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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Rejuvenating Wildlife Holiday

Come, Celebrate Nature, Celebrate Life............

Getting up with chirping of birds and slight breeze flowing from the forest carrying nature’s smell and fresh oxygen, is an experience very few get to enjoy. Our modern city life has made us so busy that many of us especially our children have not even experienced the beauty of nature with which once we used to live and grow. Our life has become so stressed with work and running around to save time for further work that we have no time left for our children, our parents and even god. We have computers and they say whole world has become so small but isn’t it amazing that we don’t even know who our neighbors are or we get a chance to enjoy those beautiful flowers hanging on the branch just outside our window. Our culture is entwined around nature and ‘Sanatana’ religion believes that god and nature are one. But we don’t have time to either enjoy nature or to know god more intimately.

One of the good ways to enjoy your time with your family is to have a holiday in a wildlife reserve. Be rest assured this wilderness holiday will be a perfect break for you and your family from the monotonous daily routine as well as give you enough time to spend together. Nature is the best healer – you must have heard it so many times but rarely got a chance to experiment this phrase. Now, plan a trip to any famous or not so famous wildlife destination like Kanha or Pench national park. Normally tourists visiting these national parks and Tiger reserves are here for wildlife excursions on vehicles and this is what even you must have thought. But, here is the clinch; plan a holiday which is different.

Yes, taking morning safari excursions and planning evenings for walks, tribal village visits, just sitting under trees and having a chit chat and other like activities will help you in spending more time with your family. Or maybe the other way round, use your mornings for walks or at leisure and evenings for safaris in the national park. This also has an advantage; you get more time for family and friends and while enjoying the natural heritage of the tiger reserve. Do some Yoga and meditate under any tree around in the lap of nature. At the end of your holiday you will see that you have not only renewed all your family ties but this relaxed holiday time you have spent has also de-stressed you making you ready to face the hectic life again with improved energy.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Trees in ancient Indian culture

ब्रम्ह तद वनमं, ब्रम्ह सा वृक्ष: असा ।।
Brahma tad vanam, Brahma sa vriksha asa (Rig Veda, X.81.4)
Forest is god, tree is god.
Trees are God

Be it oldest rock paintings or seals of Indus Saraswati civilization we see tree inscribed everywhere with reverence. Even the Vedas have praised trees and given them utmost importance. In above shloka trees and forest have been correlated with Brahma or God. There is a long list of trees, plants, shrubs and even grasses which are listed in the Vedas as sacred. Most of these trees have also been found in seals of Indus Saraswati civilization which indicates that both cultures are correlated. In ancient Indian scriptures wood of Peepal (Ficus religiosa) and Shami (Prosopis spicigera) are used to kindle sacred fire, drink made of Soma plant is said to make the user immortal, Peepal tree was known as 'Akshaya Vat' (meaning Indestructible tree) and Bargad (Ficus indica) or Banyan tree was said to be a Cosmic tree.

Trees have been praised in all Hindu Scriptures, it continues to Ramayana, Mahabharata and many rituals related to trees have even continued to modern times. You can see women worshiping Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum) or Pepal tree even today. Tulsi is known to be a very sacred shrub, dear to lord Vishnu and planting it in house is said to bring good luck. Even Jain and Buddhist scriptures have named many trees as sacred and all Tirthankaras and Buddhas are known to have attained enlightenment under specific tree. Many trees find place with stories of Lord Krishna like Kadamb (Neolamarckia cadamba) is always seen with him in most of his pictures. In one of the stories it is narrated that Agni disturbed lord Shiva and his concert Parwati wherein she gave a curse to all devetas (demi gods) to become trees. On penance she agreed to reduce the intensity of her curse and now a part of all devetas remain in the trees.  It is said that Lord Vishnu lives in Peepal, Goddess Lakshmi in Neem (Azadirachta indica) and Lord Shiva in Bargad. Hence, killing trees or cutting a live one is a crime against devetas and we are killing a part of them.

Matsya purana compares planting and rearing of one tree with 10 sons. Mahabharata, the great epic also talks of saving trees and forests and goes on to say that devetas, yakshas and rakshasas live on trees as such we should never hurt or injure them rather worship them as deities as they also have life. Rig veda goes on to say that plants incarnate the god and trees are 'Vanaspati' or lord of the forests, everlasting and self-regenerating. Most of these trees, plants or even grasses have been praised or known as sacred due to their inherent curative properties which are very useful to humans and environment. This shows how foresighted our ancestors were. They understood very well that human race and earth’s environment is dependent on trees and forests as such they in some or other way related trees to gods to save them from destruction.

छायाम् अन्यस्य कुर्वन्ति तिष्ठन्ति स्वयम् आतपे |
फलन्त्यपि परार्थाय वृक्षा: सत्पुरुषा इव ||

Chhaayaam anyasya kurvanti tiShThanti svayam aatape
phalantyapi paraarthaaya vrukshaa-haa sat-puruShaa iva

They give shade to others, while standing in the heat themselves.
They bear fruits for the benefit of others, trees are like the virtuous Men.

Banyan Tree

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Wildlife adventure tourism in Central India

Wildlife adventure tourism in Central India

Wildlife tourism in India has its own place in world wildlife adventure tourism map. India is a vast country with good natural heritage including national parks, tiger reserves, reserve and protected forests as well as areas not so well protected but having very good tourism potentials. Wildlife adventure tourism in India includes tiger safari, bird watching, jungle walks and allied tourism activities. Most of the nature and wildlife tourism in the country is through its tiger reserves where tourists from all over the world visit to spot free roaming wild tigers and other wild animals in their natural habitat. India has some good tiger reserves in almost all states be it Kashmir in the north, Kerala in the south, Rajasthan in the east or Orissa in the western part. Out of all these the best place is certainly the central part with the state of Madhya Pradesh leading the wildlife tourism baton in the country.

Central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh has some best managed and most frequented tiger reserves of the country including Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Pench, Panna and Satpura national parks and tiger reserves. These and other destinations around them are also good bird watching sites in India and certainly one of the best places to enjoy a quiet holiday with nature. With Kanha and Bandhavgarh being at the helm of tourism Pench, Panna and Satpura are fast catching up the tourism graph.
Kanha National Park, Tigers eyes

Kanha national park:

One of the best managed tiger reserves in India, Kanha forests are famous for not only spotting the striped cat but also Hard ground swamp deer or Barasingha as it is locally known as, one of the rarest deer species in the world. Spread over 940 Sq Kms, with predominantly Sal and Bamboo forest and meadows Kanha is on top of list for any natural history fan and wildlife photographer. You can visit Kanha national park to see 22 species of mammals, 259 species of birds, 117 species of butterflies and many other flora and fauna. With more than 1000 flowering species of flora Kanha is also a treat for people mainly interested in the green cover of the earth.

Kanha has a very well developed tourism infrastructure and caters to need of luxury and budget tourists alike. Some of the best places to stay in Kanha include KanhaVillage Eco Resort, Flame of the Forest, Chitwan Jungle Lodge, Banjar Tola (Tajsafari), Kipling camp, Singinawa jungle lodge,Tiger corridor by Tuli and Kanha earth lodge for luxury and mid luxury segment tourists. Budget accommodation in Kanha includes Kanha Eco Lodge, Koushalya Resort, Mahua Tiger Resort, Baghira log huts, Tourist hostel (Kisli) and Kishkindha Safari lodge amongst others.

Butterfly in Kanha natonal park
 Bandhavgarh national park:

Well known amongst tiger enthusiasts as a tiger reserve with highest density of Tigers per Sq. Kms., Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve is one of the most visited national parks within wildlife buffs and photographers alike. Bandhav garh gets its name from the fort of Bandha, once under the Royal family of Rewa. It is one of the oldest known inhabited places in central Indian history where archeological surveys has unearthed relics dating back to thousands of years. Once royal hunting grounds of Maharaja of Rewa, today it is one of the best tiger reserves of the country, thanks to the royal family. Spread over 105 Sq. Kms.  its topography varies between steep ridges, undulating, forest and open meadows. With 22 species of mammals and 250 species of birds, Bandhavgarh forests are best known for its biodiversity and spotting Tigers.

This white tiger country as it is also known as (Since first wild white tiger cub – Mohan, was caught here by Maharaja Martand Singh ji) has excellent tourism infrastructure with good alternative for all budgets. Mahua Kothi (Taj safaris), Tiger garh, Syna tiger resort, Tree house hideaway, Samode Safari Lodge, Bandhav Villas, Hotel Monsoon Forest  and Maharajas Royal Retreat are some premium properties catering to luxury tourists. For mid segment and budget tourists TheWildflower resort, Tiger trails, Green woods, Wild Haven, Mrigvan resorts, and Tiger Trails Resort are good choice.  
Wildlife in Central India

Pench national park:

Spread over 299 Sq. Kms. of dense forest Pench Tiger reserve is located towards the southern boundary of Madhya Pradesh. Most of the park is covered with dry deciduous forests and is situated around River Pench with predominantly Teak forest.  With 39 known species of mammals, 13 species of reptiles, 210 species of birds and many other small and big living beings this is one of the best tiger country in Central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Flora in Pench national park includes around 1200 flowering species of trees, shrubs and bushes.

Tourism infrastructure in Pench is very well developed thanks to its proximity to Nagpur (Maharashtra) and Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh). Some of the best accommodation in Pench include Baghvan (Taj Safari), Jungle home Pench, Tuli Tiger Corridor and Pench Jungle camp. For budget and mid segment options V Village resort, Tiger N Wood Resort and Tribal Camp Resort are the best.
Pug mark of Tiger - Wildlife excursion in Central India

Panna national park:

Famous for the wrong reason of once losing all the wild Tigers to poaching, Panna has bounced back to tiger conservation and tourism map again due to hard work and dedication of forest department of Madhya Pradesh and field staff of this spectacular tiger reserve. Once royal hunting grounds of royal families of Panna, Chatterpur and Bijawar this park has seen a lot of ups and downs in its time. Ken River, home to Indian Ghariyal flows through the forest presenting some stunning scenery on its way. With 543 Sq. Kms of core area this tiger country attracts lots of bird (around 200 known species) and has 19 known species of mammals including otters. It is a very good breeding ground for vultures and yearly vulture estimation is attended by many birding enthusiasts and volunteers.

Tourism infrastructure in Panna is not very well developed since most visitors prefer to stay at nearby temple town of Khajuraro. Some of the good places to stay in Panna national park include Pashan Garh (Tajsafaris), Sarai at Toria, Ken River Lodge, Panna Tiger Resort, Jewel of Jungle and forest rest house.
Wild cat in Central Indian national parks

Satpura national park

A bio diversity hot spot, one of the biggest tiger reserves of central India, Satpura national park covers an area of 1427 Sq. Kms. including Bori wildlife sanctuary and buffer zone. Famous hill station of Madhya Pradesh – Pachmarhi falls under this beautiful national park. With many still unlisted species of plant species Satpura boasts of more than 1300 flowering species with many of them having medicinal use. Here tourists can spot 29 mammal species, almost 190 butterfly species and many reptiles, birds and other big and small living beings. Falling under Satpura mountain ranges, landscape of Satpura forests is very diverse. A hotspot for photography enthusiasts and natural history educationists this is one of the least visited of all national parks in Madhya Pradesh but has one of the best biodiversity of all others.
Tourists planning to visit Satpura national park can stay in forest guest houses or at hotels and resorts in Pachmarhi. Some good accommodation in Satpura includes Forsyth lodge, Reni Pani Jungle Lodge, Denwa backwater escapes and Madhai wildlife resort.  
Bird watching in Central Idnia

Madhya Pradesh has many other and some of the finest natural sites of tourism interests including bird sanctuaries, reserve forests and national parks but most of them do not have good tourism infrastructure except basic accommodation being provided by the forest department. Tourism along River Narmada is a very thrilling one and needs very meticulous planning but is full of adventure and experience you will not get anywhere else. When planning a wildlife tour to Madhya Pradesh do check all the options and plan your trip with keeping any of above national park as your base. For any help or guidance writer can be contacted or good travel tour makers can also help in preparing a tailor made package as per your requirement.

Note (Disclaimer): Suggestions of hotels / resorts in national parks of Madhya Pradesh is as per my own choice and is not a recommendation nor is the author responsible or liable in any way if guests stay at any of above refferred accommodations is not good.