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Where to See Bengal Tigers in India
There are certain ‘first’ experiences in our life that we never forget. The first day in college, the first kiss, opening our first paycheck, the first solo trip, the first time we trek in the mighty Himalayas or take a dip in the vast oceans. These moments remain etched in our memories forever. One such experience to be cherished for a lifetime is our first sighting of the majestic tiger in its natural habitat. My first-ever tiger sighting still stands as one of the remarkable highlights of my life. I vividly remember that the magnificent beauty and grace of the mighty, powerful and fierce Royal Bengal Tiger left me spellbound. The rich hues of the setting sun melted on her golden coat and her agile muscles rippled as she walked past.
Seeing a tiger in the wild
To spot a tiger in the wild is one of nature’s greatest prizes. Something that not many people in the world can boast. Be it the way in which this beautiful animal hunts down its prey, makes its rounds with unmatched stealth and grace, or roars mightily into the sky, witnessing a tiger in its full glory is certainly a spine-chilling experience! This memorable escapade is guaranteed to give you goosebumps and get your adrenaline pumping. India is an abode to the world’s largest population of this most spectacular of creatures, a force of nature that wanders freely with sheer pride in the wilds of India. A tiger safari in India offers you a great chance to secure a wild encounter with the splendid beast.
If seeing a tiger in the raw wilderness is on your bucket list, India must be the top choice for your daring jungle expedition. With about 53 tiger reserves, blessed with rich and rare flora and fauna, narrowing in on the best sanctuary to visit in India becomes a tough choice. These enchanting forests are actual heaven for not only the animals but also for the visitors it attracts. All reserves are well-maintained and proffer unique wildlife adventures of their own. However, you’ve got to pick one. Many of these are included in our India Travel Guide.
So here are our top 7 picks for where to see Bengal tigers in India and what you can look forward to while visiting them.
7 nature reserves where you can see Bengal tigers in India
1. Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan
When naming the most renowned national park for tiger safari in India, Ranthambore National Park in the Sawai Madhopur district of Rajasthan is always a popular choice. Set against the backdrop of the Aravalli range, this reserve is starkly beautiful. The green and gold hues of the billion-year-old dry deciduous forest serve as the perfect backdrop to observe tigers in the wild.
Ranthambore, once a private game reserve for the Rajput Maharajas of Jaipur, is now demarcated as a preserved region for tigers and other animals. The ruins of the historic Ranthambore Fort rising majestically in the forest is a beloved resting spot for the tigers. During the dry summer months, the soaring temperatures and scorching heat drive tigers out of their homes to roam in search of water and rest in the proximity of the three lakes present on the premises. Hence, maximizing the chances of spotting tigers. Besides tigers, one can also come across hyenas, sloth bears, Indian foxes, jackals, panthers, and reptiles such as crocodiles and snakes.
Ranthambore is a celebration for nature enthusiasts, historians, and wildlife photographers. Open from October to June, this national park welcomes tourists from across the world. The resplendent surroundings and luxurious accommodations make it one of the most visited reserves of the Indian subcontinent.
2. Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh
In the Umaria district of Madhya Pradesh, the Bandhavgarh National Park lies amidst the wilderness of the Vindhyan Range. Bandhavgarh has a history that dates back 2,000 years. It is believed that Bandhavgarh was gifted by Lord Rama of the Hindu pantheon to his younger brother Lakshmana and it is from here the place gets its name, where Bandhav means brother and Garh means fort, the name literally means ‘brother’s fort.’ The ancient Bandhavgarh fort in the south of the park is believed to be proof of the mythical tales.
In recent years, tiger sightings in Bandhavgarh have been matchless. The thin foliage and flora make it easier to spot tigers and the sandy soil facilitates tracking of tiger trails. Due to the frequent tiger sightings in this park, celebrated wildlife filmmakers from BBC, Nat Geo, and Discovery have been regularly filming here for the last few decades. Hop on to an open jeep safari with a guide to get an experience of a lifetime. The ideal time to visit and explore this vivacious land is between November to March. Leopards, jungle cats, striped hyenas, grey mongooses, ratels, sloth bears, Bengal foxes, Asiatic jackals, wild boars, and barking deers are some other prominent faunas found in the Bandhavgarh National Park.
3. Sundarbans National Park, West Bengal
Listed in UNESCO’s world heritage site list, Sundarbans is the world’s largest delta and the only mangrove forest in the world that is home to the Royal Bengal Tigers. It is located at the mouth of the Ganga (Ganges) and Brahmaputra rivers between India and Bangladesh and is regarded as one of the most biologically productive natural ecosystems. This gorgeous reserve is a haven of wonderful rivers such as Muriganga, Saptamukhi, Harinbhahga and the tiger safaris here are accessible by motorboat rides, available in multiple rivulets of the park.
Interestingly, the tigers here have adapted to an almost amphibious life, being capable of swimming for long distances and feeding on fish, crabs, and water monitor lizards. They are also renowned for being “man-eaters”, presumably due to their relatively high frequency of encounters with local people. The other wildlife of Sunderban beholds fishing cats, axis deers, wild boars, rhesus monkeys, olive ridley sea turtles, and the largest estuarine crocodiles in the world.
Sunderban is the breeding ground of an immense variety of birds like herons, egrets, cormorants, white-bellied sea eagles, and kingfishers as well as migratory birds like whimpers, black-tailed godwits, eastern knots, curlews, golden plover, white-eyed pochard and whistling teal. The air here feels wet and damp, while the silence is interrupted by the melodious singing of birds. The best time to have this unique wildlife escapade is from October to May.
4. Jim Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand
A paradise of breathtaking landscapes and extremely rare fauna, Jim Corbett National Park is often considered India’s most attractive national park. This park is named after Jim Corbett, the famous man-eating tiger hunter turned conservationist, and has the glory of being the oldest National Park in India.
The Park, renowned for its tiger richness, majestic leopards, and large herds of Asian elephants, is an ecotourism wonderland housing a vast assortment of various rare species of mammals, birds, reptiles, plants, and trees. The topography is dominated by a mix of abundant hills and crags, river belts, muddy depressions, grasslands, and large lakes and waterfalls. This is amongst the few national parks in India that allow luxurious accommodation during the night in the middle of the forest, to enjoy the wilderness up close and soak yourself in. Jim Corbett National Park is said to be one of the best tiger safaris in India, one that wildlife enthusiasts should never miss. The best time to visit this wildlife haven is from November to June.
5. Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh
It is nature that inspires great inventions and discoveries. Be it the falling of an apple on Newton’s head or the creation of submarines based on whales. Similarly, famous writer Rudyard Kipling sourced his inspiration for his outstanding creation, ‘The Jungle Book’ from the wilderness of Kanha National Park. Perched in the very pristine Maikal Range of Satpura, this reserve lies in the Central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.
The landscapes and the surrounding luxurious meadows- the wooded strands and the dense maroons of the forest offer magnanimous sightseeing experiences for nature lovers. The crystal clear streams amidst the dense jungle cleanse the surroundings and make the wildlife experience unrivaled. The Kanha National Park is the ideal home for a wide range of wild creatures, from the mighty tigers to the Barasingha(swamp deers), Indian leopards, sloth bears, and countless species of plants, birds, reptiles, and insects. With the elephant and jeep safari, an encounter with all these species is really breathtaking and worthwhile.
Open from November to June, Kanha is considered to be one of the most beautiful wildlife experiences in the world. In the month of May, the dry forest makes it more comfortable to sight the animals on rusty land. A trip to Kanha National Park surely takes you to the widespread arena of the lush habitat of wild creatures.
6. Bandipur National Park, Karnataka
Bandipur National Park is located amidst the picturesque surroundings of the towering Western Ghats on the Mysore-Ooty highway in Karnataka. Once the private hunting grounds of the erstwhile Maharajas of Mysore, Bandipur has had a long tryst with tigers. With the mesmerizing mist-covered Nilgiris in the background, this park is renowned for its scenic beauty.
From giant elephants and bison to fierce tigers and leopards, from agile antelopes and deer to reptiles like cobra and python, the diversity of Bandipur is admired by wildlife enthusiasts. The best way to appreciate it is through a jeep safari preferably at dawn. Inside the park, rivers Kabini, Moyar, and Nugu form an intricate system of network, providing ample opportunities for water sports like river rafting and water rappelling. The resorts inside the park bring forth the natural view of the forest from your windows, making it a trip to remember. From June to October every year, Bandipur National Park attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world.
7. Periyar National Park, Kerala
A trip to Kerala is an absolute delight for anyone to absorb the marvels of nature and a slice of mind-bending culture. Situated in the Thekkady district of Kerala, Periyar Tiger Reserve is a perfect example of nature’s bounty with picturesque scenic beauty and rich biodiversity Periyar is renowned for wild elephants and brave tigers, including the rare white tigers. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the reserve was the hunting ground of the Travancore kings.
The other animals found in the sanctuary are wild pigs, mouse deer, barking deer, Indian wild dogs, the rare lion-tailed macaque, and the bonnet macaque. The surrounding agricultural regions, especially plantations of tea, cardamom, and coffee, make the land of Periyar enchanting and admirable. There are vast opportunities to have fragrant mountain treks in the blissful jungles and hilly landscape of Periyar. There are very few national parks in India that are open in all seasons, and Periyar National Park happens to be one of those few. The Jeep Safari, elephant safari, and charming boat cruises at Periyar Lake make the wilderness experience more enriching.