7 Best National Parks in South India

The Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana also the union territories of Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Puducherry, together denoted as South India which is 19% of India’s total area is an integral part of Indian National Parks. The dense forest of South India is an ideal habitat of many wildlife, and hence classified as the best National Parks in South India.

In this article, we will learn about 7 best National Parks in South India, which are called the central hub of wildlife and plays an important role in the conversation of wild animals and rare plants/ trees in India:

Nagarhole National Park:

Spotted_Deer,_at_Nagarhole_National_PArk
Spotted Dears at Nagarhole National Park | by RimpaD (CC BY- SA 4.0)

The Nagarhole National Park is located in Kodagu and Mysore  District of Karnataka. The Nagarhole National Park is also called the Rajiv Gandhi National Park and It is India’s one of the chief Tiger Reserves along with the adjoining Bandipur Tiger Reserve. Nagarhole named was given to this national park after the Nagarhole river (Cobra river in local language) that flows through.

Read more: Everything to Know about Mudumalai National Park and Tiger Reserve

Located about 50 kilometers away from Mysore city, It is a part of Nilgiri biosphere reserve making it an ideal place for wildlife to propagate. Spread over an area of 642.39 sq. kilometers the Nagarhole National Park is under consideration by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for its selection as a World Heritage Site in near future.

Established on: 1988
Location: Kodagu and Mysore district
State: Karnataka
Area: 642.39 sq. kilometers
Topography: The altitude ranging from 2,254 to 3,150 ft
Rainfall: The annual rainfall of 1440 millimeters
Temperature/ Climate: Average 33 °C in summer to 14 °C in winter
Flora: The forest majorly consist of  rosewood, teak, sandalwood and silver oak along with species and medicinal plants
Fauna: The Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, Ussuri dhole, sloth bear, and the striped hyena. The herbivores are chital, sambar deer, barking deer, four-horned antelope, gaur, wild boar and Indian elephant and over 250 species of birds.

Bandipur National Park:

Bandipur_National_Park,_Karnataka,_Wild_Elephants
Elephants in Bandipur National Park | by Abhijeet1011 (CC BY- SA 4.0)

Sited at about 80 kilometers away from Mysore city on the route towards Ooty, the Bandipur National park was first established as a Tiger Reserve in 1974. Spread over an area of 874 sq. kilometers, the Bandipur National Park is known for its rich flora and fauna. The dry deciduous forest dominates among the varieties of plants and trees. Being a part of Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, the National Park is called the largest habitat of wild elephants in South Asia.

Also, about 21% of the total forest area of Western Ghat is comprised of Bandipur National Park. Many animals can be spotted near the Kabini river that flows through the Bandipur National Park. Once this piece of land was a private hunting ground for the kings of Mysore royal dynasty.

Established on: 1974
Location: Chamarajanagar district
State: Karnataka
Area: 874 square kilometers
Topography: Altitude ranging from 2,230 to 4770 ft
Rainfall: The annual rainfall of 1200 mm
Temperature/ Climate: Average 35 °C in summer to 10 °C in winter
Flora: The forest majorly consist of  rosewood, teak, sandalwood and silver oak along with species and medicinal plants
Fauna: Indian elephants, gaurs, tigers, sloth bears, muggers, Indian rock pythons, four-horned antelopes, jackals and dholes, a huge variety of mammals, over 200 species of birds, reptiles and butterflies.

Periyar National Park:

Gaur_(Indian_Bison)_at_Periyar_National_Park_&_Wildlife_Sanctuary
Indian Bison at Periyar National Park | by Anand2202 (CC BY- SA 4.0)

Located at about 110 km west of Madurai city and 120 km southeast of Kochi, the Periyar National Park is rich with scenic beauty and dominated by elephants. Situated at a high altitude in the Western Ghats, about 925 sq. kilometers of the area is declared as protected, out of which about 350 sq. kilometers of core zone is called the Periyar National Park.

Read more: Things to Do in Thekkady: 7 Eco Tourism Programmes in Periyar Tiger Reserve

The beautiful Periyar and the Pamba rivers flowing through the park and their respective banks are the home of many endangered species of plants. The national park also has a water reservoir that provides water to the wildlife throughout the year. Coffee, tea and cardamom plantations are very much popular here. From October to march is the best time to explore the Periyar National Park.

Established on: 1982
Location: Idukki, Kottayam and Pathanamthitta  district
State: Kerala
Area: 305 sq. kilometers
Topography: Altitude ranging from 3900 to 6624 ft, with Kotamalai being the highest peak at 6624 ft.
Rainfall: The annual rainfall of 2000-3000 mm
Temperature/ Climate: Average 35 °C in summer to 10 °C in winter
Flora: Tropical evergreen and moist deciduous forests, grasslands, hundreds of flowering plant taxa, including about 171 species of grass and 140 species of orchids
Fauna: Apart from being an important elephant and tiger reserve, the park also has the gaur, sambar, wild pig, Indian giant squirrel, Travancore flying squirrel, jungle cat, sloth bear, Nilgiri Tahr. There are 49 species of mammals, 266 species of birds, 28 species of reptiles, 8 species of amphibians, 22 species of fishes and 112 species of butterflies.

Eravikulam National Park:

Nilgiri_Tahr_Eravikulam_National_Park
Nilgiri Tahr at Eravikulam National Park | by Asheen Anoop (CC BY- SA 4.0)

Spread over an area of 97 square kilometers, the Eravikulam National Park is the first National Park in Kerala. This national park is located along the Western Ghats in the Idukki district of Kerala and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This beautiful National Park is dominated by Nilgiri Tahr which is an endangered species along with several rare species of butterfly.

Eravikulam National park provides the beautiful vista of tea plantations, rolling hills, and Neelakurunji. Neelakurunji is a blue colored kurunji flower, which blooms once in 12 years and during summer the land is beautifully carpeted with this blue colored flower.

Established on: 1978
Location: Idukki
State: Kerala
Area: 97 sq. kilometers
Topography: The average elevation of 2000 m and Anamudi, 2,695 meters, the highest peak in India
Rainfall: The annual rainfall of 3000 mm
Temperature/ Climate: Average 23 °C in summer to 8 °C in winter
Flora: The park is dominated by grassland, shrubland, and forest including antibacterial Eupatorium glandulosum
Fauna: Nilgiri Tahr, lion-tailed macaques, gaur, Indian muntjac and sambar deer. Golden jackal, jungle cat, wild dog, dhole, leopard and tiger, elephant, squirrel, 132 species of bird, butterfly etc.

Silent Valley National Park:

Kundhi_River_@_Silent_Valley_National_Park_-_panoramio
Kundhi River at Silent Valley National Park | by Jaseem Hamza (CC BY- SA 3.0)

With a core zone of 237.52 square kilometers, the Silent Valley National Park is the second largest National Park in Kerala. The Silent Valley National Park is situated in the Palakkad District of Kerala and falls under the Nilgiri Biosphere. The National Park is rich in wildlife because of its tropical moist evergreen forest. It is an important part of Western Ghats and is a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2012.

Read more: Silent Valley Trekking Packages by Kerala Forest Department

Originally called as the Sairandhrivanam, this part was discovered by the botanist, Robert Wright in 1847. The Kuntipuzha River flowing through the national Park divides it into a narrow eastern sector of width 2 kilometers and a wide western sector of 5 kilometers.

Established on: 1984
Location: Palakkad District
State: Kerala
Area: 237.52 sq. kilometres
Topography: Altitude ranging from 2,254 to 3,150 ft
Rainfall: The annual rainfall of 6400 millimeters
Temperature/ Climate: Average 23 °C in summer to 18 °C in winter
Flora: About a 1000 species of flowering plants, 108 species of orchids, 100 ferns and fern allies, 200 liverworts, 75 lichens, and about 200 algae

The cardamom and black pepper of best quality are grown here.

Fauna: About 41 mammals are recognized and recorded in this area, like  Elephants, Lion Tailed Macaque, Nilgiri Langur, Nilgiri Tahr, Tiger, Leopard, Sloth bear, Gaur, Lion Tailed Macaque, etc.

About 211 Species of birds, 25 species of snakes, Mollusca, Fishes, Amphibia etc.

Mudumalai National Park:

Peacock_at_Mudumalai
A peacock at the Mudumalai National Park | by MoorthyGounder (CC BY- SA 2.0)

Situated on the northwestern side of the Nilgiri Range, the Mudumalai National Park and wildlife sanctuary is a declared Tiger Reserve. Located in Nilgiri District, about 150 kilometers north-west of Coimbatore city in Tamil Nadu, this National Park also shares its limits with Karnataka and Kerala. Established in 1940, it has been a Tiger Reserve and a protected area since 1972.

The Mudumalai National Park covers an area of 321 sq. kilometers of the Western Ghats Nilgiri Sub-Cluster of 6,000 square kilometers. This complete region is under the consideration of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The dense tropical dry deciduous forest gives an ideal location for tigers to grow, hence we can spot tigers freely roaming around in the National Park. The sanctuary is divided into five ranges – Masinagudi, Thepakadu, Mudumalai, Kargudi and Nellakota.

Established on: 1940
Location: Nilgiri district
State: Tamil Nadu
Area: 321 sq. kilometers
Topography: The average elevation of 4154 ft
Rainfall: The annual rainfall of 2000 millimeters
Temperature/ Climate: Average 33 °C in summer to 14 °C in winter
Flora: The plant species found here include Mangifera indica, Pongamia glabra, Terminalia arjuna, Syzygium cumini, Indian rosewood Dalbergia latifolia and the bamboos. Also, plants including wild rice, wild ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, Solanum, guava, mango, and pepper are cultivated in huge quantity.
Fauna: About 50 species of fishes, 21 species of amphibians, 34 species of reptiles, 227 species of birds and 55 species of mammals.

Larger mammals such as elephant, gaur, sambar, Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, jungle cat and leopard cat, peacock etc can be easily spotted.

Bannerghatta National Park:

White_Tigers_at_Bannerghatta_National_Park
White Tigers at Bannerghatta National Park | by Amol.Gaitonde (CC BY- SA 3.0)

Founded in 1970, the Bannerghatta National park is located at about 22 km south of Bangalore. Situated in the hills of the Anekal range, it was declared as a national park in 1974. The National Park which covers an area of 260.51 sq. kilometers includes a zoo, a pet corner, an animal rescue center, a butterfly enclosure, an aquarium, a snake house, and a safari park. The park is also a popular destination for trekking and hiking which brings along some of the ancient temples and rare plants and animal species along the way.

The Suvarnamukhi stream that runs through the national park is a hot spot for locating the animals resting nearby. The Bannerghatta is the first biological park has a fenced forested elephant sanctuary where elephants can roam around freely without chains. It is also popular for the fair number of rare white tigers.

Established on: 1974
Location: Bangalore
State: Karnataka
Area: 260.51 sq. kilometers
Topography: Altitude ranging from 1245 meters to 1634 meters
Rainfall: The annual rainfall of 700 mm
Temperature/ Climate: Average 35 °C in summer to 10 °C in winter
Flora: Narcissus latifolia,Schleichera oleosa, Terminalia tomentosa, Sandalwood,Neem,Tamarind, Bamboo, Eucalyptus,Bauhinia purpurea etc.
Fauna: elephants, gaur,leopard,jackal,fox,sloth bear,Indian gazelle

spotted deer, barking deer,common langur,bonnet macaque,porcupine,hare,wild boar,pangolin

Asiatic lion, Royal Bengal tiger, 100 species of birds etc

 

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