4.3 / 5

Pench National Park

📍 Pench National Park, Madhya PradeshView map ›

🗓 Best Time To Visit:October to June

⏰ Open Hours:6:00 AM to 6:00 PM

🏞 Things To Do:Wildlife safari, Bird watching, River rafting, Photography

💰 Budget:INR 1500 for Indians, INR 3000 for foreigners (Safari charges)

👪 Traveller Types:Nature Lovers, Wildlife Enthusiasts, Photographers

🔖 Known For:Home to the endangered Indian wild dog, diverse flora and fauna, setting of Rudyard Kipling's 'The Jungle Book'

🚄 Distances:Seoni Railway Station (30 km), Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport, Nagpur (93 km), Nagpur city (90 km)

🦁 Wildlife:Tigers, Leopards, Indian wild dogs, Jackals, Sloth bears, Monkeys

🌳 Flora:Teak mixed with other species like saja, bija, lendia, haldu, dhaora, salai, aonla, amaltas

📷 Photography:Allowed with no extra charge

💡 Tips:Carry binoculars, wear muted colours, follow park rules, respect wildlife privacy

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Pench National Park: A Complete Guide to the Land of The Jungle Book

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to explore the land of Mowgli, Bagheera, Baloo, and Shere Khan? If yes, then you should definitely visit Pench National Park, one of the most scenic and diverse wildlife destinations in India. Located in the heart of India, in Madhya Pradesh, Pench National Park is home to a variety of flora and fauna, including the majestic Royal Bengal Tiger.

It is also the place that inspired the famous novel ‘The Jungle Book’ by Rudyard Kipling, which later became a popular Disney movie and series. In this article, we will give you a complete guide to Pench National Park, covering its history, culture, wildlife, safari, and more. Read on to find out why Pench National Park should be your next travel destination.

History and Culture of Pench National Park

Photo of Pench National Park 1/1 by
(c) Unsplash

The name ‘Pench’ comes from the river that flows through the park, dividing it into two parts: the northern part in Madhya Pradesh and the southern part in Maharashtra. The river is named after a local word ‘pench’, which means ‘fish trap’, as it was used by the tribal people to catch fish. The tribal people belong to the Gond community, one of the largest and oldest indigenous groups in India. They have a rich and unique culture, with their own language, customs, art, music, festivals and a close relationship with nature.

The history of Pench National Park dates back to the 17th century, when it was part of the Mughal Empire. The Mughals used the forest as a hunting ground and built several forts and palaces in the region. Later, during the British rule, Pench became a reserved forest and was used for timber extraction and railway sleepers. It was also around this time that Rudyard Kipling visited Pench and was inspired by its beauty and diversity to write his famous novel ‘The Jungle Book’.

In 1977, Pench was declared a wildlife sanctuary and in 1983, it became a national park. In 1992, it was included in the Project Tiger, a government initiative to protect tigers and their habitats. In 2011, it was declared a tiger reserve, with an area of 292.85 sq km. Today, Pench National Park is one of the most popular and well-managed wildlife destinations in India.

Flora and Fauna of Pench National Park

Pench National Park boasts of a diverse and rich flora that creates a suitable habitat for various animals and birds. The park has four types of vegetation: tropical moist deciduous forest, tropical dry deciduous forest, southern tropical dry deciduous teak forest, and southern tropical mixed dry deciduous forest. The dominant tree species are teak, bamboo, mahua, salai, tendu, jamun, etc. The park also has several medicinal plants, grasses, shrubs, herbs, climbers, etc.

The fauna of Pench National Park is equally diverse and rich. The park is home to more than 50 species of mammals, 300 species of birds, 30 species of reptiles, 10 species of amphibians, 50 species of fishes, and several species of insects. The main attraction of the park is the Royal Bengal Tiger, which is estimated to have a population of around 50 in the park. The tiger is the apex predator in the park and plays a vital role in maintaining the ecological balance. The park also has other rare and endangered animals such as leopard, sloth bear, wild dog, gaur, sambar, chital, nilgai, four-horned antelope, etc.

The birdlife in Pench National Park is also very impressive and colorful. The park has some of the common and exotic birds that can be spotted in the park such as peafowl, hornbill, kingfisher, eagle, owl, parakeet, woodpecker, barbet, flycatcher, warbler, etc. The park also has some migratory birds that visit the park during winter such as pintail, wigeon, shoveler, teal, etc.

Safari and Other Activities in Pench National Park

One of the best ways to explore and enjoy Pench National Park is by taking a safari. A safari is a guided tour of the park in a jeep or a bus that allows you to see the wildlife and the landscape up close.

Safari Timings:

The safari timings are from 6 am to 11 am and from 3 pm to 6 pm. The safari zones are divided into two parts: the core zone and the buffer zone. The core zone has four gates: Turia, Karmajhiri, Jamtara, and Rukhad. The buffer zone has three gates: Khursapar, Sillari, and Wolf Sanctuary. The safari fees vary depending on the zone, gate, vehicle, and nationality of the visitor.

To make the most of your safari experience, here are some tips and suggestions

Best time to visit:

The best time to visit Pench National Park is from October to June, when the weather is pleasant, and the wildlife is more active and visible.

When to spot tigers and birds:

The best time to spot tigers is in the morning or evening, when they are more likely to come out for hunting or drinking water. The best time to spot birds is in the winter, when the migratory birds arrive in large numbers.

Best place to stay:

The best place to stay in Pench National Park is in one of the jungle camps or resorts that offer comfortable accommodation and amenities along with a view of the forest and the river.

Best way to reach:

By air: The nearest airport is Nagpur (92 km)

By train: The nearest railway station is Seoni (30 km)

By bus: The nearest bus stand is Khawasa (12 km).

Other activities that you can enjoy in or around Pench National Park such as:

Boat ride on Pench river: You can take a boat ride on the Pench river and enjoy the scenic beauty of the forest and the water. You can also spot some aquatic animals and birds along the way.

Camping in jungle camps or resorts: You can stay in one of the jungle camps or resorts that offer comfortable accommodation and amenities along with a view of the forest and the river. You can also enjoy bonfires, barbecues, cultural programs, etc.

Visiting nearby places: You can visit some nearby places that are worth seeing such as Pachmarhi (a hill station), Kanha National Park (another tiger reserve), Bhedaghat (a waterfall), Jabalpur (a city), Nagpur (an orange city), Khajuraho (a temple town), Agra (the Taj Mahal city), Bhimbetka (a rock art site), and Chhindwara (a tribal district).

Hotels and Resorts in Pench National Park

If you are looking for a place to stay in Pench National Park, you have plenty of options to choose from. There are some of the best hotels and resorts in Pench National Park that offer comfortable accommodation and amenities for different budgets and preferences. Some of them are Tuli Tiger Corridor, Pench Jungle Camp, Village Machaan Resort, Mahua Vann Resort and Pench Tree Lodge.

Pench National Park is a perfect destination for nature and wildlife lovers who want to experience the land of ‘The Jungle Book’. It offers a variety of attractions and activities that can suit every taste and interest. You can explore the history and culture of the park and its surrounding regions, witness the beauty and diversity of the flora and fauna, enjoy the safari and other activities, and relax in one of the hotels or resorts. Pench National Park is a place that will leave you spellbound and enchanted by its charm and splendor.

Also read: Why The Panna Pench National Park Needs To Be On Your Bucket List

So, what are you waiting for? Plan your trip to Pench National Park soon and enjoy its wonders.

Pench National Park Reviews

Our stay in Pench was at this place called as VILLAGE MACHAAN. Gypsies were booked through the hotel for the safaris at Pench. Next day morning, our safari was through the Turia gate. This gate is very popular among the tourists. Raju BharweJi was our guide and we had a driver who was equally enthusiastic as our guide. RajuJi was as good as Nain SinghJi in Kanha. We soon came to know about the well known tigers/tigress' here in Pench. "Baghinnala Wali female", "Collar Wali female", and 2 male tigers. On further questioning we found out that these were the first litter of a very bold tigress called as "Badi Maa". "Badi maa" as fondly called by the Pench locals is sadly no more now. But she has a legacy of her own and had a record territory of approximately 44 sq.km. , the largest ever by a female tigress in India. The "Collar Wali female" also had a very rare feature, it is the only tigress to have given birth to 5 cubs at a time of which all have survived and now are fully grown. Pench as a forest is very different from Tadoba or Kanha. It is an open jungle with dense overgrowth of bushes all around, and some lovely places which are very dense and could be called as a "green tunnel". A nice effort made but no sighting even after such efforts was the only disheartening thing till then. Then came the most exciting part of the entire trip, the afternoon safari. You will come to know why I'm suddenly calling this the most exciting part of the trip. We began the afternoon safari on a very positive note because even after 4 safaris we were not able to sight a single tiger. The guide for our Turia zone safari was Sukhram DhurweJi. He was a perfect example for a positive man. Right from the start of this safari DhurweJi was extremely confident of a sighting and kept saying that even he wanted to see a tiger since it was a holiday the next day, and he did not have a shift the day after that. Hearing something like this from a man who sees the Tiger everyday was indeed a surprise. He told us many stories about the tigers of that region. He told us many stories about his previous job that was of a "Khalasi" in the steep hilly meadows of the forest at Pench. By a khalasi, I mean that he is a keeper of the local power stations at that region. Also this man kept on saying that he was just speaking but words cannot be enough to satisfy a tourist and his main aim was to spot a tiger. We spotted almost all the animals at Pench except the sloth bear which is a nocturnal animal, and usually wanders only in the night. In a sequence we saw spotted deer, a group of jackals, a whole herd of wild dogs, a fully grown male sambhar deer,a female neelgaay and some bison and sambhar deer quenching their thirst at baghinnala. The only animal left was the tiger, and we wanted to see it. Just minutes after seeing the last jackal we came across a chaurasta(a place where 4 roads converge) where there were almost 11-12 vehicles waiting. Suddenly DhurweJi rose up from his seat and pointed his finger into the dense overgrowth where we could see the face off the tiger. Initially we mistook this for the famous "Collar Wali female" but later DhurweJi recognised it as a male tiger which turned out to be a 4 year old child of the "Collar Wali female". There are points about this tiger This is the first time that the tiger which we saw was to be sighted alone and in the territory of its mother. This tiger was sighted for the first time after it had seperated from its mother. It gave us an excellent sighting and an experience of a lifetime, I will reveal the reason soon. There was a forest ranger and some forest officials on two motorcycles and about 12 gypsies enjoying the lovely sighting of this beauty. To be very honest a we saw a tiger royally resting in its habitat. We loved the tiger and were by its side in proximity for about 45 minutes before all the vehicles started reversing and making their way towards the exit point as the clock was inching towards 6.00 pm (The vehicles and the guide are fined if they dont make it to the exit checkpost before 6.00 pm) . At half past 5, we were not yet ready to make the move out of this place and wanted to wait for the tiger to cross the road and go into the dense jungle. By then we were the only vehicle near the animal. No forest ranger was close by and we could stay on. At exactly 5.35 pm, the tiger rose up and started moving towards the other side of the road, but coming as a surprise it settled at the boundary of the road towards our right side. We were really worried as we cannot speed past the animal when it is just at the boundary of the road (It is a risk of the animal attacking). We waited, but the tiger was totally unaware of its surroundings and what was happening around it as it continued to peacefully rest just beside the road. After another 5 minutes it started crossing the road, and we felt relieved as the tiger was advancing towards the denser part of the forest, but the twist in the tale comes now, this tiger just crossed the road and now settled at the left boundary of the road. DhurweJi's reaction to this scene is epic and i have recorded the same on video. After a couple of minutes the tiger rose again and this time to our relief it really started moving towards the jungle. Now the most awaited part of my entire purpose of this excerpt starts, and indeed it is the most memorable experience that I will remember throughout my life. As the tiger royally walked towards the jungle, our driver Pawan JaiswalJi revved up the accelerator and to our sudden surprise the tiger stopped its movement and turned back. It was staring and looking into our eyes, it was clearly disturbed. DhurweJi asked the driver to slow down the vehicle to avert any attack by the tiger as it seemed very fierce and scared. The dangerous thing about it was that it was only 4-5 years old and still not fully mature. So he could attack anytime and I doubted he had an intention to attack. And my doubt turned into a reality, he slowly advanced towards the vehicle. At this time he was precisely about 4-5 metres away from the vehicle, which is randomly a pounce away in a tiger's terms. He quickly paced his steps and moved towards the vehicle, there was no movement either from the guide and driver or from us. We were glued to the seat and holding the handle tightly. In about 2-3 seconds time, he had stopped moving and continued his way into the jungle. Things were back to normal and we had just experienced something that no one might have even thought of. We were in a state of surprise for about 10 minutes and the driver had already consistently clocked a speed of 60 kmph, as compared to the permitted 20 kmph to reach the exit checkpost faster. At exactly 6.01 pm we had reached the exit point and had just experienced a very unique sighting of "THE ROYAL BENGAL TIGER". The ferocious look of the tiger still hovers in my mind whenever i think of it. This still gives me goosebumps and indeed it was a lifetime experience.
I hope you know me enough till now Or you probably will after looking at my profile. I love visiting national parks so much inspite of the fact that I live in one.( buffer zone of satpura tiger reserve) but it's not enough for me. I still crave to be inside a forest surrounded by wildlife. It's my happy place. So just another winter morning, sitting in my balcony and scrolling through my instagram I came upon this picture of a melanistic leopard cub spotted in pench national park. That picture stick with me throughout the week. I just knew we have to go pench AGAIN. Did some browsing and got the perfect holiday season - Christmas. I booked the safari and the hotel with a lot of hope, I had a feeling it's gonna be different this time. We packed our bags and hit the road. After about a 6 hour drive, we reached our destination PENCH JUNGLE CAMP around lunch. We checked in and explore the property. They have a beautiful 50 acre property in the middle of the forest. Sustainable architecture, eco-friendly and surrounded by nature. What more do you want to spend the holidays? Right. As an added bonus they have an amazing book collection on wildlife at their library. Huh.. Heaven. Am I right! So after relaxing for the rest of the day, we had a delightful dinner and sat around a bonfire watching the starry night. After chating for a few hours we doze off to sleep. We woke up to the darkness still lingering outside. Dressed up in woolly jackets and gloves, we packed our cameras and binoculars, had a hot cup of tea and cookies and went to seek for the wilderness. The gates usually open around 6 am. Misty morning and chilly breeze wake you right up from your drowsiness. And you see yourself surrounded by nature, breathing the fresh air. And you close your eyes to realize that this is what peace feels like. When you open it, you see animals busy with their routine and doesn't even bothered by your presence. Herds of grazing spotted deer, hopping grey langurs are everywhere. As you go deeper into the forest, you see some exotic birds like ruddy Shelduck, crested hawk eagle, kingfisher, mottled wood owl etc. Better to keep your eyes on the trees as well. As the sun came up, and the forest get denser you hear alarm calls from deers and langurs. It means a predator is near. We waited and waited. I looked through my binoculars to the spot where our guide was pointing and just for a second I saw a glimpse of something moving in the bushes. But nothing came out. We waited in silence. But without any luck, we moved on. And suddenly when our jeep creeped forward someone shouted 'leopard', we moved around and saw a leopard crossing the road like a flash. He was so quick that we just saw a silhouette. We moved forward feeling blue. Then suddenly a jeep stopped us and the guide pointed out to our left between the rocks emerged a ferocious big cat - a leopard. Mere 4-5 feet from us, slowly climbing the rocks one by one, taking quick looks around to assess the surrounding, he sat on the topmost rock. Just a jump away from our jeep, he sat there basking in the winter sun, yawning every once in a while. Looking around. I was standing on the leftmost side of the jeep, taking as many photos as I could. Peeking out of the camera as I looked into his eyes, a shiver ran down my spine. He was so close I couldn't look for too long. He sat there for a good 20 minutes. As more and more jeeps were stopping by. He got up and disappeared into the forest. That was liberating experience for me. My first big cat sighting in last 3 years. As we moved on, we saw different animals like wild dogs, indian jackal, sambhar, wild boar and bison. With this the morning safari ended. We went back to the resort, had a flavoursome lunch and some of us went to our rooms to relax. I went to the library instead picked up a book called the leopard's tale by Jonathan and angela scotts. The afternoon went by and the evening tea was served in the garden we sat out discussing about yet another book called famous tigers of india. The book mentioned about every famous tiger in various national parks and tiger reserve of the country, it includes machli from ranthambhore, spotty from bandhavgarh and collarvali from pench etc. It was a good read. At about 7 pm, they had a movie screening - A 2005 BBC documentary called Tiger: spy in the jungle. It was amazing, they shot by using elephants and mobile tree trunk looking spy cams. I wish I could see it. After the movie, we had our dinner and went straight to bed.
Pench is about 2 hours from nagpur by road, the hotel had sorted our car ride. We reached the Pench Jungle Camp, to be greeted by our great hosts - Agam and Anuradha, this couple lives in the jungle and takes care of the camp property. Very warm and welcoming, they'll make sure you're as comfortable as you can get in the jungle! Pench Jungle Camp is just outside the main Turia Gate of the Pench National Park and thus an excellent location to stay. Post lunch, we left for our first jungle safari to the Khursapar gate. Being the first experience in the jungle, it was exciting and peaceful. The sounds of the jungle is unlike any other, I would call it 'chaotic peace'. This gate, we later realised is not that famous for any sightings, so would strongly not recommend to take it. Safari cost: Rs. 5500/- for small gypsy and Rs. 7500 for jumbo (both can fit in about 4-6 people) The night had a nice tribal performance by the villagers (even if you don't like it, appreciate it as it's the only form of employment for them). Being the 31st, we had a few drinks after which we all passed out as we had a very long day! Day 2: Just a few birdsWe didn't opt for the morning safari, so got up straight for breakfast then relaxed in this beautiful jungle property of merely 24 odd rooms, we had taken the luxury tents which is an experience in its own right. Agam made sure we had the food of our choice, if we didn't like anything from the buffet and also made sure the staff was at our disposal. Agam being a naturist, it was interesting even just to walk around the property with him, as he will give you insights into the plants and birds around. Also his stories of the jungle made us all, all the more excited for the next safari in the afternoon. Post lunch we left for the safari by about 230 and this time agam was nice enough to drive us himself, he gave us deep insights into every bird and animal we sighted. He also helped us sight a beautiful owl sleeping inside the hollow of a tree. Unfortunately we weren't lucky enough to sight a tiger, although we heard many alarm calls from the deer and monkies. We slept early that night as we were scheduled for an early morning safari the next day. Day 3: Paddevwali sighted with her 4 sub-adult cubs! Early morning, 0630am we left for our next jungle adventure, freezing cold due to the windchill in the open jeep. We were with this other couple from Hyderabadwhich was alot of fun! In the wild everybody is one, just an extra pair of eyes can really help. We heard strong alarm calls but couldn't sight anything.. After about an hour, was our moment, at about 830am we see a line of jeeps near the a small pond on route number 2. We get our first sight of the Paddevwali tigress with her 4 sub-adult cubs! They were playing around the lake and then even crossed our jeep. The mother also sprayed with a squat to mark her territory! It's was an amazing experience, majestic yet gentle, calm yet ferocious, dangerous yet innocent! Evening was chilling with the new friends we made at Kohka wilderness camp. Day 4: Last Safari Again an early morning safari, we left in the chilling cold, as soon as we entered the jungle from the Turia gate, we realised it was dead.. So quite we could barely hear even the birds, there wasn't any alarm call during the entire safari. We weren't as lucky as the day before. The same day evening we left for Nagpur then to Mumbai by the Duronto. Tiger sighting is purely on your luck, the guide can help you but no one can guarantee anything! But the rush to try and find one is amazing. Apart from the tiger, we sighted the jackal, spotted deer, sambhar deer, nilgai, langoor, kingfisher, drongo king crow, blabbers, owl, blue Jay etc etc!
A few hours’ drive from Nagpur is Pench Tiger Reserve in Seoni district. This Reserve or Mowgli Land, as the park is famously called is the original setting of Rudyard Kipling's most famous work, The Jungle Book. The Jungle Book and its character Mowgli is based on Pench National Park. So as soon as you enter the Seoni area, you will see familiar names like Bagheera resort, Mowgli Jungle homes etc. Amazingly many places described in this book are actual locations in Seoni district, like the Waingunga river with its gorge where Sher Khan was killed, Kanhiwara village and the Seoni hills. We spent the evening at Jungle Homes where we are told that we need to be at the Turia gate of Pench by 6:00 AM at least, to finish the formalities. That means we would be leaving at 5:45 AM max which means by 5:30 AM, I got to be out of my room, which means I need to be up by 5:00 AM at the max! Wake up at 5:00 AM in the cold just to see a bunch of Tigers. Not happening. Skeptically I decided to give it just one shot. 5:30 AM After layering myself warm, I groggily made it out of my room. In the dark I could see the open gypsy waiting for us. It was more open than I had expected and wondered how would this be of any protection against any animal attack? It was a bit was too early in the morning to think, anything anyways. Soon we were at Turia gate of Pench, waiting our turn to get in. 6:30AM The sun is just about rising and we drive around and park ourselves on the trail waiting for the guide to figure out the path of the Tiger. We spend the next hour or so listening to the ‘call of the wild’, basically listening to the bark of chitals and monkeys to figure out the location of the Tiger. 7:30AM By now I am not only hungry, sleepy and cold but impatient too. Suddenly, everyone jumps in excitement. There is something beyond the high grass in the midst of the thick trees. We crawl our gypsy a little ahead and then we see a spotted orange creature. Ok that wasn’t a Tiger but a beautiful Leopard crossing the trail ahead of us! I had never seen a wild predator this beautiful so up close and just to watch it for those few seconds was really exciting. We followed it for a while till we lost it in the thick jungle again.By now, I was awake in all senses and had forgotten all about the hunger or cold.We just had a Leopard sighting, which is way rarer than even a Tiger sighting! 8:30 AM To say the least, we were very pleased. Now we drove around with a sense of satisfaction and watched the birds, deer, and langurs at peace. Soon we stopped for our packed breakfast, soaked up more of the warm sun and drove around the reserve in search of the Tiger. 10:00 AM
Summer has already begun in southern part of India. The best thing to do now is, to be at home and sip some cool drinks. But then a travel enthusiast always have a better plan to begin the summers. If you are staying in Hyderabadfor a long time, you will also be in search of some awesome weekend getaways like me. Then here it is – Pench National Park! Pench is a Tiger Reserve situated about 600 kms from Hyderabad in Seoni district of Madhya Pradesh on the banks of Pench river.How To Get There ? We took a train from Hyderabad to Nagpur on friday night. It takes about 8 hours by train. From Nagpur to Pench (Turia Gate) we drove, which took around 2-3 hours. The other options will be fly till Nagpur Airport and then drive to Pench or a complete road trip to Pench. However, the road conditions are not so good to drive so long.Things To Do ? Madhya Pradesh Tourism organizes Jungle Safari here. There are three different timings for the safari and the bookings have to be made in advance. Only 20-30 vehicles (open jeeps) with a registered guide is allowed to enter during each time slot. The safari timings are : Morning : 6:30 am to 10:30 am Evening : 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm Night : 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm Each safari costs around Rs 4000/- for Indian citizens. We took the evening and night safari. The morning and evening safari are conducted within the core forest and night safari is conducted in the buffer zone. I will suggest to avoid the night safari unless you want to experience the jungle in night. The reason being the night safari is conducted in buffer zone and chances of animal sighting are very less. We were very lucky to spot one tiger, a tigress, elephants. lots of spotted dear , peacocks, rabbits, langoor, kingfisher bird, nilgai, jackals, bison, snake, fishes in the river and many more species of birds and butterflies.Where To Stay ? Luckily there are many resorts around the park which provide you luxurious staying options near the park. We stayed in Pench Jungle Camp which was 1-2 kms away from Turia Gate (Park Entrance Gate). It’s a beautiful 3 -star resort which provides food and stay package at a very nominal rate( Rs 6500 for stay in deluxe tent – 2 persons. Breakfast, Lunch, Evening tea and Dinner included. The food was awesome here :-) ). We had booked our safari, nagpur to pench drive and drop through them only. It was very convenient and hassle free. The prices are almost same everywhere and it was one of the best found and recommended. This was a short break from the monotonous city life and a rich experience of staying and exploring the nature from so close. Experiencing wildlife in their natural habitat and wandering in lush green forest is an experience you will always remember and cherish. Some Pictures from the trip :
Photos of Pench National Park
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