Uttar Pradesh exhibits a seamless blend of culture, traditions, art and architecture. The fertile alluvial plains of the many rivers criss-crossing this bountiful state have seen civilisations rise and fall through the centuries. But apart from the bustling cities, Uttar Pradesh is also home to untouched wildernesses that continue to enthrall the visitors with their astonishingly diverse flora and fauna. The state has several wildlife sanctuaries and parks that can stimulate your love for wildlife. Here is a list of some of the best wildlife destinations in U.P. for you to get in touch with your ‘wild’ side.
Dudhwa National Park and Tiger Reserve
Situated on the Indo-Nepal border in the Lakhimpur Kheri District, Dudhwa National Park lies in the sub-Himalayan region referred to as the Terai belt. The park’s mosaic of high forest interspersed with grasslands is characteristic of the Terai ecosystems in India and the area is, probably, the last prominent remnant of this type of ecosystem. Hosting a tremendous count of Swamp Deer and Tigers, the park is a home to some of the best forests of ‘Sal’ tree in the world. Together with the Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary and the Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary it forms the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve. The area of the Park is composed of an enormous alluvial plain along the tributaries of Mohana and Suheli, interspersed with numerous rivulets, lakes and pools. The rich and extremely fertile Indo-Gangetic plains support an impressive variety of flora and fauna.
Dhudwa is an ideal and protected home for varied species of mammals, reptiles and birds. It is a stronghold of the barasingha. The park also boasts a range of migratory birds that settle here during winters including painted storks, sarus cranes, woodpeckers, barbets, kingfishers, minivets, bulbuls and various nocturnal birds of prey. The sheer variety of birds make Dudhwa a birder’s paradise. The natural, untamed beauty of the reserve makes it an ideal destination for wildlife enthusiasts and and nature lovers.
Chandra Prabha Wildlife Sanctuary
Established in May 1957, Chandra Prabha Wildlife Sanctuary is located in Chandauli district near Varanasi. Entrenched with thick forests, striking picnic spots and picturesque waterfalls like Rajdari and Devdari, it attracts a sizable number of tourists every year. It is gifted with a wide variety of wildlife including blackbucks, chital, sambar, nilgai, wild boar, porcupine, chinkara, gharial and python. With over 150 species of birds calling it home, it is also a delight for bird watchers.
Pilibhit Tiger Reserve and Wildlife Sanctuary
One of the finest examples of the highly diversified and productive Terai-Duar savanna and grasslands eco-system, Pilibhit Tiger Reserve is spread in the Pilibhit, Lakhimpur Kheri and Bahraich District of Uttar Pradesh. The sanctuary is one of India’s 41 Tiger reserves project, recently 4 new tiger cubs were found in the park establishing the fact that it is safe and prosperous reserve for tigers. Forests in Pilibhit have at least 36 tigers and a good prey base for their survival. It constitutes a habitat for over 127 animals, 556 bird species and 2,100 flowering plants.
Sandi Bird Sanctuary
Popularly known as “Dahar Jheel”, Sandi Bird Sanctuary is located at a distance of 19 km on Hardoi-Sandi Road in Hardoi district of Uttar Pradesh. The sanctuary was formed in the year 1990 so as to protect the natural habitats and aquatic vegetation for the local inhabitants and migratory birds. The migratory birds commence to arrive at the sanctuary at the start of winter in the month of November.
The sanctuary is enriched with much aquatic vegetation like: Bhoori Kai, Jalkumbhi, Hari kai, Singhara, Pistia, Jaljanjal, Kamalini, Kamal, Jalrani, Potamogeton, Khaja chhoti, Katia, Feeta Ghas, Alloteropsis, Chloris, Oona, Shama, etc. Wild species include Mongoose, Blue Bull, Nilgai and Jackal. Migrated birds include Ruddy Shelduck, Great Crested Grebe, Pin Tail, White Storks, Black lbis, Common Teal, Glossy lbis, Spoonbill, Sholveller, Coot, Spot Bill Duck, and many more. Thus, it attracts ornithologists and bird watchers in large numbers.
Sur Sarovar Bird Sanctuary
Sur Sarovar, also known as Keetham Lake, is about 20 kms from Agra and 12 kms from Sikandra, and is located within the Sur Sarovar Bird Sanctuary. It was declared as National Bird Sanctuary on 27 March 1991 by U.P. Forest Department Surrounded by the river Yamuna, Sur Srovar is spread in over an area of around 7 sq. km. and It has a large lake, which is home to more than 165 species of migratory and resident birds. Besides the diverse bird population, the sanctuary also has around 300 pythons. Moreover, Sur Sarovar is also the biggest Bear Rescue centre for rescued dancing bears. Keetham Lake nests many aquatic plants, flowers and wild medicinal plants that include weeds, shrubs, and herbs. Aquatic birds includes Brahminy Ducks, Saurus Cranes, Gadwalls, Shovellers, Spoonbills, Bar-headed Geese, Dabchick, Great White Pelican, etc.
It is believed to be the place where Lord Krishna and Radha used to meet, and also a place that inspired the famed poet Soordas to compose the “Bhakti Kavya”. In the present day Sur Sarovar is a declared heaven for birds that come here from farthest lands.
Founded in 1977, Ranipur Wildlife Sanctuary is about 150 km from Allahabad in Banda district on the foothills of Himalayas. Spread over 230 sq. km, it is enriched with exotic fauna forming natural habitat for many species and point for most sacred rivers of Uttar Pradesh. The sanctuary is known for its good leopard population, and the shrub land in the vicinity, is the home of Nilgai. Blackbuck, Sloth Bear, Fishing Cat, Chinkara, Sambar, Leopard, Tiger, Spur Fowl and migratory birds like Pintails, Reef Herons, Sand Gills, Egrets, Flamingo, Painted Storks, Grey Herons, Spot Billed Ducks, Egrets, Pelicans, etc. are found here.
Founded in 1986, Hastinapur Sanctuary is spread across Bijnor, Ghaziabad, Meerut and Jyoti-ba Phule Nagar, sprawling across an area of 2073 sq. km. The marshy land along the Ganges makes the sanctuary a paradise for migratory birds. Over 350 species of birds are found here such as painted stork, black and white necked stork, sarus crane, as well as night birds of prey, ranging from the great Indian horned owl to the jungle owlet, colourful woodpecker, barbet, kingfisher, minivet, bee-eater and bulbul. It houses wild species including Mammals, Reptiles, Amphibians, Butterflies and Fishes. India’s National Bird Peacock is found here in large quantity. Gangetic dolphins have been spotted in certain stretches along the river, especially between Haridwar and Bijnor. Home to some unique creatures, the sanctuary is a haven for wildlife reaserachers and enthusiasts.
Uttar Pradesh is home to approximately 23 wildlife sanctuaries and national parks and the current government intends to add more such protected reserves to the list. Some other notable sanctuaries being the National Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary, Lakh Bahosi Sanctuary, Samaspur Sanctuary, Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary, Mahavir Swami Sanctuary, Samaspur Sanctuary, Okhla Sanctuary, Patna Bird Sanctuary and the Suhelva Sanctuary. Uttar Pradesh is blessed with one of the most fertile and biologically diverse eco-systems to be found anywhere in the world. The picturesque reserves in U.P. haven for wildlife lovers, researchers and tourists from all over the world. So, if you are a wildlife enthusiast and have a penchant for capturing the wild and the untamed, get your cameras ready and head over to the bountiful natural reserves of Uttar Pradesh.