Maharashtra is home to many National Parks and Tiger reserves. Tadoba is definitely a feather in Caps. Tiger Roars and Cub purrs can be heard all across this beautiful National Park. It has always been and currently is home to beautiful and daring Tiger Queens. Very rarely a Male Tiger has dominated this territory. Maya, Sonam, Geeta, Lara and Choti Tara are ruling the land now. Old yet massive Waghdoh male still walks with pride and Dominant Shivaji guards the Kolsa Range.
Tadoba is located near boarder of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. It is most easily accessible from Chandrapur and Gondiya. Please remember the trains to this route are minimal and despite less distance it is very slow route. Better option is to travel via Nagpur. There is good connectivity from Nagpur via Air and Rail route as it is major junction. Drive is about 4-5 hours and highway is comfortable for smooth drive. Last leg of drive is through coal mines which are almost touching park gates, it serves as bitter reminder of how close we are to shamelessly finishing off what Mother Nature has freely given us.
It is bit disheartening to know, Tadoba despite being best tiger reserve for spotting has been long neglected and lacks basic facilities. There are few basic resorts more like small rooms, one can’t expect luxury of any sorts in Tadoba. MTDC (very basic), Saras, Royal Tiger resort or Hornbill can offer clean rooms. Food is really basic in nature and don’t expect lavish meals. Electricity is big problem so check for generator backed up places. Food is really oily and spicy. Minimum stay is for 2-3 days so you can carry some munchies or ready to cook meals if you wish to avoid local food. If you are travelling from Nagpur it is not a bad option to pack some from Halidram’s restaurant very famous food brand of the region. They are best known for sweets made from Orange fruit and one would be amazed at great quality of Indian and continental food served there. Also, one key note is morning safari at park start at 5:00 or 6:00 AM based on season. So day starts early and you may or may not get breakfast in mid of safari so check with resort owner and carry your munchies.
As a beginner, one should know entry to any Forest requires permit from forest department. These can be booked online through National Park permit websites. The permit is required for entry exit and cannot be forged for names. Hence don’t try tricks. In addition to Permit, guide and camera charges, you will need to shell out for Gypsy charges too which resort people provide. For some extra money resort owner can take care of the whole thing for you. One vehicle allows six people, so you can work out the costs accordingly. One needs three-four safaris for good wildlife experience so you can book permits accordingly. If you are taking permits by yourselves then be careful to choose entry gates and if you are asking resort owner then too see entry gates offered.
The park has best entrance from Moharli Gate. There are other gates like Tadoba and Kolsa and few buffer zone entries but Moharli is safe and good bet for good spotting. One key note for any forest travel is learn to enjoy the whole forest, animals are not at our will so open up your eyes to ecosystem that goes on harmoniously and enjoy every bird, animal and terrain Tadoba has to offer.
If you are visiting in summer it is extremely hot so carry cotton plain clothes and sunscreen and plenty of option to keep your hydrated and electrolyte balances. In winters morning safaris would be chilly and evening would be pleasant. In winter temperatures drops so carry warm cloths. While in forest avoid deos, perfumes and bright cloths. Animals have sharp senses for fragrances and bright cloths disturb them. Glares, Caps can be carried based on season and remember to take a good pair of binocs to enjoy the forest better.
Once you enter the park gate, it is a visual treat to eyes. Tadoba has diversity of wildlife and Birdlife alike. There are many known spots like Telia dam, Katejhari, Waghdoh, Tadoba Lake and Jamunjohra for most chances to spot Tigers. Morning Safaris offer a great chance to spot Tigress’s taking their cubs for a walk. Tadoba is home to Leopards, Wild dogs, Sloth bears, Bisons, monkeys, Spotted deers, Sambers, Crocodiles, snakes, Barking deer to list a few. It also offers great diversity of birdlife in form of Buzzards, Hawk eagles, India Pitta, Fish Owls and Night Jars to list a few. Every turn in the forest is great chance to spot beautiful wildlife and one can never get bored.
I had many exciting encounters in Tadoba and one trip was never enough. I return time and again and place remain as mesmerizing and mysterious every time. Tadoba also stands as reminder of Mother Nature’s warning that she can sustain herself despite human destruction. Bad bureaucracy and allowing private vehicle which hold entry permits are bad practices which need to end soon.
Let’s hope we learnt our lesson soon and protect and nurture this Jewel of Maharashtra.
– Shawli Das