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Maharashtra Melghat Tiger Reserve
|Governing body||Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India.|
|Summer Temperature:||43 °C|
|Winter Temperature:||6 °C|
Melghat is defined as the ‘meeting of Gahts’ which talks about the area which is a large area of hills which is never ending and the steep climbs with the scary raviness of the jagged cliffs. The wonderful hill forests with the trees which are covered with thick moss which are grown beneath and cover the trees hence underscoring the virgin confines. This lies on the extreme north part of the Amravati District and on Madhya Pradesh’s border, in the south west ranges of Satpura mountains. If not for the popularity of the tigers, Melghat would have got famous for the eagle sanctuary or the ‘raptor’. In any case, this is the dream come true of any birdwatcher. Though it is not easy to get a glimpse of them, yet this forest is said to be the one of the most important habitat in India for tiger breeding. On a whole the area of Melghat is 1,676.93 sq.km inclusive of the 788.75 sq km. In Maharashtra’s Vidharba region is the 361.28 sq km Gugarnal National Park & the Melghat Sanctuary. The remaining of the buffer zone is inclusive of 526.90 sq km of the reserve forest. Situated in the River Tapti’s catchment area, Melghat which is a forest for water harvesting supplies about 30 percent of fresh water to the localities living in the nearby area.
In the Maharashtra’s district Amravati in the extreme northern side on Madhya Pradesh’s border, lies Melghat in south west side of the Satpura mountain ranges. Melghat’s meaning is ‘meeting of ghats’ and this describes about the large area of the hills which are never ending and the ravines scarred by the steep climbs and jagged cliffs.
In the year 1974, Melghat got declared as the Tiger Reserve. Currently the Reserve’s total area is about 1677 km2.The core area has no villages.
The nature of the forest is dry deciduous, and the teak (Tectona grandis) is dominant here. Five major rivers catch up at this Reserve and they are: the Dolar, Gadga, Sipna, Khapra and Khandu and all these are Tapti river’s tributaries. The fauna which are main here are the blacknaped hare, otter, mouse deer, pangolin, porcupine, Rhesus monkey, langur, wild boar, flying squirrel, ratel, chausingha, chital, nilgai, barking deer, gaur, sambar, jackal, wild dog, sloth bear, leopard and tiger.
It is that that in Melghat invaders from the northern side travelled across in order to reach the Berar where the dynasty Imad Shahi was founded in the year 1484.
Gawilgarh and Narnala the two historic forts guards the east and west main ridge. In the second war of Maharatta in the year 1803, Colonel Arthur Wellesley, who later went on to be the Duke of Wellington, from the Maharattas, the Gawilgarh fort. Melghat became the choice automatically after the launch of the Project Tiger in the year 1973.
Best Time To Visit And Weather
Best Time To Visit
Though the Park is open from the months of October till June, the safaris are allowed inside only from the months of December till June. The tiger sights are peak in summer as the covering of the forest gets thin and hence the visibility getting better. It is better to travel in winter though the sight gets rare. Alternately one can watch birds here.
Places To Visit
No doubt that the best time is from dawn to dusk. In the mornings, one can get to see the sloth bear and several other animals and birds in day time near the waterholes. In case you get lucky then you get to have a glimpse of panthers (leopards) and owls at the end of the day, at the moment when you are about the leave the sanctuary.
One can spot the Gaur on the way from Semadoh to Raipur & also on the plateau of Dolar where the actual area starts. One can also get to see the Rhesus monkeys which come to the area which is near to Gawilgarh fort. One can sit at the top machans of the Fitakaripani waterholes for hours together hoping that they might spot a tiger or a sambar, which would be hardly 15 m away.
The forts which are at Asirgarh, Narnala and Gawilgarh which borders the reserve have always been of deep historical interest. They are situated on the precipitous slopes & earlier have defied the conquests. In today’s time they provide with an awesome view of the plains which are in the surroundings.
Towards Jarida in the reserve which is around three kilometers from the village of Mahkala is a waterfall which is just too beautiful with wonderful mountains in the backdrop and the wild bananas grow in the crags which are rocky. And these spots are hardly at a distance of four to five meters from the road of Mahkala-Jarida. Local tribes like the Gaolan, Gawli, Balai, Nihal, Gond and Korku are found here. Of these the Korkus population is dominating (60 – 65% of the local population). You will atleast require a translator or a local guide. The delicacy which is prepared by the Gawlis, called rabdi which is prepared with milk and tempts people as it is mouth watering & is a must have.
How To Reach
The nearest airports are Nagpur (260 kms) & Akola (160 kms).
The nearest railway station is at Badnera. The trains which arrive here are Ahmedabad-Howrah Express, Ahmedabad-Madras Navjeevan Express and the Bombay-Howrah Express. And within the state of Maharashtra: the Bhusaval-Nagpur passanger train and the Kolhapur-Nagpur Maharashtra Express can be boarded.
The famous hill station called Chikaldara, is well connected to many big cities and towns. This is at a distance of about 25 kms from reserve & 763 kms from Mumbai. Amravati (100 kms) & Nagpur (230 kms) are nearby & these cities are connected to Chilkaldara through the State Transport buses. The buses which runs through Paratwada to Burhanpur & Dharni halt at the Semadoh Tourist Centre. There are also excursions which are organised by the MTDC to the reserves. Within the reserve jeeps are made available by Forest Department to make commuting easy on the roads of the forests. The arrangements for trekking & Camping is made available inside the reserve at the Tourist Centre of Semadoh.
Flora And Fauna
This place has rich natural vegetation and is said to have about 700 different species of trees & plants. Few of the common species which are found here are bamboo, emblica officinalis, oujenia oojeinesis, terminalia tomentosa, lagerstroemia parviflora, teak etc.
The tigers which reside in the forest interior has always been of main attraction. Apart from this, there are also other animals which one gets to see such as the wild dog, nilgiri, gaur, wild boar, sambar, chital, barking deers, leopards etc.
Panthera Tigris, The Royal Bengal Tiger’s main habitat is said to be the Melghat. Though it is not easy for one to get a glimpse of the tiger in this Melghat, but however the remains of the prey or the pugmarks or scratch marks on the tress are signs that the great cat does prevail here. And in case you get to see one then you are the lucky one for the actual happiness lies in the fact of being at the tiger’s home.
The jungle cats and Leopards live here, and also the home for rusty spotted cat. A huge crowd of dholes are found all over the forest and also the wild pig root in the cozy undergrowth. Hyenas & Jackals look out for prey. And at times the wolves & Foxes are also spotted.
Another important animal in the reserve is the gaur or Indian bison. Huge specimens are seen either in small numbers of five or alone frequently feeding in the clumps of bamboo. Usually they are left alone and these huge tigers are said to have brought down a gaur.
Deer is the staple food of the tiger and mainly the sambar. There are many chital, chausingha, chinkara, muntjac or barking deer. Nilgai and mouse deer along with the Blackbucks are found here. One can get to see the langurs hanging in the trees or hear their voice in the jungles. The bats and flying squirrels share their homes which are made up of tree shrews and are at a height with the langurs.
One can find the porcupines, small Indian civet, palm civet, sloth bear and Ratels and many other creatures in this reserve. The otters and many other frogs species and more than 24 fish species are found here.
16 species of snakes are documented including the cobra, python and green vine snake. Many species of water turtles and lizards, forest calotes and Fat-tailed geckos are found here.
Where To Stay
Chikaldara Convention Complex [MTDC]. This place is at a distance of 20 kms from this reserve in Amravati District and away from eastern border. Tel: 0721-20234/ 20263. The Forest Department runs the The Semadoh Tourist Complex which is located inside the Melghat.
Reservations can be made by contacting the Project Tiger, Field Director, Paratwada, Amravati Dist, Maharashtra – 444805, Tel.: 0721-662792. Fax: 0721-62493.
At Kolkaz the rest house is a hot favorite among real wildlifers & offers an awesome view of the nearby forests. Advance booking required. There are no extraordinary facilities. In case of reservations, the Forest Divisional Forest can be contacted, East Melghat, Amravati District. The rest house which is at Dhakna can be chosen to stay. The Forest Divisional Officer can be contacted for reservations, Chikaldhara, West Melghat, and Amravati District.
Permission for trekking can be got from the Field Director and Conservator of Forests, Project Tiger, Melghat.
Large carnivores might not be sighted by you during the trip. But, in case you are alert enough to the droppings and tracks, more on the Sipna river’s dry river bed, the happiness of signs decoding that they leave and taking it to a newer heights by your imagination might match up with reality. If you do have permission to walk at dusk, arm yourself with a stout bamboo to hit the ground on as you move to communicate your presence to ground-dwelling creatures like snakes that may be about.
In case you happen to see a huge predator on prowl then it is sensible to move away slowly in order to allow it to go. Then freeze where you are. There is no need to run or panic. Since Melghat is a fire prone area, it is advisable not to smoke and to put off very carefully even the last bit of timber before checking out of the campfire.