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Home » National Parks in India » Pench National Park

Pench National Park

Introduction :
The Pench National Park lies among the southern valleys of the Satpura ranges in the state of Madhya Pradesh in central India. The major town located nearest to the park is Nagpur, Which is 95 km away.

wolf - Pench National ParkThe park covers an area of 292.85 sq km but if combined with the neighbouring forest area of the Mowgli Pench wildlife Sanctuary (118.31 sq km) and the buffer zone (346.73 sq km), they total up to an area of 757.89 sq km to form what is known as the Pench Tiger Reserve. It was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1977 and it got its status of a National Park in 1983.

» Climatic Conditions - Due to the wonderful tree cover across most of the park and the abundant bird and animal life, the climate is mostly far from the mind while driving around there. However, the park does experience drastic variations in climatic conditions. The temperature range is extreme with the mercury dipping to around 4 degrees centigrade in the winters (December) and rising all the way up to 47 degrees in the summers(May). The wind-chill factor while driving around early morning in the open 4-wheel drive vehicles does nothing to improve the freezing wintry conditions.

» Historical Snippets - The Pench National park owes its name to the river that splits it into two sections. To the south of the river Pench, the park comes under the jurisdiction of the state of Maharashtra, but is still known by the same name. A hydro electric dam was built on the river between 1973 and 1988. This created a reservoir that submerged 74 sq km of the park, out of which 54 sq km fall under the state of Madhya Pradesh. A positive aspect to this man-made creation is that, it now attracts large numbers of aquatic birds, both resident and migratory.

The building of the dam has resulted in one good thing - availability of water round the year and the arrival of aquatic birds. Most of the river Pench remains dry during the summer months The topography of the park is mostly quite level with a few undulating hills that are criss-crossed by streams in which water flows only during the monsoons and a part of the winter months. During the summer months, few perennial streams, remnant pools in the river Pench and a small part of the reservoir are the only sources of water in the park. A good time to find animals quenching their thirst there. The park has an excellent variety of animal species, the most popular of which among most visitors is obviously the Tiger. More than 200 species of birds have been spotted in the park and it is a birdwatchers paradise.



Prime Attractions of Pench National Park :
Pench is on its way to becoming the most popular wildlife destinations for eco-tourists. In 1992, it gained the protection of "Project Tiger" and was declared the 19th Tiger Reserve of India. In 2001, the tiger count of the park stood at 55 wonderful specimens. The Pench National Park with its improving infrastructure, ideal location for those also visiting the more famous Kanha and Bandhavgarh national parks, the excellent accessibility, and satisfying abundance of wildlife are sure to make it one of the favourite destinations in times to come for eco-tourists.

» Flora -The vegetation is quite varied but the predominant species noticed are teak and bamboo. The Kulu gum tree with it's stark white colour and brilliant green leaves is also a favourite with all visitors. It is blessed with forests spread in all the direction. As per the physiognomy, the forest type is southern tropical dry deciduous teak and southern tropical mixed deciduous forest with other species of shrubs, trees and climbers. Teak and its associates moyan, mahua, mokha, skiras, tendu, bija, achar, garari, aonla, ghont, baranga, amaltas, kihamali, khair, palas. Bamboo occurs sparsely, restricted to some valley.
Panthera Leo - Pench National Park
» Fauna - The Pench National Park is very rich in fauna and a number of endangered species have made it their habitat. There are 25 tigers under this umbrella of the Park. 39 species of mammals, 13 species of reptiles, 3 species of amphibians and over 170 varieties of birds have already been listed. Apart from mammals and other land-based wildlife, the park is also rich in bird life. According to an estimation of the wildlife authorities, the bird population in the park counts to be over 210 species like barbets, bulbul, minivets orioles, wagtails, munias, mynas, waterfowls and blue kingfishers.


Other Attractions :
» Alikatta - The Alikatta area appears to be the hub around which the park is planned. All tracks seem to wind their way in different directions only to all end at Alikatta. It is a fascinating expanse of grassland (when it isn't submerged under water!), where it is possible to come across any of the animals found in the park. Besides being an excellent location for wildlife viewing, Alikatta also has the added attraction of the tame elephants

Sitaghat is probably the prettiest spot in Pench Sitaghat: This spot is arguably the prettiest location in all of Pench National Park. As the winding track comes to a dead end, it brings you to the bank of the river Pench dotted with rocks and artistic looking trees.

» Chhindimatta Road - This road that branches off and leads to the huge Pench reservoir is an absolutely must see location while visiting the park. While a majority of the rest of the park is quite flat, this section is full of ups and downs over rocky hills and through excellent forest.


» Bodhanala range - This area is worth seeing for its variety of topography. It goes from slopy hills, to bamboo forest, to a large pond close to the edge of the park.

» Raiyakassa - This is the location of a watchtower built by the park authorities. The roof of this cement watchtower provides and excellent view of the river Pench. The park authorities also offer visitors the choice of spending a night at this watchtower.

» Kalapahad - The Kalapahad area comes up on the main track leading in from the entrance at Turia. It is near this location that the track splits into two branches, one leading to the Chhindimatta reservoir, still some distance away, and the other obviously to Alikatta. This area due to its hilly terrain and tree cover, besides being excellent for langurs is also a favourite for leopards.


» Tiger Sansar - Only a little distance away from Alikatta, this area is one of the few in the park that have succumbed to the unrelenting take-over bid by the Lantana weed. This weed although a nuisance to wildlife staff and to almost any other vegetation in the forest, is a favourite with tigers due to the cover it provides.
Rhino Calf - Pench National Park
» Chhindimatta - After the monsoon season, this area becomes a huge reservoir measuring over 50 sq km. It then becomes and excellent area for water birds. During the time when the water level drops, most of it is a huge grassland that extends almost as far as the eyes can see. In this season massive herds of spotted deer can be seen here and often hunting them are seen the most feared of predators, the wild dogs.

» Karmajhiri - This is the location of the other entrance to the park. It is also the location of the museum, which is at present not much to talk about, the Forest Rest House complex and the newly constructed and exorbitantly priced Mowgli Huts. The area surrounding Karmajhiri is supposed to be excellent bison country.


Safaris :
Visitors are allowed to explore the park in their own cars or jeeps as long as they take along a guide from the main gate. If you're staying at one of the resorts, the ideal mode of transport are the safari vehicles that each one of them keep. Some of these are specially designed for wildlife sighting with different level seating for an unobstructed view or the jungle. Another mode of moving around within the park is on foot. Although this is a punishable offense in most of the park, a specially organised nature walk is possible, with a wildlife department guide, from Raiyakassa to Karmajhiri.

Elephant rides are ideal for tiger spotting and getting a true feeling of the jungle. Besides utilising vehicles for tracking wildlife and the nature walk from Raiyakassa to Karmajhiri, another option is an elephant ride available mainly from Alikatta. On most occasions, these rides are taken by visitors when a tiger is spotted and the mahouts make rounds to show them the pride of the Indian jungles. However, true wildlife enthusiasts can also request for rides when no tiger may have been spotted. This is an ideal way to truly experience any jungle, with no vehicle engine or any other sound to shatter the harmony of nature.



Best Time to Visit :
The wonderful views make you forget the extreme conditions that one has to endure while traveling in peak conditions. The hottest period during the year is between April and June, while the coldest months are end November to beginning February. The ideal time for visiting the park is between November and February for excellent weather and in April - June for the best chances of seeing tigers and other animals close to the water bodies. The park receives an average annual rainfall of 1300mm mainly during the months of July and August, when the park is shut to visitors.


Black Buck - Pench National ParkGeneral Information Tips:
How to get there?
The best way of getting to the park is by taking a train or flight to Nagpur. Nagpur is one of the major towns in the state of Madhya Pradesh and is well connected to most parts of the country. Nagpur is approximately 95 km from the gate at Turia. The other, although less used, option is to approach the park from Jabalpur, 195 km from Karmajhiri. Pench being located on the Nagpur - Jabalpur highway is quite easily accessible by the local transport options. Taxis are easily available and charge around six rupees per kilometer.

Keep in mind that the taxi's return to Nagpur also has to be paid for. If taking a taxi, you will obviously be dropped to your resort's doorstep. However, if you plan to take a bus from Nagpur, you will have to get off at a small town called Khwasa or at Suktara. Khwasa is the turn off point from the highway for Turia, which is still a 13 km drive from there. Suktara is the turnoff point for Karmajhiri, which is another 30 km from there. It is best to check with the tourism department or resort owner for means of getting to Karmajhiri from the highway.

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