Like December marks the end of a year, it also marks the advent of another season. Enchanting fallen leaves, supple snow, flora at their misty best and refreshing cool breeze-welcome winter, the only time when our holiday mood is fully charged up. In a country like India, where green patches dominate the landscape, we cannot afford to miss out trips to wildlife sanctuaries during winter. Apart from common names, there are many national parks whose unknown tracks lead to mystic depths of abundant flora, inviting a traveller to hear the roar of the wild. Here are our top picks of offbeat national parks in India, which are brilliant to be explored with drop in temperature:
Manas National Park, Assam
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Manas National Park, at the foothills of Himalayas in Assam is a protected shelter for Assam Roofed Turtle, Pygmy Hog, Hispid Hare, Wild Water Buffalo and Golden Langur. The green paradise is also a project tiger and elephant reserve. With more than 380 species of rare and common birds, reptiles, mammals and amphibians, Manas National Park takes pride in being one of the best kept wildlife sanctuaries yet to explored by wildlife photographers, nature lovers and animal enthusiasts.
Best Time to Visit: November to March
Accommodations: Rest houses at Bansbari and Mothanguri
Jungle Safari: Jeep and elephant safaris.
Namdapha National Park, Arunachal Pradesh
One of the largest bio diversities in the Eastern Himalayan region, Namdapha National Park is an exclusive offbeat getaway for wildlife tour in India. Namdapha is known for many rare flora and fauna. The rarest and most endangered Blue Vanda and a local medicinal plant Mishimi-Teeta is found here. Four species of big cat family, leopards, snow leopards, clouded leopards and tigers, happen to dwell here. With temperature dropping down to 8-20 degree Celsius, the sanctuary is just perfect to be explored under winter sun.
Best Time to Visit: November to March
Accommodation: Forest Rest House
Jungle Safari: Jeep Safari
Mudumalai National Park, Tamil Nadu
This approximate 321 sq km forest reserve in the foothills of Nilgiris is one of the first elephant reserves in India. Wealthy in flora and fauna, Mudumalai is known for the striped royal Bengal tiger. As many as 50 tigers are believed to lurk from the depths of thick green bushes and lucky ones can spot a one. The pride of Tamil Nadu, Mudumalai National Park is the home to other creatures like deer, peacocks, wild boar, langurs, giant Malabar squirrels and Indian bison. Misty climate blanket the park during winter to give it a stunning look and open doors to catch a glimpse of the wild from close quarters.
Best Time to Visit: November–March
Accommodations: Forest department has cottages in various locations and best stays are found in Bokkapuram village.
Jungle Safari: Elephant and van Safari.
Panna National Park, Madhya Pradesh
The lesser known Panna National Park serves as a perfect stopover on a trip to Madhya Pradesh, especially Khajuraho. With temperature drop during winter, the otherwise hot dry climate of Madhya Pradesh turns favourable to explore the forest reserve. Though the sanctuary is the home to lesser number of tigers, yet one can spot other endangered species like wolf, sloth bear, spotted deer and sambars every easily. Teak and acacia forests, majestic waterfalls, igneous rocks and dense greenery lend a picturesque sight to Panna National Park.
Best Time to Visit: November–April
Accommodations: Resorts and safari lodges in Panna hotels in Khajuraho.
Jungle Safari: Elephant safari
Rajaji National Park, Uttarakhand
Tucked along the Himalayan foothills of Shivalik ranges, Rajaji National Park is ideal for those in search of an offbeat adventure holiday. It houses the largest population of wild elephants in the state. It is also the safe abode to tigers, sloth bears, hyena, king cobra and Himalayan kingfisher. Song and Ganga rivers flow through the park. The colourful sight of migratory birds and fishes here is a delight to the eyes of wildlife lovers.
Best Time to Visit: November- May
Accommodations: Cottages and tents near Gohari range, AC tourist houses of GMVN and forest rest houses.
Jungle Safari: Jeep and elephant safari.
If you are done with the common names, then come along to travel through the hidden paths of some best kept offbeat national parks in India this winter.