Betla National Park is home to the world’s first tiger census in 1932 and now part of Project Tiger, this undeniable natural gem of the state is situated in the west of Ranchi nearly 140 km away and is one of the best places in India for wild elephants and tiger sightings. The whole Palamau Sanctuary covers around 1026 sq km, while the core area of 232 sq km was declared as Betla National Park in 1989.
There are many rickety observation towers in the park for the brave to climb and lay low, while watching wildlife in silence. About eight local tribes spread across 200 small villages reside in the park with these animals. This park was originally the place of Chero dynasty, two of its fort build in the 16th century still exist in the jungle.
The vegetation of the Betla National Park ranges from tropical wet evergreen in the lower reaches and mixed deciduous forests in the middle to temperate alpine forests in the high altitude areas. Sal and bamboo trees cover a major portion of the national park while the river Koel along with its tributaries meanders through the northern part.
The diversified ecosystem of the Betla National Park is home to a variety of animal species as well. Pure stands of sal forest, rich evergreens, teak trees and bamboo thickets are home to the most endangered species of tigers, leopards, elephant and bison. Apart from these animals the wildlife inmates of this park includes, chinkara, panther, jackal, monkey, Indian civet, chital, sloth bear,mouse deer,langur, sambhar, nilgai and porcupine among others.
Birdlife of the Betla National is also quite rich. Bird watchers can enjoy the sights of avian species including rich featuring the hornbill, red jungle fowl, white necked stork, swamp grey, black ibis, peafowl, black partridge, pied born bill, the harial, doves,wagtails, drongo, the crested serpent-eagle, forest owls etc. The Kamaldah Lake in the park is the best place to spot the beautiful aquatic birds like snipe, geese, teal and duck.
May is a prime time for tiger-spotting as the forest cover is reduced and the animals venture out in search of waterholes. Jeep safaris can be hired privately at the park gate.
The park also offers elephant safaris that take you off the vehicle tracks and into the jungle where you get an unparalleled look at the park’s flora and fauna. The waterfall and the hot springs in the park are also the tourist’s attraction.
The best accommodation in the park is the Van Vihar tourist complex run by the government. It’s the only option open all year. Jharkhand Tourism also runs the basic Tourist House for the accommodation of visiting tourists.
Added to this there are a number of private tourist lodges, cottages and hotels to cater to your needs of travelers.
The nearest town to the park entrance is Daltonganj, 25km away. It is the nearest railway station from Betla with the reagular trains from the railhead connects to different parts of the country. The closest airport from the Betla National Park is Ranchi, 180 km away with the regular flights connecting to important Indian destinations.
Ranchi and Gaya are other major convenient railway stations located close to Betla. Daltonganj (25 kms) via Khudia morh (6km), Ranchi (140 kms), Hazaribagh (190 kms), Netarhat (211 kms), Patna (384 kms) and Kolkata (575 kms) are some places from where Betla park is easily accessible.