India’s Top 15 Most Beautiful Forests to Explore

India's Top 15 Most Beautiful Forests to Explore

India's Top 15 Most Beautiful Forests to Explore

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From the sacred groves of Mawphlang to the sprawling mangroves of the Sundarbans, or the rainforests of Cherapunji, each forest presents a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage. 

20th May 2024

By Ishika Kumar

India, a country renowned for its diverse landscapes, is home to some of the world’s most enchanting forests. From the sacred groves of Meghalaya to the sprawling mangroves of the Sundarbans, these forests offer a refuge for a plethora of wildlife and a haven for nature enthusiasts. 

In this article, we delve into some of the most notable forests across India, each promising an unforgettable experience.

1.     Saranda Forest, Jharkhand: 

Saranda Forest, situated in the West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand, has a rich history as the former hunting grounds of the Singh Deo royal family. Spanning 820 square kilometres, this forest is home to the Ho people and abundant in iron ore, minerals and Sal trees. Leopards and other wildlife thrive here, adding to the forest’s allure. The name ‘Saranda’ reflects its lush greenery and numerous water sources, creating a diverse and vibrant ecosystem.

2.     Sundarbans Forest, West Bengal: 

The Sundarbans, named after the Sundari Mangrove trees, is one of the world’s largest active deltas, straddling India and Bangladesh. Covering 40,000 square kilometres, this unique forest is renowned for its coastal mangroves and is a sanctuary for the majestic Royal Bengal tiger and over 260 bird species. With 102 islands, 54 of which are inhabited, the Sundarbans is a vital natural habitat and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

3.     Namdapha National Park, Arunachal Pradesh: 

Namdapha National Park, the fourth largest national park in India, spans 1,985 square kilometres and is a biodiversity hotspot in the Eastern Himalayas. Known for its extensive bamboo forests and evergreen rainforests, Namdapha is home to a rich variety of flora and fauna. Initially a wildlife sanctuary, it was designated as a Tiger Reserve in 1983, making it a critical area for conservation.

4.     Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve: 

The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, translating to ‘Blue Mountains,’ is where the Western and Eastern Ghats converge. This reserve, spread across Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, is famous for its seasonal rainforests, tropical forests and moist deciduous forests. Inhabited by various tribes with unique customs, the Nilgiri Reserve is a biodiversity hotspot with over 3,500 species of flowering plants.

5.     Mawphlang Sacred Forest, Meghalaya: 

The Mawphlang Sacred Forest, spanning 192 acres, is revered as the dwelling place of the local deity Labasa, who protects the forest in the form of a leopard or tiger. Strict rules prohibit the removal of anything from the forest, preserving its ecological integrity. The forest, adorned with monoliths depicting animal sacrifices, houses a variety of flora with medicinal properties and is a living testament to ancient traditions.

6.     Pichavaram Mangrove Forest, Tamil Nadu: 

Ranked as the world’s second-largest mangrove forest, Pichavaram in Tamil Nadu offers a serene retreat with its 50 islands and 4,400 canals. Despite serving as a buffer during the 2004 tsunami, protecting inland territories, it faces challenges from its complex waterways, which attract smugglers. Nevertheless, Pichavaram remains an offbeat destination ideal for a peaceful weekend getaway.

7.     Khasi Hills, Meghalaya: 

Known as the ‘Scotland of the East,’ the Khasi Hills in Meghalaya feature low mountain formations on the Shillong plateau and are home to the Khasi people, known for their matrilineal society. This region, including Cherrapunjee, one of the wettest places on Earth, offers a unique blend of culture and breathtaking landscapes, making it a must-visit for nature lovers.

8.     Parvati Valley, Himachal Pradesh: 

Parvati Valley, where the rivers Parvati and Beas converge, offers a picturesque drive through rugged terrain and lush forests. Stretching 252 kilometres from Bhuntar to Kasol and Manikaran, the valley is best explored from March to June. The journey through Himachal Pradesh’s Western Himalayas features extensive rivers, dense forests and thrilling mountain roads.

9.     Araku Valley, Andhra Pradesh: 

Nestled in the Eastern Ghats, Araku Valley is a picturesque hill town known for its coffee plantations and serene waterfalls. The 118-kilometre drive from Vizag to Araku takes over three hours, best enjoyed from December to February. The route offers a scenic journey through the Anantagiri Mountain Range, with stops at local eateries for a delightful culinary experience.

10.   Jim Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand: 

India’s oldest national park, Jim Corbett, is renowned for its tiger population. The 182-kilometre drive from Dehradun to the park, best undertaken from October to February, passes through Rajaji National Park and the holy town of Haridwar. The route offers a rich experience of dense greenery and local wildlife, making it a perfect road trip for nature enthusiasts.

11.  Cherrapunji, Meghalaya: 

Cherrapunji, the second wettest place on Earth, is famed for its waterfalls, living and breathing root bridges and verdant landscapes. The 54-kilometre drive from Shillong, best experienced from October to February, takes you through Meghalaya’s untouched environment, featuring waterfalls like Laitsohpliah Falls and Elephant Falls, and local eateries serving authentic Khasi cuisine.

12. Vagamon, Kerala: Vagamon, a hill town at 3,937 feet, is known for its tea gardens, pine forests and waterfalls. The 101-kilometre drive from Kochi, best enjoyed from September to March, takes you from the coastal city through the backwaters to the pine forests of Vagamon. Along the way, you can stop at Marmala Waterfall and Kurisumala Monastery, making it a picturesque and serene road trip.

13. Abujmarh, Chhattisgarh: 

Abujmarh, a high forest area in Chhattisgarh, has been a haven for indigenous tribes such as the Gond and Muria Maria. The forest, covering 4,000 square kilometres, is known for its rich mineral resources and dense greenery. Recently opened to visitors, Abujmarh provides a unique opportunity to explore a region steeped in history and natural beauty. The area’s cultural and ecological significance makes it a fascinating destination for adventurous travellers.

14.   Keibul Lamjao National Park, Manipur: 

Keibul Lamjao National Park, located on the southwestern edge of Loktak Lake, is the world’s only floating national park. Home to the endangered Sangai deer, the park’s unique wetland ecosystem supports a variety of wildlife. The floating biomass, known as phumdis, creates a surreal landscape, making it a must-visit for nature enthusiasts and wildlife photographers. The park also offers opportunities to see otters, waterfowl and migratory birds.

15.  Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh: 

Kanha National Park is one of India’s largest national parks and is renowned for its efforts to conserve the barasingha, or swamp deer. The park’s diverse habitats, including sal and bamboo forests, grasslands and rivers, support a rich variety of wildlife such as tigers, leopards, sloth bears and wild dogs. Kanha’s stunning landscapes inspired Rudyard Kipling’s famous novel, “The Jungle Book,” making it a magical destination for both literature and nature lovers.

India’s forests, teeming with wildlife and diverse ecosystems, offer an escape from the noise and commotion of city life. From the sacred groves of Mawphlang to the sprawling mangroves of the Sundarbans, or the rainforests of Cherapunji, each forest presents a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage. These destinations promise an enriching and rejuvenating experience. So pack your bags, hit the road and immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of India’s forests.