Betla (Palamau) National Park

Nature Reserve in Betla (Palamau) National Park

This lovely, rarely visited national park covers around 1026 sq km, much of which comprises the Palamau Tiger Reserve. Hiding behind stands of sal forest, rich evergreens, teak trees and bamboo thickets are some 17 tigers, 52 leopards, 216 wild elephants and four lonely nilgai (antelope) according to a 2007 census (newer figures are yet to be derived). Tiger sightings are extremely rare, but you're likely to see wild elephants, monkeys, spotted deer and possibly some gaur (Indian bison).

Betla spreads over the hilly landscape of picturesque Palamau district, 140km west of Ranchi. The park is open year-round, but the best time to visit is October to April. If you can stand the heat, May is prime for tiger spotting as forest cover is reduced and animals venture out in search of waterholes. Jeep safaris and elephant rides can be arranged at the park gate, but we do not recommend riding elephants because of the harm this can cause to the animals. You must also hire a local guide to accompany you.