Srisailam Sanctuary is the largest tiger reserve in India. It is located in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh at Macherla, sprawling an area of 3568-sq-kms in the districts of Guntur, Prakasam, Kurnool, Mahaboobnagar and Nalgonda. The sanctuary is flanked by the Mallamalai hills on the southeastern edge, while the Krishna River forms a boundary on the northeastern border flowing about 130 kms inside the forest. Upon the river stands the Nagarjunasagar – Srisailam reservoir from which the sanctuary got its name. The central and western parts comprise a plateau, which also happens to be among the oldest geological formations in the world known as "Archaean" dating back some 2,000 million years. The main vegetation of the sanctuary is dry deciduous mixed forest with scrubs and bamboo thickets. The main attractions of Srisailam are its population of tiger, leopard, sloth bear and hyena. Other than wildlife, tourists also come to see the temples at Srisailam which is an important pilgrimage centre.
The sanctuary was notified in 1978 and acknowledged as a Tiger Reserve in 1983. It was renamed as Rajiv Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary in 1992.
Main Fauna: The sanctuary is visited most for its tiger population. However, the tiger population is facing the danger of extinction though serious conservation efforts were introduced for their protection. There were about 100 tigers at the beginning of this decade. The last census conducted in 1997 puts the present tiger population in the sanctuary at 20. The other wild animas found at the sanctuary are Indian giant squirrels, black bucks, sambhar, chousingha nilgai, wild boars, tree shrews, rayels, wild dogs, jackals, wolves, foxes, sloth bear, panthers, spotted deer, mouse deer, mugger and crocodiles.
Main Flora: The plant species found here include aegele marmelos (Bengal quince or wood apple), bombax ceiba (Simal), bridelia retusa, as wel as anogeissus latifolia, cleisthanthus collinus, terminalia species, pterocarpus marsupium, hardwickia binata, boswellia serrata, tectona grandis, mandelia suberora and albizzia species.
Best Time To Visit: June to October is the best time to visit the sanctuary. During the summers from March to June temperature ranges from 12° C to 43° C, so it can get pretty uncomfortable.
Accommodation: There are 3 guesthouses available inside the forest. Otherwise, there are plenty of hotels in Macherla.
Getting There: The sanctuary is well connected by road. Markapur Railway Station is the nearest railhead which is 85 kms away. The nearest airport is at Hyderabad which is at a distance of 316 kms.