Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve in Central Indian Highlands

Central Indian Highlands

Central Indian highlands, The book is hard to put down, by no means penned like an expert, it is the amazing Central Indian Highlands that captivate the reader into going deeper into the pages to explore and unearth the mysterious enchanting wilderness of Satpura Range and the adjoining Vindhya Range. The two ranges converge at Maikal Hills in Amarkantak Biosphere Reserve in MP.     

The long stretch of Satpura mountainous range runs parallel to Vindhya Range in the north, both divide India into Indo Gangetic North and Deccan Plateau South. But the geographical formations alone do not impress by all means, it is the accompanying zoological wonders that have created this bewildering spectacle, a vivid description is found in the book “The Highlands of Central India”. In the accounts, James Forsyth the British explorer and author wrote extensively about these formations, wild animals, and the natives. His description of the teeming wilderness as discovered in the 18th century extols the exotic character of Indian Wildlife, and the ecosystems.

Although much fragmented and constricted, the Satpura Range survives in entirety in the area now declared as Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve.  The biosphere reserve concept creates a no use area protected against extensive commercial activities, and perhaps departmental wood logging. A number of protected areas means assured survival of the dry deciduous, and moist dry deciduous tropical forests encompassed within. The region is part of Hosangabad, Chhindwara, and Betul Districts of Madhya Pradesh in India.

In an area of 4926.28 km2 of the biosphere reserve three protected areas have been created:

  • Bori Wildlife Sanctuary = 518.00 km2
  • Pachmarhi Wildlife Sanctuary = 461.37 km2.
  • Satpura National Park = 524.37 km2

Bori Wildlife Sanctuary is famed for teak (Tectona Grandis) in its purest form subscribing to high quality hardwood much exploited for centuries as the best commercial forest produce prospect in India. The demand for this forest produce is already widespread, but wood logging is regulated in India, and non takes place in PAs at all. 

Pachmarhi Wildlife Sanctuary is more famous as hill station than anything else albeit wildlife sightings were common place since ages. The sanctuary encompasses the highest elevation in Central India – the State of Madhya Pradesh. At Dhoopgarh a tall mountain within the precinct of the hill station the elevation reaches to 1352 m, the highest point in the state. The zoogeography of the sanctuary is amazing, and large variety of fauna survives here including the tiger. The destination is home to innumerable species of medicinal herbs and shrubs subject to much studies and research by the botanists. But the visitors find the natural formations as sparkling rivulets, steep cliffs, caves, pools and waterfalls more enticing on a holiday trip. In winters the destination is full of holiday makers and the crowd create an unsustainable rush.

The Cantt is perhaps the oldest in India, and it has mercifully prevented urbanization of the destination to some extent. While no construction can be made in the sanctuary area some reconstruction is permitted in the township. Thus, no new construction has come up and this has saved the township from an unmanageable clutter that many other hill stations in the country are witnessing.

Incidentally, Bori WLS and Pachmarhi WLS form the buffer of Satpura National Park – the land of the tiger. The Satpura Tiger Reserve meant for the conservation of the tiger, and its ecosystem comprises of an area of 1500 plus km2.  

The conservation unit as whole focuses on the tiger, and the major impetus is to encourage breeding and increase the population of the endangered predator.  In tiger conservation, at the present juncture protection and creation of inviolate zone play a major role and therefore very little human or micro intervention is required regarding the animal’s biology.

The biosphere has been a great success in saving the fauna and floral elements of the region. The numbers of wild species are on the rise. Recently hard ground swamp deer was introduced in Satpura National Park. The hard ground swamp deer or the Barasingha (cervus duavcelli branderi) is a rare and critically endangered red deer found only at Kanha National Park. Thankfully, due to translocation another distinct population at Satpura will be an enhanced conservative initiative.

Tourism in the Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve.

Tiger safaris are organized in the protected areas of the biosphere reserve. 

Tiger safari in the core of Satpura National Park take place at:

Core Zone Tourism

  • Bheemkund (Chura in Bori WLS)
  • Panaarpani (Pachmarhi WLS)
  • Madhai (Satpura NP)

Buffer Zone Tourism

  • Jamani Devi
  • Parspani
  • Pipariya

Jeep safaris are organized for permit holders for specific zones. The safaris can be booked online at MP Online Portal. The rides are conducted on open jeeps, and the rules and regulation applicable are nearly the same as that in the other reserves of MP.

Pachmarhi Township & Hill Resort 

But tourism in and around Pachmarhi Township or Hill Resort is focused on sightseeing and trekking. There are a number of resorts and jeeps available for hire besides the local guides to facilitate tourism. Pachmarhi is one of the top holiday destinations in India.

Some of the natural formations that tourists find attractive are:

  • Silver Falls
  • Handi Koh
  • Reech Garh
  • Dhoopgarh
  • Denwa Darshan
  • Mahadeo Caves

The mentions here are limited, the destination is full of interesting spots. Some of the formations are associated as places of Hindu religious significance like the Chuaragarh that draw large number of gatherings during the religious occasions.  

Reaching the places of interest:

Pachmarhi by rail is accessible from Jabalpur and Bhopal Airports. Alight at Pipariya Rail Head and then travel fifty km to the township by road.  Jabalpur to Pachmarhi by road is 250 km while the distance from Bhopal is 210 km.  

The stop for Satpura National Park is at Suhagpur Rail Head, and from there drive 27 km to Madai Township, where most of the resorts are situated. The rail head is connected to Bhopal and Jabalpur Airports on Mumbai Howrah Rail line.  

Distance from Bhopal to Madai is 126 km while the distance from Jabalpur is 244 km.

Advance planning is required to visit the destinations mentioned here. For the tiger reserve safari permits should be obtained in advance while hotel reservations should be done in advance for Pachmarhi during the holiday seasons and week day.

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