Nagpur, popularly known as the ‘city of oranges’, is an important commercial and transportation hub of Maharashtra. The traffic, the crowd, the noise can be overpowering at times as the new city grows out of its old shell. But did you know Nagpur is also the base from where you may drive to some of the popular as well as lesser-known wildlife reserves of India?
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Bor Wildlife Sanctuary
Distance from Nagpur: 72.6 km or 1-hour 45-minute drive
Divided into Bor and New Bor, it is one of the smallest and least known tiger reserves of India. Besides its flagship animal, you are likely to see nilgai, gaur, cheetal, sambhar, resident and migratory birds, etc.
MELGHAT TIGER RESERVE
Distance from Nagpur: Semadoh is 242.6 km or a 5-hour drive
One of the first nine Project Tiger reserves of India declared in 1974, this 3600 sq km tiger reserve consists of the Gugamal National Park, Melghat Wildlife Sanctuary and several protected areas. Largely covered with dense teak forests and its associated plants, the forest is rich in animal species, with some of the major attractions being Indian Pangolin, Indian Wolf, wild dog, jackal, sloth bear, stripped hyena, jungle cat, wild boar, gaur, deer and antelopes.
The Nature Interpretation Centres at Semadoh (about 25km by road from the popular hill station Chikaldhara) and Gullarghat will give you an idea about the local fauna and flora (including medicinal plants found here).
NAVEGAON NAGZIRA TIGER RESERVE
Distance from Nagpur: Pitezari is 121.6 km or 2 hour 56-minute drive
Navegaon takes its name from the Navegaon Lake, which was apparently dug by the erstwhile Gond rulers to water the agricultural fields.
Some of the key mammals include tigers, leopards, sloth bears, spotted deer, etc. The park is also home to many varieties of butterflies. The diverse vegetation o Nagzira, including teak, Mahuwa, Ain, Jamun and other trees, adds color to this sprawling forest.
PENCH TIGER RESERVE
Distance from Nagpur: Sillari is 67.6 km or 1 hour 38-minute drive
This tiger reserve in central India, which takes its name from the Pench River flowing through it, is shared by Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Located where the Satpura Range meets the Maikal Range, this park consists of diverse topography and forest types. Besides the tiger, you are likely to see leopards, gaur, wild dogs, and a variety of deer as well as a large number of birds. The Pench Reservoir and other large water bodies inside the park are visited by migratory birds in winter. You may also visit the Ambakhori waterfalls.
TADOBA-ANDHARI TIGER RESERVE
Distance from Nagpur: Moharli is a 144 km or a 3-hour drive
The frequency of tiger sightings in the past few years has catapulted the Tadoba National Park (named after the tribal god Taru). The Telia Lake inside the forest, a favourite watering hole of the tigers, often sees a long queue of tourist vehicles lined up against its shore.
Other animals that you are likely to come across in TATR are leopard, sloth bear, gaur, wild dog, cheetah, sambar, wild boar, etc.
TIPESHWAR WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
Distance from Nagpur: 193 km or 4 hours 10-minute drive
Named after the nearby Tipeshwar village, the abode of Goddess Tipai, this wildlife sanctuary is situated in the southern corner of Maharashtra. As in most central Indian forests, the tiger is the flagship species. Other inhabitants include blackbuck, nilgai, sambhar, sloth bear, wild boar, etc.
The Tipeshwar Lake inside the forest is a pleasant spot (water level dependent on weather).
UMRED KARHANDLA PAONI SANCTUARY
Distance from Nagpur: 92.8 km or 2-hour drive
This little known wildlife sanctuary in Maharashtra shot to fame when tiger Jai migrated here from Nagzira a few years ago.
Although Jai and a couple of his children have mysteriously disappeared between 2016 and 2018, the park has recently seen a revival in the number of tiger cubs, according to media reports. Keep a lookout for these cubs while you enjoy the forest and its other inhabitants, such as gaur, wild dog, pangolins, etc.
There are four entry gates – Karhandla, Gothangaon, Pullar (all three closed on Mondays) and Pauni (closed on Tuesday).