Established as a wildlife sanctuary in 1967, Melghat was declared a Tiger Reserve in 1974. Melghat boasts of 80 tigers, but a tiger sighting in the 1,674 sq km reserve is never easy. While 80 tigers may sound like a big number, spotting them along the safari trail is still not common. They mostly live in the inner parts of the reserve, which are not very accessible.

Melghat is cut off from civilisation – there are no newspapers or television sets, and the only communication with the rest of the world is through a wireless. Apart from a jungle safari, all other entertainment plans centre around trekking and walking to a large extent. But the scented grass makes it a pleasure to wander along the jungle paths. Here you have what you might not find at any other tiger reserve in India – a fragrant forest pleasantly bereft of tourists.

Dinesh Shukla
Bisons crossing a road, Melghat Tiger Reserve
Bisons crossing a road, Melghat Tiger Reserve

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

Go on a safari and capture the colours of the forest. For those of you who trek, there are many scenic trails in the forest. Pack a sturdy pair of walking shoes as the terrain is uneven. Besides tigers, the park is home to gaur, leopards, sloth bears, dholes, jungle cats, common palm civets, jackals, striped hyenas, sambar, cheetal, barking deer, mouse deer, four-horned antelope and nilgai. Birdwatchers may be able to spot these five critically endangered bird species: white rumped vulture, kesser kestrel (falcon), forest owlet, rufous babbler and green avadavat.

Park Entry Indians 30; Foreigners 60 ; Timings 6.00-8.00am & 4.00-6.00pm; Photography 100 Videography 250 Vehicle Entry 60-90 Jeep Safari 1,500 (for 5-6 pax) Guide 220

Dinesh Shukla
Owl at Melghat Tiger Reserve
Owl at Melghat Tiger Reserve

Jungle Safari

Jeep safaris are conducted only from December till the beginning of the monsoon. You can travel on the safari trail by the mini-buses arranged by the Forest Department or even by your own private vehicle. The jeep safari starts from Semadoh; there are two safaris a day and the timings usually depend on the bookings made.

Jungle walks and trekking

There are many trekking routes along the Sipna River with scope for birdwatching. Do remember to always take a guide along. One popular route is a 12-km long trek from Semadoh to Bandarkahu (towards Chikaldhara). The 10-km long jungle route to Makhla from Semadoh is also scenic.

Most of the reserve is flat land with very few climbs, and therefore, Melghat lends itself easily to treks. One pleasant walk east of Kolkas through scented grass is towards the helipad. Animal sighting is rare, but it gives you a chance to acquaint yourself with the flora and birds.

A tiger resting amidst the foliage, Melghat Tiger Reserve
A tiger resting amidst the foliage, Melghat Tiger Reserve

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

The Semadoh Tourist Complex (Forest Development Corporation Office, Nagpur Tel: 0712-2226761, Cell: 09209647379; Tariff: 700 per cottage, 200 per dorm bed) has eight huts and four dorms.

The Kolkas Rest House (FDC Nagpur, Tel as above; Tariff: 700-1,600; TE), offers great views and is a good option. To stay here, book at W mahaecotourism.gov.in.

There are a number of other Forest Rest Houses within the park, at Chaurakund, Raipur, Hatru, Jarida and Chunkhadi, which can be booked with DCF, Sipna Wildlife Division, Paratwada (Tel: 07223-220214; Tariff: 400). The Dhakna and Tarobanda forest rest houses can be booked with DCF, Gugamal Wildlife Division, Paratwada (Tel: 07223-222643; Tariff: 400). For huts and tents at Shahnoor, Gullarghat and Dhargad can be booked at DCF, Akot Wildlife Division, Akot (Tel: 07258-281011; Tariff: 350-400).

Food is only available at the Semadoh Guest House and it is very basic. Nonvegetarian food and alcohol are not allowed in the guesthouse. The Semadoh Complex has a canteen that serves simple vegetarian fare, such as a thali or vegetables and rice or rotis. At the other guesthouses, meals are arranged on request. There are several dhabas here now as well.

When to go Open from October to June but safaris only from December to June. Summer is when chances of animal sightings are high. Location Situated in Amravati District in Central India, 25 km from Chikaldhara, a hill resort in the south Satpura Range Air Nearest airport: Nagpur Rail Nearest rail: Badnera

THE INFORMATION

Tourist Offices

MTDC Mumbai

Tel: 022-22044040

W maharashtratourism.gov.in

Bhandardara

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC

Shendi

Bhandardara

Tel: 02424-257171, 257032

STD code 02424

Harihareshwar

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC Harihareshwar

Near Kalbhairav Temple

Tel: 02147-226036, Cell: 08879222040

STD code 02147

Ganapatipule

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC Holiday Resort

Tel: 02357-235248, 235061-62

STD code 02357

Kunkeshwar

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC

Tarkarli

Tel: 02365-252390

STD code 02364

Vengurla

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC Project Office

C-Block, 1st Floor, NH17, Oras

Sindhudurg

Tel: 02362-228785, 228115

STD code 02366

THE INFORMATION

Kaas Plateau

Tourist Information Centre

Forest Office

Dy Conservator Of Forests

(Satara Division)

Old Treasury Office Compound,

Powai Naka, Satara

Tel: 02162-220058/59

W kas.ind.in

STD code 02162

Tadoba Tiger Reserve

Wildlife/ Forest Dept Office

Chief Conservator of Forests

Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve

Rambag Colony, Mul Road

Chandrapur

Tel: 07172-251414, 255980

W mahaecotourism.gov.in

STD code 07172

Kamshet

MTDC, Karla

Tel: 02114-282230, 282064, 282102

STD code 02114

Toranmal

MTDC

T/1, Golf Club, Old Agra Road, Nashik

Tel: 0253-2570059, Fax: 2579352

W .mtdcindia.com

STD code 02566

Melghat Tiger Reserve

Chief Conservator of Forests and Field

Director

Melghat Tiger Reserve, Camp Amravati

Tel: 0721-2662792, 2551766

STD code 0721