A Journey Through India’s 7 UNESCO National Parks

Kanchenjunga peak – Highest Peak of India – India’s 7 UNESCO National Parks

India is blessed with an abundance of natural wonders, from snow-capped mountains to dense forests and pristine coastlines. Some of these natural marvels have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in recognition of their cultural, historical, or ecological significance.

India has 7 national parks which have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites and many more on the tentative list of being included as UNESCO sites in the future.

This is the guide to the 7 national parks that are currently listed as world heritage sites by UNESCO.

7 UNESCO National Parks in India

  1. Great Himalayan National Park
  2. Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks
  3. Sundarbans National Park
  4. Kaziranga National Park
  5. Keoladeo National Park
  6. Manas National Park
  7. Khangchendzonga National Park

The Majestic Himalayan National Parks

Great Himalayan National Park

The Great Himalayan National Park is located in the state of Himachal Pradesh (where Dharamshala is!) at the foothills of the Himalayas. It is a paradise for nature lovers with its diverse range of flora and fauna, including rare species such as the western tragopan and Himalayan musk deer.

The park’s fragile ecosystems are carefully protected to ensure the preservation of its unique biodiversity. The national park has an area of 754 sq km with many mountains and valleys inside its boundaries. 

The best time to visit the national park is during the spring months from March-June or after the monsoon season in September and October.

To enter the park you need a permit costing Rs 400 for Indians (tips for traveling India on a budget this way). The best thing about the park is that there are treks organized to see the Himalayan brown bear here.

You will get to trek across the Himalayas and track this beautiful creature. You might also come across other animals such as the snow leopard, musk deer, and blue sheep which are common here.

Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks

The Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks are two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the state of Uttarakhand that have some of the most beautiful landscapes seen in India. They are some of the best places to visit in north India.

The parks are home to a staggering variety of flowers, including the rare blue poppy, and are surrounded by lofty peaks on all sides. Nanda Devi is the second-highest peak in India and its beauty is to behold. 

The treks to the base camp at Nanda Devi are very exhilarating and grueling.  

The Valley of Flowers has a much different landscape with gently sloping rolling hills. These get completely covered with flowers between July and mid-August. There are more than 500 varieties of flowers that bloom here throughout the year.

Some species you can see here are anemones, geraniums, asters, blue poppies, cobra lilies, bluebells, and marigolds. The best time to see the flowers in full bloom would be the middle of July. 

Iconic Tiger Reserves

Sundarbans National Park

The Sundarbans National Park is a delicate mangrove ecosystem that serves as the natural habitat of the Royal Bengal Tiger.

The landscape here consists of dense mangroves and marshy lands where the rivers Ganga, Brahmaputra, Hooghly, Padma, and Meghna meet before flowing into the Bay of Bengal.

The best time to visit Sunderbans is between November and March which is also a good time for spotting tigers. The summer months get very hot and humid here due to the proximity to the ocean. 

This is one of the most unique tiger reserves in India because the tigers here are known to be man-eaters and even eat sea life like turtles. You can do safaris inside the national park on boats to see the tigers.

There are several other animals you can see on safaris here like the jungle cat, pangolins, flying foxes, and fishing cats.

The mugger and the saltwater crocodiles are also present in vast numbers here. In the rivers, you can find the Gangetic dolphins and even the very rare and elusive Gangetic shark. 

Kaziranga National Park

Kaziranga National Park is home to the world’s largest population of the one-horned rhinoceros. It is in the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh bordering China.

People usually visit Kaziranga National Park during their tour of northeast India including Assam, Meghalaya, and Arunachal Pradesh.

The one-horned rhinoceros almost went extinct in India when the first armed forest force of India was created in this state to bring back this animal from the brink of extinction. The forest department then employed a very strict policy against poachers and they were driven out of the area.

The park’s unique conservation efforts led to a significant increase in the rhinoceros population, although they still face threats from poaching and habitat loss. The park’s success story is a testament to the dedication and hard work of the forest rangers in preserving India’s rich wildlife heritage.

You can see the rhino on a jeep safari in the national park between October and June.

The park remains closed between July and September. You can either do a morning safari or an afternoon safari. The safaris can be booked online through the government website or a reputed tour operator. 

Biodiversity Hotspots

Keoladeo National Park

Keoladeo National Park is a bird sanctuary that attracts migratory birds from all over the world. The park’s wetlands are a great home for migratory birds for the winter.

Species such as the Siberian crane and the Purple heron are often seen here during the winter months. It is a paradise for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts.

The best time to visit Keoladeo National Park is between October and March when the temperature is cool. The national park falls on the golden triangle route of India between Jaipur and Agra so it is very accessible. 

The national park used to be the hunting grounds for the Maharajas of Rajasthan and subsequently the Britishers. It was declared a national park in 1982 and has now become a thriving bird sanctuary.

The park has more than 370 species of creatures including the Siberian crane, spotted owlet, spotted redshank, red-wattled lapwing, and many more.

The park has lots of pathways for walking and cycling. There are also rickshaws and tonga rides if you prefer a more relaxing experience. 

Manas Wildlife Sanctuary

Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is a biosphere reserve in the northeast part of India near Kaziranga National Park.

The sanctuary is home to endangered species such as the Bengal florican, pygmy hog, and golden langur. You can do jeep safaris every morning and afternoon in the national park here. The guides are well-educated and will point out the trees and birds if you ask them to. The most rare animal here is the black panther. People go to this park for weeks to track and get a glimpse of this elusive animal.

The best thing about Manas National Park is that it is classified as a Project Elephant Reserve along with a Tiger Reserve. Seeing a herd of elephants is the most beautiful experience you can have.

Assam is also known for its gorgeous tea plantations, river cruises on the Brahmaputra, and bamboo furniture. You can also go river rafting on the Manas River which flows through the sanctuary. 

Keep reading: Northern India regions you should visit next

Lesser-Known National Parks

Khangchendzonga National Park

Khangchendzonga National Park is home to the third-highest peak in the world, Mount Khangchendzonga.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site not only protects the endangered snow leopard but also sustains the unique cultures and traditions of the ethnic communities that live in this region. The people from the region worship the Khangchendzonga as their deity and believe the mountain protects them.

The best time to visit Khangchendzonga National Park is in April and May before the start of the monsoon season. Some of the places to visit inside the national park are Goechala trek, Khecheopalri Lake, and Yuksom Valley.

The park is home to the elusive and endangered red panda. You will be very lucky if you see one of these on your trek. Some other animals you might find are the snow leopard, blue sheep, barking deer, wild dogs and musk deer.

FAQ

How many UNESCO National Parks are there in India?

India has 7 UNESCO National Parks, each with a unique and diverse experience for nature enthusiasts.

What are the key conservation challenges faced by these parks?

The key conservation challenges faced by these parks include poaching, habitat loss, climate change, and human-wildlife conflicts.

Efforts are being made to address these challenges through conservation programs and community engagement.

Are there any specific rules for visitors in these parks?

Yes, visitors are required to follow specific rules and regulations to ensure the preservation of these parks. These rules may include restrictions on noise levels, littering, and maintaining a safe distance from wildlife.

Additionally, it is important to familiarize yourself with Indian customs and etiquette to ensure a respectful and pleasant experience while traveling to avoid any inconvenience to the locals.

Conclusion

India is a gorgeous country with more than 40 UNESCO Heritage sites that includes the temples of Khajuraho, forts in Rajasthan, and many other famous Indian landmarks and monuments.

It also has 7 UNESCO National Parks which are some of the most beautiful and diverse biodiversity areas in the world.

From the breathtaking beauty of the Himalayas to the dense forests teeming with wildlife, these parks are home to a variety of birds and animals. Some parks are home to endangered species which are not found anywhere else in the world. Some rare species are the one-horned rhino, red panda, black panther, Gangetic dolphin, and the Gangetic shark. 

The best time to visit these parks would be in the months of April and May before the monsoon season.

The winter time is great for visiting the parks on the plains but not the parks in the Himalayas where it snows during this time.

Each of these diverse parks offers a variety of exciting adventure opportunities, such as trekking, camping, tonga rides, boat safaris, and jeep safaris.

Whether you are in your 20s, 30s, 40s, or beyond; there’re tons of awesome experiences out theres waiting for you!

Kanupriyaa Choudhary-Legha runs My Lost Camel