egrets, Ibises, Cranes, and Geese. In the winters, you can spot over 350 species of birds.

Getting there: The nearest airports are at Agra (56 km) and Delhi (184 km).

Great Himalayan National Park, Himachal Pradesh

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The Snow Leopard in its natural habitat is a thing of beauty. Image: Shutterstock/Kwadrat.

The Great Himalayan National Park, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in the Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh is home to rare and endemic mammal and bird species as well as rare plants. Within the 755 sq km expanse, you can see the Snow Leopard, Serow, Musk Deer, Western Tragopan, Koklass, Himalayan Blue Poppy, Cheer Pheasants, and the Himalayan Tahr.

The park offers stunning views of the western Himalayan mountains and is filled with alpine meadows, water rivulets and riverine forests. The landscape is dotted with ban, mohru and kharsu oak tree variants and you can trek here as well.

Getting there: The nearest airport is Bhuntar, Kullu (60 km).

Nanda Devi National Park, Uttarakhand

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The colourful Monal stands out in the snow. Image: Shutterstock/Sunil Onamkulam.

A world heritage site with a unique topography that has a diverse habitat, the Nanda Devi national park in Uttarakhand is spread across 380 sq km. Surrounded by the snowcapped Himalayan peaks of Nanda Devi, Dunagiri, Maiktoli, Rishi Pahar, it is home to the elusive Snow Leopard, Serow, Himalayan Musk Deer, Himalayan Black Bear, Brown Bear, and Bharal (blue sheep).

Close to this is the Valley of Flowers National Park that has miles of endemic alpine flowers like Brahma Kamal and Blue Poppy among other species of rare alpine flowers. The Tragopan, Monal Pheasant, the Himalayan Golden Eagle, and other rare species are part of the avian life here.

Getting there: The nearest airport is Jolly Grant, Dehradun (315 km).

Satpura National Park, Madhya Pradesh

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A herd of gentle Black Buck. Image: Bindu Gopal Rao.

One of the first national parks designated in Madhya Pradesh, Satpura National Park is spread over an area of 524 sq km. and is set amidst hilly terrains, rivulets and woodlands that support a variety of flora and fauna. Apart from Tigers, you can also spot Leopard, Indian Bison, Crocodiles, Black Buck, Wild Dogs, Four-horned Antelopes among others here.

You may also spot the Flying Squirrel, Indian Giant Squirrel, Leaf Nosed Bats, Eurasian Otter and Smooth Coated Otter, and birds such as the Indian Skimmer, Black Bellied Tern, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Malabar Whistling Thrush and Paradise Flycatcher here. You can enjoy the sights with elephant and jeep safaris as well as boating in the Denwa river.

Getting there: The nearest airports are at Raja Bhoj Airport Bhopal (210 km) and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport Nagpur (274 km).

Suggested read: Pugdundee Safaris expands into Tadoba with its Waghoba Eco Lodge

Anshi National Park, Karnataka

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Yellow Footed Green Pigeons atop a tree. Image: Bindu Gopal Rao.

Also called Kali Tiger Reserve, located in the Uttar Kannada district of Karnataka near Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary, Anshi National Park is part of the Nilgiris Biosphere. The topography has some unique flora and fauna in its area of 340 sq km. Apart from the rare Black Panther, the deciduous and evergreen rain forests support Elephants, Tigers, Sambar Deer, Wild Boar, Bison, Barking Deer, Bonnet Macaque and Langurs. Birds like the Golden Backed Woodpecker, Serpent Eagle, Yellow Footed Green Pigeon, Ashy Wood Swallow, among others.

You can also see reptiles like the Spectacled Cobra, King Cobra, Indian Rock Python and four varieties of Hornbills! Apart from jeep safaris, white water rafting, kayaking, and water sports are organised by Jungle Lodges & Resorts.

Getting there: The nearest airports are at Dharwad (106 km) Belgaum (150 km).

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