The Golden Triangle is home to some of India’s most spectacular national parks, some of which are also home to wild tigers. If you’re more interested in Mother Nature than in monuments, Northern India won’t disappoint.
Ranthambore National Park
This beautiful park is home to a large old fort, a beautiful variety of wispy trees, and all types of birds and animals. If you’re lucky, you may just spot a tiger, but even if you don’t see one, you’ll likely get an up-close look at some of the other wild beasts that live in this beautiful reserve, such as sloth bears, hyenas, antelopes, and a number of varieties of wild cats. Many people, especially wildlife photographers, try to up their chances of seeing a tiger by going on both morning and afternoon safaris.
Keoladeo National Park
Home to hundreds of species of migratory birds as well as cows, snakes, and a diverse variety of flora, Keoladeo National Park is an excellent place for bird lovers to visit in any season. Try to visit the park in the early morning so you can hear the songs of the many avian species. Don’t forget to stop by the Visitor Interpretation Centre to learn more about migratory birds and North India’s ecosystem.
Sariska Tiger Reserve
This national park in the heart of Rajasthan is home to an array of birds and mammals as well as a few rarely seen tigers. Go on an early morning safari and keep your eyes peeled for wild boars, striped hyenas, and jungle cats, including the elusive caracals, beautiful lynxlike felines with pointy ears. If you come after the monsoon season (late June-Aug.), you’ll likely notice the stunning fiery-red flowers of Sariska’s many dhak trees.
The old hill station of Mussoorie is known for cool temperatures, lush pine forests, and excellent walking trails. Make sure you take a stroll or horseback ride down Mussoorie’s Camel’s Back Road, breathing in the fresh air generated by the town’s surrounding forest. You can also walk up to the suburb of Landour and keep going until you reach the summit of Lal Tibba (Red Hill), one of the region’s most stunning viewpoints. A short drive from Mussoorie, Kempty Falls is pretty commercialized, so you may prefer to head straight to the office of the Himalayan Adventure Institute and inquire about the outdoor activities they have to offer.
Agra has a number of gardens, although most of these are designed using the char bagh system, which puts more emphasis on fountains than on greenery. The best place to feel at one with nature while taking in some great views of the Taj Mahal is the Taj Nature Walk, home to a large variety of plants and birds.
Nature lovers in Delhi won’t want to miss Deer Park, which provides a peaceful sanctuary to dozens of deer in South Delhi. Central Delhi’s Lodi Gardens is a good place to get familiar with the region’s flora and fauna by studying the large illustrated information boards that are displayed just inside the park’s Lodi Road entrance.
Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Taj Mahal, Delhi & Jaipur.