The many marvels of Satpura Biosphere Reserve in Madhya Pradesh

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The many marvels of Satpura Biosphere Reserve in Madhya Pradesh
Satpura Biosphere ReserveDhiman Mukherji
  • The UNESCO-listed biosphere reserve hosts over 50 mammal species, 254 bird species, 30 reptile species and 50 butterfly species, among a plethora of others.
  • The Satpura Biosphere Reserve composes three wildlife regions - the Bori range, Satpura and the Pachmarhi range.
  • The Son and Denwa rivers weave through this 1427 sq kilometre expanse frequented by a large variety of exotic birds.

When Shyamla Nayyar, an executive search professional, was told she would be travelling to Pachmarhi in Madhya Pradesh for a family vacation, she was less than thrilled. However, after visiting the place she says, “it turned out to be one of the best trips we had in our lives.”

Often referred to as the queen of the Satpura Range in central India, the hill station of Pachmarhi lodged at the height of 1100 m is a part of Satpura Biosphere Reserve. The Satpura Biosphere Reserve composes three wildlife regions - the Bori range, Satpura and the Pachmarhi range.

The many marvels of Satpura Biosphere Reserve in Madhya Pradesh
Dhiman Mukherji

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The UNESCO-listed Biosphere Reserve hosts over 150 species of flora that is used for medicinal purposes and over 50 mammal species, 254 bird species, 30 reptile species and 50 butterfly species, among a plethora of other species found here.

The verdant teak and sal forest is also home to rare and endangered animals like the gaur, bears, tigers, leopards, giant squirrels and crested serpent eagle. Linking two biodiversity hotspots — Eastern Himalaya and the Western Ghats — the Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve is frequently recognised as a ‘Genetic Express Highway’.

The Reserve is also home to two major tribes - the Gond tribes and Korkus tribe whereas the most primitive tribe, Bhariya, reside in the Patalkot region, which is a completely isolated valley in the Chhindwara district of Madhya Pradesh.

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According to Hindu mythology, it is believed that the five Pandava brothers from Mahabharata built five caves that are located here - thus the place was named Panch (five) Marhi (caves). These caves were first discovered by Captain J. Forsyth in 1862 and feature rock paintings up to 2,500 years old.

The many marvels of Satpura Biosphere Reserve in Madhya Pradesh
Dhiman Mukherji


In and around Satpura National Park:

Without a doubt, one of the biggest highlights of visiting Pachmarhi is exploring the treasures in this UNESCO-listed Biosphere Reserve. The Son and Denwa rivers weave through this 1427 sq kilometre expanse frequented by a large variety of exotic birds including the Crested Serpent Eagle, Spotted Owlet and the Common Kingfisher.
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"I fondly remember our drives around the hill station which boasts of great wildlife and a vast forest cover. The mixed terrain of Panchmarhi is what makes this region truly unique." - Shubh Mukherji, a final year student at the School of Communication, Manipal University, tells us.

The many marvels of Satpura Biosphere Reserve in Madhya Pradesh
Dhiman Mukherji


You can explore the jungle either by jeep safari, elephant safari, boat, walking (Satpura is one of the few Indian jungles that visitors can experience on foot) and canoe ride. Locals suggest a visit to the Denwa backwaters, a 2-hour road journey from Pachmarhi, for wildlife and bird sightings. There is also an excellent boat safari into the jungle.
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The many marvels of Satpura Biosphere Reserve in Madhya Pradesh
Dhiman Mukherji

Local guides often recommend 'special' places they have come across while living there and one such find was the vulture point. A short trek from the WelcomHeritage Golf View hotel is a spot from where vultures, that are sadly at the verge of extinction, can be viewed with a binocular. "It turned out to be one of the best experiences of the trip, at least for me," Shyamla tells us.

The region is also home to some spectacular waterfalls and the famous Irene Pool that was discovered by Irene Bose, wife of Justice Vivian Bose.

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The best part is that the place is relatively quiet and not teeming with tourists. Shubh gleefully tells us that "While December is usually peak season for most destinations, we were surprised to see a relatively small number of tourists at the time."

Getting there:

“We took a train from Nizamuddin Railway Station in Delhi to Itarsi, which was an overnight journey. We reached Itarsi early morning and a pickup was arranged by our hotel. It was a one-and-a-half-hour journey and the roads were pretty decent," says Shyamla. If, however, you don't fancy a train journey, you can always fly down to Bhopal, which is where the closest airport is, and drive down from there.
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