VIDARBHA: THE LAND OF TIGERS AND MORE!
There is no denying that tigers in India are in trouble. Everyday there is news of a tiger death somewhere in the country, either by poachers, a highway accident or resultant death from human-animal conflict. Amidst all the grim news and the state of tiger habitats in the country, one region offers some hope - the forests of the Satpuda Range in Central India. Believed to be the largest continuous tiger habitat in the world, this area contains approximately one-third of India’s remaining tiger population. This landscape which covers a part of Maharashtra & Madhya Pradesh, contains six tiger reserves (Melghat, Pench & Tadoba-Andhari in Maharashtra and Pench, Kanha, and Bori-Satpuda in Madhya Predesh). In Maharashtra, the Satpudas pass through the Vidarbha region and these dry teak forests support some incredible biodiversity. Starting October to June every year, photographers, tiger lovers, nature enthusiasts throng these areas to get a glimpse of the big cat. But in this story, besides exploring Vidarbha’s tigers & wildlife we will discover more about its culture and some unknown history!
Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve
Photo: Kartik Mahajan
The Tadoba National Park was created in 1955 with an area of 116.55 sq km and the Andhari Wildlife Sanctuary was created in 1986 with an area of 508.85 sq km. Together they form the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve. As the name suggests, Tadoba gets its name from the local deity Taru, worshiped by the tribals in this region. The Andhari Wildlife Sanctuary gets its name from the Andhari River which meanders through the forests of the reserve.
The tribal population mainly consists of the Gonds, who are known to use the forest for its rich herbal and healthy natural resources for their daily needs. They have a strange ritual where they feed the newborn with nectar of the flowers of the Mahua tree (Madhuca longifolia), even before the child is fed the mother’s milk. This is to signify the eternal connection between the nature and the humans and also that the tree and the child will look after each other! Another interesting historic feature in Tadoba is the presence of stone pillars at regular intervals on the Mohurli-Tadoba road. There are many stories explaining these, but the most popular one is that the pillars are either antique lamp posts or were some sort of communication device for the Gond king of Chandrapur.
Photo: Kartik Mahajan
At the reserve, you can have a close encounter with the Tiger and witness other wildlife species in action. Visitors to the park report frequent tiger and wild dog sightings among mammals. Apart from these the reserve is also home to the Leopard, Sloth Bear, Gaur, Barking Deer, Spotted Deer, Sambar, Wild Boar, Four Horned Antelope and many more.
Bamboo & teak dominate most of the areas of Tadoba among other flora. Scattered through the forest are the lovely Kusum and Silk Cotton trees. Other tree species include Ain, Bija, Dhauda, Haldu, Salai and Tendu. The most striking floral feature of Tadoba is the numerous Ghost Trees, which derive their name from the colour of the bark and their ability to change colour as per season. During the summer months, the bark which is pale pink otherwise turns white, giving it a ‘ghostly’ look.
Photo: Jayesh Paranjape
How to get there
Air: Nagpur (approximately 150 km)
Rail: Chandrapur (45 km)
Road: Nearest bus stand is Chandrapur (45 km) and Chimur (30 km)
Best Time to Visit: The Park is open from October to June. The best time to visit is January to May. Tadoba is open to visitors on all days except Tuesdays and New Year's Day.
Safari timings are 6:00 am – 11:00 am and 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm.