Our Favourite National Parks in India

Our Favourite National Parks in India

National parks probably aren’t the first thing that come to mind when you think of India, but go with us on this one. Spanning 17,132 square miles and home to half the world’s tiger population and more mammals and reptiles than you can count, national parks in India are the definition of a fauna free for all. Yet what is even more staggering than its impressive statistics (did we mention they also protect 60% of the world’s Asian elephants and over 1,360 bird species?) is that just half a century ago, the country only had five national parks – and it has certainly made up for lost time. From Kanha National Park, which is said to have inspired The Jungle Book, to the mythical Bandhavgarh, where tigers can be found curling up in a 1,000-year-old carving of Lord Vishnu, this is where the wild truly runs free. Read on for our roundup of the best national parks in India.


  1. Ranthambore National Park
  2. Nagarahole National Park
  3. Bandhavgarh National Park
  4. Kanha National Park
  5. Singalila National Park


Ranthambore National Park


Forts and temples are the headliners at Ranthambore. Once the hunting grounds of the Jaipur Maharaja, it is its temples, havelis (mansions) and vaults that now take centre stage at this Rajput-rich 515-square-mile national park. Slotting nicely between Jaipur and Agra, Ranthambore is the perfect reprieve from the cities’ hustle and bustle. You won’t be completely on your own though. Home to royal Bengal tigers, leopards and chital, this is where history, heritage and wildlife combine in the most wonderful of ways. Head out on a jeep safari (or two) and you probably won’t be able to believe your binoculars as you catch leopards dozing beside crumbling pillars and crocodiles plotting stealthy attacks in nearby lakes.

Deer, Ranthambore National Park


Nagarahole National Park


The former hunting area of the Maharajas of Mysore, Nagarahole soon had a change of heart when it became a wildlife sanctuary in 1955. Now up for consideration to become one of UNESCO’s prized World Heritage Sites in India, this gateway to intrepid jungle and lush forest is one of the best spots to see Asian elephants in the wild. Unlike other national parks in India, Nagarahole adopts a strict safari policy. To relieve demand for jeep drives, visitors are required to take at least one boat safari along the Kabini River. Personally, we couldn’t think of a better way to see this 327-square-mile park. Watch on as thirsty herds drink at the river’s edge and ospreys and grey-headed fish-eagles dance overhead. Nagarahole is also blessed with a dense tiger population (thanks to the Project Tiger conservation programme launched in 1973) as well as large assemblages of other carnivores like leopards, Asiatic wild dogs and wild pigs.

Tigers, Bandhavgarh


Bandhavgarh National Park

Madhya Pradesh

If you’re going to national parks in India with your eyes peeled for tigers, then your first stop has to be Bandhavgarh. Covering an area of 65 miles, it has an 80-strong population of the striped cats within its modest footprint. But while the national park is bordered by small villages, it is filled with bamboo forest and open marshland – the ideal habitat for urban legends to grow. In fact, it’s believed that wild white tigers used to roam the park until the early 1900s, with the last of its kind, Mohan, now on display at the palace of the Reva Maharaja. To appease any budding Attenborough’s though, there are plenty of jackals, nilgais (think a large and adorable antelope), sambar deer, porcupines and 40-plus leopards to ogle at.


Kanha National Park

Madhya Pradesh

Rudyard Kipling county, Kanha, is the Bollywood of India’s national parks. Said to be the reserve that inspired his Jungle Book, it is the largest national park in Madhya Pradesh and one of 53 designated tiger reserve across the country. With its towering sal trees, primeval jungle and bamboo groves, it’s not hard to imagine the prowling Shere Khan and loveable Baloo in this neck of the woods. Head out before dawn on an open-top four wheel-drive, following bands of sunlight as they beam down on lush green forests that are home to easy-going sloth bears, Indian bison and royal Bengal tigers. If you need your Kanha national park appetite whetting (apart from watching The Jungle Book for the 20th time) National Geographic’s award-winning ‘Land of the Tigers’ is sure to do the trick.

Sandakphu Phalut, Darjeeling


Singalila National Park


Move over tigers, there’s a new animal in town at Singalila National Park, Darjeeling . One of the few placed in the world where you can spot the elusive red panda, you best be prepared to head up 12,000ft into the Himalayan forest to find them. This is the highest altitude park in West Bengal after all. Buzzing with tropical energy, it boasts 600 varieties of orchids as well as numerous exotic bird species such as blood pheasants, rufous-vented tits and bull finches. The best way to see Singalila is by foot along Sandakphu Phalut. While the trek can be as long or short as you want, it is its summit that you’ll want to aim for. Gaze over the peaks of the four tallest mountains in the world, each attempting to outdo each other, and follow the outline of the sleeping buddha mountain range. If you prefer to explore by four wheel drive, vintage Land Rovers are always up for the challenge in this national park in India.