The Pench National Park and Tiger Reserve extends over an area of 257 sq km in the lower southern reaches of the Satpura hill ranges, along the northern boundary of Nagpur District. It was declared a National Park by the Government of Maharashtra in 1975 and received the official status of “ Tiger Reserve of India” in February 1999.
STD Code: 07692
Area: 257 sq. kms
When to go: The best time to visit Pench is between October and March, when the weather is pleasantly cool. One can expect extreme climatic conditions during summer and winter months, so one must dress accordingly. The Pench National Park is open to visitors from 01st October to 30th June each year and remains closed during the rainy season (July-Sept). Visiting hours are from 6 am to 11 am and from 3 pm to 6 pm. Light vehicles are allowed, and speed restrictions must be followed.
Getting There & Away: How to reach Pench
Road: Buses ply regularly from Nagpur & Ramtek to Pench National Park.
Rail: The nearest railhead is Nagpur railway station, approximately 73 km.
Air: Nagpur is the nearest Airport located at 80 km away.
The park gets its name from the Pench River, which meanders through it like a mammoth python, dividing it down the centre. Rich in its biodiversity, its terrain defined by hills, valleys and the occasional precipitous slope, Pench is an important ecosystem supporting an abundance of flora and fauna, including a rich variety of aquatic life.
Not surprisingly, the beauty of this part of central India has earned much literary attention. The poet Kalidas waxes eloquent about the scenic charm of the place in his epics Meghdootam and Shakuntalam. R.A Strendale’s “Camp in the Satpura Hills” draws a vivid pen picture of this idyllic paradise, as does Forsyth’s “Highlands of Central India”.
Indeed, the Pench National Park is four different forest regions in one: an extravagance of trees, shrubs, grasses, climbers, weeds and herbs, with teak being the mosty prominent of the three species. The park is home to 33 species of mammals, 164 species of birds, 50 species of fish, 10 species of amphibians, 30 species of reptoiles and a wide variety of insects.
With officially reserved for tigers and panthers, Pench is also home to sambar, chatal, barking deer, nilgai, black buck, gaur, wild boar, chausingha, sloth bears, wild dogs, langurs, monkeys, mouse deer, black-naped hares, jackals, foxes, heynas, porcupines and flying squirrels to name a few.
Here, birdlife is equally bountiful. The feathered denizens of Pench include both resident and migratory birds like Malabar pied hornbills, Indian pitas, ospreys, grey-headed fishing eagles, white-eyed buzzards, storks, waterfowls, four endangered vulture species, and the green pigeon, which is the State Bird.
In overall, Pench is a naturalist’s dream come true; a mind-expanding experience if evere there is one.
Tourist Attractions in Pench National Park
Ambakhori: This spot on the bank of Pench river, near Totladoh, is noted for its natural beauty and serenity. Locals as well as visitors find its charms irresistible.
“The eyes of Shakuntala”: The Meghdoot Reservoir at Totladoh and the Lower Pench Reservoir at Navegaon Khairi resemble the tear-filled eyes of Shakuntala, Kalidas’ epic heroine, when seen from above. The Meghdoot Reservoir is formed by the Pench Hydroelectric Project and, aside from providing power, ensures a continual supply of water to the Lower Pench Reservoir. Both catchment areas are fed by the Pench river, which flows through the forest.
Nagardhan Fort: The historical town of Nagardhan is said to have been founded by Nandvardhan, a king of the Shail Dynasty. The land houses a fort, supposedly built by the Bhonsles, with walls made of brick.
Karmajhiri: Kamajhiri is reputed to be excellent bison country. This is also the location of the museum, the Forest Rest House, and the Mowgli Huts, which form the residential complex.
Nature Interpretation Centre: Owing to its proximity to Nagpur, Pench attracts thousands of visitors each year: school children, college students, teachers and professors who wish to gain insights into Pench’s unique ecosystem. The Nature Interpretation Centre is the place to visit.