The Pench Forest!! National Tiger Reserve

The forest of Pench is spread across the adjacent states of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Seoni in Madhya Pradesh is the head quarters for Pench forest. It got its name from the River Pench that flows through the forest.

 

The nearest airport and railhead is Nagpur which is 90 km away. From Nagpur one can take the Nagapur-Jabalpur road (NH 44) and drive till Khawasa, from where Madhya Pradesh starts.

 

Signboards for various resorts were visible on the journey and accordingly detour from the NH can be taken.

 

We booked our stay at Banyan Tree Camp – a budget resort. We had to take a left turn from Khawasa to reach here. This resort has all the required basic amenities and a very courteous staff force. They cook tasty food and ready to help the guests at any matter. A very much recommended stay option is this Banyan Tree Camp.

 

Fields start from just the periphery of Nagpur city, and then, after a little while start the forest of Pench. But the road is a highway, hence forest does not come very near.

 

The road from Khawasa to Banyan Tree Camp is all through forest. On the way comes the night safari entry gate. The exit of this is just behind the resort we are mentioning here. This road gives the first feel of Pench forest and a truly enjoyable ride area.

 

 

We took total four safaris. One set of morning and evening safaris through Turia gate in Madhya Pradesh side of Pench and another set of morning and evening safaris through Khudsapar gate in Maharashtra side of Pench.

 

Turia side forest is a variant landscape. Somewhere it’s dense and in some other places it appears quite open and wide. River Pench flows through this area of the forest. A lot of animals and birds sighting is possible here. The jungle gives a total serene feel as you browse through it.

 

There is a central point where jeeps stop for tourists to take breakfast and go for refreshments. It’s a wide open area and having a chance to get down from the jeep and have a free trolling really appears a pleasing option after a long safari drive. Clean washrooms are available here. There is a small tea and snack shop and a souvenir shop also, just for tourists’ delight.

 

This point is normally not accessed during the evening safaris. Hence other parts of the forest are explored.

 

 

The forest through Khudsapar is a totally dense one. So dense it is that unless an animal comes near the road, it’s not possible to spot them. In this area chance of tiger sighting is maximum, but one can’t expect to see many other animals. This is not due to lack of population, but due to thick foliage all around.

 

Here we could spot a tigress in our morning safari near a water hole. For a good long time we could follow it also until it disappeared in the thick through a canal.

 

The sighting was magnificent and the big was at its ease.

 

The assembly of trees in Pench is awesome. Being a dry deciduous forest, most of the trees shed leaves during winter, giving the forest and hermit look. There are not very old trees here as most old trees were taken before enactment of forest conservation laws. But the variety is still enchanting.

 

Among many others, the one bit different is ghost tree. It changes its colors thrice in a year. The bark appears white to become pink and then finally brown before getting shed in winter and reappearing as white and fresh. At our time of visit, some already shed the bark and some are still shedding. The look is standing out type.

 

Winter brings are lot of shedding in such forests. The tail feathers of male peacocks are gone after monsoon and now they are growing freshly again. Same for deer. They shed their horns and now fresh velvety horns are appearing. The entire forest is busy.

 

 

We ended our trip with a visit to Pachdhar village. It’s a potters’ village. One family welcomed us to witness their art and try our hands on it under their supervision. Presently state government is providing electric potting wheel to potters, making the hard work of rotating manual gigantic potting wheel at specific pace easy. Irony is, the present generation does not know how to work on the manual wheel, they depend on electric version only.

 

Here, being a native from Gangetic plains, I observed that the grain of soil here is bigger than that of soil that we get from Ganga bed. The result in terms of pottery is, here the pots are of thick walls, the ceramic like finish as seen in Gangetic plains’ pots also is not possible with this coarse soil here.

 

The family sells the pots there itself and they are nicely pocket friendly. Other that some outsourced souvenirs from souvenir shops in Pench, this is something well collectibles from this area. We brought back as much we could.

 

 

Important information:

 

Safari timing (resort to resort): morning 5 am to 11 am for Turia gate and 5 am to 10 am for Khudsapar gate. Evening safari from 2 pm to 5.30 pm for both gates.

 

Holidays: Turia remains closed for evening safari on every Wednesday. Check for any other holidays online through MP government website.

 

Safari booking: safaris must be booked beforehand. For this you can try to do online booking through MP government website or ask the resort person to do it for you. We did it through the resort to avoid hassles. ID proofs have to be submitted while booking and same should be carried during safaris.

 

Roads inside Turia gate are comfortable, but this is not the case for Khudsapar gate. So be prepared for joy rides.

 

Pench is open 1st October to 30th June every year.

 

Final note: Definitely try this forest. You’ll enjoy your decision. We went with two kids of 1.25 years and 2.5 years age. And we don’t regret.

Swatilekha Bhattacherjee

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