Meeting the king of the jungle in his natural surroundings is an unforgettable experience and can never be compared to the poor caricatures one sees in zoos or on screen. Thanks to state effort, this magnificent beast has not completely disappeared from our jungles. Although, the situation is still a far cry from William Blake’s ‘Tiger, tiger, burning bright’, one may take solace in the fact that today the roar of the tiger and his royalty is as much a part of jungle lore as it was during the days of Rajas, Maharajas and their colonial masters. Here is a brief look at some of the most famous tiger spotting destinations in India.
Sunderbans National Park, West Bengal
Sunderban National Park is not as well known as some of the other tiger reserves but is perhaps the big daddy of them all. This UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve is the abode of the infamous Royal Bengal Tiger. The terrain is swampy and safaris are conducted aboard steamers and boats in crocodile infested waters. No elephant or jeep rides into the dreaded jungles here! Tigers are rarely spotted and a local saying goes that the one who actually sees a tiger would end up in its belly. It’s not exaggeration as the fact is that tigers here are born man eaters, which is totally in contradiction to a tiger’s natural instinct. In fact, many scientists have tried to come up with plausible theories on this topic.
An excellent way to combine your tiger spotting trip with some historic sightseeing. Ranthambore National Park is the very place where the so called brave Maharajas of the yesteryears tried to hunt tigers into extinction but themselves faded away into oblivion. Jeep safaris take visitors deep into the jungle and one is often rewarded with the unforgettable spectacle of this magnificent beast sunning itself on rocky patches or drinking from the lakes here. There are luxurious accommodation facilities right on the fringes of the jungle that belie the fact that one is in tiger territory.
Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand
This is India’s oldest tiger reserve and was the erstwhile hunting ground of the legendary hunter, Colonel Jim Corbett. You have to be exceptionally lucky to spot a tiger at Corbett, but that is the beauty of the experience. Unlike quite a few other national parks, you won’t feel as if tiger sighting is stage managed here. The highest chances of tiger spotting is by taking an elephant safari. Try to book your stay at the Dhikala tiger reserve inside the park, instead of settling for some exorbitantly priced resort outside the main jungle.
Kanha, Madhya Pradesh
Kanha National Park is another terrific place for some great tiger watching. The huge core area of the jungle is ringed by an enormous buffer zone. The experience is satiating indeed as one ventures deep into the jungle atop a swaying elephant. Trained mahouts often take great risks and go very close to a tiger. Once sighting occurs, they use wireless sets to inform other mahouts and those following on jeeps.
This is not all. There are quite a few other famous tiger sanctuaries in the country such as Bandhavgarh National Park, Sariska Tiger Reserve, Bandipur Tiger Reserve, and Pench Tiger Reserve to name just a few.
About the Author:
Pinak Shome is a member of the enthusiastic iXiGO fraternity and an avid traveller.