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HindustanTimes Sat,23 Aug 2014

World

A big cat country
Sneha Mahale, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, March 24, 2013
First Published: 15:00 IST(24/3/2013)
Last Updated: 15:04 IST(24/3/2013)

As summer sets in and tiger season kicks off, make a trip to these lesser-known territories to meet India’s premier predator.

The tiger is undoubtedly the top cat in the many jungles of India. So it isn’t surprising that tourists make a beeline to Jim Corbett, Bandhavgarh, Ranthambore and the Sunderbans for a glimpse for the majestic creature. But there are several other smaller sanctuaries around the country that are home to the big cat, and where you can spot some stripes and avoid the crowds.

Yusuf Poonawala, VP-Bharat Deko, Cox & Kings Ltd, says, “With the increase in awareness of nature and wildlife, national parks and reserves have been steadily gaining popularity as a holiday option.” Vishal Suri, deputy chief operating officer, tour operating, Kuoni India, adds that they offer customised packages to offbeat reserves, like Rajaji National Park in Uttarakhand and Dudhwa Tiger Reserve in Uttar Pradesh, based on specific request from travellers.

When it comes to visiting lesser-known reserves, Sheema Mookherjee, publisher, Lonely Planet India, recommends the Satpura National Park in Madhya Pradesh and calls it “an upcoming” destination.

She says, “The unexplored and unique plateau is great terrain for tiger watching and has some good eco-lodges. Another off-the-beaten-track tiger reserve is Tadoba in Maharashtra. Tiger sightings are almost guaranteed here.” On the other hand, Supriya Sehgal of Getoffurass.com, suggests going to Periyar and Parambikulam in Kerala to beat the crowds. Here are the top 10 not-so-popular parks you can visit this summer.

Bandipur national park, Karnataka: One of India's finest tiger reserves, it is home to several endangered and vulnerable species.
 
Dudhwa Tiger Reserve, Uttar Pradesh: Located on the Indo-Nepal border, the Dudhwa National Park
represents the best of natural forests and grasslands left in Uttar Pradesh. One of the rarest species of deer, the swamp deer, is also found in this area.
 
Annamalai Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu: Also popular by the name of Indira Gandhi National Park, Annamalai Sanctuary offers enchanting scenic beauty. It forms an interesting excursion from Coimbatore and is easily accessible via road,
rail and air.

Tadoba National Park, Maharashtra: It is a tiger reserve in the Chandrapur district of Maharashtra in central India and is  the state’s oldest and largest National Park. The reserve also supports India’s Project Tiger initiative.
 
Manas National Park, Assam: Manas National Park or Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is a UNESCO Natural World Heritage site, a Project Tiger reserve, an elephant reserve and a biosphere reserve in Assam.
 
Panna national park, Madhya Pradesh: It is the 22nd tiger reserve in India and the fifth in Madhya Pradesh. Situated in the Vindhyan Range, it spreads over Panna and Chattarpur districts in the north of the state. 
 
Satpura National Park, Madhya Pradesh: The unexplored and unique plateau is an upcoming destination and comes heavily recommended and is great place to see the tiger in action. It also has some good eco-lodges.

Parambikulam, Kerala: Though it is based in Kerala, you need to enter it from Tamil Nadu. The safaris here are well managed. It is also one of the few parks to offer walking trails. You could stay in log houses.


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