Last Updated: September 9, 2019 Nidhi Singh
South India has a way to go with their rich national parks and wildlife sanctuaries that are indeed appropriate for wildlife tourism in India. Be it the UNESCO recognized Western Ghats or the dense and magnificent Nilgiris, each place has beauty that words cannot describe. Rich in flora and fauna with different eco-systems, the forests of down south are home to many important animals like Tigers and Elephants. Also, there cohabit a wide variety of species that are exclusive to the region. There are numerous wildlife destinations in South India that are blessed with some thrilling treks, which not only help wildlife lovers on their quest but also provide adventure junkies with ample of adrenaline rush. Our blog here picked a few gems from the rich treasure trove of South India that will certainly urge you to plan a visit soon.
Bandipur National Park
Regarded as one of the most beautiful national parks in India, Bandipur is located amidst the picturesque surroundings of the Western Ghats on the Mysore-Ooty highway in Karnataka. Covering an area of about 874.2 sq km, Bandipur along with Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala and Nagarhole National Park in the North, Karnataka creates the biggest biosphere reserve in India, which is popularly known as the ‘Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve’. The Park is believed to play an important role in India’s efforts towards Eco-conservation, thus it does make the best wildlife tourism destination in South India. The park is home to a sizable number of Tigers along with wildlife species like gaur (a type of bull), sambhar, chital, mouse deer, four-horned antelope, wild dogs, wild boar, jackal, sloth bear, panther, malabar squirrel, porcupines and the black-knapped hare. Birds like jungle fowl and green pigeon are also found here.
Periyar National Park
Probably one of the most scenic wildlife reserves in India, Periyar Tiger Reserve, in Thekkady is indeed the best place for wildlife tourism in the country. Sprawled over an area 925 Sq .km, the park boasts of scenic charm and rich biodiversity. It is also amongst the 27 tiger reserves that India has. The park is a repository of rare, endemic and endangered flora and fauna and forms the major watershed of two important rivers of Kerala, the Periyar and Pamba. Elephants are the major attractions of Periyar, however, Gaur, Wild Pigs, Sambar, Barking Deer, Mouse Deer, Dole or Indian Wild Dog and Tiger are other animals that consider this place their home. At Periyar, four species of primates – the rare lion-tailed macaque, the Nilgiri Langur, Common Langur and Bonnet Macaque can also be found, it is also the shelter for e elusive Nilgiri Tahr, which is rarely sighted. Periyar has a rich bird life as well, Darters, Cormorants, Kingfishers, the great Malabar Hornbill and racket-tailed Drongoes are some of the most common species found here. Every now and then, the the reptile, Monitor Lizards that can be spotted basking in the sun on the rocks along the lakeshore. Visitors are allowed to trek in the sanctuary and thus get a better opportunity to witness wildlife closely.
Mudumalai National Park
Mudumalai National Park, Photo: https://goo.gl/pa8bdm
In the Nilgiris district of the state of Tamil Nadu, Mudumalai National Park is amongst the finest places to see for wildlife holiday in South India.The park shares its boundaries with the states of Karnataka and Kerala and has a variety of habitats ranging from Tropical Evergreen forest to Moist mixed deciduous, from Moist Teak forest to Dry teak forest and from Secondary grass lands to Shrubs and Swamps. The River Moyar that flows along the border or Tamil Nadu and Karnataka separates separates Mudumalai from Bandipur. It boasts of rich wildlife with 50 species of mammals and fishes, 21 species of amphibians, 34 species of reptiles and 200 species of birds. Elephant, Tiger, Gaur, Leopard, Deer, Wild dog along with White rumped vulture, Long billed vulture, Red crest, Mynas, Parakeets and Owls are amongst the important inhabitants of this rich wildlife destination in South India.
Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary
Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary, Photo: https://goo.gl/YlqFDA
Spread over an area of 834.16 sq.km, Dandeli is the second largest wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka. The sanctuary is amongst the most attractive tourist spots in the state as it has a lot to offer to the wildlife lovers. It boasts scenic beauty which includes breathtaking valleys and meandering rivers. The vegetation in the reserve is moist deciduous and semi-evergreen forests, thus, it is a perfect home for animals like Malabar giant squirrel, Black Panther, civet cats, mouse deer, bison, jackals, langurs, elephants, tigers, pangolin and sloth bear. The sanctuary is also a great place for bird watching in South India as it has birds like magpie robin, crested serpent eagle and golden backed woodpecker.
Nagarhole National Park
Named after the river that flows through the park, Nagarhole National Park is situated in the two districts of Mysore and Kodagu in the state of Karnataka. The park extends over an area of 643.39 sq. Kms, the park is an incredible place for wildlife safari in South India. Predators like tiger, leopard, wild dog sloth bear and the hyena are found in decent number in the park, however the commonly spotted animals here are spotted deer, sambar, barking deer, four-horned antelope, gaur, wild boar and elephant. This national park in Karnataka is a good place to sight elephants in the luxuriant forests and bamboo thickets. Over 250 species of birds can also be spotted in the Nagarhole vicinity and most of them are found on the Kabini River banks. Also, expect to spot reptiles like marsh crocodile, monitor lizard and rock python in the park as well.
Bannerghatta National Park
Amongst the most popular wildlife destination in South India is Bannerghatta National Park. It is one of its kind in India as it is a biological reserve that also houses a zoo, a pet corner, an animal rescue centre, a butterfly enclosure, an aquarium, a snake house and a safari park. It is the continuous effort of the Zoo Authority of Karnataka and the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore along with the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment (ATREE) that has helped in protecting the environment at BNP. The Suvarnamukhi River runs through the national park, which is the main source of water for wild animals. It is believed that the water of the river has curative properties as well. Elephants, gaur, leopard, jackal, fox, wild boar, sloth bear, Sambar, Chital, spotted deer, barking deer, common langur, bonnet macaque, porcupine, hares, wild boar, Pangolin, slender Loris, monitor lizard, cobras, python, Russell’s viper and krait are some of the animals cohabiting in Bannerghatta National Park.
B R Hills Wildlife Sanctuary
B R Hills Wildlife Sanctuary, Photo: https://goo.gl/Ffrb3J
B R Hills is one of the best places to go for wildlife tour in South India. Sprawling across an area of 540 sq. kms, the sanctuary is believed to be the connector between Eastern and the Western Ghats and thus the place has a unique eco-system. It is contiguous with river Cauvery and Kollegal, which certainly add to the charm of this place. The crests and troughs in the valley where this sanctuary is situated offers a stunning backdrop. Amidst the thick vegetation of Deciduous forest and Sholas, there exist about 800 species of flora species. The sanctuary is also a home to animal species like Gaurs, bears, chital, sambhar, tigers, leopards, wild dogs, elephants and four horned antelopes. There inhabit about 200 bird species including the crested eagle, the white winged tit and the racket tailed drongo. BR Hills provides ample opportunities for adventure sports like trekking and rafting and the Rivers Cauvery and Kapila offer scope for angling, fishing and coracle boat riding.
Kudremukh National Park
Kudremukh National Park, Photo: https://goo.gl/juaWdp
Located at a distance of 95 km south-west of Chikmagalur town, Kudremukh National Park is the part of Western Ghats in the districts of Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Chikmagalur. The park stretches between Narasimha Parvatha (in Sringeri Taluk) in the north to the Jamalabad Fort (in Belthangady Taluk) in the south. Kudremukh is popular for its unmatched scenic beauty and has been called one of the best places to trek in South India. Spread in an area of 600.32 sq km and at a height of 1,894.3 m above sea level, the park is divided into four ranges: Kudremukh, Kerekatte, Kalasa, Shimoga. Mostly covered with thick hilly forests, evergreen and semi-evergreen trees, it is surrounded by Coffee and Tea plantations on the northern and eastern boundaries. The park provides the opportunity to sight animals like tiger, leopard, wild dog, Malabar giant squirrel, common langur, sloth bear, gaur, porcupine, sambar, spotted deer, barking deer, jackal, giant flying squirrel and the mongoose. There are about 195 species of birds amongst which Malabar trogon, Malabar whistling thrush, great pied hornbill and the imperial pigeon are some of the most commonly spotted ones. One of the major attractions of Kudremukh National Park is Kadambi Waterfalls and the Horse-faced peak called Kudremukh.
Eravikulam National Park
One of the most popular wildlife destination in Kerala, Eravikulam National Park is an ideal place for seeing the alpine biodiversity and shola-grassland ecosystem. The park is home to endangered mountain goat of South India, the Nilgiri Tahr. The rolling grasslands and sholas, spread over 97 sq km in the Kannan devan hills are the major attractions of the Eravikulam. Anamudi, which is 2695m high peak and is the highest peak in South India is also situated in the national park. Apart from Nilgiri Tahr, Nilgiri Langur, leopard, tiger and Indian bison are other major wildlife species found here.
Silent Valley National Park
Silent Valley National Park is located in the Nilgiri Hills in Palakkad District of Kerala. The park is one of the undisturbed tracts of South Western Ghats mountain rain forests and tropical moist evergreen forest in India and is contiguous with the proposed Karimpuzha National Park to the north and Mukurthi National Park to the north-east. Silent Valley covers an area of 237.52 sq km and fall under tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests Ecoregion. The forest area covered in the SVNP is recognized as important to naturalists, biologists and other researchers because the rich biodiversity in the park has remained untouched by the human. Several threatened species are endemic and several new plants along with new animal species are discovered in this park every now and then.
Mathikettan Shola National Park
Mathikettan Shola National Park, Photo: https://goo.gl/FkfkYj
Located in the Idukki district of the state of Kerala, Mathikettan Shola National Park is one of the best places for wildlife holiday in South India. The park is located between o Eravikulam National Park and Pampadam Shola National Park and has a total area of 12.82 sq km. The literal meaning of the name of the park is ‘mind confuser’. It has been so named as the trails inside the forest are quite confusing according to the locals. The park is home animals like Tigers, Panthers, Elephants, Giant grizzled squirrel, Flying squirrels, Spotted deer and Nilgiri tahr. Bird watching and trekking are some of the major attractions in Mathikettan Shola National Park.
Guindy National Park
Guindy National Park, Photo: https://goo.gl/4D4ITX
Covering a small area of 2.70 sq.km, Guindy National Park is unique in more than one way It has the rarest vegetation type known as the tropical dry evergreen vegetation and it is one of the smallest national parks is situated right in the heart of a Chennai. The park is the home to 400 blackbucks, 2000 spotted deer, 24 jackals, a variety of snakes, geckos,snakes tortoises and over 100 species of birds and 60 species of butterflies. About 22 acres of the park has been carved out into a zoo for ex-situ conservation. This entails keeping different species in captivity for public view. The zoo offer an idea to children of a natural environment and educates them about animals and create awareness on conservation.
Mukurthi National Park
The Mukurthi National Park is located in the Nilgiris District of Tamil Nadu. Spread over 78.46 km, this wildlife reserve is unique in way as it has endemism and relationship with the Himalayan flora and fauna. The park is also one of the few places that support a viable population of the Nilgiri Tahr. In the National Park the natural vegetation is typical of higher altitudes of South India, which translates to rolling grasslands interspersed with temperate sholas occupying gorges in the valleys. The landscape is extremely beautiful as it is adorned with Rhododendrons, Black berries, Raspberries, which by the way are not found anywhere in peninsular India. The average elevation is around 2400m and the Kolaribetta is the highest point in the park. Other major peaks are Mukkurthi (2556 m) and Nilgiris (2477 m).
Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park
Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park, Photo: https://goo.gl/tHjZlK
With a core area of 560 sq km, the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park lies between Rameswaram and Tutucorin on the south-east coast of India. The park is considered one of the richest regions from marine bio diversity perspective in the world. The Biosphere Reserve, which this national park is part of comprises 21 islands with estuaries, mudflats, beaches, forests, sea grasses, coral reefs, salt marshes and mangroves.
Sri Venkateswara National Park
Sri Venkateswara National Park, Photo: https://goo.gl/r3yZ2r
Situated in the Chittoor and Cuddapah districts of the state of Andhra Pradesh, Sri Venkateswara National Park is a majorwildlife attraction in South India. The park is spread in an area of 353.62 sq km over the Seshachalam hills of Cuddapah district and Tirumala hills of Chittoor district. It boasts of a beautiful landscape that is marked by the rugged topographical features like gorges, steep slopes, plateaus and valleys. The major sightseeing attractions here are the amazing waterfalls such as Talakona, Gunjana, and Gundalakona. Venkateswara National Park is also an ideal place for trekking.
Kasu Brahmananda Reddy National Park
Kasu Brahmananda Reddy National Park, Photo: https://goo.gl/755VpO
Located in Jubilee hills in the Hyderabad district of the state of Telangana, Kasu Brahmananda Reddy National Park is another great wildlife holiday getaway in South India. Spread in an area of 1.425 sq km, the park is home to nearly 600 species of plant life, 130 species of birds, 20 species of reptiles, 15 species of butterflies, 20 species of mammals and numerous invertebrates.
There are several other wildlife destinations in South India for those who have set out on a quest to explore the diversity of Indian wildlife. If you think that we have missed out on any of them, do let us know in the comment below. Also, if you liked this blog, give us a like and share. Apart from it, if you have queries about wildlife tour packages in India, you can contact us or drop us an email at +91-9212553106/07 email@example.com.
Published: 11 Jul, 2016
From the Lake District, Nainital, Nidhi Singh is a travel writer whose love for mountains can be seen in her write ups. Talk about solo travelling, indulging in adventure activities, binging on good food, planning budget trips or the Aurora Borealis and you will get all her attention. It is the wanderlust that keeps her going and if at all she could get one wish granted she would love to live a life less ordinary. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram.