Best Tiger Reserves in India: Places to Go Tiger Spotting

In a recent article that did rounds on many popular websites and national dailies, our national animal is what made the headlines. The population of tigers in India has risen. Earlier, it was estimated to be around 1,411 in the year 2006 and is now estimated to be 2,226 in the year 2014, according to the 'Status of Tigers in India, 2014'. Another fact to be proud of is that India is now home to over 70% of the Tiger population in the world. This is exciting because tigers very recently faced the fear of extinction in India. We should congratulate the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) of India for this grand feat. To commemorate this brilliant achievement, here is a list of the best tiger reserves in India where the likelihood of spotting the majestic cat is very high.

1. The Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh

bandhavgarh, Tiger reserves in India

A tigress at Bandhavgarh (Source)

The Bandhavgarh sanctuary has the highest density of tigers in the area, 63 at the last count and is one of the best and most famous tiger reserves in India. Located in the Umaria district of Madhya Pradesh, Bandhavarh was declared a national park in the year 1986. Its name literally means 'Brother's Fort'. It was previously known as the land of the white tiger until the last white tiger was captured here by Maharaja Martand Singh of Rewa in 1951.  The best area to spot the tiger is the Tata zone 1 and tickets for here must be booked well in advance. Other animals that you can spot here include the Chittal and Sambhar deer,  leopard, wild dog, blue bull, Indian bison, Indian fox, sloths, muntjac, rhesus monkeys and about 242 species of birds.

Special attraction: You can hire a car and take a trip to the Bandhavgarh fort, 600 m from sea level, on a cliff over looking the Vindhya mountains.
Best time to visit: Even though the park is open through the months of October to June, the best time to spot tigers will be from April to June.
Likelihood of spotting tiger: High

2. Pench Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra - Madhya Pradesh Border

Pench Tiger reserve, Tiger Reserves in India

At the Pench- Kanha border (Source)

Among the lesser known Tiger reserves in India, the Pench Tiger Reserve  is thought to have inspired Rudyard Kipling's Jungle book. There are 32 mammal species here, including the tiger, living in these deciduous forests among meadows and lakes. The tiger population here is slightly more elusive, and it includes the tigress Collarwali who raised five cubs and whose mother was part of BBC's Spy in the jungle series. 

Special attraction: The Pench Jungle camp offers safari tents and a well-stocked library among other amenities.
Best time to visit: Summer months of April to June.
Likelihood of spotting tiger: High

3. Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan

A Densely Populated Tiger Reserve in India
Ranthambore, Tiger reserves in India

Ranthambore Source

The 1,443 square kilometre sanctuary of  Ranthambore perhaps one of the most famous Tiger reserves in India, and if you have seen a picture of a tiger in India tourism ads, its most likely to have been shot here, in Ranthambore. Apart from tigers, it is also home to wild cats, leopards, sloth bears, hyenas, Indian foxes, crocodiles and jackals.

Special attraction: There are three lakes enclosed inside the sanctuary, Padam talao, Raj talao and Milak talao, where the wildlife tends to congregate. One can often spot tigresses and cubs in the densely forested Bakaula area.
Best time to visit: Even though February and March have a pleasant climate and the park is open throughout, the best months to spot a tiger is during the months of April and May.
Likelihood of spotting tiger: High

4. Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh

Kanha: Tiger reserves of India

Kanha Tiger Reserve Source

Picturesque and huge, the Kanha national park looks most like Mowgli's stomping ground. The sanctuary is home to the Barasingha deer, an endangered species found only here. Other animals regularly sighted are the chital, gaur, three-striped palm squirrel, common langur, jackal, wild pig, black buck, striped hyena, leopard, mouse deer, porcupine, chinkara, samber and ant-eating pangolin. When you travel to the reserve, you will most likely be paying for a tiger show where elephants are trained to block tigers so as the tourists can have a good look at them. Our suggestion would be instead, to just ask for a safari so you can see the animals in their natural posture and splendour. Kanha is regarded as one of the most amazing tiger reserves in India.

Special attraction: Large open meadows where the animals freely roam.
Best time to visit: April to June.
Likelihood of spotting tiger: High

5. Tadoba- Andhari Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra

Tadoba Tiger reserve, Tiger reserves of India



Among the relatively new Tiger reserves in India, the Tadoba - Andhari reserve boasts of a booming population of tigers. A whopping seventy, along with leopards and sloths. There are excellent bird watching opportunities too with about 200 species of birds including the crested serpent eagle, the grey headed fish eagle and the changeable hawk eagle.

Special attractions:  A good look into the jungles of central India
Best time to visit: Summer months.
Likelihood of spotting tiger: High

6. Jim Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand

Jim Corbett national park, India's Tiger Reserves

Jim Corbett National park Source

Nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas , whether or not you get to see the tiger at the Jim Corbett National Park depends both on luck and on your guide. This is one of the less densely populated tiger reserves in India, but one of the most popular national parks. The park has a dusty atmosphere but at the same time is known for its large wild elephant population that can be seen roaming near the Ramganga river. The park has a wide variety of terrain, from marshes to sal forests,and many varieties of mammals like the Sambhar, langur, macaque, Chittal, and birds.

Special attraction : The park has huge grasslands and watch towers (Dhikal area) where you can stand for hours and observe the wildlife around you.
Best time to visit : April to June
Likelihood of spotting tiger: Good

7. Sundarbans National Park, West Bengal

Sunbdarbans Tiger Reserve: Tiger reserves in India

Sunbdarbans Source

The biggest mangrove forests in the world, Sundarbans Tiger reserve in India provide a complete nature's circle to the tourist right from ?Royal Bengal tigers? to roaring rivers and beautiful estuaries. With 400 tigers that call the mangrove its home, it's not just it's terrain that is one of a kind, but the spirit of this landscape, the animal and the way these come together, to give you perhaps the truest and rawest wildlife experiences. Apart from the tigers who are popular for having man-eating tendencies, one can spot leopards, chital, fishing cats and more.

Special attraction: Spot a number of endangered species such as Ganges river dolphin, Olive Ridley Turtle and Saltwater Crocodile.
Best time to visit: Sundarbans can be visited anytime between September and March, while the best time for tiger spotting tends to be November-February
Likelihood of spotting tiger: High

8. Nagarhole National Park and Tiger Reserve, Karnataka


Nagarhole Tiger reserve in India is home to the largest number of Asian elephants in the world. One can also find tigers, leopards and the Indian wild dog (dhole) in the reserve situated in the western ghats.

Likelihood of spotting tiger: Good

9. Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary, Maharashtra

Nagzira Wildlife sanctuary, Tiger reserves in India

A tiger at ease - Nagzira Wildlife sanctuary (Source)

Again one of the lesser known of the Tiger reserves in India, this small sanctuary has rough terrains and is  covered in thick teak forests, which support healthy populations of carnivores like the Hyena, leopard, jackal  and tiger.

Likelihood of spotting tiger: Good

10. Satpura National Park, Madhya Pradesh

Satpura National Park is one of the relatively newer wildlife sanctuaries in India. Though it remains unexplored by tourists, it is one place which has a good population of tigers. Spread over about 524 kms, it inhabits various other wildlife species, such as the yena, leopards, flying squirrel and porcupines. It is also one of the only national parks where one can explore the place on foot, along with a guide of course.  

Satpura National Park, Tiger Reserves of India

Sunrise at Satpura National Park (source)

Special Attraction: The guided walks and also kayaking in its large reservoir - something very few parks offer.
Best Time to Visit: Most pleasant months to visit are from October to March, but April and May provide the best wildlife sightings.
Likelihood of spotting tigers: Low

11. Bandipur Tiger Reserve, Karnataka

Bandipur, Tiger Reserves of India

Bandipur - One of the best Tiger reserves in South India(source)

An ideal weekend getaway from Bangalore and Mysore, Bandipur also houses one of the best Tiger Reserves in South India. Its dense forests offer a perfect shelter for the tigers residing there. There are good chances of spotting a tiger here due to their relatively large population. Apart from tigers, one also comes across animals like the leopard, elephant, gaur, sloth bear, Asiatic wild dog, striped hyena, barking deer, sambar, spotted deer, mouse deer, mongoose, and the slender loris. 

Special Attraction: Lots of Elephants to be seen here
Best time to Visit: Winters are pleasant here, but the greatest chances of wildlife sightings are in March or April.
Likelihood of spotting tigers: Good

12. Periyar National Park, Kerala

Periyar National park, Tiger Reserves of India

Foxes at Periyar (source)

Located in God's own country, the Periyar National Park is one of the best parks in Kerala. It's notable for its rich biodiversity and scenic location, which attracts travellers from all over the country and abroad as well. There have been reports of an increase in tiger population in this tiger reserve of India. Elephants are the other main attraction here. 

Special Attraction: Boat cruises, which make the best option for checking out the wilds of Periyar Sanctuary.
Best time to visit: October to June
Likelihood of spotting tigers: Low

13. Sariska Tiger Reserve

 Tiger Reserves in India, Sariska TIger Reserve

Source: Wikipedia Commons

Sariska Tiger Reserve is located in the Alwar district of Rajasthan. It is characterised by scrub-thorn forests, rocky landscapes, grasses and hilly cliffs. It was made a tiger reserve as a part of Project Tiger in 1978 and declared a national park in 1982. Sariska has a total area of about 273.8 km2 and is the first reserve in the world to relocate tigers successfully after poaching had killed off the entire tiger population in 2004. As of 2014, the reserve has 13 Royal Bengal Tigers in total, with 7 females, 2 males, and 4 cubs. The park is open every day from October to May from 06:00 to 15:30. A variety of tour packages are available, starting from INR 2450 to INR 15250 per person. There are a number of nearby attractions like medieval palaces. The Siliserh Lake on the edge of the park is a must visit and is home to a large number of crocodiles. 

Special Attraction: The scenic Siliserh lake on the edge of the park
Best Time To Visit: December to February
Likelihood of spotting tigers: Low

14. Panna Tiger Reserve

 Tiger Reserves in India, Panna Tiger Reserve

Source: Panna National Park

Panna Tiger Reserve is located in the Panna and Chhatarpur districts of Madhya Pradesh and is the twenty-second tiger reserve in India. It was awarded the Award of Excellence in 2007 as the best maintained national park of India by the Ministry of Tourism. Unfortunately, in 2009, due to poaching after collusion with forest department officials, the entire tiger population had been eliminated. Currently, thanks to relocation initiatives taken by the forest department, there are 4 tigers and 10 cubs settled in the Panna Tiger Reserve who are constantly being monitored. The park remains open from the 15th of October to the 30th of June. The park entry fees are INR 250 for a family car. Opting for a guide will cost a further INR 360 extra.

Special Attraction: There are a number of beautiful waterfalls inside the reserve
Best Time To Visit: January to March
Likelihood of spotting tigers: Good

15. Manas Tiger Reserve

 Tiger Reserves in India, Manas Tiger Reserve

Source: Wikipedia Commons

Manas Tiger Reserve is not just a tiger reserve under Project Tiger, but also a UNESCO Natural World Heritage site. It is located in the Himalayan foothills of Assam and is contiguous with the Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan. Presently, the population of tigers in Manas is recorded at 60. Manas has much more to offer as well, as it represents two separate major biomes, the grassland biome and the forest biome. Accommodation costs around INR 2000 per person and Safari rides around INR 6000. Keep in mind Safari rides are much cheaper when travelling with a group. 

Special Attraction: Giant Squirrels and Indian Pangolins
Best Time To Visit: April to May
Likelihood of spotting tigers: Low

16. Anamalai Tiger Reserve

 Tiger Reserves in India, Annamalai Tiger Reserve

Source: Wikipedia Commons

The Anamalai Tiger Reserve was previously known as the Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary. It is located in the Anaimalai Hills, in the Coimbatore district and Tiruppur District of Tamil Nadu. The ATR falls within the Western Ghats mountain chain of India, a region designated as one of 25 Global Biodiversity  Hotspots. Currently, the Anamalai Tiger Reserve is home to 30 tigers. The entrance fee per day is INR 30 for Indian nationals and INR 300 for foreigners. The Safari costs INR 200 per head; INR 2000 for foreigners. Visit around November and when you do, make sure not to miss.

Special Attraction: Kozhikamudhi Elephant Camp inside the resort
Best Time To Visit: Summer months
Likelihood of spotting tigers: Low

17. Rajaji Tiger Reserve

 Tiger Reserves in India, Rajaji Tiger Reserve

Source: Wikipedia Commons

The Rajaji Tiger Reserve is located in Uttarakhand. It encompasses the Shivaliks, near the foothills of the Himalayas, and spreads over 820km2. In 1983, three local wildlife sanctuaries, namely, Chilla, Motichur and Rajaji, were merged to form Rajaji Tiger Reserve. The reserve has been named after C. Rajagopalachari, a famous freedom fighter who was one of the first recipients of the Bharat Ratna. The Rajaji reserve is home to 18 tigers. Entry fees are INR 150 per person. Discounts are available for large groups. The Safari costs INR 3000 to INR 6000 depending on the vehicle, along with an additional INR 250 for the vehicle entry. Apart from tigers, the Rajaji Tiger Reserve is home to over 50 species of mammals and 300 species of birds. Adding to that, there are around three hundred and fifty Asian Elephants. Visit between February and April for the best experience, you're sure to find something for everyone.

Special Attraction: There are over three hundred species of birds
Best Time To Visit: February to April
Likelihood of spotting tigers: Low

18. Indravati Tiger Reserve

 Tiger Reserves in India, Indravati Tiger Reserve

Source: Wikipedia Commons

The Indravati Tiger Reserve, formerly known as the Kutru National Park, is located in the Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh. Its name is derived from the Indravati River, which runs from the east to the west and is the northern boundary of the reserve. The reserve was taken under Project Tiger back in 1983 and is one of only two tiger reserves in Chhattisgarh. The lush green vegetation over the spectacular hill ranges makes Indravati a must visit, especially in the winter when it doesn't get too hot, even in the afternoons.

Special Attraction: The Indravati Reserve is home to the highly endangered Wild Water Buffalo and Hill Muyna
Best Time To Visit: Around December
Likelihood of spotting tigers: Low

19. Dudhwa Tiger Reserve

 Tiger Reserves in India, Dudhwa Tiger Reserve

Source: Wikipedia Commons

The Dudhwa Tiger Reserve stretches across the Lakhimpur Kheri and Bahraich districts of Uttar Pradesh and comprises the Dudhwa National Park, Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary, and Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary. It shares its north-east boundary with Nepa, defined by the Mohana River. The reserve was brought under the purview of Project Tiger in 1987. As of 2010, the Dudhwa Reserve has been home to an estimated 106-118 tigers. Dudhwa National Park hosts Jeep Safaris every year, from the 15th of November to the 15th of June. However, it is recommended to visit between February and April for the best experience. The entry fee is a nominal INR 50 per head and accommodation can be found for around INR 3000 (breakfast inclusive). The entry charge for a Safari vehicle is INR 1500.

Special Attraction: Dudhwa has one of the best Sal tree forests in the world
Best Time To Visit: November to February
Likelihood of spotting tigers: Low

So head out to these Tiger reserves in India and parks for some great time with your wild side. But, be warned,don't let the hunt for the tiger by your eyes hinder how you enjoy all the other parts of the wildlife.

This post was published by Pooja Nair