India also has over 1200 species of bird, and is on main
migratory routes, so it is a satisfyingly good country for
bird-watchers, but everybody knows the main event is the
increasingly endangered tiger.
Although poaching and lack of organisation are detrimental factors,
the country is finally becoming more aware of its wildlife
heritage, and it is well worthwhile exploring a wildlife park or
Among the best parks are Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Pench, Nagahole,
and Gir (where the last of the Asian lions still exist).
Kanha National Park is spread over 1,300 square miles of thick
forest and savannah plains in the Mandla district of Madhya Pradesh
and is the area that inspired the writings of Rudyard Kipling, in
particular The Jungle Book.
Elsewhere there is the completely unexploited Satpura National
Park in Madhya Pradesh. Spread across the highest stretch of the
rugged Satpura mountains, the National Park is classic tiger
country, supporting an astonishing array of prey species including
gaur, sambar, chital, wild boar, chausingha, nilgai antelope and
their predators - tiger, leopard, wild dog, wolf and sloth bear -
in such numbers that every foray into the jungle all but guarantees
sightings of some impressive beastie or other.
Further south, smaller Bandhavgarh is one of our favourite
wildlife spotting destinations thanks to the high density of tigers
found here. The park also has great accessibility for 4x4's and
those in the know (i.e. us) can even arrange full day jeep safaris
which offer unprecedented access into areas of the park tourists
usually can't venture. As well as tigers Bandhavgarh is also a
great place to spot sloth bears, dholes (Indian wild dogs) and
Away from the Indian wildlife, the centre of India also boasts
some of the country's cultural highlights. In Uttar Pradesh,
Varanasi - the city of Shiva - has been a centre of learning for
thousands of years, and is one of India's holiest cities, where
colourful (and seriously photogenic) religious rituals take place
on the ghats by the Ganges.
In Madhya Pradesh, Khajuraho has some of India's best known
temples, a thousand years old and covered with erotic carvings.
At Bhimbetka see rock paintings dating back more than 10,000
years, while Ahoka has an ancient stupa, and Gwalior a forbidding