We had 2 days in Khajuraho and sneaked in a visit to Panna National Park close by in the hope of seeing a Tiger. We managed to form a group of 4 in Zostel and booked the vehicle for the trip which was around Rs 4000/- inclusive of the park ride as well as the drive to and fro to Panna. We started out around 5.30am in the morning from Khajuraho and the 40 km distance to Panna was done in a little above an hour. The roads were a mix of smooth highway and rocky inner stretches through fields and small hamlets.
Panna National Park
Our naturalist guide joined us from the Park Gates for an additional charge of Rs 350/-. As I have noticed in other National Parks in Madhya Pradesh, these naturalists are mostly experienced locals who have been trained and included in this profession to keep them gainfully employed. He knew the park inside out and guided us through the park to the best spots for sighting animals. After inquiries with the guards in the watch towers we did take a couple of turns within the park in search of the stripey but all we saw was fresh pug marks. The tiger / tigress remained elusive after a 3 hour sojourn. I was very happy to see the spotted deer, sambhar, bara shinghi deer, bear, monkeys jumping across trees, birds, nilgais and butterflies.
As we drove around the park, vultures were seen swooping down and flying high in a jiffy. We took a break near “Dundhwa Seha” or the Misty Waterfall. This is a gorge in the middle of the park has waterfalls all along in the monsoon where animals seek refuge during the summer heat. This is a favorite spot of the vultures as well who hang around in groups marking the crevices white with their poop droppings
There were quite a few small water bodies and a flowing stream where bird song could be heard. They managed to slip away behind the trees, each time I attempted to click a picture except for that one time when I was determined.
We spotted the gharial or crocodile near a tributary of the Ken river. Both turned out to be females who were lazing near the river bank quite oblivious of the intense attention. The males generally have a long snout with a pot like shape at its end which resembles a ghara (hindi name for pot) and hence the name gharial.
On our way out we noticed acres and acres of cultivated land in the buffer zone with a villa which apparently belongs to the erstwile Maharajah of Panna. The density of tigers in Panna (500 sq kms) is low compared to the other national parks like Bandhavgarh and Kanha. There have been instances of relocating tigers and cubs from the other parks into Panna to improve breeding with limited luck. To most visitors they remain elusive. I would recommend Bandhavgarh where I have been lucky with spotting and so have many others
On our way back we stopped at Pandav Falls about 12 kms away from Panna. We paid Rs 500/- in addition to the earlier agreed amount of Rs 4000/- for this detour. Though it derives its name from the Pandavas of Mahabharata fame who were believed to have made a stop here during their exile. Located on a tributary of Ken River it falls into a gorge with a lake and water trickling down from all over.We followed the guide a 100 steps down into the gorge and walked around finding what seemed to be changing rooms for erstwile royalty and 5 stones in memory of the 5 Pandav brothers. The continuous sprinkling of water from trickling streams of water did some good during an unusually warm January morning.
We returned to Khajuraho around 1pm after a quick snack break in the nearby Ken River Lodge. There is a cover charge in the lodge to prevent unwanted guests scampering for the spectacular views across their property which gets adjusted with any food bills.
- There are quite a few lodges and hotels near Panna where you can spend time in the lap of nature and make multiple trips into the park.
- Safaris are generally in the morning between 6.30 to 10.30am or between 2.30pm and 6pm. The base charges are around Rs 1500/- for a vehicle which can accommodate 4-5 guests.
- Ex Khajuraho our total cost was Rs 5000/- including travel, safari, guide charges
- This is ideally done if you are staying around in Khajuraho for more than a day.