Madhya Pradesh is not only known for its rich heritage and culture but also known for its amazing treasure of flora and fauna. That just brought a smile to your face, right? Check out why Madhya Pradesh is a called, the Wildlife Haven.
Bandhavgarh National Park and Tiger Reserve:
Charger, Challenger, Sita and B2 — these tigers, more legends than beas ts, have captured our hearts for long. The Tiger Census 2010 reveals that Karnataka has beaten Bandhavgarh for having the highest number of tigers (257 against 300) in the wild. This is cautioning and heartening all in one step. Lauded for supporting the densest number of tigers in the world, the 448-sq km Bandhavgarh National Park was brought under the internationally-launched Project Tiger in 1993. The tourist zone spread over 105 sq km comprises the rich, biodiverse expanses of the Tala range. The park is home to 22 species of mammals and 250 species of avifauna that flourish in a varied terrain of hills, valleys, meadows, wetlands, five perennial streams and the Charanganga river. The terrain is tropical moist deciduous consisting of sal, assorted jungle trees and grassland. You can also visit the ruins of the Bandhavgarh fort.
Getting there: The nearest airport is at Jabalpur (193 km) and the nearest railhead is at Katni (101 km).
Kanha National Park
A twin sibling of Bandhavgarh, and also an important tiger haven, Kanha National Park — the state’s second most important tiger reserve — was established as a National Park in 1955. Spread over 940 sq km in a horseshoe curved valley in the Maikal Range in Mandla and Balaghat districts, its terrain consists of plateaus and flat-bottomed valleys that tend to become clayey and are locally known as kanhar from where the park is known to have derived its name. It is watered by two principal rivers — Banjar and Halon. Kanha’s famous five sightings are the tiger, sloth bear, dhole (wild dog), gaur and the barasingha (hardground deer). The barasingha, a handsome 12-antlered deer, listed as Vulnerable C1, has been saved from extinction by Kanha’s conservation programme. The other animals recorded in Kanha National Park are langur monkeys, sambar, mouse deer, nilgai, chausingha, gaur, jungle cat, leopard cat and leopard.
Getting there: The nearest airport and railhead are at Jabalpur (165 km).
Pench National Park
One of the most delightful and rewarding settings for tiger-spotting, the Pench National Park (estd 1983) was said to have inspired Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book. To be found it in the foothills of the Satpura Range along the bordering districts of Nagpur, Seoni and Chhindwara of Maharashtra (with which it shares a small segment of the park) the national park is also host to the most populous number of herbivores (mostly cheetal and sambar) in India. Its vegetation is southern tropical, slightly moist teak forests, and dry mixed deciduous forests. It is watered by the Pench river and other seasonal streams. There are, however, a few perennial springs and the great Pench Reservoir to spread their greening influence when the streams dry up. With 1,200 species of plants — including endangered, rare and of ethno-botanical importance — the park is a magnet for botanical enthusiasts. It was declared a Tiger Reserve in 1993. It is home to 39 species of mammals, 13 species of reptiles, three species of amphibians, and 285 species of avifauna. To know more about Pench National Park, check out this cool travel story.
Getting there: The nearest airport and railhead are at Nagpur (92 km).
Panna National Park
This world-renowned diamond belt was once rich in wildlife of the highest order, but the Panna National Park is still one of the most beautiful natural settings in Madhya Pradesh to explore. A Project Tiger Reserve since 1994, the Panna NP lies in close proximity to Khajuraho and is popular for birding and trips along the Ken river to the Ken Gharial Sanctuary, Raneh Falls and Pandav Falls. In the Ken river flowing through this reserve, there is the Ken Gharial Wildlife Sanctuary for the long-snouted, fish-eating gharial crocodiles. From a viewpoint, high above the river, visitors can see them like grey logs basking on the white sand banks of the Ken. Close encounters with these descendants of dinosaurs can be had in boats. Standing cheek-by-jowl with the Panna National Park, this sanctuary is a popular tourist spot. Measuring 45 sq km, it was established in 1981, its surrounding forests of teak, seja, jamun and pakar are home to nilgai, cheetal and chinkara.
Getting there: The nearest airport/railhead is at Khajuraho (30 km).
Satpura National Park
It is a richly rewarding experience to set off on a journey of discovery at Satpura National Park, tucked away in the serenity of the Satpura mountain ranges in Hoshangabad district. One of its most attractive aspects is that it’s relatively tourist-free. Satpura is also one of the few tiger reserves in the country where you are permitted to explore on foot (on designated trekking trails) where you can spot tigers, leopards, sloth bears, wild boars, gaurs, Malabar squirrels and other forest inhabitants. Besides enjoying a safari in the national park, you can also enjoy a mini cruise in Madhai, the gateway to the tiger reserve here. It can be reached by road from Itarsi, 79 km away. Here, MP Tourism, in collaboration with MP Ecotourism Development Board, is offering a unique river wildlife safari for tourists travelling from Tawa to Madhai. The Tawa reservoir is a large reservoir on the Tawa river and is a big attraction during monsoon months. Enroute the safari, you can view the wildlife and panoramic landscapes. The Jalpari (the mini cruise boat) takes about four hours to complete the trip and can hold up to 10 persons. This unique cruise is fast becoming popular with all visitors to the Satpura National Park.
Getting there: The nearest airport is at Bhopal (180 km), and nearest railway station is Pipariya (55 km).
National Chambal Sanctuary
National Chambal Sanctuary, spread across 5,400 sq km, houses the critically endangered Gharial crocodile, the Red-crowned roof turtle, and the endangered Ganges River Dolphin. You can hire a boat alongwith an experienced guide, for sighting and photography of gharials and dolphins. A boat excursion or walking trails in the ravines and along the river will also offer many good viewpoints for photography of water and shore birds and unique landscapes. The other threatened inhabitants of the sanctuary include muggar crocodile, smooth-coated otter, striped hyaena and Indian wolf. The Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve (4,927 sq km) of which the Satpura National Park is the core area, also includes the wildliferich pockets of the Bori WLS and Pachmarhi WLS. Other sanctuaries are the Chambal Sanctuary in Morena district for gharial and gigantic dolphins; Kuno-Palpur WLS, Sanjay-Dubri WLS, Phen WLS, Bagdara WLS, Nauradehi WLS, Panpatha WLS, and the Veeranaga Durgawati WLS for tigers and birding. For sightings of the unique bird species kharmour, head to Sailana WLS and Sardarpur WLS.
About the author
Kshitiz loves to travel, read and write. And yes, second love: theatre.