Tiger Heavens Of India – Tiger Reserves, MP, India

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Tiger Reserves, MP, India
By Uday Patel

Perhaps none has brought to greater light these magnificent tiger reserves as has Rudyard Kipling in his legendry work “The Jungle Book”. Captain J.Forsyth too has highlighted these famous tracts in his book “The Central Indian High Lands”. But, the later is less of a worldly figure – and unlike Kipling has been read chiefly by the elite crowd associated with jungles in India.

Whereas Kipling’s work is a fabled sketch of life in the Central Indian jungles, Forsyth’s work is a detailed study of the topography and bio diversity profile. In his work, Forsyth has described not only the floral and faunal elements but has also richly portrayed the forest dwelling tribals, their customs and lore. Never the less both have in a way contributed towards preservation of these jungles which has subsequently lead to their emergence as prime tiger habitats and ecotourism destinations in India.

The famous Central Indian High Lands in the post independence era are fragmented and are situated over and along the – the Vindhyan Ranges north of river Narbada, and the Satpura Ranges south of the river. Bio-diversity is now conserved by awarding the status of protected areas-better known as sanctuaries or reserves – to the remaining tract of jungles.

The well known tiger reserves are the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, Kanha Tiger Reserve and Pench Tiger Reserve. The primary goal of these reserves is conservation of tiger. The tiger sits at the top of the food pyramid and is a prime predator; hence it is vulnerable to any disruption in the chain. Therefore, the whole ecosystem has to be preserved intact in order to save the tiger, in this endeavor numerous other forms of life-and the ecosystem as whole is benefited.

Kanha Tiger Reserve – Land of the Tiger
Kanha Tiger Reserve was declared as a protected area in order to protect its magnificent biodiversity. It is situated in the Maikal hills of Satpura Range.

Here the tiger rules supreme. Kanha offers the best possible sightings of the majestic tiger in its natural environment. But Kanha is not famous for its tigers alone: the successful conservation effort to save the critically endangered Hard Ground Barasingha or the Swamp Deer (Cervus duavcelli branderi) has contributed greatly to Kanha’s success as a tiger reserve.

Kanha receives thousands of visitors every year. The main attraction is the tiger, but there are other enigmatic creatures to sight – leopard, deer, sloth bear, bison and wild dog are some of the star attractions. Many species of mammals make Kanha their home along with numerous reptiles, insects, 250 species of birds and a diverse flora.

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve – Temple Tigers…Grrrrrr!
Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve – this little tiger heaven has a scenic splendor surpassed by few. Here nature thrives at its best, amidst ruins of civilizations that date back 2000 years. In the annals of history, dynasties that ruled Bandhavgarh left their marks embedded not on nearby plains but in the deep confines of pristine forests, rolling grasslands, glens and steep mountains.

At the top of the highest mountain are the ruins of Bandhavgarh Fort from which the reserve derives its name. Scattered all over – on mountain slopes, amidst tall prairie grasses and the stately stands – are archaeological wonders that are reminiscence of ancient civilizations that thrived here. Exquisitely carved arches, stables gouged out of the steep mountain slopes, ancient temples of stone slabs, idols of Lord Vishnu in zoomorphic forms – all enthrall the visitor. Tigers are all over and forests are rich with game.

When the tiger sets out to hunt, Bandhavgarh turns into an ampi-theater, and the drama unfolds. Silence ceases to rule, and out of the blue the jungle erupts into a high-pitched cacophony of dissonant alarm calls of deer, langur and birds. Amidst the confusion and chaos, the beast grounds its prey…silence sets in once again.

The white tiger was discovered by the erstwhile Maharaja of Rewa in the adjoining forests. Although there are reports of sightings of white tiger, now and than, but none have been confirmed so far. Yes, Bandhavgarh is a true tiger country and an amazing web of life-diverse flora and fauna, including 250 species of birds, myriad insects and numerous reptiles.

Pench Tiger Reserve – Mowgli Land

Hard Ground Barasingha
Hard Ground Barasingha
The story of Mowgli the wolf child has enthralled young and old the world. Whether it is a fact or fiction, Mowgli and his friends Baloo, Baghira and the wolf pack now live in the hearts of millions. Mowgli was reportedly living in the company of the wolves. It seems that wolves reared this abandoned boy since his childhood.

In 1831, Lieut John Moor a British officer camped in the village of Sant Vavadi in the Jungles of Seoni – now Pench Tiger Reserve. He was able to capture the wolf child.

Sir Rudyard Kipling wrote “The Jungle Book” in 1894, based on William Sleeman’s book, the Rambles and Recollections; in which Sleeman narrated the story of the Wolf Child. Sleeman served in Jabalpur in the state Madhya Pradesh (Central India) from year 1825 to 1831.

Kipling visited Seoni and learned about the region. The jungles of Seoni are as enchanting as Kipling portrayed them. In Kipling country, jungles, rivers, villages, natives, animals are all there for the visitor to experience, just as he mentioned in his book.

Sher Khan rules the jungles of Seoni ever since evolution positioned him at the top of the food chain. Along with Sher Khan live the wolf pack, leopard, bear, bison, deer, wild dog and reptiles, birds and numerous other forms of animals. Of course Mowgli is no more but than who knows, someday he may be discovered again among the wolf pack or seen roaming with Baloo or Baghira.

This is what makes tiger reserves like Pench so full of excitement and thrill. One never knows what lies in store during the tiger safari.

Tiger Safari
Along with Kanha, Bandhavgarh offers the best chance to sight a tiger in its natural environment. Pench is good for a holistic experience of tiger land. Bird life is at its best at Pench – it is a mixed dry deciduous type forest; bird sightings are excellent after the fall. Tiger safari is well organized in these reserves.

Jungle Drive
The network of soft jungle roads allows the visitor to scour a large part of the reserve on a vehicle. Open jeeps are easily available for a jungle drive at a fixed price. A jungle drive is the best way to sight a wide variety of animals, and experience the element of surprise that is unique to Indian jungles. One can come across a tiger or experience the thrill of a wild dog chase and much much more…..

Tiger Show
The tiger show is organized by the management of the reserve. The visitor is taken atop a trained elephant’s back to the spot where tiger has been located earlier. This is most common method employed to show the tiger. Tiger shows are highly successful and many visitors are able to see the elusive beast on their very first visit. Long jungle rides are also available on elephant’s back which though costly are a good way to experience the jungle at close quarters.

Nature Trails

Although it is prohibited to enter the reserves on foot, the forest outside the limits of the reserves is excellent for a trekking. This is the best way to experience bird life and the amazing flora of the reserves. Care should be taken not to venture alone in the jungle as there is a risk of an accidental encounter with predators. Nature Treks are organized by the eco-lodges which employ experienced naturalist and trained guides.


Tiger On a Hunt
Tiger On a Hunt
There is an assortment of eco-resorts offering their services in these reserves. The tariffs range from economy – for a small, less luxurious resort – to premium packages offered by the star category resorts. Tent accommodation is also available but is not necessarily cheaper. Bookings have to be done in advance as during vacations there can be shortage of accommodations. Forest rest houses are also available but need to be booked in advance. Among the most economical accommodations are the huts rented by the management of the reserves, which are clean, comfortable, and food is afford lower price.

Fact files

Jabalpur, a scenic town on Narbada, is the focal point or a gateway to these tiger heavens. All the three major tiger reserves are at an equi-distance from this town and are connected with a good road network. Jabalpur is well connected with Delhi vide rail and air. Alternatively one can fly in to Nagpur from Bombay or elsewhere and than reach Pench Tiger Reserve which is at a distance of 80 kms. Similarly one can reach Umaria by rail from Delhi and than drive to Bandhagarh Tiger Reserve which is at a distance of 32 kms.

The parks open in October and close by end of June. The best time weather wise is from November to March. For photography and better sightings the summers are preferred but than the temperatures touch 42 degrees C. Winters are very cold and one needs to be properly attired with warm clothes.

For further information please visit the author’s website.

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