Pench Tiger Reserve
When I was in school, my parents used to take me to zoo. Those were the days when we used to see wildlife in man made arena but this trip to Pench was something different than what I had experienced till date. It was rendezvous of soul with nature.
Pench Tiger Reserve is spread over 292.85 sq kms and is shared by two states namely Maharastra and Madhya Pradesh. Pench Tiger Reserve derives its name from Peach River. The water reservoir of Meghdoot dam built over Pench river plays major role in creating a desired habitat for wildlife. It is interesting to know that the famous ‘The Jungle Book’ of Rudyard Kipling and his second book in series ‘The Second Jungle’ are based on Pench Tiger Reserve. Stats indicates that there are 44 tigers in this reserve with around 7-8 cubs. It is also home for around 285 resident and migratory birds and also protects 4 species of the now endangered vultures.
Any reserve forest can be divided into two zones geographically: Buffer Zone and Core Zone. The Buffer Zone is the one which is at outer periphery where we can find some civilisation and Core Zone is actual habitat of wild life. Core Zones are dense, deep and incredibly massive. Core Zone of Pench comprises of Indira Priyadarshini Bench National Park and Bench Mowgli Sanctuary.
On an average, only 20% of reserve is open for tourists till now, rest remains untouched. There are different set of laws applicable in these zones. Just for example, if any forest ranger or forest officer or patrolling party catches someone smoking inside Tiger Reserve, he/she can be booked for 6 years with fine upto Rs1000.
Most of the offences are non bailable and there is no requirement of any witnesses for forest officials to prove your crime in court of law! Still it’s not that bad as it sounds, just follow the rules.
Online revolution has not left even these densest jungles uninfluenced, for good in this case at least! Both safari & stay in Tiger reserve can now be booked online. All matters is that which gate you want to visit. One can not speculate the probability of siting of tiger at any gate, it’s sheer luck!
There are NINE gates of Peach Tiger Reserve out of which 06 are in Maharastra and 03 are in Madhya Pradesh.
(a). Gates in Maharastra:
(i). Sillari Gate.
(ii). Kolitmaara Gate.
(iii). Chorbahuli Gate.
(iv). Khubada (Saleghat)
(vi). Surewani (Nagalwadi)
Link showing all the Gates for Pench Tiger Reserve in Maharastra:
(b). Gates in Madhya Pradesh:
(i). Turia Gate.
(ii). Karmajhiri Gate.
(iii). Jamtara Gate.
Link showing all the Gates for Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh:
Booking of Safaris are very transparent these days. You pay for two things only online: firstly, price for number of individuals in group and secondly for the permit of gypsy. Mind you, it’s just for the permit and not for the Gypsy. If you happened to miss on these bookings then same can be done on the counter at the gates but it is subjected to empty Safari slots available on that day. It is always better to book Safari online. Further, there is a Rs100 additional cost for offline booking i.e. booking at the counter. These costs may vary on every gate. Camera cost is Rs100 which is worth spending anytime!
It is compulsory to hire Gypsy/Mini Bus for safari. The fees for these vehicle are payable in cash at the counters only. Hiring guide is mandatory for every safari. It took me Rs1800 for hiring Gypsy and Rs300 for guide in addition to Rs910 which I paid for booking Safari online.
Web portals for booking morning/evening safari:
(a). For gates in Maharastra: https://nationalpark.mahaonline.gov.in/User/Availability.aspx
(b). For gates in Madhya Pradesh: http://www.mp-online.in/mponline-ticket-booking-pench
There are different kinds of accommodations available in various gates of Maharastra namely: EcoHut, EcozyHut, DeluxHut, CozyTents. Booking for the same could be done online.
Link of photo album of various accommodations:
I stayed in eCosy Huts at Sillari gate. I was surprised to see the infrastructure available in these guest rooms. Rooms are really neat and clean with clean white bedsheets. Toilets are clean with WC and geysers available. Recently, ACs are also fitted in these rooms. It totality a maximum of Rs2000 is required to stay in best of the guest rooms available for a day, which is a pretty decent deal.
(b). Stay in Madhya Pradesh: Accommodation facilities are available in the Karmajhiri, Ghatkohka and Rukhad Forest Rest House. Accommodation can be booked in advance during the office hours (1030-1730 hrs) over phone (+91 7692-223794), fax (+91 7692-223204) and email ([email protected] The right of reservation lies with the Field Director, Pench Tiger Reserve.
DOs & DON'Ts
(a). Carry print out of tickets, both for Safari and guest rooms. Although, pdfs are also acceptable yet it’s unpredictable.
(b). Don’t smoke. For strict compliance.
(c). No alcohol. For strict compliance.
(d). Don’t talk loudly.
(e). Don’t honk at all.
(f). Don’t litter.
(g). Don’t deboard from gypsy in between safari.
(a). Carry water and packed food during safari.
(b). Sun glasses.
(c). Camera with sufficient batteries.
(d). Portable chargers.
(e). Sufficient memory cards.
(f). Winter clothing for evening safari if going in winter season.
Helpful Contact Numbers
(a). Pench Tiger Reserve: 0712 2560727 / 09552809552 / 09209092648.
(b). Babban Gajbiye (Gypsy Driver): 07558523304
A trip to any Reserve Forests might not be as educative or informative as we might be expecting it to be but it will definitely tell us that how ignorant are we about nature and its other tenants. Spending a night in jungle with eternal peace occasionally disturbed by roars of tiger is a memorable experience. Although I could not site any tiger but I could feel that Pench is his home and this time I was in his arena.
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