When it comes to wildlife, Madhya Pradesh is immensely blessed. One among very few states in India, which have the richest variety of flora and fauna, Madhya Pradesh is a veritable delight for nature lovers and holiday makers. This is the magic of the woods that beckons people here again and again. It is here that one has the most spectacular sightings. In these parks, the moments are memorable and the experiences unforgettable.
Equally delightful are the opportunities for investors here. Madhya Pradesh is making careful and judicious use of its wildlife resources for the growth in tourism sector. With different facilitation and investor friendly policies, the state is keen to have private ventures for furthering its growth. So whether you are a traveler or an investor, the state welcomes you from the heart.
Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve
Situated in the eastern stretch of the Vindhyan Ranges it is 5-hour drive from Khajuraho and 165 km away from Jabalpur. Earlier, the forests around Bandhavgarh were maintained as a Shikargah or the game preserve of the Maharaja of Rewa Bandhavgarh is famous for tiger sighting.
The Tiger Reserve covers an area of 1536.93 sq km with a core area of 716.90 sq km dominated by extremely rugged terrain with many hills. Many hills and hillocks dot the area amidst valleys, meadows and marshes. One can also visit the remains of 200 years old Bandhavgarh Fort and around it are cave shrines with ancient Sanskrit inscriptions dating back to 1st century BC. At the centre of the park is Bandhavgarh hill. Surrounding it are a large number of smaller hills separated by gently sloping valleys. Bandhavgarh tiger reserve has a number of old tanks, water holes to provide for water sources and Charanganga river is the prominent river flowing through the park. With tropical dry and moist deciduous forests interspersed with grasslands, the vegetation is chiefly of sal forest in the valleys and on the lower slopes with bamboo found in abundance almost throughout Bandhavgarh has a good relative abundance of tigers and other wildlife species. Among mammals chital, sambhar, barking deer, wild dog, leopard, wolf, jackal, sloth bear, wild pig, langur, monkey are seen occasionally. Reptiles include cobra, krait, viper, python, chameleon etc. The reserve is also rich in birds. Some 250 species of birds are found in the park. The common ones are egret, jungle crow, peafowl, grey hornbill, red wattled lapwing, crested serpent eagle, quails, owls, parakeets, common teal etc. The Tala range rich in water and food resources harbours most of the wildlife.
How to reach;
The airports at Khajuraho (237 km) and at Jabalpur (195 km) serve as a good base to visit Bandhavgarh. Nearest railway stations are at Jabalpur (195 km), Katni (100 km) and Satna (120 km) on the Central Railway and Umaria (33 km) on South Eastern Railway. Buses and taxis are available to visit the park from Jabalpur, Katni, Umaria etc.
Kanha Tiger Reserve
Kanha was constituted into a National Park in 1955. Today, it is rated by conservationists as one of the best maintained parks in Asia. Kanha's grasslands, sal groves and bamboo forests are a heaven for wildlife. The tiger roams free in Kanha National Park, which forms the core of Kanha Tiger Reserve created in 1973. The Reserve is also the only habitat of the rare hardground barasingha.
With all the astonishing diversity in its wildlife spectrum, Kanha is best known as the habitat of the tiger. The most picturesque place nestled in central Indian Highlands is situated in the districts of Mandla and Balaghat. It has a long history of conservation and prides itself for being one of the oldest sanctuaries of the country since 1935. Kanha has niched a place on world tourist map. Besides tigers, barasinga is the jewel of Kanha and this rare animal once on the threshold of extinction is now abundant in numbers in its natural habitat in Kanha.
The Tiger Reserve encompasses an area of 2051.74 sq km comprising 917.43 sq km core, 1134.31 sq km buffer zone and 110.74 sq km of satellite minicore of Kanha. In the core area of the Tiger Reserve, human activities are restricted and this is where the elusive tiger can be viewed roaming about.
Banjar and Halon rivers flow through the park, of which Halon is perennial. A number of tanks, dams, constructed are also the major source of water supply for the wildlife. The forest cover inside the park is largely tropical moist deciduous type. Kanha has about 22 species of mammals. Some of the inhabitants of the park are species of deer and antelope like chital, sambhar, barking deer, barasingha, black buck, nilgai, and gaur. Other residents include the sloth bear and other predators are wild dog, jackals and the striped hyena.
Some 300 species of birds inhabit the park which include peafowl, egret, black ibis, warbler, green pigeons, eagles, falcon, tree pie etc. Water birds can be seen near the park's many rivulets and pools. The ideal time to visit Kanha would be the period between February and June. The park is closed from 1st July to 15th October in the monsoon season.
How to reach;
Kanha is accessible by road from the town of Mandla and Jabalpur. Khatia (3 km from Kisli and 68 km from Mandla) towards Mandla and Mukki (82 km from Balaghat) towards Balaghat and Sarhi (150 km from Jabalpur) are the three entrance points to the tiger reserve. Jabalpur (168 km) is a convenient rail head. Nearest airports are located at Jabalpur and Nagpur (170 km). There is a daily bus service available for Kisli and Mukki from Jabalpur and back. Tourists are permitted into the tourism zone of the reserve between sunrise and sunset.
Pench Tiger Reserve
Named after the river Pench, the Pench Tiger Reserve is located in the southern reaches of the Satpura hill ranges and was constituted in 1992. It is on area of 1179.362 sq km out of which 411.33 sq km is the core area of the reserve. The river Pench meandering through the park divides it between Chhindwara and Seoni districts.
How to reach;
The Pench Tiger Reserve is 12 km away from Khawasa town on NH 7 between Nagpur and Jabalpur. Nagpur is the nearest rail head and airport. Khawasa is just 80 km from Nagpur on NH 7, Jabalpur is 203 km from the park. It is situated enroute to Kanha from Nagpur.
Panna Tiger Reserve
Located amidst the sylvan settings of the north central part of Madhya Pradesh, the tiger reserve is spread over an area of 1578.55 sq km within the districts of Panna and Chhatarpur. Once the hunting reserve of the erstwhile rulers of Panna, Chhatarpur and Bijawar States, Panna National Park was constituted in the year 1981 and declared a tiger reserve in 1994. Of the total tiger reserve area of 1578.55 sq km, Panna national park has an area of 542.69 sq km, Gangau Wildlife Sanctuary 87.53 sq km and Ken Gharial Wildlife Sanctuary at a distance of about 30 km from Panna national park, an area of 45.20 sq km. The world famous temple town of Khajuraho is just 25 km and a mere half an hour drive away.
The main forest types found in Panna Tiger Reserve are southern tropical dry teak forest and northern tropical dry deciduous mixed forest. Other types include dry deciduous scrub forest, Salai (Boswellia seratta) forest, dry bamboo brakes and kard hai (Anogeissus pendula) forest. Tendu, Aonla, Ber, Bel, Ghont, Kaitha, Achar etc. make valuable fruit diet of the animals here. Several varieties of grasses are found all over and the reserve is rich in fodder.
The life line of the park, Ken river meanders for about 55 km through the tiger reserve from south to north. Springs and gorges along the course of Ken river offer magnificent sights. Springs (locally called jhirias) are the major water sources available during the months of summer.
Sightings of Tiger is reported. Leopard is more common. One can easily see nilgai and chinkara in most open areas. The wooded areas are dotted with sambhar, chital and chousingha. Sloth bear is mostly found in the rock escarpments. The other animals include jack al, hyena, rhesus monkey, langur and wild pig. More than 200 species of birds including a host of migratory birds have been sighted in the park . The avifauna include paradise flycatcher, pond heron, partridges, quails, pea fowls, parakeets, egrets, mynas, bulbul, cuckoo, jungle crow etc.
Common reptiles comprise lizards, chameleon, Indian python, cobra and kraits. Aquatic animals include crocodile and a variety of fish is found in Ken river. Gharial, a rare & endangered species, can be seen in the Ken Gharial Sanctuary. Madla and Hinouta are the two entry gates to the park. The park is closed between 1st July to 15th October and the best time to visit is between December to March. The management does not provide any transport facility inside the park, but private vehicles can be hired at Panna (7 km from park boundary) and Khajuraho. Jeep/minibus/wagon are also allowed.
How to reach;
Khajuraho is the nearest airport which is just 25 km from Madla gate of the tiger reserve. Khajuraho and Satna (70 km) are the nearest railheads.
Satpura Tiger Reserve
Satpura Tiger Reserve is cradled in the rugged hills of the Satpura range in the Hoshangabad district of Madhya Pradesh. The Tiger Reserve is spread over an area of 2133.30 sq km together with wildlife sanctuaries of Pachmarhi and Bori. Rich in biocultural diversity, the Satpura national park was established in 1981 and harbours some of the critically endangered animal and plant species. Pachmarhi, the important hill station of the state is also located within the area of Pachmarhi wildlife sanctuary. Dhoopgarh (1352 m) the highest peak in Madhya Pradesh is also located inside the park. The terrain is generally hilly with precipitous slopes, deep and narrow gorges, ravines, sheltered valleys and dense forests with many water falls.
The area is unique on account of the biological diversity of different forests ranging from dry thorn forests to tropical dry deciduous, moist deciduous and semi evergreen forests. Teak, sal and mixed forests are the major compositions. The Bori Wildlife Sanctuary is rich in Bamboo. Over 1200 varieties of flowering and non-flowering plants are found in this area. Some of them are very rare and endangered species which only grow in Pachmarhi plateau, an area percolated by deep gorges with perennial streams. The park area supports a rich wildlife. The Tiger is found in good number but is confined to dense forest areas. Leopards are found all over the park. Other endangered species found in the reserve include Indian bison (gaur), Indian giant squirrel and the chameleon. Sambhar, chital, chinkara, mouse deer, barking deer are also present. Nilgai, chausingha, langurs, wilddog, jackal, common fox and jungle cat are found throughout the reserve. Sloth bear and wild pig are also frequently seen in the park.
Water bodies of the reserve have crocodiles and are rich in fish fauna. The area has a wide spectrum of bird life. Among the birds represented are jungle fowls, quails, partridges, bee eaters, parakeets, egrets, eagle, myna, bulbul, malabar pied hornbill and vultures. One is also attracted by a large variety of colourful butterflies, moths and other insects. Madai, Churna, Bori, Dhal and Paraspani are some of the areas for viewing wildlife.
Of great archaeological interest are more than 130 rock shelters with rock paintings depicting battles, hunts, animals, ceremonies and routine daily life of the people, found all over the park in the Pachmarhi plateau. Some of these are estimated to be over 10,000 years old. Also present are several ruins of temples and fortifications dating back to 4th and 15th century when the area was inhabited by the Gond tribe. The best time to visit the park is between November and June. The park is closed during the monsoon.
How to reach;
The national park is easily accessible by road from Bhopal (210 km), Jabalpur (240 km), Nagpur (250 km) and Chhindwara (85 km). Pipariya (52 km) is the closest railhead and Itarsi is the closest rail junction. Pachmarhi is the closest bus stand and the gateway to this reserve.
Madai - a Splendid Panorama
Tawa reservoir created on the Tawa river extending over an area of 200 sq.km is the main water source along with channels of Sonbhadra, Malini, Denwa and Nagdwari rivers in Satpura National Park. The spot at Madai Forest Guest House makes a splendid place for leisure and recreation with rare scenic beauty and tranquil surroundings. Here the animals like sambhar, chital, deer, black buck, langurs and many others can be seen in proximity. Tigers and leopards are found all over the park. Other species found in the reserve include Indian bison (gaur), Indian giant squirrel, chameleon, chinkara, mouse deer and barking deer, nilgai, chausingha, jackal, common fox and jungle cats. Sloth bear and wild pig are also seen throughout the park. Water bodies of the Tawa reserve have crocodiles and are rich in fish fauna. The area has a wide spectrum of bird life. Among the birds seen are jungle fowls, quails, partridges, bee eaters, parakeets, egrets, eagle, myna, bulbul, malabar pied hornbill and vultures.
How to reach;
Madai is about 115 km away by road from Bhopal and can be approached via Hoshangabad and Suhagpur.
Madhav National Park
Located north of Shivpuri, the Madhav national park, is one of the oldest national parks in Madhya Pradesh. Established in the year 1955, originally it was the royal hunting reserve of the Maharaja of Gwalior. The total area of this park is 354.61 sq km.
In the year 1918, Shri Madhav Rao Scindia of Gwalior constructed dams on the Manihar river creating the Sakhya Sagar and Madhav lakes which at present are the only large water bodies supporting the park besides several other nallas and springs.
The Leopard is the commonly sighted carnivore in this park. Other carnivores include wolf, jackal, hyena and wild dog. The Madhav National Park has a very high concentration of spotted deer, chinkara and nilgai and also wild boar. Also seen are sambhar and chousingha. The artificial lake, Sakhya Sagar, is home to various species of birds including migratory birds like Demoiselle cranes, spotbill, pelicans, spoonbills, barheaded geese, shovellers, etc. Cobra, common krait and Indian python are occasionally sighted. The two lakes are rich in fish fauna. Entry to the park is open throughout the year.
How to reach;
Gwalior is the nearest airport whereas Jhansi is the nearest rail head. The park is easily accessible from Shivpuri and Jhansi as it is located on Agra-Mumbai (NH-3) and Shivpuri-Jhansi (NH-25) national highways passing through this park.
Fossil National Park
Located between the Kanha and the Bandhavgarh national parks in the Mandla district, the site is rich in fossils, said to be around sixty million years old. These fossils have helped to unfold the mysteries of the evolution process of plant kingdom and animals. Ghughva, the main site of the fossil park is about 6.84 acres in extent along with three other associated sites, Umaria-Silther (23.02 acres), Deori Khurd (16.53 acres) and Barbaspur (21.35 acres).
It is very rich in large fossil trunks, fossil fruits and a variety of quartz stones. Fossils of Hyphaene seen in Ghughva- a variety still living in the African continent, further suggests that once India was a part of the African continent. Four km away from Ghughva, near the village Umaria, a good number of fossils are also seen at Umaria- Silther. At Deori-Khurd (9km from Shahpura) and Barbaspur (2 km from Manikpur) site fossilized trunks are also seen in standing position. In Mandla district, many sites of the fossils are found and most of the paleobotanical antiquated relics belonging to the Deccan intertrappean series. Fossils have always facilitated the scientific understanding of our old civilization.
How to reach;
The nearest airport and rail head to visit the unique site is Jabalpur (76 km) and the park is open throughout the year.
Van Vihar National Park
In the heart of the capital city Bhopal, on a hill adjacent to the Upper Lake, Van Vihar national park is located in an area of 445.21 hectares. In natural habitat, a variety of herbivores and carnivores are managed in line with the modern concept of Zoo Management.
The carnivores include tiger, white tiger, leopard, hyena and sloth bear. These animals are kept in captivity in large enclosures. It also harbours free ranging animals like chital, sambhar, black buck, blue bull, chousingha, common langur, rhesus monkey, porcupine, hare etc. The park also houses gharial, crocodile, turtle and a number of snake species.
The Upper Lake on the south west boundary attracts a variety of migratory birds during the winter. About two hundred species of birds have been sighted in the park. Some of the migratory birds that have been frequently sighted are pintail, spotbill, barheaded goose, spoonbill, painted stork, open billed stork and purple heron.
How to reach;
The park in the heart of Bhopal is about 5 km each from the railway station and the bus stand and is open throughout the year.
Content Courtesy : MP Madhyam.