“In this world of chaos, nature is our only respite…”
When such words resonate, the true meaning of wildlife and natural habitats come to life. Most people like to see tigers, leopards, elephants and therefore they flock to the same locations and national parks all the time, over and over again. But there are still hundreds of places which are easily accessible from where you are but are miles away from common tourists. Such hidden places make for ideal destinations for offbeat travellers.
If you are one amongst these unconventional travellers and are looking for an unknown destination, plan a tour to one of these Tiger Reserves or Wildlife Sanctuaries. Apart from spotting wildlife, and admiring raw nature there is a lot to do here within its boundaries. Read on to know more about these Tiger Reserves, National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuary, best time to visit and how to get there.
Sahyadri Tiger Reserve
As we know western ghats are highly biodiverse and rich in flora and fauna. Here is a hidden gem not too many people know about, known as the Sahyadri Tiger reserve. A beautiful tiger reserve that got its status in 2008 because of the migrating tigers that use this area is rarely visited by tourists. whereas if you are in Mumbai or around Mumbai like in Pune, Nashik, Kolhapur Goa or even in Gujarat you could easily travel to Sahyadri Tiger Reserve. Its located hardly 280kms about 5hrs drive from Mumbai.
The name of the reserve comes from the Sahyadri mountain ranges and the reserve spreads over Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary forming the northern portion and Chandoli National Park forming the southern part of this reserve.
This is the only national parks I know offering beautiful treks and boat rides in the river. A must visit for all types of nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. This reserve is home to the endangered species of top carnivores such as Tigers, Wild dogs, Leopards, and Mega Herbivores like Gaur, Sambar, Bhekar, Four Horned Antelope, Mouse Deer, Giant Squirrel, Porcupines and so on. However spotting Tigers here is considered pretty rare.
Best time to visit is from October to February when it’s not too hot or from July to September to witness the beautiful monsoons and the greenery of the western ghats.
Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary
The Phansad Wildlife sanctuary is located in Murud and Roha talukas of Raigad District, and the coastal stretch of Arabian sea. Forests of the Sanctuary were earlier Hunting Reserve of the Nawab of Janjira and were famous for the wildlife that they sustained. Today, it is home to hundreds of rare and endangered species of plants and animals. The major species which can be spotted here include leopard, hyena, sambar and mouse deer. The region also houses several beautiful species of birds. Therefore, it is a must-visit destination for every nature lover and wildlife photographer.
It is about 3hrs drive from Mumbai, about 125kms and a very good weekend or a daybreak getaway.
The region in and around Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary experiences a very hot weather during the summer season, and hence the best time to visit it is from October until the end of February. During this period, the temperature conditions are absolutely favourable and the environment is cool and pleasant. You can also visit it during the rainy season in between the months of July and August when the lush green beauty of the Sanctuary is at its peak.
Similipal National Park & Tiger Reserve
Similipal National Park is a national park and a tiger reserve in the Mayurbhanj district in the Indian state of Odisha. The name ‘Similipal’ is believed to be derived from the abundance of Semul or Red Silk cotton trees which bloom vividly every year. The biodiversity of the land scape with high degree of endemism is the striking feature of the sanctuary. These forests boasts of innumerable medicinal and aromatic plants, which provide a source of earnings for the tribal people which live around the national park.
It harbours major species like Tigers, Leopards, Sloth bears, Asiatic Elephants, Gaur and many other important major faunal species. About 32 resident tigers call this reserve home and is also very famous for the unique and only melanistic tiger in the world which is found here, and rarely spotted. There are about 55 species of mammals, 361 species of birds, 62 species of reptiles, 21 species of amphibians, hence proving very rewarding for bird watchers, wildlife photographers and anthropologists from around the world.
By Road It is about 250 km from Bhubaneswar, 200 km from Kolkata and 60 km from Balasore. By Rail the nearest railheads are Baripada, Balasore, TataNagar (Jamshedpur) and Kharagpur and the nearest airports are Bhubaneswar, Kolkata, Jamshedpur and Ranchi. Similipal National park is open for tourist from 1st November to 15th June. And the best time is from January to March before the monsoons set in.
Silent Valley National Park
Silent Valley National Park is situated in the core of the Nilgiri hills in Kerala. The park is a rich storehouse of biodiversity and is famous for its unique and diverse wildlife and bird species, like no other.. Silent Valley is the home to the largest population of Lion tailed macaques, an endangered species of primates. Not to be found anywhere else.
Named by Englishman who discovered this virgin forest in colonial times, found that that there was no white noise of the cicadas after dark, common in other forested areas, hence renaming it the Silent Valley. Surrounded by high ridges, the forest is deep and virtually impenetrable. So secluded is Silent Valley that there is no written record of any human habitation in its core area. While there are some tribal settlements in the buffer zone, the mere fact that the forest is unspoilt by humans is enough to raise my suspense.
Silent Valley National Park is about 62 kms away from Coimbatore and one can easily hire a local taxi to get here. The best time to visit Silent Valley National Park is between December and February. March and April in summers are also considered ideal months to visit the national park.
Overa-Aru Wildlife Sanctuary
The Overa-Aru is a beautiful and mystical Wildlife Sanctuary and is a protected area in Aru Valley near Pahalgam in Jammu and Kashmir, India. It is on the periphery of the two villages of Overa and Aru, and hence the name for this wildlife sanctuary. It was declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1987 in order to protect its existing wildlife heritage.
The Overa-Aru Wildlife Sanctuary is a popular destination for tourists and nature enthusiasts visiting Jammu and Kashmir. Situated conveniently close to Srinagar, and pretty much in the dead center of the Jammu and Kashmir tourist hotspot on the upper banks of the sparkling Lidda River. The hills and valleys surrounding the undulating lands of the Overa-Aru Wildlife Sanctuary are also popular as winter tourism spots. This Wildlife Sanctuary is well known for its beautiful meadows, peaks and alpine lakes. In winters when this region receives heavy snowfall, you can also try skiing and heliskiing here. Other popular tourist activities here in the summers include Trout fishing, and Trekking the peaks of Overa-Aru.
Main Attraction for wildlife enthusiasts are Hangul, Musk Deer, Serow, Brown Bear, and Leopards. Sometimes even a snow leopard on rare occasions. Best time to visit and prime viewing time for the upper areas is from May to August In the lower areas, for bird viewing the best time is March to May and for animal viewing and wildlife photography is from September to March.