Magical MP – Panchmarhi Part-2 and Pench

Now it is included in Satpura National Park region and visiting many places require a park entrance fees and also the local Jeeps formed an union and now divided the main attractions in 3 full days trip which costs you 1500 per day. Quite expensive specially if you don’t want to see all places scheduled in a day and instead want to replace a few spots with places of your choice, firstly union won’t allow that officially and you have to pay extra to driver on top of 1500. So this is the only place where a MPT safari would be extremely helpful. They cover the significant places in one day and with a charge of 1250. Morning they would take you to Museum to start with where you have to buy forest tickets (Rs 60 per person) and take a compulsory guide by paying Rs.200. The Museum is worth visiting to understand Pachmarhi flora and fauna. From Museum, the tour covers Pandava caves which had given much artificial look than what I saw it 11 years back, then to Apsara Vihar and Rajat Prapat, two water falls that needs some amount of trekking to reach. If you are a trekking enthusiast, you can go to bottom of Rajat Prapat but almost need a full day for taking that up. After lunch, they would take you to Bee Falls, some steep climb down and climb up is involved but you get an excellent views of the fall from below. In Bee Fall, I have seen an Indian Giant Squirrel, (6th snap below) with amazing colors. Next they would take you to Reechgarh, a natural amphitheatre in rock approached from Southside cave like entrance. You would find some old rock paintings here but this place also needs small trek. Finally you would end your day with a fascinating sunset over Satpura Range from Dhupgarh, a must go for any tourist in Pachmarhi. We also gone for some trekking in outer region of Pachmarhi that is equally fascinating as you can see a different views of Satpura range, some old rock paintings and also a 100 year old ruin called Begam’s Palace from where we experienced a nice sunset.

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The next destination and last in our trip was again a forest, Pench, which is smallest in size in comparison to Bandhavgarh and Kanha and primarily have 3 zones. Touria is the most popular zone with most of the hotels and resorts are closer to this gate and this is nearest from Nagpur and that’s why have a lot of local tourists specially in weekends. Karmajhiri is the gate where you would find the MP Forest RH and much quieter area but travel involved is at least 25 to 30km more than Touria gate from Nagpur. On the other side of Pench river the least visited zone in Pench is named as Jhamtara which should be approached from a road forked to right while you are approaching to Seoni from Chindwara, not sure the accommodation options in this area and only 5 Jeeps are allowed in Jhamtara where as 10 allowed in Karmajhiri and 45 to 50 are allowed from Touria. From Pachmarhi We took the road via Matkuli, Tamia, Chindwara, Seoni, turning towards Nagpur up to Khawasa and then taking right to Pench. We stayed in MPT’s Kipling’s Court as we found FRH booking only allowed just a month before your travel date here. Also FRH is comparatively costlier around 1200/- per day here excluding the food, so we preferred Kipling’s Court with it’s all inclusive 3000 rate that includes accommodations, food and close to most popular gate Touria where we can get a car for our return journey towards Nagpur easily. My point of contact here was Ajay, excellent person who was already introduced in IM in some other threads. He was a very sincere guide and carrying some excellent books on birds to show us varieties of birds in Pench. I haven’t seen or probably haven’t noticed so many birds in Bandhavgarh or Kanha.

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Pench, once known as Leopard County and famous for almost sure sighting of leopard even until 3 yrs back. Now leopard sighting is not that common still out of 3 safaris, in two we heard quite a few cars have seen leopards. We were not that much lucky to see it though. Pench’s specialty is Nilgai, male is actually colored blackish blue and females are having dark yellowish shade. We have seen them plenty apart from Gaur, Spotted Deer, Sambars, Wild Boars, Jackals, wild cat and lots and lots of birds. We have seen a spot-bellied eagle owl, a first time sighting in Pench and we had registered our sighting in Forest Office with a few snaps. Apart from Tiger show, we haven’t seen any tiger here. Tiger show usually happens when Forest elephant spots a tiger during morning safaris, costs 200 per head for getting a glimpse of the big cat. Not a very thrilling way of spotting a tiger but sometimes you can get excellent views, like in our day first few Jeeps got an excellent view of the cat with a kill in open space and then saw her pulling the kill to cross the road to go to a bushy area. Also she was accompanied by her 4 cubs of 2/3 months old, a sight to remember for lifetime, I have seen couple of snaps from them and they are awesome!! Later on the sighting was not that interesting, neither people could spot the cubs. So it’s all about your luck and the timing when your turn would come. But I have seen tiger shows running in Bandhavgarh, Kanha and Pench whenever they could spot a tiger.

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Pench stay was really memorable as it was not that touristy like its big brothers Kanha and Bandhavgarh and we got a guide like Ajay who made it more pleasant. He arranged for an Innova to drop us at Nagpur airport for Rs.2200 on next day. The people who travels from Kolkata might end the trip via Nagpur as the Indigo flight connecting Nagpur Kolkata had a good timing, (5.30pm from Nagpur) would allow you to take even morning safari at Pench and then dinner back home at Kolkata. If you book well in advance, the sector offers a very competitive fare and that makes this 1.5 hours journey quite affordable too.

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