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10 Lesser known national parks/wildlife sanctuaries in India

India boasts a vast expanse of land with diverse habitats. From the towering heights of the Himalayas to…
10 Lesser Known National Parks/Wildlife Sanctuaries In India

India boasts a vast expanse of land with diverse habitats. From the towering heights of the Himalayas to the vibrant coral reefs of the Andaman Islands, the country is home to many forests. Covering approximately 19% of its land area, India ranks among the top 10 countries worldwide in terms of biodiversity. Despite being the second most populous nation globally, India supports a thriving wildlife population. Renowned for its majestic creatures like the Bengal tiger, one-horned rhinoceros, Asiatic lion, Gangetic dolphin, and lion-tailed macaque, India’s forests are meticulously preserved and designated as national parks or wildlife sanctuaries. Today, we embark on a virtual journey to explore 13 lesser-known national parks and wildlife sanctuaries nationwide. Carefully selected to showcase the diverse forest ecosystems of India, this list is organized geographically from north to south. So, let’s delve into the adventure.

1. Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary, Ladakh

10 Lesser Known National Parks/Wildlife Sanctuaries In India

Ladakh is a high-altitude cold desert known for its stunning mountains and magnificent monasteries, making it a popular tourist spot in India. Beyond the well-known attractions, Ladakh is also home to incredible wildlife. One noteworthy area is the Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary, part of a large Tibet ecoregion extending into Ladakh. Located at 4500 meters above sea level, this sanctuary is surrounded by towering snow-covered peaks and beautiful emerald lakes. The landscape is primarily high-altitude grassland.

The sanctuary’s most famous resident is the elusive snow leopard. It’s also the only place in India where you can see Tibetan wild ass, black-necked cranes, and Pallas’s cat. Other wildlife includes Tibetan wolves, wild yaks, bharals (blue sheep), marmots, and various migratory birds. In terms of plant life, Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary is home to about 200 different plant species.

Nearest city: Leh

Best time to visit: May to September

Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary Tso Moriri Lake

2. Great Himalayan National Park, Himachal Pradesh

10 Lesser Known National Parks/Wildlife Sanctuaries In India

India is fortunate to have the majestic Himalayas along its northern border, offering diverse habitats across its regions. The Great Himalayan National Park in Himachal Pradesh represents the western Himalayas. This park covers an area of 754 sq. km and spans altitudes from 1500 m to 6000 m. The forest type is primarily subtropical alpine, featuring pine, spruce, and chestnut trees, along with vibrant rhododendrons that add color in the spring. The landscape is dotted with lush alpine meadows rich in various orchid species.

The park is home to numerous bird species, with the Himalayan monal, known for its striking feathers, being a highlight. The Western tragopan, the state bird of Himachal Pradesh, is also an endangered species. Over 200 bird species, including the Himalayan griffon, lammergeier, Eurasian sparrow hawk, golden eagle, and booted eagle, inhabit these forests.

Besides birds, the park hosts a variety of wildlife, such as snow leopards, bharals (blue sheep), Himalayan brown bears, Himalayan black bears, red foxes, and several reptile and amphibian species. Recognized for its crucial role in biodiversity conservation, the Great Himalayan National Park is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Nearest town: Kullu

Best time to visit: March-April for flowering plants and October-November for migrating birds and animals

10 Lesser Known National Parks/Wildlife Sanctuaries In India

3. Dudhwa National Park, Uttar Pradesh

10 Lesser Known National Parks/Wildlife Sanctuaries In India

As you move down from the Himalayas to the plains of North India, you’ll find the expansive marshy grasslands known as the Terai. These grasslands stretch from Uttarakhand to Assam and are home to famous national parks like Jim Corbett, Chitwan, Manas, and Kaziranga. Near the India-Nepal border lies Dudhwa National Park, a lesser-known treasure of the Terai region. The forest here is moist and deciduous, with trees like sal, shisham, asna, jamun, gular, and bahera. The landscape features a mix of woodlands, grasslands, marshes, and rivers.

The park’s star attraction is the Barasingha, the swamp deer. Dudhwa also supports a stable population of tigers, and recently, the one-horned rhinoceros was reintroduced, enhancing its wildlife diversity. Once thought extinct, the hispid hare was rediscovered in this park in 1984. Endangered birds such as the Bengal florican, sarus crane, and white-rumped vulture are called this park home. During winter, Dudhwa’s wetlands become a birdwatcher’s paradise, hosting over 400 bird species.

Nearest city: Lucknow

Best time to visit: October to December

10 Lesser Known National Parks/Wildlife Sanctuaries In India

4. Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary, Arunachal Pradesh

10 Lesser Known National Parks/Wildlife Sanctuaries In India

Nestled in the Himalayan foothills of Arunachal Pradesh, Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary showcases the beauty of the eastern Himalayas. Known for its steep valleys, roaring rivers, lush greenery, diverse wildlife, and unique tribal culture, this sanctuary stands out in India. Its altitude varies from 500 m to 3250 m, featuring subtropical alpine forests. Starting from the plains of Assam, the terrain transitions from swampy grasslands to bamboo forests, eventually becoming coniferous forests on the hills.

Home to over 500 bird species, Eaglenest is a birdwatcher’s dream. The sanctuary is famous for discovering a new bird species, the Bugun liocichla. Other notable birds include trogons, tragopans, hornbills, babblers, and flycatchers. BirdLife International has recognized this area as an Important Bird Area.

Eaglenest is also rich in mammal species such as tigers, Himalayan black bears, gaurs, Himalayan serows, leopard cats, golden cats, Bhutan giant flying squirrels, and the iconic red panda. In 2003, a new primate species, the Arunachal macaque, was discovered here. This sanctuary is truly a gem of Northeast India.

Nearest town: Bhalukpong

Best time to visit: March to May

10 Lesser Known National Parks/Wildlife Sanctuaries In India

5. National Chambal Sanctuary, Madhya Pradesh

10 Lesser Known National Parks/Wildlife Sanctuaries In India

The rivers of northern India form a distinct ecosystem. Major rivers like the Ganga and Yamuna have suffered from heavy industrialization, urbanization, and expanding agriculture, nearly wiping out their original wildlife. However, their tributaries still support thriving wildlife. Originating from the northern slopes of the Vindhya range, the Chambal River flows through northwestern Madhya Pradesh and merges with the Yamuna in Uttar Pradesh’s Jalaun district. The Chambal remains relatively pollution-free, providing a haven for various birds, animals, and reptiles.

The National Chambal Sanctuary, a narrow protected area along the Chambal River, spans parts of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh. This sanctuary is home to some iconic animals, including the gharial, Gangetic river dolphin, and red-crowned roof turtle. Of India’s 26 rare turtle species, 8 are present here. Additionally, the sanctuary shelters animals like the mugger crocodile, smooth-coated otter, striped hyena, and Indian wolf.

The sanctuary is recognized as an Important Bird Area with hundreds of migratory bird species. Endangered birds like the Indian skimmer, Pallas’s fish eagle, and Indian courser can be spotted here. This lesser-known sanctuary is a must-visit on your trip to Madhya Pradesh.

Nearest city: Gwalior or Agra

Best time to visit: October to December

10 Lesser Known National Parks/Wildlife Sanctuaries In India

6. Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary

10 Lesser Known National Parks/Wildlife Sanctuaries In India

With over 60% of its area covered in forests, Northeast India is a wildlife haven, and Assam is no exception. Beyond its famous national parks like Manas and Kaziranga, Assam hides a gem in its easternmost corner – Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary. Located in the Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts, this lowland tropical evergreen forest is often referred to as the “Amazon of the East” due to its dense vegetation and rich biodiversity.

Dehing Patkai boasts the highest diversity of non-human primates in India, including hoolock gibbons, slow lorises, pig-tailed macaques, stump-tailed macaques, and capped langurs. The forest is also home to various feline species, from small cats like the marbled cat, leopard cat, and golden cat to larger predators such as the clouded leopard and Bengal tiger. Other notable animals include the Asian elephant, Himalayan black bear, and barking deer.

The sanctuary is a birdwatcher’s paradise, housing around 300 bird species. This includes vultures, hornbills, warblers, adjutants, eagles, and ducks, with about 10% being altitudinal migrants. As a moist rainforest, Dehing Patkai features diverse flora, including numerous ferns, bryophytes, epiphytes, and orchids. Common trees in the sanctuary include Hollong, Mekai, Dhuna, and Udiyam.

Despite its rich biodiversity, Dehing Patkai is currently threatened by recent government clearances for mining activities. This sanctuary, with its incredible flora and fauna, is truly the crown of Indian rainforests and needs urgent conservation efforts.

Nearest town: Tinsukiya

Best time to visit: October to December

10 Lesser Known National Parks/Wildlife Sanctuaries In India

7. Tal Chhapar Wildlife Sanctuary, Rajasthan

10 Lesser Known National Parks/Wildlife Sanctuaries In India

Located in the Churu district of northwestern Rajasthan, Tal Chhapar Wildlife Sanctuary is a sanctuary for grassland wildlife, especially known for its beautiful Indian antelope, the blackbuck. The sanctuary gained attention following Salman Khan’s blackbuck hunting case. In the local language, “tal” means a flat depression in slightly elevated land. This sanctuary is situated in a flat saline depression on the edge of the Thar Desert.

The forest type here is tropical thorn forest, featuring acacia and prosopis (khejri) trees. A unique type of grass, known locally as Mothia, thrives in this area, giving the ecosystem a resemblance to the African Savannah. Besides blackbucks, the sanctuary is home to iconic animals like the desert cat and desert fox.

Every winter, Tal Chhapar welcomes numerous migratory birds. Birds of prey such as the eastern imperial eagle, tawny eagle, short-toed eagle, Montagu’s harrier, marsh harrier, pale harrier, and sparrow hawk can be seen here. Ground-dwelling birds like partridge and sand grouse, as well as resident birds including the green bee-eater, spotted dove, skylark, and ring dove, also inhabit the grassland. This sanctuary is a paradise for birdwatchers.

The local Bishnoi community plays a crucial role in preserving the environment and supporting the wildlife in Tal Chhapar. Their respect and dedication to nature help sustain this vibrant ecosystem.

Nearest town: Churu

Best time to visit: November to February

10 Lesser Known National Parks/Wildlife Sanctuaries In India

8. Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary, Gujarat

10 Lesser Known National Parks/Wildlife Sanctuaries In India

The Rann of Kutch, a newly popular tourist destination in Gujarat, offers a unique habitat. This low-lying area floods during the monsoon for a month or two, then dries up, leaving vast salt plains. Scattered with elevated areas known locally as “bets,” these patches support grasses and various desert animals. The Rann is divided into two parts: the Great Rann and the Little Rann. The Little Rann of Kutch, northwest of Ahmedabad, is now the Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary.

The sanctuary’s most iconic resident is the Indian wild ass, known locally as Ghudkhar, which is the fastest running animal in India, reaching speeds of 70-80 km per hour. Due to habitat loss and environmental changes, the Indian wild ass is endangered. However, conservation efforts by the Indian Forest Department have recently increased its population. Despite these efforts, the limited expansion of protected areas poses a threat to the species’ survival.

In addition to the wild ass, the sanctuary is home to nilgai, desert foxes, desert cats, and numerous reptiles. It is also a prime location for birdwatching, with wetlands attracting migratory birds such as cranes and flamingos. When visiting the White Rann to experience the moonlit white desert, make sure to visit the Little Rann to appreciate the region’s rich and unique wildlife.

10 Lesser Known National Parks/Wildlife Sanctuaries In India

9. Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary, Maharashtra

10 Lesser Known National Parks/Wildlife Sanctuaries In India

The Vidarbha region of Maharashtra is renowned for its forests and wildlife, with most of the state’s dense forests found in its five districts. Connected to the forests of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, Vidarbha’s forests form a vast area of central Indian wilderness. In addition to well-known national parks like Tadoba and Melghat, the region includes smaller but rich forest areas, such as Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary.

Named after a temple dedicated to the serpent god in the heart of the forest, Nagzira represents the tropical dry deciduous forests of central India. The terrain is mostly flat with dense vegetation and scattered grasslands. The forest is home to teak, sal, ain, bamboo, mahua, and sterculia gum trees. These trees shed their leaves by December or January, turning the forest a dusky grey-brown. By May or June, temperatures can soar to 50 °C. With the arrival of the monsoon, the forest transforms into a lush green landscape, signaling new life.

Nagzira hosts a variety of mammals, including tigers, leopards, jungle cats, bison, wild dogs, sloth bears, wild boars, spotted deer, four-horned deer, sambar, nilgai, and barking deer. The sanctuary also shelters reptiles like monitor lizards, crocodiles, king cobras, vipers, and Indian rock pythons. Numerous birds, such as drongos, woodpeckers, crested serpent eagles, fish eagles, peacocks, jungle owlets, and Indian rollers, inhabit this sanctuary.

Nearest town: Bhandara

Best time to visit: Although it is extremely hot, May-June is the best time to watch wildlife as water is scarce and all animals visit water holes at least once in a day.

10 Lesser Known National Parks/Wildlife Sanctuaries In India

10. Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh

10 Lesser Known National Parks/Wildlife Sanctuaries In India

Mangroves are small, shrub-like trees that grow in salty or brackish water along coastlines. India boasts over 7,000 km of coastline, where large rivers like the Ganga, Godavari, Krishna, and Mahanadi create vast deltas, perfect for mangrove forests. Apart from the famous Sundarbans in West Bengal, India’s east coast features several mangrove forests. Among these is the Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary, located near the port city of Kakinada. It is the second-largest mangrove forest in India.

The terrain of Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary is characterized by numerous streams of brackish water that expand during high tide and contract during low tide. The only way to explore this sanctuary is by boat. Spread across the delta region of the Gomathi and Godavari rivers, this mangrove forest is home to 24 species of mangrove trees and 120 species of birds. Many of these birds are waders, or wetland birds, such as painted storks, openbill storks, pelicans, avocets, sandpipers, plovers, stints, redshanks, ibises, egrets, and herons. Additionally, the sanctuary hosts several species of kingfishers, cormorants, and gulls.

Critically endangered species, such as the white-backed vulture and long-billed vulture, also reside in the sanctuary. The mudflats provide a haven for numerous invertebrates, which serve as food for the birds. The sanctuary supports a healthy population of golden jackals, smooth-coated otters, and fishing cats. Nearby islands serve as breeding grounds for olive ridley sea turtles. Overall, Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary is a hotspot for coastal and marine biodiversity. The Andhra Pradesh government is working to develop it into an ecotourism center.

Nearest city: Kakinada

Best time to visit: November to February

10 Lesser Known National Parks/Wildlife Sanctuaries In India


India is home to a diverse array of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, many of which are lesser-known but equally remarkable in their biodiversity and natural beauty. From the rugged terrains of Ladakh to the dense forests of Vidarbha, each of these sanctuaries offers a unique glimpse into India’s rich wildlife heritage.

These lesser-known sanctuaries play a crucial role in conserving endangered species and preserving fragile ecosystems. They provide habitat for a wide range of flora and fauna, including rare and endemic species. Additionally, they offer opportunities for nature enthusiasts to explore and appreciate the wonders of the natural world.

As we continue to strive for environmental conservation and sustainable development, it is essential to recognize the importance of these lesser-known sanctuaries and support efforts to protect and preserve them for future generations to enjoy. Whether it’s the mangrove forests of Coringa or the grasslands of Tal Chhapar, each sanctuary contributes to the rich tapestry of India’s natural heritage. So let us cherish and protect these hidden gems of our country’s wilderness.


Q1: Where is Hemis National Park located?

Ans: Hemis National Park is located in the eastern part of Ladakh in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Q2: What is unique about Hemis National Park?

Ans: It is the largest national park in South Asia and is home to the elusive snow leopard, along with other rare Himalayan species.

Q3: Where can I find Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary?

Ans: Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh.

Q4: What are the key attractions of Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary?

Ans: It is known for its diverse range of flora and fauna, including the Mishmi takin, a rare and endangered goat-antelope species.

Q5: Which state houses Kaimur Wildlife Sanctuary?

Ans: Kaimur Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the state of Bihar.

Q6: What makes Kaimur Wildlife Sanctuary unique?

Ans: It is one of the few protected areas in Bihar and is home to a variety of wildlife, including leopards, deer, and various bird species.

Q7: Where is Keibul Lamjao National Park situated?

Ans: Keibul Lamjao National Park is located in the northeastern state of Manipur.

Q8: What is special about Keibul Lamjao National Park?

Ans: It is the world’s only floating national park, known for the endangered Manipur brow-antlered deer, also called the Sangai.

Q9: Which state is home to Saddle Peak National Park?

Ans: Saddle Peak National Park is situated in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Q10: What makes Saddle Peak National Park significant?

Ans: It is the highest point in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and is known for its rich biodiversity, including endemic bird species.

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