Betla national park s pride of Palamau.Situated in the districts of Palamau and Latehar Sanctuary is spread over an area of 979sq.km. The core area of 232 sq. km of the sanctuary was declared as Betla National park in September1989. The park occupies the western parts of the Chotanagpur plateau and was constituted in the year 1960 as an extension of the Hazaribagh National park. Palamau has the distinction of being the forest where the world's first tiger census was enumerated in 1932. The park became one of the earliest 9 tiger reserves in India under 'Project Tiger' in 1974.
The forests of the park have a vast range of vegetation consisting of tropical wet evergreen forests in the lower reaches, mixed (moist & dry) deciduous forests in the middle and temperate alpine forests in the upper reaches including Sal and bamboo as the major components along with a number of medicinal plants like palash,guliachi . The river north Koel and its tributaries Ornga run through the northern portion of the park. There are grasslands in the river flowing area. It has waterfalls and hot springs in satbarwa and mirchaiya fall.
One can also visit 468 –ft high Lodh Falls situated 95 km south of the park in Mahuadar and ruins of the Chero Kings’ Fort situated near the Betla at 400 ft (120 m). Once the seat of Chero kings, there are two historical forts, one of them belonging to the 16th century deep inside the forest. The main sentinel of the old fort is visible high up on the hill with defences in three directions and three main gates.
The diversity of Eco-system promotes a wide variety of fauna consisting of elephant, panther, leopard, wild boar, tiger, gaur, sloth bear, sambar, chital, nuntjac, nilgai, langur, mouse deer, monkeys, small Indian civet, mongoose, jackals, porcupine, ant eating pangolin etc. Elephants in large numbers are seen mostly during the monsoons up to the time when water sources begin to dry up in March. Jackal and hyena are common scavengers. Bird-life is rich featuring the hornbill, peafowl, red jungle fowl, black partridge, white necked stork, black ibis, swamp grey, quail, the pied born bill, wagtails, the harial, doves, drongo, the crested serpent-eagle, forest owls, the papiha and other birds usually found in dry deciduous forests. The famous Kamaldah lake attracts several varieties of water birds including the common whistling and cotton teal, the comb duck, snipe and geese. The rhesus monkey and the common languor provide attraction to children visiting the park.
Described as one of the finest parks in the north-east for observing a variety of wild life from close range and tribal studies , there are elephant rides and jeeps available with guides and spotlight for venturing inside the park. Watch towers and ground hides have been constructed to view the wild life. Only group travel is recommended. Timings are from 0500 to 1900 hours.Best time of year to visit