Achanakmar Tiger Reserve
The scenic, 553 sq. km. Achanakmar Tiger Reserve in Chattisgarh is a tropical moist deciduous and tropical dry deciduous forest. The reserve is also a part of the much larger Achanakmar-Amarkantak Biosphere Reserve. The region is mainly hilly with altitudes ranging from 200 m to 1,000 m above sea level. Achanakmar is close to Amarkantak where holy Narmada River originates. The reserve is also home to numerous species of medicinal plants.
The meandering Maniyari river that flows right through the heart of the reserve is its lifeline. Major wildlife includes leopard, gaur, chital, sambhar, jackal, striped hyena, wild dog, jungle cat, barking deer, sloth bear, Malabar giant squirrel, small Indian civet, four horned antelope, rhesus macaques and common langur.
Achanakmar is also home to tiger but they keep low profile and seen occasionally. Interestingly, recent camera trap survey by Wildlife Trust of India revealed not only good numbers of tigers but presence of rarely seen animal species including caracal, pangolin, black leopard, honey badger and porcupine.
Due to its hilly terrain and sal forest, Achanakmar boosts nearly 200 species of birds. Even a short trek through this park easily reveals its extraordinary beauty and biodiversity.
Achankmar is a place for nature lovers but if you are after tigers, its better to go to other reserves such as Kanha and Bandhavgarh.
Things to do
Open jeep safari in the reserve is the best way to explore this beautiful reserve. Though you may not see tiger but the chances of spotting leopard, gaur or Indian bison, spotted deer, sambar and other central Indian wildlife is good. Here, giant squirrel, which is rarely seen elsewhere, is commonly seen here.
Visit to tribal villages
In the dense forests of Sal, Mahua, and Tendu dwell some of the most primitive tribals of central India like the Hill Korwas, Pandavas, Baigas and Gonds making Achanakmar a great place for anthropological expedition.
Amarkantak, a holy town is located very close to Achanakmar. Narmada river originates from Amarkantak and it is a very important pilgrimage. Here you would have a chance to see a different aspect of Indian culture.
Best time to visit
November - April