A National Park is a natural habitat that is dedicated to the conservation of wild animals and other species that are on the brink of extinction. National Parks not only protect animals and wildlife, but it also provides open space for people for healthy exercise and recreation activities in the open air.
Here is the list of top 10 Largest National Parks in India:
1. Hemis National Park
Hemis National Park is located at a high altitude in the eastern Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir. The park was established in 1981 and the total area of the park is 3,350 sq km. This park is considered as one of the biggest national parks in South Asia. The park is home to several species of endangered mammals and birds. Hemis National Park is a protected area for endangered mammals such as snow leopards, leopards, Asiatic ibex, Tibetan wolf, the Eurasian brown bear, and the red fox.
The park is the only habitat centre of Shapu or the Ladakhi Urial in the country. Besides this, some small mammals are also found in the park-like Himalayan marmot, mountain weasel, and Himalayan mouse hare. It is a heaven for bird lovers as the golden eagle, Lammergeier vulture, and the Himalayan griffon vulture could be seen in the park.
The suitable time to visit Hemis National Park is between May and September when the weather is generally pleasant.
2. Desert National Park
Desert National Park is situated in Rajasthan near the towns of Jaisalmer and Barmer. The park was founded in 1992 and covers an area of 3,162 sq km. The park is an excellent example of the ecosystem of the Thar Desert. The park consists of 20 percent sand dunes.
Desert National Park is known for the great Indian Bustard, which can be seen in large numbers in the park. Apart from these eagles, harriers, falcons, buzzards, kestrels, and vultures have been spotted in this park. Sandgrouses can also be seen near small ponds or lakes of the park. Desert National Park has a collection of rare fossils of animals and plants. The perfect time to visit Desert National Park is between November to January.
3. Gangotri National Park
Gangotri National Park is located in the Uttarkashi District of Uttarakhand. The park was founded in 1989 and covers an area of 2,390.02 sq km. The park is famous for the Gangotri glacier, the origin of Bhagirathi River, one of the principal headstreams of the Ganges River.
Gangotri National Park is covered by dense coniferous forest and it is the home to the snow leopard. The climate of the park is suitable for the rare species such as black bear, brown bear, musk deer, blue sheep, Himalayan tahr, Himalayan monal, and Himalayan snowcock. Besides pheasants, partridges, doves, and pigeons are also found in the park. A large number of tourists visit the park in the months from April to October.
4. Namdapha National Park
Namdapha National Park is located in India’s Northeast state of Arunachal Pradesh. The park was set up in 1983 and it covers an area of 1,807.82 sq km. The park is covered by a beautiful forest. It is estimated that there are more than 150 timber species found in this park.
The park is home to diverse species of animals and birds. It has the distinction of being the only park in the world to have the four Feline species of big cat namely the Tiger (Panthera Tigris), Leopard (Panthera Pardus), Snow Leopard (Panthera Uncia) and Clouded Leopard (Neofelis Nebulosa), and several Lesser cats. Some other species are also found in the park-like Assamese macaque, pig-tailed macaque, stump-tailed macaque, and a number of the distinctive Hoolock Gibbons (Hylobates Hoolock).
Several species of birds are also found in the Namdapha National Park such as the white-winged wood Ducks. The great Indian hornbills, jungle fowls, and other kinds of birds are also spotted in this park. The wet tropical rain forest is a suitable place for the breeding of various animals and birds, which is remarkable.
5. Khangchendzonga National Park
Khangchendzonga National Park is a Biosphere reserve situated in Sikkim in the northeast of the country. It has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2016. The park has the distinction of becoming the first “Mixed Heritage” site of the nation. Khangchendzonga National Park is named after mountain Kanchenjunga which is the third highest peak in the world. The park was established in 1977 and the total area of the park is 1,784 sq km. Snowfall takes place during winter and heavy rains occur from May to October.
In this park of timber of oaks, fir, birch, willow is found. The park is home to various species like musk deer, snow leopard, Himalayan tahr, dhole, sloth bear, Himalayan black bear, red panda, Tibetan wild ass, Himalayan blue sheep, including several reptiles such as rat snakes and many more.
Khangchendzonga National Park is famous for rare species of birds: blood pheasant satyr, tragopan, osprey, Himalayan griffon, western tragopan, green pigeon and so on. Therefore the park is the cynosure for the tourists.
6. Guru Ghasidas (Sanjay) National Park
Guru Ghasidas (Sanjay) National Park is a wonderful place. Seeing is believing. It is situated in the Koirya district of Chhattisgarh. The park was formed in 1981, covering an area of 1,440.71 sq km. The national park is filled with a tropical forest of Sakhua.
The park is home to several animals and birds like Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, sambar deer, wild boar, nilgai, chinkara, and many more species. Various kinds of birds are also spotted in the park-like golden hooded, racket-tailed drongo, Indian pitta, red-headed vulture, and several others.
The park has been renamed after the Satnami reformist, Guru Ghasidas. In this park poaching, hunting and grazing are banned and the boundaries of the park are well marked.
7. Sundarbans National Park
Sundarbans National Park is famous for its tiger reserve and biosphere reserve. It is located in West-Bengal and part of Sundarbans falls on the Ganges Delta. The park was established in 1984 and covers an area of 1,330.10 sq km. The delta is thickly covered by mangrove forests and it is spread over India and Bangladesh.
Sundarbans National Park is home to Bengal tiger along with Indian Grey Mongoose, Leopard Cats, Ridley Sea Turtle, Wild Boar, Jungle Cat, Fox, Flying Fox, Fishing Cats, Chital, Pangolin, and many more. Varieties of birds are spotted in the park such as- openbill storks, black-capped kingfisher, water hens, common snipes, and various others. The park is a habitat centre of a large number of reptiles such as crocodiles, chameleons, monitor lizards, turtles, and so on.
The park was declared as the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. It is also considered as a World Network of Biosphere Reserve from 1989.
8. Indravati (Kutru) National Park
Indravati (Kutru) National Park is situated in the Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh. The park is named after the Indravati river. It was set up in 1982 and it covers an area of 1,258.37 sq km. Indravati (Kutru) National Park is home to rare wild buffalo. The park is also home to nilgai, blackbuck, four-horned antelope, sambar, chittal, wild boar, and many more.
Trees of bamboo, sal, and teak are found in abundance in Indravati (Kutru) National Park. Tourists should visit the park from mid-December to mid-June.
9. Papikonda National Park
Papikonda National Park is situated near Rajamahendravaram in the Papi Hills in East Godavari and West Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh. The park was set up in 2008 covering an area of 1,012.86 sq km. The park is famous for its Bird and Biodiversity Area. Apart from this, it is the home to some endangered species as well. The park is famous for moist deciduous and dry deciduous forests
It is home to Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, rusty-spotted cat, jungle cat, leopard cat, sloth bear, small Indian civet, Asian palm civet, wild boar, and honey badger. Also spotted deer, sambar deer, Indian muntjac, Indian spotted chevrotain, gaur, nilgai, and four-horned antelope are found in the Papikonda National Park.
The park got recognition as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area by BirdLife International in 2016. Several endangered birds are spotted in the park such as Black-bellied tern, Pale-capped pigeon, Yellow-throated Bulbul, Oriental darter, Pallid harrier, Great Thick-knee, River Lapwing, River tern and so on.
10. Kanha National Park
Kanha National Park is a famous tiger reserve in the country and it is the biggest national park of Madhya Pradesh. The park covering a total area of 940 sq km, was established in 1955.
The park is home to royal Bengal tigers, Indian leopards, sloth bears, barasinghas, and Indian wild dogs. The forest is also mentioned by Rudyard Kipling in ‘the Jungle Book’. The park is home to more than 1,000 species of flowering plants. A famous Indian ghost tree (Davidia involucrata) could also be seen in the dense forest.
Various kinds of species are found in the Kanha National Park like tigers, leopards, wild dogs, wild cats, foxes, jackals, swamp deer, hard-ground barasingha, and so on. The reserve has played a key role in saving the swamp deer from extinction.
The park is home to about 300 species of birds and some birds commonly spotted are black ibis, bee-eaters, cattle egret, blossom-headed parakeets, pond herons, drongos, and common teal.
Currently, in India, there are 104 existing national parks covering an area of 40,501.13 sq km, which is 1.23% of the geographical area of the country, as per the report by National Wildlife Database, May 2019.