Continuing my 3+ years of journey in Wildlife Photography, I have traveled various places in India and captured enticing moments of nature and wildlife. Here is the information about the several places I have visited, collected from Wikipedia & other sources.
1. Bhitarkanika National Park, Kendrapara
Bhitarkanika National Park is located in the Kendrapara District of Odisha in eastern India. With the core area of 145 square kilometre, the Bhitarkanika Wild Sanctuary is spread over 672 square kilometre, has been designated as a National Park since 1998. The park is home to the endangered Saltwater Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), White Crocodile, Indian python, King Cobra, black ibis, darters and many other species of flora and fauna. The Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary is the second largest mangrove ecosystem in India.
2. Barbera Reserve Forest, Khurda Wildlife Division, Odisha
It is the only forest in the country which is guarded by the jawans of CRPF. This is because of timber mafia who were highly activated there. The forest has lot of sal vegetation along with other species like Piasal, Ficus, Arjun, Ashoka and Kasi. The teak plantation was done by britishers during their ruling in India. Though Barbara was once historically famous for its tiger, now one can find sambar, deer, bison, most interestingly lots of giant squirrel and many species of birds. The forest also constitute with many rare medicinal plants.
3. Mangalajodi Wetland, Tangi, Khurda
Mangalajodi is a vast wetlands attract thousands of migratory birds, journey from as far different places of the world. Its wetland now host more than 1.5 lakhs of birds in the peak season. November to March is a good time to visit for enjoying an amazing experience. Its importance as a significant global wetland habitat and declared as an International Bird Conservation Area. This village is not only famous as a birding destination or Eco-tourism, but also ritual performances of villagers.
4. Chilika Lake, Balugaon, Odisha
Chilika Lake is a brackish water lagoon, spread over the Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts of Odisha state on the east coast of India, at the mouth of the Daya River, flowing into the Bay of Bengal, covering an area of over 1,100 square km. It is the largest coastal lagoon in India and the second largest lagoon in the world. It is the largest wintering ground for migratory birds on the Indian sub-continent. The lake is home to a number of threatened species of plants and animals. The lake is an ecosystem with large fishery resources.
The lagoon hosts over 160 species of birds in the peak migratory season. Birds from as far as the Caspian Sea, Lake Baikal, Aral Sea and other remote parts of Russia, Kirghiz steppes of Mongolia, Central and southeast Asia, Ladakh and Himalayas come here. These birds travel great distances; migratory birds probably follow much longer routes than the straight lines, possibly up to 12,000 km, to reach Chilika Lake.
According to a survey, 45 percent of the birds are terrestrial in nature, 32 percent are waterfowl, and 23 percent are waders. The lagoon is also home to 14 types of raptors. Around 152 rare and endangered Irrawaddy dolphins have also been reported. Plus, the lagoon supports about 37 species of reptiles and amphibians. Microalgae, marine seaweeds, sea grasses, fishes and crabs also flourish in the brackish water of the Chilika Lagoon.
5. Anshupa Lake, Athagarh, Odisha
It is one of the major fresh-water lakes of India. The 141-hectare Ansupa Lake is a horseshoe shaped fresh water lake on the left bank of the Mahanadi river, opposite Banki in Cuttack district, Odisha, India. Ansupa Lake in Banki is 40 km from the city of Cuttack, which also acts as a shelter for the migratory birds in the wintry weather season. It is a fresh water lake situated amidst the Saranda Hills and enclosed by bamboo tree greenery and mango trees. To visitor’s delight, there is boating and fishing facilities in the Ansupa Lake.This small but extremely picturesque Ansupa lake holds a prominent position in the tourist map of Odisha for its beauty, proximity This eye-catching tourist attraction is about 50 km from Bhubaneshwar.
6. Satakosia Tiger Reserve, Dhenkanal, Odisha
Satkosia Tiger Reserve is a tiger reserve located in the Angul district of Odisha, India covering an area of 988.30 km². It is located where the Mahanadi River passes through a 22 km long gorge in the Eastern Ghats mountains. The tiger reserve is located in the Eastern Highlands moist deciduous forests ecoregion. The major plant communities are mixed deciduous forests including Sal (Shorea robusta), and riverine forest. Satkosia Gorge Wildlife Sanctuary was created in 1976, with an area of 796 km². Saktosia Tiger Reserve was designated in 2007, and comprises the Saktosia Gorge Wildlife Sanctuary and the adjacent Baisipalli Wildlife Sanctuary.
7. Kuldiha Reserve Forest, Balasore
Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in the district of Balasore in the state of Odisha. The forests of the region cover the Nato hills and the Sukhupata hills merging with the Similipal National Park. One of the major Odisha wildlife sanctuaries, the Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary is home to rare species of animals and plants. The thick wooded forests of the region are home to wild animals like the tiger, elephant, leopards, sambar, bison, gaur and giant squirrels. The forest also houses a variety of birds like hornbills, hill myna and peafowl. The perennial streams that water the forests are home to a variety of reptiles. The government of the state of Odisha maintains the wildlife sanctuary which preserves the rare and endangered species of animals and plants.
8. Similipal National Park, Mayurbhanj, Odisha
Simlipal National Park and tiger reserve is in the Mayurbhanj district in the Indian state of Odisha. It is part of the Similipal-Kuldiha-Hadgarh Elephant Reserve popularly known as Mayurbhanj Elephant Reserve, which includes three protected areas — Similipal Tiger Reserve (2750.00 km2), Hadgarh Wildlife Sanctuary (191.06 km2) and Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary (272.75 km2)). Simlipal National Park derives its name from the word ‘semul’ (red silk cotton trees) that bloom abundantly here and Palpala River near Lulung. The park has a protected area of 845.70 square kilometres (326.53 sq mi) and has some beautiful waterfalls like Joranda and Barehipani. Simlipal is home to 99 royal Bengal tigers and 432 wild elephants. Besides, Simlipal is famous for gaurs (Indian bison), chausingha, as well as an Orchidarium.
9. Black buck Conservation Park, Bhetnoi, Odisha
Near Aska in Ganjam district in Odisha is the only place where the Blackbucks exist within human habitat. Bhetnoi and adjoining areas are famous for Black Bucks. The unique method of protection of Black Bucks by the local people has made this area famous and well organized cohabitation of man and animal. Black Bucks ( Antelope cervicapra) are locally known as Bali Harina, Krushnasara Mruga and Kala Bahutia. The last two names are based on the black colour of these animals although only the males of the species exhibit this colour while the females have a brownish complexion.
10. Lava & Neora Valley, West bengal
Lava and the Neora Valley National Park are birders’ paradise, some of India most sought after birds are found here. The semi-evergreen forests between 1600mts and 2700mts is the home of several rare birds.
11. Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary, Westbengal
Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary is located on the foothills of the Himalayas, between the Teesta and Mahananda rivers. Situated in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal, India; it comes under Darjeeling Wildlife division and can be reached from Siliguri in 30 minutes. The sanctuary sprawls over 159 square km of reserve forest and was started as a game sanctuary in 1955. In 1959, it got the status of a sanctuary mainly to protect the Indian bison and royal Bengal tiger, which were facing the threat of extinction. The forest type in Mahananda WLS varies from riverine forests like Khayer-Sisoo to dense mixed-wet forest in the higher elevation in ‘Latpanchar’ area of Kurseong hills. The variation in altitude and forest types helps the existence of a large number of species of mammals, birds and reptiles.
12. East Sikkim
Over the years Sikkim has become the most favored location for birders all over world. Sikkim is like a small piece of land surrounded on all sides by mountain walls. Within an area of 80kms, the elevation rises from 225 mtrs in Tista river valley to 8600 mtrs at Kanchendzonga, India highest & World’s third highest mountain peak. Separated by Singhalila Range from Nepal in the west & Dongkya Range from Tibet to the east, Sikkim, is like a “bird catchment area.” Nowhere in the world in such a small area can one find flora and fauna of all varieties – Tropical to the Alpines.
13. Ghatgarh, Sattal & Pangot, Uttarakhand
Ghatgarh is a small village in Shivalik Himalayas which has an altitude of 1000m. Forest areas around this village and surrounding 10Km radius are house to several species chiefly confined to this area only. These evergreen and broadleaf forest areas are house to key species like Great Slaty Woodpecker and Long-tailed Broadbill. Since this place is starting point of the ghat section of Himalayas, the tropical deciduous forest, including moist and dry teak forests, riverine forests are perfect habitat for 16 species of woodpeckers; migrants and some elusive species of Raptors can also be seen in this area. Other avian friends which are very common to this area Kalij Pheasant, Nuthatches, Black-and-yellow Grosbeak, Collared Owlet etc. If the visitors to this place are extremely lucky, they might see the big cats also, beside the road, mostly after sundown and before sunrise.
Sattal, a place of seven interconnected freshwater lakes, is a place known as western Himalayan bird photography heaven for true nature lovers. Morning and afternoon birding and bird photography will keep the photographer so busy, that he/she can bag memory card full of stunning actions of birds and their behaviors. Glamorous coloration of Red-billed Leothrix, Black-lored Tit, Slaty-blue Flycatcher and White-bellied Nuthatch would always be a memory to cherish once you visit and photograph these Himalayan beauties.
14. Keoladeb National Park, Bharatpur, Rajasthan
Keoladeo National Park or Keoladeo Ghana National Park formerly known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary in Bharatpur, Rajasthan, India is a famous avifauna sanctuary that hosts thousands of birds, especially during the winter season. Over 230 species of birds are known to be resident. It is also a major tourist centre with scores of ornithologists arriving here in the hibernal season. It was declared a protected sanctuary in 1971. It is also a World Heritage Site.
Keoladeo Ghana National Park is a man-made and man-managed wetland and one of the national parks of India. The reserve protects Bharatpur from frequent floods, provides grazing grounds for village cattle, and earlier was primarily used as a waterfowl hunting ground. The 29 sq km (11 sq mi) reserve is locally known as Ghana, and is a mosaic of dry grasslands, woodlands, woodland swamps and wetlands. These diverse habitats are home to 366 bird species, 379 floral species, 50 species of fish, 13 species of snakes, 5 species of lizards, 7 amphibian species, 7 turtle species, and a variety of other invertebrates. The sanctuary is one of the richest bird areas in the world and is known for nesting of resident birds and visiting migratory birds including water birds. The rare Siberian cranes used to winter in this park but this central population is now extinct. According to founder of the World Wildlife Fund Peter Scott, Keoladeo National Park is one of the world’s best bird areas.
15. Tal Chappar Blackbuck National Park, Rajasthan
Tal Chhapar Sanctuary is located in the Churu district of Northwestern Rajasthan in the Shekhawati region of India. It is known for blackbucks and is also home to a variety of birds. It is a refuge of the blackbuck. The sanctuary area is mostly covered by grasses with a very few trees. It lies on the passageway of many migratory birds such as harriers. These birds pass through this area during September.
Birds commonly seen in the sanctuary are harriers, eastern imperial eagle, tawny eagle, short-toed eagle, sparrow, and little green bee-eaters, black ibis and demoiselle cranes, which stay till March. Skylarks, crested larks, ring doves, and brown doves are seen throughout the year. Desert fox and desert cat can also be spotted along with typical avifauna such as partridge and sand grouse. Tal Chappar Sanctuary comes alive with the chirping of various migratory birds including Montagur’s, marsh harrier, pale harrier, imperial eagle, tawny eagle, short toed eagle, sparrow hawk, skylark, crested lark, ring drove, brown dove, blue jay, green bee eaters, black ibis and demoiselle cranes.
16. Jor Beer Vulture Conservation Park & National Centre Reserch Cenre for Camel
The National Research Centre on Camel, Bikaner is located in the Jorbeer area at a distance of about 10 km from Bikaner city. It was established on 5th July 1984. About a short drive of about 15 kms from Bikaner towards the National Research Center on Camel, there is a small protected forest area called Jorbeer. It is a dumping site for carcasses of dead animals. Large number of carcasses are dumped at the site after skinning the dead cattle.
The place had a large entrance and a distinguished trail on which one is allowed to drive. A perfect habitat for the vultures and eagles. The place was dominated by Steppe Eagles and Egyptian Vultures. Here, some birders say that the white-tailed eagle had migrated back as the temperatures had started to soar. A large flock of Yellow eyed pigeon were seen flying, perching on the ground. They winter in this region and are also Vulnerable as per the IUCN redlist of threatened species.
17. Wild Ass Sanctuary, Little Rann of Kutch, Gujurat
The Wild Ass Sanctuary at Little Rann of Kutch (Kachchh) is located in north-west India, in Gujarat’s Surendranagar, Rajkot, Patan, Banaskantha and Kachchh districts. The sanctuary holds the last population of the endangered Asiatic Wild Ass Equus hemionus khur.
Little Rann of Kutch is a place to see birds in numbers. Due to its unique geographical location, Kutch is considered to be at the crossroads of Palearctic migration streams and witnesses great waves of migratory birds in winter. It’s location near the sea and its vast low-lying expanses, which get periodically flooded by marine water, creates an unique habitat which attracts a wide variety of birds. Over 200 bird species have been recorded in the area.
18. Thol Bird Sanctuary, Gujurat
Thol Wildlife Sanctuary, a shallow water reservoir, situated 25 km (15 mi) northwest of Ahmedabad and most popular birding place near Ahmedabad after Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary which is about 50 km (30 mi) from Thol Wildlife Sanctuary. Thol Lake, as a bird sanctuary, an inland wetland and a protected area, is known as a very good habitat for waterfowl during the monsoon season, extending through the winter. According to IBA reports there are 150 species of birds in the sanctuary of which nearly 60% (90 species) are stated to be waterbirds which are mostly wintering birds. The most prominent of these species is the flamingos. At one time 5-6 thousand flamingos were reported here. Sarus cranes (Grus antigone), the tallest of the flying birds, nest here in large numbers.
The rich bird life of Thol Wildlife Sanctuary encompasses native as well as migratory birds. Many winter visitors like great white pelicans, flamingos, a variety of waterfowl including mallards and large numbers of geese, sarus cranes and many other waders are common site at sanctuary. According to the IUCN categorization, the birds reported in the area are: greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) of least concern species; Dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus crispus), greater spotted eagle (Clanga clanga), sarus crane (Antigone antigone), and Indian skimmer (Rynchops albicollis) of the vulnerable species; and the white-rumped vulture (Gyps bengalensis) and Indian vulture (Gyps indicus) of the critically endangered species.
19. Gir National Park, Gujurat
The Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary (also known as Sasan-Gir, and गिर वन) is a forest and wildlife sanctuary Near Talala Gir in Gujarat, India. Its region is the sole home of the Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica) in the wilderness, and is considered to be one of the most important protected areas in Asia due to its supported species. The 14th Asiatic Lion Census 2015 was conducted in May 2015. In 2015, the population has been 523 (27% up compared to previous census in 2010). The population of lions in Junagadh District has been 268, Gir Somnath District has been 44, Amreli District has been 174 (highest increase) and Bhavangar District has been 37. There are 109 males, 201 females and 213 young/cubs. The Asiatic lion’s habitat is dry scrub land and open deciduous forest. These lions were once found across northern Africa, south west Asia and northern Greece.
20. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Thattekad, Kerala
The Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary, covering an area of barely 25 km2, and located about 12 km from Kothamangalam (Kerala state, India), was the first bird sanctuary in Kerala. Salim Ali, one of the best known ornithologist described this sanctuary as the richest bird habitat on peninsular India. Thattekkad literally means flat forest, and the region is an evergreen low-land forest located between the branches of Periyar River, the longest river in Kerala. The Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary has a rich and varied bird-life. Several species of birds, both forest birds as well as the water birds, visit the sanctuaries, and the important ones include the following:
The Indian pitta, which visits the sanctuary during winter and spends almost six months here. Other birds species which founds are Orange-headed thrush, Large-billed leaf-warbler, Jerdon’s nightjar, Indian cuckoo, Oriental darter,Cormorants, Whiskered terns, Collared scops owl, Seylon frogmouth, Grey-fronted green pigeon, Yellow-browed bulbuls etc…
The sanctuary is a habitat for different varieties of cuckoos and a region of the sanctuary popularly called “Cuckoo Paradise” is home to them, among which are the:
The Edamalayar forest is located about 15 km from Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary. This is also an evergreen forest located above the Edamalayar River. The mountain hawk eagles are found in this forest. Other birds in this forest include dark-fronted babbler, brown-cheeked fulvetta, brown-backed and white-rumped needletails, and emerald green pigeons.
21. Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary, Goa
Goa situated on the West Coast of India, bestowed upon Oriental Honey Buzzard, Birding Tours India by innumerable gifts of nature: picturesque landscapes, golden beaches, hills, plateaus, estuaries, salt pans, saline and fresh water marshes, mangroves. It is also a home to many species of endemic birds. With one National Park and six wildlife sanctuaries, Goa is a birders paradise. One expert in his studies on birds of Goa has recorded as many as 382 species of birds in the entire Goan region. Topographically Goa has three distinct types of terrain (A) the coastal belt which has many beaches, bays interspersed by the estuaries of Zuari and Mandovi rivers (B) the middle region covered mostly by plantations & some patches of Semi Evergreen Forest (C) The Western Ghats also known as the Sahaydris bordering the neighbouring state of Karnataka covered mostly by Tropical Wet Evergreen and Tropical Moist Deciduous Forests, all offering very good birding areas.
22. Jim Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand
Jim Corbett National Park is the oldest national park in India and was established in 1936 as Hailey National Park to protect the endangered Bengal tiger. It is located in Nainital district of Uttarakhand and was named after Jim Corbett who played a key role in its establishment. The park was the first to come under the Project Tiger initiative. The park has sub-Himalayan belt geographical and ecological characteristics. An ecotourism destination, it contains 488 different species of plants and a diverse variety of fauna. It houses around 110 tree species, 50 species of mammals, 580 bird species and 25 reptile species.
23. Tadoba Angheri Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra
Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve is a tiger reserve in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra state in central India. It is notable as Maharashtra’s oldest and largest national park. It is one of India’s 43 “Project Tiger” – tiger reserves. The name ‘Tadoba’ is the name of the God “Tadoba” or “Taru”, praised by the tribal people who live in the dense forests of the Tadoba and Andhari region, while the Andhari River that meanders through the forest. gives the ‘Andhari’ name.
Legend holds that Taru was a village chief who was killed in a mythological encounter with a tiger. A shrine dedicated to the God Taru now exists beneath a huge tree, on the banks of the Tadoba Lake. The temple is frequented by adivasis, especially during the fair held every year in the Hindu month of Pausha, between December and January. There are more than 80 tigers (as of Dec 2015) in the reserve, one of the highest in India.
24. Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan
Ranthambhore is one of the largest national parks in northern India, covering an area of 392 km². It is situated in the Sawai Madhopur district of southeastern Rajasthan. Ranthambore National Park lies at the edge of a plateau and is bounded to the north by the Banas River and to the south by the Chambal River. It is named after the historic Ranthambhore fortress, which lies within the park. Ranthambore wildlife sanctuary is known for its tigers and is one of the best places in India to see these animals in their natural jungle habitat. Tigers can be easily spotted even in the daytime. The best times for tiger sightings at Ranthambore National Park are in November and May. The park’s deciduous forests are characteristic examples of the type of jungle found in Central India. Other major wild animals include leopard, Nilgai, wild boar, sambar, striped hyena, sloth bear, southern plains gray langur, rhesus macaque and chital. The sanctuary is home to a wide variety of trees, plants, birds and reptiles, as well as one of the largest banyan trees in India.
25. Sunderban Tiger Reserve, West Bengal
The Sundarbans mangrove forest, one of the largest such forests in the world (140,000 ha), lies on the delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers on the Bay of Bengal. The site is intersected by a complex network of tidal waterways, mudflats and small islands of salt-tolerant mangrove forests, and presents an excellent example of ongoing ecological processes. The area is known for its wide range of fauna, including 260 bird species, the Bengal tiger and other threatened species such as the estuarine crocodile and the Indian python.
The Sundarbans forest is home to more than 400 tigers. The royal Bengal tigers have developed a unique characteristic of swimming in the saline waters, and are famous for their man-eating tendencies. Tigers can be seen on the river banks sunbathing between November and February. Apart from the Bengal tiger, Fishing cats, Leopard cats, Macaques, Wild boar, Indian grey mongoose, Fox, Jungle cat, Flying fox, Pangolin, Chital, are also found in abundance in the Sundarbans.