Seeing the Royal Bengal Tiger {RBT} is a sight to behold. And no, we don’t mean going to a ridiculous zoo and seeing a painfully thin one. Just hop into an open jeep or elephant back, and watch this magnificent beast on its home turf instead.

Beautiful, powerful, majestic and oh-so-elusive, the big cat, fortunately, can still be spotted at some of India’s top wildlife sanctuaries and parks.

Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh

to spot tigers go to bandhavgarh national park near jabalpur

Image courtesy: Bandhavgarh National Park

One of the most popular places to spot the tiger, you’re likely to see more than one here. The area spans about 100 sq kms, and when there’s around 50 tigers roaming {the park boasts of a highest density of these big cats}, you can see why we’re always game to head here.

There’re 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 {closed in monsoon}

Closest Airport: Jabalpur {190 kms}

Find out more here.

Ranthambore, Rajasthan

to spot tigers go to ranthambhore national park in sawai madhopur

Image courtesy: Ranthambore National Park

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 of their tigers. Remember Machali, Sunder, Dollar {so much better than the usual tag of T-1, T-19 and T-something}?

There’s plenty of history woven into the park, too, with ruins of old forts, hunting buildings and temples dotting it. Up the luxe factor at the stellar resorts and camps that are scattered across the park.

When To Visit: February to May {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. It’s only when you get here will you realise how accurate Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book really is.

Teeming with barasingha {swamp deer}, here you can spot the tigers lurking around the fringes to prey on them, or simply ambling down the forest paths, or even sitting 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 {closed from July to October}

Closest Airport: Jabalpur {170 kms}

Find out more here.

Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand

corbett national park in uttarkhand to spot tigers

Image courtesy: Corbett National Park

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 water bodies, the likelihood of finding stripes is high at Corbett.

When To Visit: November to May {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, there’s a high chance spotting the tiger here than most other places in India. With plenty of hillock to spy on the 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 is not very high.

When To Visit: November to April {closed from July 1 to October 15, and every Tuesday}

Closet Airport: Nagpur {150kms}

Find out more here.

Bandipur National Park, Karnataka

to spot tigers go to bandipur national park

Image courtesy: Bandipur National Park

Quite literally in Bangalore’s backyard, Bandipur is the place to be if you want to see the majestic creature first-hand. The neighbouring Mudhumalai, Wayanad and Nagarhole are also close enough to keep trying your luck. 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

With the 299 sq kms 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

nagarhole national park in karnataka to spot tigers

Image courtesy: Nagarhole

The 37th Project Tiger Reserve in India, it is part of the largest eco-reserve in the country. In the past few years, tiger sightings here have increased tremendously, thanks to the healthy predator-to-prey ratio. In fact, you’re likely to see a tiger here more than you in Kanha now; there’s about 8 – 13 tigers per 100 sq kms; great odds on any day!

When To Visit: September to April

Closest Airport: Bangalore {235 kms}

Find out more here.

Sundarban National Park, West Bengal

sunderban national park in west bengal for tiger spotting

Image courtesy: Sunderban National Park

Possibly the most intriguing thanks to its mangrove forests, and certainly the largest, the Sunderbans is majestic even without its tigers. 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, doesn’t it? There’s apparently about 100 tigers left in the reserve, so stay longer to catch them on home turf while you can.

When To Visit: December to February {closed from April to September}

Closest Airport: Kolkata {130 kms}

Find out more here.

Featured image via: Bandhavgarh National Park