“Man is the weakest and most defenseless of all living things, and it is unsportsmanlike to touch him”.
– The Jungle Book
One of the most wonderful things about being around a forest where large animals occur, especially predators, is the epiphany that they are not bloodthirsty animals that will attack at the first sign of a passing human. They will in fact desist, despite enjoying territorial and physical superiority.
It is fascinating to walk the very lands that Tigers and Leopards walk, it is humbling to watch them at a safe distance on a safari in India, and is truly spine-tingling when one is informed, by the staff of the lodge one is staying at, that there are strong alarm calls or that the Tiger was heard roaring nearby the very tenements one is sleeping in. Even better when you hear for yourself!
Pench National Park in Central India is one such place that enamors the senses. The picturesque setting behind Kipling’s Jungle Book, it is a haven for wildlife and a thriving national park where one can see the Royal Bengal Tiger and all its subjects in the wild.
A safari trip to Pench is an experience to behold, and we give you 5 reasons that you must visit Pench National Park!
1. Experience a jungle safari in the real-life Jungle Book
Teak forests, gently rolling hills, huge rock dens, thick vines, and beautiful streams as well as large grasslands – one gets the feeling of being in paradise. A storied park, it feels as if one has walked into a fairytale, with some areas offering rather surreal sights.
One has a chance to see all the characters of the Jungle book here at Pench – a riveting prospect! Run into real-life Baloo, Bagheera, Shere Khan, Kaa, The Bandar Log, Vultures, and even a cute Mowgli statue!
2. Tigers Galore: Pench has a roaring population of Tigers
Crossing 50 in number. A hugely important landscape for wildlife, the successful conservation, and management of its various habitats has benefitted not only Pench but also other wildlife reserves in the area. Tigers walk several hundreds of kilometers through wildlife corridors in order to establish new territories and thus are able to diversify the gene pool of Tigers.
Safaris at Pench are hugely exciting, and there seems to be a chance of spotting a Tiger at all through the year, especially during summer, when, the water sources dry up, and the Tiger has to come to drench its body in a pool of water in order to cool off from the soaring heat.
3. Predator Sightings galore
It is not just Tigers that one may see at Pench, but a wide range of other predators exist here in healthy numbers and are unafraid to show themselves in spite of living ‘in the shadow’ of the Tiger.
occupy the forested hills of Pench; numerous huge boulders of rock serve as great denning areas and places for shelter. One can often see Leopards basking on the rocks in the late mornings here – their beautiful rosettes helping them disappear almost in plain sight.
or the Dhole roam the huge open areas at Pench. Though not as numerous as they once were, one can often spot a small group or a pair of Wild Dogs on a game drive at Pench Tiger Reserve. These intelligent and beautiful creatures are always fun to observe and when on the hunt, provide adrenaline-pumping excitement and display interesting behaviour.
occupy the large grasslands, and are a common sight to see on safari here. These clever scavengers maintain family groups or hang out in male-female pairs, scouring the area for an opportunity to hunt the young Spotted Deer fawn. They are also often seen fighting with Vultures for the right to feed on a carcass that a Leopard or Tiger may have discarded.
are certainly endangered in today’s times and have been relegated to surviving on the outskirts of Pench National Park in the buffer zones and around villages, where they lift livestock often. Yet, once every while there are sightings of Wolves inside the park, or around the approach roads of Pench National Park. These tall, dark, and handsome creatures take us back to memories of honorable Akela and his pack, and it is a real pleasure to know that these animals are surviving in Central India in the land of Shere Khan.
4. Night Safari at Pench National Park
A recent offering from the Forest officials, a game drive at sunset in the Buffer Area of Pench National Park, is a must-do activity.
Tigers, Leopards, Porcupines, Pangolin, Wolves, Foxes, and Hares all occur in this area – and the opportunity of being in the jungle at night is an enthralling affair. The sounds of Owls, Nightjars, and the occasional cry of alarm from the Spotted Deer and Sambar are sure to get your heart racing and your mind wondering at the possibilities of what lies hidden.
Note: Night Safari permits cannot be booked in advance, and need to be made on the day of the safari itself.
5. Traditional Pottery Village
Though not wildlife-related, one gets the chance to imbibe a bit of local culture at Pench. Pachhdar is a tiny hamlet at Pench and is entrenched in the fine art of pottery.
Clay vessels used for cooking and decoration alike are skillfully crafted by hand by the Potters of this region and sold in metropolitan cities. The community also makes larger-than-life sculptures depicting various Gods of Hindu mythology during the respective religious festivals.
One can get their hands dirty under the tutelage of a local Potter as he guides you on how to use his beloved wheel to sculpt out interesting-looking clay items. It may look easy, but requires hundreds of hours of dedicated practice to become close to proficient. A fun and educative experience for adults and children alike– a visit to the pottery village of Pachhdar should be on the cards when on safari at Pench National Park!
Bonus reason to visit Pench National Park: A young Black Leopard or Melanistic Leopard has been spotted by a few visitors at the Teliya Buffer Zone of Pench. Melanistic Leopards are Leopards with a genetic variation in that their coats carry an excess of melanin which makes them darker than usual. The degree of “blackness” varies and upon closer inspection, a leopard’s black rosettes can also be seen.
A beautifully haunting sight, this leopard is new to the prying eyes of visitors but is certainly losing its inhibitions, and it can be said that in a few months’ time – could become one of the star attractions at Pench National Park.
Kabini National Park in Karnataka (South India) has usually been the hotspot for seeing the Black Leopard in India. Now, Pench might be home to one of the most sought-after sights in the world: Bagheera in the original land of the Jungle Book!
Pench, in addition to being close to Nagpur Airport, is in close proximity to Tadoba National Park, Bori Wildlife Sanctuary, and Kanha National Park. This makes it a wholesome destination, and a quite marvelous place in India for a safari holiday!
We hope we have given you a few reasons to visit Pench National Park on your holiday in India and hope that you find even more reasons to fall in love with Pench!
Varun was never interested nor had any inclination towards wildlife until 2014 when he took his first unplanned safari to Kanha National Park with three close friends. His expectations hit low from the trip. Hailing from South Bombay, he found himself taken aback by the clear distinction between night and day without streetlights, and how night activity is curtailed because of wildlife movement in such areas. Upon entering the forest, he was left completely and utterly enthralled at the beauty of the innumerable Sal trees. This is the story of how wildlife stole his heart and how since then he has dedicated his being to nature.