5 of India's most iconic habitats to see a tiger!
The allure of a wild tiger, when seen in its natural habitat is incomparable. The mere sight of those black and orange stripes moving gracefully through the fabled wilds of an Indian forest have been known to transport the viewer into fits of ecstasy and ultimate joy. The tiger is the reward of an often difficult and tenacious tracking process that involves searching for the Cat through the intricate maze of forest paths and jungle byways by making use of clues and symbols that the woods lay behind for us. It is the jungle, vast and ancient, the trees tall and wise, the waterholes placid and beautiful and the myriad of birds and animals that together make this such an enchanting experience!
Very few things on the planet compare to the sheer happiness of seeing a wild tiger, and it is something everyone should experience at least once in their lives!
India’s boasts of more than 50 tiger reserves, located all through the mighty expanse of this fabulous country! From the floodplains and dense evergreen jungles of the north-east to the dry deciduous forests of central India, and from the terai belt of the Himalayan foothills to the tropical woods of the Western Ghats and the great jungles of the South, the tiger is found everywhere, in varying numbers. The tiger typically lives in dense, undisturbed patches of large, contiguous forests, with perennial availability of water and abundant prey base.
More than 70000 sq. kms of forests in India fall under Project Tiger.
The tiger, the magnificent and captivating cat that it is, is a sight to behold for ages!
No matter where you see the tiger, be assured of coming back a transformed person, for the impact is that intense, that beautiful! And yet, these 5 iconic and fabled habitats in some of India’s most hallowed tiger reserves are drop-dead gorgeous and sighting a tiger here is the greatest dream come true of many wildlife enthusiast! Check out the list!
The incredible gorges of Panna.
The gorgeous Ken flows merrily through the dense woods of Dhonk and teak, as mighty gorges rise up from the riverbed, with vast plateaus on top. The tiger, Panna’s most charismatic creature, has risen miraculously in number in the last decade, thanks to the forest department’s exceptional efforts, arguably one of India’s greatest wildlife success stories! Imagine you are beneath a gorge high and imposing, and a black and orange creature saunters towards you. The shape grows in size as it moves toward the last remaining pool of water, for the afternoon is hot and the summer is intense. A distant langoor cackles noisily as the tiger drinks to his heart's content. The great success story of Panna has just manifested itself in its most glamorous avatar. It is an absolute joy to track these Panna tigers, as they weave their way through the intricate mosaic of rocks and boulders, ravines and valleys. The sheer brilliance of the tiger against the bare and barren rock, nestled around dense woods of many hardy central Indian tree species, is a wonder of nature! Relics of ancient structures still standing around the Ken and its grassy banks add to the ethereal old-world charm of this fabulous landscape! The ravines and gorges of Panna, across which the calm Ken weaves its way, is the 5th on our list of ‘5 of India's most iconic habitats to see a tiger’!
The hills of Tala, Bandhavgarh.
High up on a hill, which overlooks the awe-inspiring Bandhavgarh Fort and the many vultures that inhabit its impressive cliffs, sits a tigress. The orange of her sinewy coats gleams vividly in the setting sun, its slanting rays falling directly upon the tigress. She graceful form rises from the promontory on which she sat and ambles across the white sands, as a nearby herd of sambhar deer bellow into the evening, loudly and intensely! Solid gold is on the move and you forget everything else, for the dusk has just transformed itself into magic!
Tala, Bandhavgarh’s original and most beautiful zone, is an incredible habitat of swampy meadows and stunning Sal forests enveloped by the imposing hills and caressed by the deep valleys.
The tigers love this habitat, for there is no dearth of the things dearest to them - water, prey and jungle! The hills of Tala, as they rise up and above the charming Sal forests, and as tigers roam wild and free on their great heights, is an experience to hold dear, ranking it the 4th on our list of ‘5 of India's most iconic habitats to see a tiger’!
The enchanting meadows of Kanha.
Standing on the edge of the storied Kanha meadows, immortalised by the legendary George Schaller and many others before him, you can see the ancient jungle byways crisscrossing the gigantic landscape like a mythical maze. Pugdundees leading the observer deeper and deeper into the fabled woods is sheer romance to the eyes. Towering Saal trees nestled around the meadows, the symbol of Kanha’s unreal beauty, are dwarfed by the rolling mounds around them, the hills of Badrinath. A thousand chital graze peacefully in the setting sun, herds after herds congregating on the great meadows, like is the old habit of these enchanting grazers. Beautiful barasingha, Kanha’s greatest success story, graze on the new grass around the nallah (stream) that flows joyfully through the meadows!
As the sun sets, the last chital emerges onto the meadows and so does a tiger, its stripes playing hide and seek with us, as the tall grass camouflages the Big Cat. You are left in amazement and shock, for you have just experienced the singular sight of an Indian tiger in all its glory and splendour, sashaying across the storied meadows and into the orange evening! The chital raise a pandemonium and alarm calls echo across the meadows, and in that moment, you realise there is no greater song, no superior thrill than what you are witnessing! The Kanha meadows, vast and gorgeous, with its dazzling network of nallahs, Sal woods, hills and dales is stunningly beautiful, intensely captivating and hence being ranked 3rd on our list of ‘5 of India's most iconic habitats to see a tiger’!
The Dhikalachaur, Corbett.
River Ramganga, Corbett’s lifeline, brimming with eternal exuberance and a perennial availability of water, flows through the Dhikalachaur (grassland). Massive herds of elephants wander the vast expanse of the chaur, coexisting peacefully with the many deer species that call the chaur their home. Home to otters and eagles, vultures and jackals, butterflies and king cobras, this is one of India’s most incredibly biodiverse habitats, part of the fertile ‘terai’ belt! The Shiwaliks, or the Himalayan foothills, rise from beyond the river, and they will eventually grow into the world’s greatest mountain range!
Aroma-laden winds blow across the chaur, carrying with them the gorgeous scent of the ancient Sal and an even more ancient magic of the land. In the midst of this utopian landscape, where time stands still and the gigantic pachyderms rule, where beauty is not merely seen and smelt but felt with the heart, live the fabled tigers of the terai! Their ways are secretive, their habits are difficult to understand and yet, in these chaurs, with grass taller than the elephants, tracking them is just as much luck as experience and profound knowledge of their tricky ways. Catching even a glimpse of the tiger in the Dhikalachaur is a soul-stirring experience, for its beauty is something that cannot be expressed in mere words. ‘A thing of beauty is a joy forever: Its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness’, said the great John Keats many centuries ago, and we think of no place better than Dhikala to do justice to these immortal words. The iconic chaur at Dhikala, deep within the Corbett Tiger Reserve rank 2nd on our list of ‘5 of India's most iconic habitats to see a tiger’!
Did you know? Dhikalachaur is one of the only few places within a tiger reserve where you can stay overnight, at an antiquated yet charming Forest Rest House!
The lake area beneath the Fort, Ranthambhore.
Erstwhile hunting grounds of maharajahs from a bygone era, the land beneath the millennium old Ranthambhore Fort is the tiger’s most incredible kingdom today! Three lakes, each one alluring and attractive beyond measure dot the Dhonk-dominated habitat of the lake area, designated as Zone 3 in Ranthambhore.
Even today, on a hushed & mist-laden winter's morning, when divine, golden light from the heavens caresses the ancient minarets &mihrabs of relics from the days of yore, you may hear the Azaan being recited, the words echoing through the land! Such is the otherworldly allure of this hallowed forest! Centuries & seasons have come and gone, just like the fickle mist that dances momentarily on winter mornings, while many powerful emperors & dynasties have ruled and perished. In all these great happenings over a millennium, the tigers continue to be the true rulers of this special natural kingdom, the most complete marriage of India's glorious history & incredible natural history!
The placid waters of the trio of lakes sway to the slight breeze that eternally exists in this enchanting forest, leaving you mesmerized with joy. As you stand transfixed looking at this epochal crossroad of heritage and wildlife, art and nature, past and present while far away in the distance, a sambhar bellows. The current ruler of this most iconic of landscapes is on the move! A tigress appears through a nearby bush, followed by her two year-old cubs. You tremble with adrenaline and excitement!
A tiger here is a dream come true, since it is the most perfect setting for a 'Tiger in India', for an animal that's lived through millennia of human interaction and found expression in the very ethos, heritage and culture of this incredible land that is India. The lake area of Ranthambhore thus deserves to be 1st on our list of ‘5 of India's most iconic habitats to see a tiger’!
September 25, 2020
These 5 iconic and fabled habitats in some of India’s most hallowed tiger reserves are drop-dead gorgeous and sighting a tiger here is the greatest dream come true of many wildlife enthusiast!
Check out the list!
September 25, 2020
The ultimate go-to guide,
just for you...
September 14, 2020
Beyond Wild has been conducting very successful safaris to Ranthambhore for the past decade, and our years of experience has led to some very successful tour designs.
We hope this guide helps you plan your safari in the best possible way!