Monday, April 07, 2008

Bandhavgarh, Kanha, and Panchmarhi

I managed a much-needed break last month - after three months of planning and scheduling, me and my friends Mandar and Girish went on a 10-day trip to Madhya Pradesh. Our three planned destinations were Bandhavgarh, Kanha, and Panchmarhi. Now that I'm back, I realize I'm going to cherish this trip forever.

You might know that Bandhavgarh and Kanha are Tiger reserves - while Bandhavgarh is a small place, Kanha is huge and spread over 1945 sq. kilometers. You'll realize these dimensions mean nothing when you're actually in there; it is actually possible to get lost in there and even face mortal peril from wild life. Tigers, leopards, jackals, wild dogs, bear, enough to never let you relax even in the relative comfort of your open jeep. It certainly does not make you feel better that nothing prevents the animals from walking over to your open vehicle and grabbing a bite of you, while the driver and guide are not even carrying sticks for protection. But,as I realized, the animals prefer their own, and seem to be least bothered by the human intervention. And for the tiger, well, 40 screeching jeeps carrying over 150 screaming people might just be another parakeet in a tree. S/he goes about routine tasks like there's no one around.

We managed to spot a tigress both the days we were in Bandhavgarh. (Bad light and a frantic rush to take photographs, combined with amateur photography skills and the euphoria of the moment have ensured that none of the tiger photos are good). B2, the alpha male at Bandhavgarh, as well as leopards remained elusive. We spotted an adult male tiger on our last safari in Kanha as well.

IMG_2177_eIMG_2341_e

Both locations are home to a large variety of birds, and we managed to make the most of it by spotting and identifying over 57 different ones. (Thanks go out to Tanya for lending me a pair of excellent binoculars and a copy of Salim Ali's definitive book on Indian birds.) [Some bird photos here.]

One highlight of the Bandhavgarh safari was being witness to a pack of wild dogs hunting. The dogs sort of lost interest in the hunt after a while and settled down on the road allowing us to take photographs to our heart's content.

We ended the tour with Panchmarhi, a hill station that turned out to be a major disappointment. This place does not have much to offer, and what it has seems to be in very bad shape thanks to a combined effort by the government and vandals.

[All photos here.]

Route: Mumbai - Katni - Bandhavgarh - Kanha - Panchmarhi (via Jabalpur) - Pipariya - Mumbai

Tips:

#Accommodation is easily available at both Bandhavgarh and Kanha. Most of these places come cheaper if you negotiate on the spot rather than call and book in advance. We stayed at Mowgli Jungle Resorts in Bandhavgarh (Excellent) and the MPT Dormitory in Kanha (desolate, scary, beautiful).

#Nothing much to do other than admire the work of vandals in Panchmarhi.

#Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation has good hotels in all these places, can't say much about catering though.

3 comments:

Imogen said...

Hi, I am planning a trip to India this fall, and was wondering which national park you found the best, Kanha or Bandhavgarh or whether to go to both. Thanks

iNFiNiteSaDNeSS said...

Imogen, I'm guessing you are planning to visit sometime during September/October. Please check with your agents before you visit any of the Indian parks at this time - most of them are closed during the monsoons and post monsoon is not a good time for tiger sightings. Regardless, both places will be great to visit for all the other wildlife. Kanha is likely to be denser at that time, and the likelihood of seeing the predators will be less.
March-April would be the best times to visit both places.

Travel said...
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