‘Jungle, jungle baat chali hai pata chala hai, arey chaddi pehen ke phool khila hai'
Remember this catchy tune? Of course, more than half of us do!
In all honesty, I still want to live the life of Mowgli (only with a few more pieces of clothes on my body!). This time of the year (cool and pleasant) is the best time to swing from tree to tree, bellowing out the famous war cry of a certain someone called Tarzan. Yeah, that’s my secret jungle fantasy, what’s yours?
Camping in the jungle with your family or friends can be so much fun. Away from all the distracting gadgets (no more T.V. or smartphones or internet), you come close to nature and its wildest creations.
So without much ado, here are my pick for the three best wildlife sanctuaries that you and your family can visit and enjoy!
Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand
For tourists, Corbett is open from mid November to mid June. The months of December and January are the best time to enjoy the scenic beauty and the sight of wild animals lazing around in the warm sun. Bengal Tigers are the prime denizens of the jungle here that spreads over 500 square kilometres. They share the habitat with elephants, hog deer, Himalayan black bear, langurs, monkeys and leopards that stay in the highlands. There are over 600 species of birds and 25 species of reptiles that migrate to or inhabit the park.
What’s the most thrilling thing to do here? Well, that’s easy – go on a jungle safari! One can witness the wildlife at Corbett through an elephant or jeep safari. Elephant safaris are most commonly organised in Dhikala. They are two hours long and are usually timed at 6:00 am and 4:00 pm. Try to be there before time as the number of elephants is limited and they are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
If you are looking for true adventure, stay overnight inside the resort in one of the three zones: Dhikala, Gairal and Bijrani. Prior reservation is strongly recommended.
Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan
Again, the best time to enjoy the glorious sights of Ranthambore National Park is during the winter months between November and February. Ranthambore National Park is known throughout the world for its majestic collection of the most feared predator- the tiger. The chances of spotting tigers in winters are more as they venture out more because like us, they laze around in the sun too! Some of the common animals that inhabit this forest include the leopard, jungle cat, hyena, fox, jackal, sloth bear, wild boar, blue bull (Nilgai) and a wide range from the deer family.
The ruins of the Ranthambore Fort, the Ganesh Temple within its complex and the lake surrounding it are a must see.
The best way to explore Ranthambhore National Park is through safaris either in a 4-seater jeep or 16-seater canter. Navigate the often rugged, often beautiful landscape and suddenly spot a tiger, right in front of you. The thrill, the excitement, you’ve got to experience it firsthand!
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala
Come, see, capture the best moments, go back home happy! That’s a line apt for the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Located close to the plantations and surrounded by the Cardamom Hills, the sanctuary enjoys a most scenic setting in the rich jungles of Periyar. Declared a Tiger Reserve in 1978, it’s one of the more prominent tiger reserves of the country and has played a major role in the conservation and increase of the population of tigers. That said, the star of the show in Periyar are the herds of elephants that descend down to the lake for water, fun, and play! Other intriguing and rare species of animals dwelling in the Sanctuary include the sambar deer, Nilgiri tahr, wild pigs, Nilgiri langur, the highly endangered lion tailed macaque, small Travancore flying squirrel, striped necked mongoose, Nilgiri marten and much more – you have to be there to sight them going about their business!