Panna, a historical city in Indian state of M.P., is as precious as it’s name. (Panna, that is Emrald). Apart from having many old temples and forts nearby, Panna is mostly famous for two things. First, the only diamond mine of Asia, (read Diamond Mine, Panna, M.P.) and second, the Panna National Park. The first one is not accessible by everyone (I got lucky though), but the later is. It is a prime tiger-land located in Vindhya Hills in northern M.P.
In early October 2018, there were holidays for 3-4 days in continuation. We planned a short trip to Panna and Khajuraho. We chose to travel by train this time. From Kanpur, we boarded train for an overnight journey to Satna, where my sister lives. We took rest at their place before we left for Khajuraho by their SUV. Khajuraho is almost 115 km from Satna. We had a great time at Khajuraho (read more here, Khajuraho: The Epic Written On Stones).
Panna National Park, lies between Panna and Khajuraho. It is characterised by extensive plateaus and gorges, a land of mesmerising waterfalls and natural and archaeological splendour.
En-route Khajuraho to Panna, just before the Madla bridge on mighty Ken river, a narrow road turns left for Karnavati booking office, where you have to make booking for the park. So be careful that you don’t miss the turn.
As I was waiting for the booking window to open, I spotted a reptile, at a distance. In a jiff, I decided to sacrifice my first position in the queue, and ran towards that creature and I found myself in front of an Indian monitor lizard. I was seeing a monitor lizard for the first time.
It was the first day (1 Oct. 2018) of park reopeing after rainy season, so there was rush for booking and we had to wait for long. After done booking, we were assigned a driver and forest guide with a 4WD vehicle. There are two entrances for the national park, first at Madla and another at Hinauta. If you are travelling from Panna, Hinauta will be the first entry while from Khajuraho side, Madla is the entry point.
Completing the paper formalities at the gate, we entered the park. We had barely covered a short distance when our guide pointed towards a wild boar. Tourist activities were just started after a long gap of three months, so animal were looking at us strangely. We saw many other birds and animals.
There were some trees, known as ghost trees. As told by guide, the trees have the property of reflecting light in bright moon nights and hence the name. I think that is because of their light coloured skin.
We all desperately wanted to see the tigers but tigers were not in mood to come in public. Although, the guide showed us pugmarks of a tiger, which was sitting there for hours in the morning. Many people get disappointed when they couldn’t see the tiger, but believe me, the national parks and tiger reserves offer much more than just tigers. I have been to many national parks and tiger reserves like Panna (twice), Nagarhole national park, Katerniaghat wildlife sanctuary etc. but never saw any tiger, leopard, panther, though throughly enjoyed wildlife and nature.
Later, we also visited Ken Ghariyal Sanctuary, which is situated near Raneh Fall on the banks of Ken river at about 18 km from Khajuraho.
When to Visit
Panna National Park remains close for tourists in rainy season (July to September). When we visited, it reopened on 1st October. The best time to visit the sanctuary, is from October to March. The park opens for the tourists twice daily. From October to February, it opens from sunrise to 11:00 AM and then from 3:00 PM to sunset. In summer season i.e. from March to June, it is open from sunrise to 11:00 AM and then from 4:00 PM to sunset.
However, early mornings and late afternoons are best suited for visiting the forests and sighting of animals, anywhere in the world.
Where to Stay
If you plan to visit the sanctuary in the morning round (which is most prefered), staying in Panna itself, is suggested. There are not very good hotels in Panna. Hotel Shanvi Landmark is the only option in the city. Otherwise, a luxury Taj Hotel named as Pashan Garh is situated very close to the Panna National Park. There are also Forest Rest House, Dormitories and Jungle Cottage at Hinouta and Madla, with very limited lodging facilites.
Khajuraho, on the other hand, have many luxury options, so you can stay there. Visit my post on Khajuraho “Khajuraho: The Epic Written On Stones” to explore them.
How to Reach:
Khajuraho airport (HJR), at a distance of 20 km, is the nearest airport. It receives flights from Varanasi and Delhi.
Panna is 70 km away from Satna, which is a big railway junction. The sanctuary can be reached by Panna (Madla gate at 19 km amd Hinauta gate at 20 km). Alternatively, Madla gate is 25 km from Khajuraho. The public transport service is not in good state in M.P., so travelling on your own or hired vehicle is advised.
Panna doesn’t have good railway connectivity. Either you can arrive at Satna (STA), which is a big railway junction or Khajuraho (KURJ). Later has limited connectivity through trains. 12448 (UP Sampark Kranti Exp.) connects Khajuraho to Delhi (HZM) via Jhansi. 19666 (UDZ-KURJ Exp.) connects Udaipur to Khajuraho.
Entry Fee to the Park
Panna Tiger Reserve can be visited by a registered vehicle on payment of entry fee. A private gypsy registered with park is available at the booking counter on payment of Rs. 1800/- for Madla gate and for Hinouta gate Rs. 2300/-. You have to pay additional Rs. 480/- for Guide.
It is always better to book entry ticket in advance through (www.mponline.gov.in), as the maximum number of vehicles allowed to enter the park per-day is limited.
Some Additional Information
- Early mornings and late afternoons are best suited for visiting the forests and sighting of animals.
- Don’t expect sighting of tigers. Whatsoever comes your way, enjoy.
- Enjoy silence of the forest. Don’t make a noise or talk loudly.
- Small groups are ideal.
- While going inside the forest, taking a guide is compulsory.
- Carry enough drinking water.
- Do not disturb or tease animals. Respect wildlife and their habitats.
- Refrain from smoking or lighting of fire.
- Carrying any firearms is not allowed.
- Avoid visiting on the weekends and holidays, as they may be crowded.
- Any kind of musical instuments or music systems are better left behind.
- Use the designated dustbins for throwing waste. Carrying plastics and other non-degradable material is prohibited.
- Do not get out of vehicle at places other than the designated area.
- Visitors are advised to avoid using perfumes and scented oils as these might attract honey bees.
- Wear clothes of natural, earthen, dull colours. Avoid wearing brights.