Monkey family gathered on a rock near temple, Hampi, India
The natural and cultural abundance of India is impressive, beautiful and a major attraction to the subcontinent. The variety of terrestrial animals, aquatic animals, plants and birds has long fascinated researchers, and many of these form a major part of Indian beliefs and customs. As the world becomes more industrialised and the population of India continues to increase, however, a growing threat is placed upon such natural resources. Hunting, pollution and a shrinking habitat are the major causes for many species losing large portions of their population. In response, India has created a number of parks and sanctuaries to protect these and to showcase them to the public. This is not only for tourist purposes, but also to educate spectators about the plants and animals with a view to ensuring their long-term survival. The Kaziranga National Park is situated in the state of Assam and is known for its pristine rawness. It is one of the few remaining areas that has not been touched by human influence and has the largest one-horned rhino population in existence. It is also home to elephants, tigers, panthers and bears as well as many avian species for bird watching.
The Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is also in Assam, right on the slopes of the Himalayan Mountain Range. These mountain faces are populated by forests, grasslands and woods and are home to elephants, Indian Rhinos, tigers and Pygmy Hogs, along with many more species. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1992 in response to rhino poaching as well as to the damage inflicted upon it by Bodo militants. Today, militants still manage to enter the sanctuary surreptitiously. However, the money being invested and the efforts made have made a major impact on the protection of these natural treasures.
The Nanda Devi National Park and the Valley of Flowers National Park in the state of Uttaranchal showcases the Himalaya Mountains in all of their spectacular glory. This area is, for the most part, very difficult to access, which has actually ensured its safety. Nanda Devi is home to the Snow Leopard, Himalayan Musk Deer and the Bharal, all of which are endangered species. The Valley of Flowers boasts vast expanses of breathtaking alpine flowers as well as the Snow Leopard, Brown Bear, Asiatic Black Bear and Blue Sheep (known for a bluish sheen in its dark coat). Nanda Devi and the Valley of Flowers combine to form a famous transition zone. The Valley of Flowers has made its appearance in Hindu mythology for hundreds of years.
The Group of Monuments at Hampi in Karnataka, Bellary District, is another important national treasure, despite not being famous for its plants and animals. This was the capital city of Vijayanagar, which was the last major Hindu Empire of India. The beautiful temples and palaces, dating back to the 14th century, provide a fascinating glimpse into ancient India and the origins of the Hindu faith. Construction, development, traffic and pollution currently put these monuments under severe threat, and Hampi is on the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger.
India has no shortage of national parks, making it perfect for researchers, explorers, couples, families and the more typical sightseers. The abundance and diversity that characterises the subcontinent as a whole is manifest in such ample and valuable resources.