Located in central India, Pench Tiger Reserve provides an ultimate getaway to forest and wildlife lovers. Tourists from all over the world are mesmerised by the rich and diverse flora-fauna of the Central Indian Highlands. It spreads over the two adjoining states of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh and covers a total area of about 760 square kilometres. The Pench River flowing through the territory of this reserve lends it its name. Rudyard Kipling’s famous JUNGLE BOOK is set around this region.
Main attraction of this forest is spotting of the Royal Bengal Tiger. The majestic animal graces one with its presence and it’s hardly a wonder why this amounts to a heavenly encounter. Mixed emotions of fear as well as awe are felt by many and this experience surely lasts a lifetime. However, it is a rare occasion. Although the tiger population is moderately high, these creatures belong to the introvert category of animals and hence a large amount of time and effort is required for actually locate one.
How to reach Pench?
Accessing Pench Tiger Reserve is possible through various transport options. It is around 100-150 kilometres away from Nagpur, one of the major cities of central India. This city provides:
- An International Airport with weekly flights to/from several countries and a Domestic Airport with daily flights to/from all major Indian cities.
- A Railway station with well-functioning and frequent railway routes to/from all cities and major towns.
- Bus transport from nearby major cities.
- An excellent road network with National and State highways connecting it to many cities.
From Nagpur, the journey has to be strictly by means of road transport. It can be done by employing a personal vehicle, a tourist transport vehicle or a public transport vehicle. The drive requires approximately 2-4 hours to reach the outer limit of the Reserve.
Facilities & Mini Attractions
The boundary office, we travelled to, was located in Maharashtra. It has provisions of:
- Food court: local dishes are served.
- A small informative museum: The museum has various life-like scenes of tigers assembled, telling details about their life spans, behaviours, habits, habitats and other such traits.
- The office also enables us to choose from various safari options. We, personally, opted for a jeep for six people along with a driver and a guide.
Macchaans and Tiger sightings
Macchaans are wooden posts built in trees which are useful during tiger-counting procedures or tiger sightings. Pench Tiger Reserve has night-safaris available where one can take refuge on one of the macchaans and lie in wait of a tiger in the dark
Restrictions & Safety Instructions
The safari starts with the guide giving instructions which are to be strictly followed whilst inside the forest. These are necessary as life-threatening situations may arise otherwise. Apart from this, there are certain timing and seasonal restrictions where travelling inside Pench Tiger Reserve is strictly prohibited due to visibility and risk constraints.
- Do not litter.
- Do not feed personal food items to animals.
- Do not use flash while taking photographs of animals.
- Maintain silence at all times.
- Do not get out of vehicle under any circumstances unless instructed to do so.
The reserve remains closed during the Monsoon(Rainy) Season for a few months due to safety issues.
The jungle was marked with a distinct calm as we entered it. The only sound to be heard was that of our Jeep engine and an expression of awe was plastered over all our faces. Trees and plants of all shapes and sizes were to be seen in every direction. The road was a narrow one with allowance of only one vehicle at a time.
From time to time our guide would give a low whistle and draw our attention to the countless living beings inhabiting that land. We caught sight of:
- Birds of vivid colours of blue, yellow and red flying and chirping above us.
- A broad vulture perched grandly on top of a branch, seedily observing its environment.
- Herds of deer, munching away at the grass happily.
- A black bison with its might large body and an air power.
- Group of foxes who would look at any disturbances with sharp alert eyes and long pointed ears.
- Several peacocks and a few of their rare dances.
- Nilgai (largest Asian Antelope) amongst tall yellow grasses, camouflaging perfectly.
- Wild boars in large numbers, running helter-skelter.
- Slithering snakes against the muddy backdrop.
- Many monkeys with their super long tails.
- A silent group of hyenas.
Jannat which literally translates to PARADISE in English is exactly how one would describe this point of the safari; it takes your breath away. Jannat point is situated in the deep interiors of the forest and is one of the main attractions to look forward to. A large lake stands solitary in the centre with hills carved out of concentric lines due to tides surround it all over. The sun drowns in the lake, spilling its gold into the water. With all kinds of animals present to quench their thirst, it makes a lovely, lively scene.
Bamboos as tall as 4-storeyed buildings were clumped together in innumerable clusters all over the place as we continued our journey; they appeared from nowhere all of a sudden and seemed to fill every possible space available. It felt sinister and charming at the same time.
At this particular instance, our guide called to us in an urgent tone and we could see an animal, apparently sleeping in the direction of his finger. We were soon told that it was a tiger’s kill and there were chances that he/she might come back to get it. The driver switched of the engine and the silence that wrapped around us is one I will never be able to forget. It engulfed all of us into this pure vacuum of nothingness and it felt SO quiet and peaceful. Nowadays, the world is exposed to such constant noise of something or the other that we forget what joy silence and calm brings with it.
Well, we waited for quite a long period of time, wanting the King of the Jungle to make an appearance but sadly our stars weren’t exactly lucky that day.