Pench Madhya Pradesh, Travelwithacouple, Unny Radhakrishnan, Bindhu Unny
Birdwatching - Nature's Wonders - Places - Sanctuaries

Where Mowgli Roamed – Pench National Park

As the dawn was breaking the Sambhur belled
Once, twice and again!
And a doe leaped up and a doe leaped up
From the pond in the wood where the wild deer sup.

The Jungle Books, Rudyard Kipling

Every morning, Mowgly and his friends perhaps would have woken up to this scene. We too were hoping for the same.


The early morning drive from the Maharashtra side of Pench Tiger Reserve to the Madhya Pradesh side of Pench was filled with expectations. Never mind the rattling of the old Toyota Qualis and the chilly wind. We had to cover the 50 odd km and reach the Thuria Gate at MP before the safari counter opened. We stayed at the Sillari MTDC resort on the Maharashtra side.


Pench Tiger Reserve is spread across two states with Maharashtra having a share of about 20% of the total area. Maharashtra government declared the area as a wild life sanctuary much later than the one in MP was formed. While we planned the trip, we did not have a clear understanding of geography and options available. So we decided to have Sillari as the base, do the safari, and keep a day and half for experimentation/exploration.


Sillari is a tiny village in the outskirts of the sanctuary, though one has to pass through the jungle to reach there. MTDC resort, as usual did not disappoint us. With the help of resort staff and some locals, we figured out that on the same day we could do an evening safari in the Maharashtra forests and give the MP side a shot the next day. If we could reach the MP gate before 6 in the morning, there was a good chance of doing a safari.


In the evening, we hired the only Maruti Gypsy available at the resort and headed to the forest. Leopards and tigers remained elusive. We had to whet our appetite with Indian gaurs, deers, sambhars, wild dogs, and a variety of birds including peacocks. The wild life sanctuary also included the Meghdoot reservoir and the catchment area. The old watchman near the dam shared the stories of massive work involved during the making of the dam, the landslides, the accident deaths and more. Dams have always fascinated us. It has always been a mixture of fear, awe and surprise. We also did some exploration on one of the tributaries of Pench, which had some interesting rock formations.



The MP side was five times as big and much denser. By 6 am, there were over 30 open jeeps filled with wildlife enthusiasts lined up at the gate of The Indira Gandhi National Park (as it is called). We joined them.


Shivering, we started the jungle safari, but soon got warmed up by the sight of many birds and animals. More than that we spotted during the previous day’s safari at Sillari. The vast expense of forest meant that the safari was over 5 hours long. In that delightful 5 hours, we forgot about hunger and breakfast. Despite some wild chase based on the alarm calls by deers, we could not spot the majestic tiger. We left Pench after just seeing the scratch marks on a tree, where a tiger sharpened its nails or marked its territory.

If only we could meet Shere Khan’s successors …

More photos on Pench (Maharashtra) and Pench (Madhyapradesh)

Sillari is about 110 kms from Nagpur. Sillari has an MTDC resort. Thuria gate, which is on the Madhyapradesh side is about 150+km from Nagpur. There are many private resorts on the Madhyapradesh side.

8 Comments on “Where Mowgli Roamed – Pench National Park

  1. @salabh,
    thanks for the comment. more photos are on a separate blog. i have given the link on the blog itself.



  2. Had a beautiful experience in niligirs recently – similar wildlife in open and beautiful weather.

  3. Seems like you had a great time at Pench. The way you two are going, guess in about 10 years from now, you might establish a wildlife sanctuary in God’s own country 😀

  4. Hey- seemed like a nice trip.
    While the prose let the place come to life, would have loved to see more photos that capture the spirit of the forest.
    I’ve been to a couple of national reserves in the North of India, and the mighty tiger was as elusive. Did not help that we had a big family right down from the ‘pind’ with uncle jis, aunty jis and bachcha jis screaming and shouting at the sight of every crow and monkey. And alongside scorning the safari bus driver for not ‘showing’ them tigers.
    Brings back a lot of memories. The blog has some excellent content- specially because I haven’t travelled much to the south and west.


  5. the highway passes through the forest. but that part is not part of the declared WLS area. It seems the highway through the forest pushed the animals away from those areas – as it happens in all ‘development’.
    the highway connects Nagpur to Jabalpur

  6. does national highway – 7 pass thru this sanctuary? if yes, i’ve driven thru this sanctuary but didnt do any safari. next time i hope.

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