National Parks – Central India
Madhya Pradesh in central India has some of the best National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries in the whole of the country.
Bandhavgarh National Park
The National Park at Bandhavgarh supports one of the highest densities of tigers anywhere in the world and its open terrain with large meadows offers good opportunities of sightings. Other mammals that may be seen here include leopard, sloth bear, jungle cat, hyena, porcupine, jackal, fox and wild dog. The park has a dramatic landscape with tropical forests and woodland and steep rocky hills as well as the flat grasslands and valleys. In the centre of the park is a 2000 year of fort. Bandhavgarh is not easy to get to as it requires long overland journeys (it is four hours drive from the nearest airport) – but for those who make the effort you may not only be rewarded by wildlife viewings but also can stay in really comfortable accommodation.
Kanha National Park
Kanha National Park is one of India’s largest parks – the park and buffer zone covering almost 2,000 sq kms. The landscape is spectacular with huge sal tree forests and grassy meadows. This park was one of the original sanctuaries to be included in Project Tiger in 1973. These parklands are home to 22 species of mammal (including tiger, leopard, pangolin, striped hyena and Indian wild dog) and over 200 species of bird. The nearest airports to Kanha are Jabalpur and Nagpur, both five hours by car.
Panna National Park
Panna is a National Park (1,406 sq km area) with a variety of wildlife including tiger, leopard, sloth bear, wolf, hyena, jackal and many birds. Gharials (a rare type of crocodile) can also be seen here. This park is an important protected area as it links the eastern and western populations of resident wildlife in India’s north-central highlands. The topography here is tropical forests, thick teak forests and deep ravines along the Ken River in the Vindhya Hills. Khajuraho, the nearest airport, is an hour away. Most people also visit the temples of Khajuraho while in the area.
Pench National Park
Pench National Park (293 sq km) is a dry deciduous forest of predominantly teak trees. Pench is situated on the southern border of Madhya Pradesh and the nearest airport is at Nagpur in Maharashtra which is two hours away. The park is named after the Pench River than runs through it. Tigers are present and said to be in good numbers. Wildlife more likely to be seen include jackal, wild boar, chital and sambar deer but sloth bears, wild dogs, leopards, jungle cats and striped hyena are also in the area, as are a wide range of bird species.
Satpura National Park
Satpura is a Wildlife Sanctuary 210 kms from Bhopal and takes its name from the Satpura hills. Along with the adjoining sanctuaries of Bori and Panchmarhi Satpura is 1427 sq km and ranges in altitude from 300 to 1350 m. It was made a National Park in 1981 but has only recently been open to visitors. Mammals that can be seen here include tiger, leopard, sloth bear, Asiatic wildcat, flying squirrel etc. Hornbills are plentiful. Visiting a national park in its infancy is a rare treat – but be prepared also for some teething problems.