Pench National Park
This park, nestling in the lower Southern reaches of the Satpura hills, is named after the Pench river that flows through it. It runs through the States of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. In 1999, Pench became the 19th Project Tiger Reserve.
The vegetation is a mix of tropical, moist, deciduous forest and dry deciduous teak, along with other species of shrubs, trees and climbers. Moyan, mahua, mokha, skiras, tendu and khair are also found. Bamboo is restricted to some valleys. The area has a number of seasonal streams and `nallahs'. The Pench river dries up in summer but a number of water pools, called `dohs', serve as waterholes for the animals.
The Pench National Park was created in 1975 with an area of 257 sq. km.
Predictably, the park is home to tigers and leopards. Small Indian civets, palm cheetal, sambar and nilgai can be seen grazing on the roadsides and banks of the river. Jackals, packs of wild dogs, herds of gaur, langur and rhesus monkeys can be spotted too.
Sloth bear occupy the rocky outcrop and the forest. Chinkara are also present in small numbers. Around 39 species of mammals, 13 species of reptiles and three species of amphibians are listed.
More than 210 species of birds, including several migratory ones, inhabit the park. Commonly seen birds include peafowl, red jungle fowl, crow pheasant, crimson breasted barbet, racket tailed drongo, magpie robin, lesser whistling teal, minivet, orioles, wagtails, mynah, waterfowl and blue kingfisher.
How to go
The Park extends to Seoni District of Southern Madhya Pradesh and is well connected to towns in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
By Rail: Nagpur (65 km)
By Air: Sonegaon, Nagpur (75 km)
By Road: Travel on the Nagpur-Jabalpur road till Paoni gate, which is 58 km from Nagpur. From there, you have to travel to the Park. Else, alight at Ramtek. From here, buses take you to the park, 35 km away.
Where to go
Sitaghat, a scenic spot, dotted with rocks and bushes with white flowers and Alikatta, a fascinating expanse of grassland and a waterhole where thousands of deer converge.
When deer are around, can the predators be far behind?
Raiyakassa, a watchtower built by park authorities, provides an excellent view of the Pench river.
Visitors can spend stay overnight at the tower with prior permission. The facilities are very basic, but it is worth it.
When to go
The Pench National Park is open to the visitors from October 1 to June 30. The best time to go is from February to April. Visiting hours are from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Light vehicles and 15-seater buses are allowed, and speed restrictions must be followed.
The Totalagoh Rest House near the park offers dormitory facilities. The rate per head is Rs. 200. For bookings, call 0712-2560727. Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation offers rooms at Sillari.
Write to Deputy Conservator of Forests, Nagpur Forest Division, Nagpur or call 0712-2524624. You can also call the MTDC Regional Office, opposite Hotel Hardev, Nagpur, at 0712-2533325.
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