Pench national park is located in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra states of Central India. It is part of Pench tiger reserve which includes Pench national park, Pench Mowgli sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh state and Mansingh Deo wildlife sanctuary in Maharashtra. Majority of Pench tiger reserve area lies in Madhya Pradesh state thus most of the jungle safaris are done from and within this Pench Madhya Pradesh.. Wildlife tourism in Maharashtra part is now gaining momentum as local people from Maharashtra state are fond of wildlife and often visits jungles and nature tourism destinations. This forest is spread over Satpura & Mahadeo hills with presence of Pench river from which tiger reserve name is derived. Pench river is the main river for this national park which ensures water availability, throughout the year. It flows from north to south, divide the national park park into two parts. Apart from this river, Wainganga river is also one of the important river of Pench tiger reserve whose impact is not on national park area but have impact on eastern part of tiger reserve.
When we talk about history of Pench forest, majority of websites says that Rudyard Kipling visited this forest and wrote “The Jungle Book”. Their are certain resorts who even claims about existence of wooden cottage, in Pench, where Rudyard Kipling wrote this classic story book. Nobody talks about its history, beyond “The Jungle Book”. It is true that this classic story book is influenced from Pench forest area but Rudyard Kipling never visited Pench forest and book was not written here in India. It was influenced from an incidence in which a jungle boy was captured by British officer, during investigation of missing villagers. Sir WIlliam Henry Sleeman documented this incidence in his books and taking reference from his book, Rudyard Kipling wrote his story book, after more than 4 decades from incidence. Forest of Pench remained under control of Gonds who had rule over majority of south-east Central India. It remained under powers of Seoni and Chhindwara towns. Gond’s Deogarh Kingdom had control over it in 16th century. In those days, Tadoba forest, Nagzira, Kanha national park, Satpura national park etc were under Gondwana Kingdom rune. After Gonds, this forest became under influence of Maratha rulers of Nagpur region. In those days, no record maintained about wildlife of this forest but when British India rule came, they conducted studies in these forests and documented their findings thus more information is available of that period. During British India time, Cheetah was present in this forest. In those days, many man-eater tigers were present in this forest. Some tigers had killed over 100 people and thus trained shooters were called to eliminate them. In year 1862, cutting forest was prohibited. Later in 1977 Pench sanctuary was established which was later declared as national park in year 1993. In year 1992-93, Pench tiger reserve was declared and Pench national park became its part.
As mentioned in many websites, foremost quality of Pench national park is that it is the same forest area on which stories of “The Jungle Book” are based. While doing jungle safari we will realize that here density of herbivores animals like Spotted Deer, Sambar, Blue bull, Indian Gaur etc is high. During safari drives, it will not seems like jungle without any wild animals that we often experience in other national parks. We keep on seeing some animal in every next moment thus plenty of chance for wildlife photography. It has many rocky patches in which leopard sighting is good. Here tiger sighting is normal. In compare to Bandhavgarh and Kanha national park, sighting of Wild Dogs is better which is another important attraction and not frequently seen during jungle safaris. Thus overall jungle safari experience will be good. Due to other safari entrance gates from Pench Maharashtra, tourists have good chance to get core zone safari tickets with less pain, in compare to Kanha national park, Bandhavgarh and Tadoba national park thus tour planning for this national park is easy. Another important attractive feature is its easy accessibility from Nagpur city with excellent road condition thus tourists of any age group can come with less effort.
Jungle safari experience of Pench national park is highly enjoyable for wildlife lovers and highly profitable for wildlife photographers. Healthy mammal sighting and birding, ensures visitor’s satisfaction on their safari holiday trip. Here jungle safaris can be done on an open jeep and open bus or canter. Majority of jungle safaris are done on open jeeps as it is the oldest and most popular way to do jungle safari. Those who have budget problems or facing problems in getting safari tickets, choose the canter safari option. As Pench tiger reserve is spread over two states thus entrance gates are available in both the states i.e. Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Here popular entrance gates are Touria, Karmajhiri, Jamtara, Khursapar. In between them, Khursapar gate is in Maharashtra state and others are in Madhya Pradesh. As safari gates are in two states thus safari rules are also according to the forest departments of these two states which varies on some topics like safari timing, park closure dates etc. Here safaris are offered in two schedules of the day i.e. morning safari and afternoon safari. Some of the popular places to explore inside Pench national park are Alikatta, Bodanala, Chhindimatta, Doob road, Raiyyakasha, Kala Pahar, Mahadevghat, Joda Munra etc.
Pench tiger reserve is having more than 40 mammal species, as per record which includes herbivores, carnivores and omnivores species. Some of the prominently seen herbivores are Spotted Deer, Indian Gaur, Sambar, Blue Bull (Nilgai), GrayLangur, Barking Deer etc. These mammal species have healthy population in national park. In Carnivores category, prominent ones are Tiger, Leopard which are major attraction for tourists and majority of safaris revolve around them. In omnivores category, we can easily find Wild Dogs (Dholes), Wild Boar, Sloth Bear, Jackal, Wolves, Indian Fox etc. Their distribution, inside the tiger reserve, varies as per locations thus their sighting also varies.
Pench tiger reserve offers more than 270 bird species. It means avifaunal diversity of Pench tiger reserve is good and birders can include this destination in their safari holiday trip. Pench national park is located on the eastern part of Pench tiger reserve which is blessed with Pench river. Here Totladoh dam is located inside the forest area with vast catchment area which ensures sufficient water availability for national park. It also offers proper wetland for birds thus birding in Pench is good. Some of the commonly seen bird species includes Malabar Pied Hornbill, Mottled Wood Owl, Indian River Tern, Rufous Woodpecker, White naped Flameback, Greater Spotted Eagle, Black Drongo, Crested Hawk Eagle, Rufous Treepie, Ruddy Shelduck, Black Stork, Red Jungle Fowl, Indian Peafowl etc. During jungle safari, visit Alikatta for good sighting of Malabar Pied Hornbill. Similarly places like Raiyakassa, Mahadev Ghat, Bakodi Kassa Camp, Sapat Camp, Gol Pahadi area are also good for birding. Here safari tracks are arranged in such a way that it gives less exposure to wetlands and more to forest area thus majority of birding will be done on trees.
Nearest Airport = Nagpur Airport (110kms)
Nearest Railway Station = Nagpur Railway Station
Nearest Bus Stand = Seoni Bus Stand, Nagpur Bus Stand, Chhindwara Bus Stand
Here majority of tourists are coming from Nagpur, due to its closeness and very good flight -train connectivity. In case you are coming from Delhi, Agra, Jaipur or West Bengal, then you may consider Jabalpur city (210kms) as second best option. Using tourist taxi service from Nagpur to Pench (Touria) or Jabalpur to Pench (Touria) is the best & justified way to travel. If budget is low, then you may use bus travel option from Nagpur/Jabalpur to Khawasa check-point. From here, Touria gate route diverts thus bus will not go and travel distance left will be of 12 kms. Their is no dedicated local mode of transport thus you may need help of some passingby vehicle or call your hotel to arrange some transport for you.
Earlier when Pench national park was not so popular, all the accommodation facilities were concentrated near Touria entrance gate only. But with the passage of time, Pench tiger reserve become popular among wildlife lovers and tourism has considerably increased thus accommodation facilities also increased. Now we can find accommodation facilities near Touria gate, Karmajhiri gate, Jamtara gate and Khursapar gate. Majority of hotels are still near Touria gate. Here hotels are available on different budget categories.
After visiting Pench national park, we have many other good wildlife destinations to explore like Tadoba national park in Maharashtara, Kanha national park, Satpura tiger reserve, Nagzira wildlife sanctuary and Bandhavgarh. If you are not interested in wildlife then consider Pachmarhi hill station, Marble rocks in Bhedaghat.