Nestled in the Deccan Plateau, the Betla National Park includes 1,026 sq km of Palamau Tiger Reserve (one of the first nine tiger reserves to be established in India in the year 1974), an additional area of 226 sq km that was added in 1989 and the 63 sq km of the Mahuadar Wolf Sanctuary. The world’s first tiger census took place here in the year 1932. In fact, Betla is one of the first national parks to come under Project Tiger.

Park Vehicle Entry Jeep/ SUV ₹150 Timings 6.00-10.00am & 2.00-5.00pm, Closed from July to September Photography ₹ 100 Videography ₹ 100 Guide ₹ 100 per trip

Swapan Nayak
Gorgeous landscape at Netrahat
Gorgeous landscape at Netrahat

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

Interestingly, Betla is an acronym for bison, elephant, tiger, leopard and axis-axis (latin name for spotted deer). Situated in the northwest of the state, this national park offers excellent opportunites for observing wildlife. The roads are well-maintained and wildlife sightings are frequent despite pockets of thick foliage with visibility less than 10 m. Do try the elephant safari (₹ 80 per head).

Animals that can be spotted here include elephants, gaur, cheetal, sloth bears, mouse deer, pangolins, four-horned antelopes, sambar, civets, wolves and the tiger. Betla also boasts about 174 bird species, including owls and drongos.

Apart from exploring the park, visitors can plan a trip to the 468-ft high Lodh Falls, situated 95 km south of the park in Mahuadar. Also keep aside half a day to visit the ruins of the Chero Kings’ Fort situated 11.5 km off Betla, at 400 ft.

Tiger taking a stroll at Betla National Park
Tiger taking a stroll at Betla National Park

In terms of accommodation, the Forest Rest House at Betla, Maromar and Baresand are your options. For reservations, contact DFO Palamau, Daltonganj (Tel: 06562-222282). One can also opt for Van Vihar Tourist Complex. Contact the Jharkhand Tourism Development Corporation, Ranchi (Tel: 0651-2331828).

TIP Betla Village is the only entry point to the park. From October-February, vehicles can be hired from Betla. In the off-season it’s best to de pend on Ranchi (taxi ₹ 500 plus fuel). On your return journey you can stop by Netrahat (47 km), a quaint hill station

When to go Best time to visit is November-April. However, the best sightings are in the months of May and June Location In the Chota Nagpur Plateau of the Latehar district Air Nearest airport: Birsa Munda Airport, Ranchi Rail Nearest rail: Daltonganj