Pench Tiger Reserve
Pench tiger reserve is located on the southern boundary of Madhya Pradesh, bordering Maharashtra, in the districts of Seoni and Chhindwara and spread over an area of 752 sq kms. The Park named after the river Pench, which flows from north to south through the reserve and provides stunningly large water bodies. The prey species concentration at Pench is amongst the highest in India and home to diverse wildlife.
The terrain is undulating, with most of the area covered by small hills, steeply sloping on the sides. The Reserve is situated in an area that holds a significant place in the natural history of the Central India. The description of its natural beauty, richness in flora and fauna has appeared in numerous wildlife books dating back to the 17th century. Books written in the 19th and early 20th century by famous naturalists like Captain J. Forsyth and Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book explicitly present the detailed panorama of nature’s abundance in this track.
Pench is home to a variety of wild life and more famously for the Royal Bengal Tiger. However, Leopard sightings in this park stated to be amongst the best in India. Other predators in the park are Dhole (Indian Wild Dog), Wolf, Hyena, Jackal, and the Jungle Cat. The vast expanse of pastures and meadows along the river is a good breeding ground where you can catch herds of Cheetal, Sambar, Wild Boar and Gaur.
The park is a delight for bird lovers and is home to more than 300 species of birds including orioles, wagtails, white eyed buzzard, hornbills, kingfisher, barbets, minivets, crested serpent eagle, crested hawk eagle and a host of other raptors.
Things to do
Pench National Park opens twice daily to visitors but remains shut on Wednesday evening. Local guides accompany game drives and are provided upon at the park entrance. Jeeps are to follow their own route along tracks, using pugmarks and alarm calls as indicators of a nearby predator.
Safaris are conducted in open jeep and a bus. At Chinkara we only use open jeep and keep the numbers low. Morning safari starts at sun rise and you comeback before around 10:00 am. Picnic breakfast is carried to enjoy in the park at a designated breakfast point. Evening safaris start 3 hours prior to sunset and you have to come out of the park before dark on a specific time set by forest department.
Visit to Pachdhar Potter’s Village
Just a few minutes of drive through interesting villages is a village called Pachdhar which is inhabited by approximately 100 households, the village is native to the traditional potter community, vernacularly known as Kumhaars. The geography of Pench is a rich composition of earth and soil – with black soil in abundance. Conducive to cotton cultivation, black soil exhibits high moisture retention qualities, and is one of the most superior forms of soil utilized in pottery all across the country. Farmers and potters of Pachdhar, practice this timeless handcraftsmanship as their primary occupation next to only subsistence agriculture. Painted with white and blue, almost every house is made of mud (kaccha houses), has huge verandahs for moulding earth into earthen utilities and beautiful crafts.
Matkis (spherical earthen vessels used to store water), Gamla (flower pots), Gullak (piggy banks), Diyas (lamps), Kulhar (famous chai glasses) are some of the traditional products people master here on manual potter wheels. The process of production is typically organic comprising of mostly natural ingredients, eventually hand-made and shaped – with no mechanical excesses.
Enjoy the drive to Pachdhar through forest, fields and small villages. Once there, get in touch with the mother Earth and dirty your hands at the potter’s wheel.
Pench is few of those park where night safaris are allowed. These safaris are conducted in the Buffer area of the park; which is also a Wolf Sanctuary. Night safaris are great way to see nocturnal wildlife which otherwise not possible during morning and evening safari. What better place could it be to look for for wolf than Mowgli’s home? Other animal that can be seen in during the night safari are small Indian civet, palm civet, jackal, hyena, flying squirrel, sloth bear, blue bull and if you are lucky you might also see tiger and leopard. Nocturnal birds include, 3 species of nightjar, Indian thicknee, jungle owlet, Indian eagle-owl, mottled wood owl and brown fish owl to name a few.
Night safari starts from 06:30 pm and usually last for couple of hours. A guide is provided with a spotlight to aid in spotting.
Visit to Pench (Maharastra)
Pench tiger reserve is divided between two states – Madhya Pradesh and Maharastara. The Maharastra side is least known due to less tiger sightings but makes a perfect gateway for nature lover and birders who want to look beyond tiger. Maharastra Pench offers excellent opportunity to see wildlife and jungle without hordes of tourists. Though the sightings are less in comparison to Madhya Pradesh but the safari is truly rewarding.
Birding at Khoka Dam
Khoka dam is located on the fringes of Pench. On one side of the dam are farm lands while other side borders the forest. Spread over a big area of roughly 80 hectares, Khoka attracts many birds in winter and animals in summer. Several species of wader can be seen here including, marsh sandpiper, spotted redshanks, common pochard, greater painted snipe, cinnamon bittern, garganey, black-winged stilt, to name a few. Other birds that you can see in surround fields include grey francolin, rain quail, rock-bush quail, rufous-tailed lark, ashy-crowned sparrow-lark, yellow-wattled lapwing and common hoopoe. Forest dwelling species observed here are, plum-headed parakeet, Indian nuthatch, Indian black-lored tit, white-browed fantail, white-bellied drongo and black-headed cuckooshrike.
Visit to the dam can be combined with nice picnic tea that you can enjoy while watching birds and beautiful sunset.
Best time to visit
October - April