Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright: Where To Spot The Stripes Around The Country

    Seeing the Royal Bengal Tiger {RBT} is a sight to behold. And no, we don’t mean go to a ridiculous zoo and see a painfully thin one. We mean hop onto an open jeep or elephant back, and watch this magnificent beast on its home turf. It’s truly that magical. Beautiful, powerful, majestic and oh-so-very elusive, the big cat fortunately can still be spotted at some of India’s top wildlife sanctuaries and parks.

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    Bandhavgarh National Park

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    Bandipur National Park

    Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh

    One of the most popular places to spot the tiger, you’re most likely to see more than one here. The area spans about 100 square kilometres and when there’s around 50 tigers roaming {the park boasts of a highest density of these cats}, you can see why we’re always game to head here. There’s four zones you can enter from – Tala, Magadhi, Khitauli and Panpatha, and four-wheel drives and elephant-back are your only options inside the reserve. There’s plenty of camps and hotels here, to suit every budget, so don’t leave until you see a tiger!

    When to visit: February to June. The park is closed in monsoon.

    Closest airport: Jabalpur {190 kms}

    Find out more here.

    Ranthambore, Rajasthan

    One of the largest tiger reserves in the country, this one comes under the Sawai Madhopur District, and is best known for the quirky names that tigers here are called with. Remember Machali, Sunder, Dollar? {So much better than the usual tag of T-1, T-19 and T-something or the other number.} There’s plenty of history woven into the park too with ruins of old forts, hunting buildings and temples dotting it. Then up the luxe factor at the stellar resorts and camps that are scattered across the park.

    When to visit: February to May. This one too is closed from July to October.

    Closest airport: Jaipur {130 kms}

    Find out more here.

    Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh

    Home to Sher Khan, you’re sure to bump into the striped creature here, right? But only when you get here will you realise how accurate Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book is. Teeming with Barasingha {swamp deer}, you’ll find the tigers lurking around the fringes to prey on them. or simply ambling down the forest paths or even sitting across one for hours, while hapless tourist jeeps wait for the king to make his next move. There’s also leopards, sloth bears and hyenas to spot here.

    When to visit: January – June. The park is closed from July to October.

    Closest airport: Jabalpur {170 kms}

    Find out more about them here.

    Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand

    Neatly divided into five different zones – Bijrani and Jhirna for an all-round safari trip, Dhela – the newest eco-zone, Dhikala for those who want to stay the night inside the reserve, Durga Devi for bird-watching and Sitabani Buffer Zone – which technically isn’t part of the park, you’ll likely spot tigers year round. With grasslands, marsh lands, forests and even waterbodies, the likelihood of finding stripes is high at Corbett.

    When to visit: November to May. It’s closed from July to November 15.

    Closest airport: New Delhi {235 kms}

    Find out more here.

    Tadoba National Park, Maharashtra

    Set in the hilly areas of Maharashtra, specifically the Moharali and Kolsa, it only means that there’s more chances of spotting the tigers. With plenty of hillock to spy on them from a height or catch them off guard lazing in a meadow, it’s quite a dreamy experience here although the actual number of tigers are not very high.

    When to visit: November to April. Closed from July 1 to October 15, and every Tuesday.

    Closest airport: Nagpur {150kms}

    Find out more here.

    Bandipur National Park, Karnataka

    Quite literally in Bangalore’s backyard, Bandipur is the place to be if you want to see the majestic creature. Close enough to keep trying your luck as well, the neighbouring Mudhumalai, Wayanad and Nagarhole combine to make this the biggest biosphere reserve. With the last count at about 570 tigers in the area, the odds are well in your favour. And the best part? This one is open through the year.

    When to visit: March to October

    Closest airport: Bangalore {270 kms}

    Find out more here.

    Pench National Park, Madhya Pradesh

    Pench will fight Kanha for The Jungle Book glory, but since it’s also in the heart of India, only our dear chap Rudyard Kipling can sort that one out for us by coming back. So we’ll just sit happy with the 299 sqkm of Indira Priyadarshini Pench National Park and the Mowgli Pench Sanctuary that is the best place in the park to find tigers – all 40 odd of them.

    When to visit: November to April. Closed in July, August and September

    Closest airport: Nagpur {92 kms}

    Find out more here.

    Nagarhole National Park, Karnataka

    The 37th Project Tiger Reserve in India, it is part of the largest eco-reserve. In the past few years, tiger sighting here have increased tremendously thanks to the healthy predator-prey ratio. In fact, you’re likely to see a tiger here more than you are in Kanha now, some say. Want stats? There’s about 8-13 tigers per 100sqkms – great odds on anyday!

    When to visit: September until April.

    Closest airport: Bangalore {235 kms}

    Find out more here.

    Sundarban National Park, West Bengal

    Possibly the most intriguing location, thanks to the mangrove forests, but certainly the largest, the Sunderbans is majestic even besides the tiger. While the count has dropped tremendously, seeing a tiger here is a different thrill altogether. After all, seeing the Royal Bengal in Bengal has it’s draws, no? There’s apparently about 100 tigers left in the reserve, so stay longer to catch them on home turf.

    When to visit: December to February. Park is closed from April to September.

    Closest airport: Kolkata {130 kms}

    Find out more here.