Go On A Tiger Trail In Maharashtra

Pick your forest from our list of seven hotspots to see the big cat in Maharashtra. Rich in biodiversity and natural beauty, these tiger reserves and sanctuaries are a delight to explore
Bor Wildlife Sanctuary, in Wardha district, is the country's smallest tiger reserve
Bor Wildlife Sanctuary, in Wardha district, is the country's smallest tiger reserve

There’s something about forests and wildlife that lends magic and awe. The deer, bison, bear, elephants and the majestic tiger. Seeing these animals in their natural habitat is itself so rewarding and delightful. The dense forests, with the birds and the sounds of animals, are intriguing. There is a lot to learn from nature and the environment. Venture into this enchanting world and you will be enriched.

Bor Wildlife Sanctuary

The Bor Wildlife Sanctuary is about 80 kms from Nagpur (nearest airport) and 35 kms from Wardha. The nearest village and bus stand is Hingni, 5 kms away from the sanctuary entrance. The sanctuary was notified as a tiger reserve in July 2014.

How To Reach

The nearest airport is Nagpur. You can reach Wardha by train or road from Nagpur. Wardha is the nearest railhead to Bor Wildlife Sanctuary and is connected with Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur and many other cities. From Wardha, you can travel by road to Hingani and then hire tourist cars and jeeps to the sanctuary.

Regular bus service to Bor Wildlife Sanctuary are available from cities like Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Akola, Amravati, Wardha. Hingi (Hingani) is the nearest bus stand, at 5 kms from the sanctuary.

The Bor Tiger Reserve is an important corridor between the Tadoba-Andhari and the Pench tiger reserves. The sanctuary straddles the Satpuda and the Maikal ranges and is home to sloth bear, nilgai, leopards, wild boar, porcupine, and a large number of birds and reptiles, besides the tiger. The Bor River cuts through the sanctuary. Accommodation is available at the forest department's Balodyan Eco Tourism Centre and at the tourist resort (MTDC Nagpur- tel 0712-2533325) near Bor Dam.

Chandoli National Park

Chandoli National Park is near the Chandoli Dam in Sangli district, tucked between the Koyna and the Radhanagari sanctuaries. Part of the Sahyadri Tiger Reserve, it is nearly 75 kms from Sangli, 80 kms from Kolhapur and 210 kms from Pune nearest airport). Leopards, sloth bear, gaur, giant squirrels, many kinds of birds, share the forest with the tiger. 

How To Reach

The nearest airport is Pune, 210 kms away, and Mumbai airport is 380 kms away. Sangli railway station is 75 kms from Chandoli National Park; Miraj Rail Junction is 83 kms away; Kolhapur railway station is 80 kms away and Karad railway station is 47 kms away. You can also opt for state transport buses which ply from all these places.

Melghat Tiger Reserve

An hour's drive from Chikaldhara, a popular hill station in Maharashtra, will take you to this less-visited tiger reserve in the Amravati district. Lying on the state's border with Madhya Pradesh, Melghat is literally where the hill ranges meet.

How To Reach

Nagpur (260 kms away) is the nearest airport. You can also approach via Akola or Badnera. Apart from tigers, Melghat is also home to leopards, gaurs, jungle cats, rusty spotted cat, wild dogs, jackals and so on. The forest is a birdwatchers' delight, especially those who are in search of raptors.

The Semadoh Tourist Complex, run by the forest department, is the most convenient place to stay as the morning and afternoon forest safaris start from here. For accommodation in Semadoh and other forest rest houses (of which the one at Kolkaz is most popular), contact the office of the Chief Conservator of Forests and Field Director at Camp Amravati (tel 0721-2662792) you can also book them online. Or, you can stay at MTDC's tourist complex (Phone: 077690 40700) in Chikaldhara (about 25 kms away). Trekking is also allowed on select routes but with prior permission.

Tourists spot a sloth bear in Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary
Tourists spot a sloth bear in Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary

Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary

The diversity of vegetation --- teak and other trees, grass, bamboo and so on --- add a dramatic quotient to the forest safaris in Nagzira. Other than tigers, leopards, sloth bear, wild dog, civets, gaur, sambar, spotted deer are also found here. The Pitezari and the Chorakhamra gates are the popular entry points.

During winter, the Nawegaon Lake is filled with migratory birds. You can stay in several forest rest houses in and around the reserve as well as eco-development committee-facilitated Tent Houses. The luxurious MUBA Jungle Camp (mubaresorts.com) is located near the Pitezari gate. You can also opt for the Nagzira Nature Camp and the Nagzira Tiger Resort, which are near the Chorkhamara gate.

How To Reach

The Nawegaon-Nagzira Tiger Reserve is around 120 kms from Nagpur, the nearest airport. You can also enter the reserve through Gondia railway station, which is 60 kms away. You will easily get a taxi to reach the tiger reserve.

Pench National Park

Spotted deer at a watering hole in Pench National Park
Spotted deer at a watering hole in Pench National ParkArghoRoy118/ Wikimedia Commons

Also straddling the Satpuda-Maikal landscape, this famous tiger reserve and national park is shared by Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. A two- hour drive from Nagpur, which is 79 kms away, will take you right to the door of the tiger reserve. The park has a large number of faunal species --- 33 kinds of mammals, 164 species of birds, 30 species of reptiles and so on.

The most convenient place to stay and explore the forest is near the Sillari gate of the forest. There is a tourist lodge (MTDC Nagpur; Phone: 0712-2533325) and a forest rest house. You can also add the Madhya Pradesh section of the national park and Ramtek (where poet Kalidasa wrote the famous epic poem Meghadootam) to the itinerary.

How To Reach

Pench National Park is near Madhya Pradesh's Jabalpur and Maharashtra's Nagpur. There are many state-run buses to reach Pench. You can also hire a cab to from Nagpur to reach Pench.

The Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve in Nagpur saw an increase in tiger population in 2023
The Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve in Nagpur saw an increase in tiger population in 2023

Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve

The star of Maharashtra's tiger reserves, Tadoba-Andhara Tiger Reserve is a dense forest with rich flora and fauna. You have to book accommodation and safaris well in advance. There is a public road that runs through the forest and seeing a tiger from a public transport bus is not unusual. The park consists of thick teak forests and the huge Tadoba Lake.

During peak summer, hardly any tourist returns without having seen a tiger in and around the lake. There are also crocodiles in the lake. Other animals that are likely to be seen are leopards, sloth bear, sambar, spotted deer, blue bulls, gaur, and wild dog. The park is also home to a large number of birds, almost 200 species.

Besides going on a safari in vehicles, you can also take an elephant ride. From Chandrapur, you can also visit the Chaprala Wildlife Sanctuary. MTDC runs a sprawling tourist complex adjacent to a lake in Moharli. Svasara jungle lodges is located near the Kolara gate. The Tiger Trail Resort is near the Khutwanda Gate.

How To Reach

The Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve is about 140 kms from Nagpur (nearest airport) and 45 kms from Chandrapur, the nearest railway station. You can hire a taxi to reach the tiger reserve.

Umred-Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary

Its proximity to Nagpur makes Umred-Karhandla one of the easiest tiger sanctuaries to drive to. A little over an hour's drive from Nagpur (nearest airport is 58 kms away). The sanctuary shot to fame when Nawegaon-Nagzira Tiger Reserve's famous tiger Jai surfaced here all of a sudden, apparently having travelled past public roads and villages.

During weekends, it is not unusual to see long queues of visitors at the Karhandla entry gate. Accommodation is limited and many people visit the forest on a day visit. There are a couple of lodges and a resort (booking available through https://www.mumbaitravellers.in/) in and around the Thana village near the Karhandla gate. The forest is home to tigers, sloth bear, leopard, wild dog, ratel, Indian fox, wolf, jackal, jungle cat, gaur, blue bull, sambar, barking deer, wild boars, spotted deer and so on.

Winter is a pleasant time to visit the tiger reserves but if you want to push your tiger's luck, then peak summer (April-May) is the best time to visit. But always remember, wildlife sighting is a matter of luck. Also, do not disturb the animals of the forest in your quest to get that prize-winning shot. Remember, the forest is their home and they have the right of way.

With the increasing popularity of Maharashtra's tiger reserves, you have to book accommodation and safaris well in advance. Visitors are allowed to go on safaris in the designated tourism zones only. Even the number of safari vehicles permitted to enter through the particular gates are also often restricted.

For details and online booking of safaris and forest department's accommodation, see mahaecotourism.gov.in. The national parks and wildlife sanctuaries usually remain open between October and June some of them may be closed on a particular day of the week during the open season (Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve is closed on Tuesdays; Sillari gate of Pench is closed on Wednesday; Bor and the Karhandla gate of Umred is closed on Mondays; Nagzira is closed on Thursday). Depending on the season, the morning safaris start between 5 am and 8 am and the afternoon safaris start between 2:30 pm and 5 pm.

How To Reach

Nagpur is the nearest railhead and airport. You will have to hire a taxi from the railway station or the airport to reach the sanctuary.

Outlook Traveller