JAYESH PARANJAPE on In­dia’s Na­tional Parks and Sanc­tu­ar­ies that will de­light ad­ven­tur­ous trav­ellers

This sum­mer, go over to the wild side. JAYESH PARANJAPE, Owner, The Western Routes, gives you the de­tails on In­dia’s Na­tional Parks and Sanc­tu­ar­ies that will de­light the ad­ven­tur­ous trav­eller in you.

Citadel - - CONTENTS -

As the sum­mer is set­ting in, wildlife en­thu­si­asts are gear­ing up to visit var­i­ous Na­tional Parks and Sanc­tu­ar­ies in the hope of spot­ting tigers and other wildlife. The forests of the Sat­puda Range in Cen­tral In­dia, which is be­lieved to be the largest con­tin­u­ous tiger habi­tat in the world, con­tains ap­prox­i­mately one-third of In­dia’s re­main­ing tiger pop­u­la­tion. This l and­scape cov­ers a part of Ma­ha­rash­tra and Mad­hya Pradesh, and con­tains six tiger re­serves (Mel­ghat, Pench and Tadoba-And­hari in Ma­ha­rash­tra, and Pench, Kanha, and Sat­puda in Mad­hya Pradesh). In this story, we will ex­plore three of these forests in Ma­ha­rash­tra, which prob­a­bly are one of the best forests to spot tigers and other stun­ning wildlife.

TADOBA-AND­HARI TIGER RE­SERVE

Ow­ing to some in­cred­i­ble wildlife sight­ings these past few years, Tadoba has emerged as one of the most pop­u­lar parks in the coun­try to­day. The Tadoba Na­tional Park was cre­ated in 1955 with an area of 116.55 sq km, and the And­hari Wildlife Sanc­tu­ary was cre­ated in 1986 with an area of 508.85 sq km. To­gether, they form the Tadoba-And­hari Tiger Re­serve. As the name sug­gests, Tadoba gets its name from the lo­cal de­ity Taru, wor­shiped by the trib­als in this re­gion. While on sa­fari, you can have a close en­counter with the tiger and wit­ness other wildlife species in ac­tion. Vis­i­tors to the park re­port fre­quent tiger, leop­ard and wild dog sight­ings. Apart from these, the re­serve is also home to the sloth bear, gaur, spot­ted deer, sam­bar, wild boar, four horned an­te­lope and many other mam­mal species. Among trees, bam­boo and teak dom­i­nate most of the ar­eas of Tadoba. Scat­tered through the for­est are the lovely Kusum and Silk Cot­ton trees. Other tree e species in­clude Ain, Bija, Dhauda, Haldu, u, Salai and Tendu. The most strik­ing flo­ral al fea­ture of Tadoba is the nu­mer­ous Ghost st Trees, which de­rive their name from the e colour of the bark and their abil­ity to o change colour as per sea­son. Dur­ing the e sum­mer months, the bark, which is pale e pink oth­er­wise, turns white, giv­ing it a ‘ghostly’ look. The tribal pop­u­la­tion mainly con­sists ts of the Gonds. The for­est guides em­ployed d are mostly from this com­mu­nity. Make sure you ask your for­est guide for lo­cal folk­lore and sto­ries from the for­est!

PENCH TIGER RE­SERVE

The Pench Tiger Re­serve is spread across two states, the Seoni and Ch­hin­wara dis­tricts of Mad­hya Pradesh and Nag­pur dis­trict of Ma­ha­rash­tra. The Pench Tiger Re­serve in Ma­ha­rash­tra cov­ers around 257 sq km. Pench was de­clared as a Tiger Re­serve un­der Project Tiger in 1999 and be­came the 25th tiger re­serve of the coun­try. The Tot­ladoh Reser­voir, which is a re­sult of the Tot­ladoh Hy­dro­elec­tric Project, is sit­u­ated in the heart of the tiger re­serve. The park gets its name from the Pench River, which me­an­ders through the forests. It is the panoramic beauty of this re­gion that has been de­scribed as early as the be­gin­ning of the 20th cen­tury by nat­u­ral­ists like Cap­tain J. Forsyth in High­lands of Cen­tral In­dia

and by Rud­yard Ki­pling in Jun­gle Book. The poet Kal­i­das also wrote about the scenic charm of this place in his epics Megh­dootam and Sakun­ta­lam. The Pench Tiger Re­serve of Ma­ha­rash­tra is rel­a­tively un­known and not vis­ited by many tourists. But it is one of the finest and most bio-di­verse forests in Ma­ha­rash­tra. The best wildlife sight­ings hap­pen be­tween March and June, when the for­est thins, smaller streams and rivers run dry and an­i­mals con­gre­gate at wa­ter­holes (lo­cally known as doh) to seek respite from the heat. The Nagdeo Pa­hadi, the Am­bakhori wa­ter­fall and Gawli Ghat are prob­a­bly the best ar­eas in Pench to see wildlife in­clud­ing tigers, leop­ards and sloth bears. Pench is a birder’s par­adise with more than 170 recorded bird species. A trip to Pench (Ma­ha­rash­tra) and an ex­tended two days in Pench (Mad­hya Pradesh) is highly rec­om­mended for those who are al­ways on a look­out for new wildlife ex­pe­ri­ences.

NAVE­GAON-NAGZIRA TIGER RE­SERVE

A haven for na­ture lovers and wildlife en­thu­si­asts, Nagzira Wildlife Sanc­tu­ary lies in Gon­dia dis­trict of Ma­ha­rash­tra and cov­ers an area of 152 sq km. Nagzira and the ad­join­ing Nave­gaon Na­tional Park have been de­clared as a Tiger Re­serve re­cently. Nave­gaon is more pop­u­lar for the num­ber of lakes and reser­voirs, which at­tract a lot of mi­gra­tory birds in the win­ter. Nagzira is more vis­ited by tourists who are keen to get a glimpse of leop­ards and tigers. The Nagzira Lake, which is lo­cated right in the core of the sanc­tu­ary, is prob­a­bly one of the best places to ob­serve wildlife. The lake guar­an­tees a source of wa­ter to wildlife through­out the year and also greatly height­ens the beauty of the land­scape. Nagzira

ex­hibits an a maz­ing di­ver­sity of ter­rain and this makes it one of t he most beau­ti­ful forests i n the coun­try. The ter­rain ranges from mead­ows and grass­lands to ravines and gorges. The seven peaks sur­round­ing the lake, known as the Saat Bahini or Seven Sis­ters, is a su­perb area to spot some in­cred­i­ble wildlife. There are times in Nagzira when you can see sev­eral species of large mam­mals in just one sa­fari ride. This can range from a ti­gress with her cubs rest­ing in a wa­ter­hole, a leop­ard on a tree, wild dog packs to an oc­ca­sional sloth bear cross­ing the road!

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