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My fascination for Central India's forests

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As a high school student, in late 80s, I had a keen interest in geography, particularly the different states of India. One state that marvelled me, because of its size and the amount of forests it had, was Madhya Pradesh (MP). During one of those years, I accessed a full spread map of Madhya Pradesh tourism. I don't remember if it was of my father or I got it as a supplement in one of the national dialies. But, I remember going through it keenly and reading its notes on the state's different parks and sanctuaries.

In 1993-94, I bought a TTK book-map on India's wildlife, one of the best ever produced, to date. The book map showed the location of various PAs (protected areas) in MP. The map increased my curiosity of the state further, particularly the cluster of PAs at the junction of south-eastern MP (now Chattisgarh), northern Andhra Pradesh and eastern Maharashtra. The eastern part of MP had some parks that were greater than 1000 Sq. KM (Indravati & Sanjay NPs)…

Achanakmar: Beyond the tiger show - the hidden treasures of central Chattisgarh

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The state of Chattisgarh was carved out of Madhya Pradesh a few years ago. The state is rich in forests and minerals. Though the state has been in news of late due to naxalism - organised political violence, the central and northern parts of the state still make for a safe destination for tourists. Inherting the tourist infrastructure of the Madhya Pradesh Government, Chattisgarh still has many pretty and picturesque rest houses amidst natural scenery.
The famous Kanha Tiger Reserve, in Madhya Pradesh, is not to be seen in isolation. For, it is connected with many other tiger reserves through forested corridors. These corridors are critical for the tigers of the whole of Central India's Satpura Maikal landscape (SML) as they allow the big cats to freely move and disperse to the more safe and prey-loaded parks. Among these tiger reserves is Achanakmar. The forests of Achanakmar and its corridors are pristine and mostly untouched by development...


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They accommodate the…

Kanha Tiger Reserve: When the jackals came calling in Kipling's Mowghli-land

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Souvenirs at a shop near a entrance gate of Kanha Tiger Reserve
Rudyard Kipling is said to have written 'The Jungle Book' based on his stay in India and his imagination of the Central Indian forests. His story 'Hunting-Song of the Seeonee Pack' is based on the jungles around Seoni town, that include Pench Tiger Reserve.

I visited the well-known Kanha Tiger Reserve in Central India from the 19 to 24 of this month to attend a WWF-India meeting and also to see our work there. Flying in to Jabalpur from Delhi on Monday, we drove through the beautiful forests of Satpura - Maikal landscape. The forests are of teak as one drives from Jabalpur on the highway to Raipur City (Chattisgarh), through Jabalpur and Mandla territorial divisions. The teak slowly gives way to sal as one crosses the Narmada River at Mandla Town. About 40 km south-east of Mandla is Kanha Tiger Reserve...
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During the week we managed to get into the park a couple of times. Tourism here is very …

Heights of Kargil's natural beauty: Panzi La, near roof of the world

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'Penzi La' or 'Pensi La', at 14,000 feet, is the highest point along the Kargil - Padum road in India's Jammu and Kashmir state. The word 'La' in Ladakhi language means pass. The pass overlooks the Drang-drung glacier.
Here are some scenes from the route


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This journey was a part of the road trip that I got to make from Srinagar to the Drang Drung Glacier via Kargil Town through my previous work, in July 2009. Click here to read the first part of this journey.
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Unseen beauty of Kargil District: Rangdum's landscape and wildlife

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Rangdum is a small hamlet inhabited by a handful of Ladhaki families. The place lies along the Kargil - Padum road and is a favourite halting place for many who travel along the road. Located, as it is, near glaciers the temperatures are freezing at night even in summer. Access to the place by road is blocked in winter due to the snow.




A rock formation near Rangdum. The Himalayas are considered to be relatively young mountains. According to plate tectonics theory, they were formed by the clash of the Indo-Australian plate with the Eurasian plate. Early morning view of the glaciers and peaks surrounding the Rangdum tourist bungalow
Rangdum offers sweeping views of the tall valleys and peaks.
The area around Rangdum thrives with wildlife. The area is rich in birdlife like this horned lark.
Among the many birds that breed in the meadows around Rangdum are the yellowheaded wagtail.

The longtailed marmots (top first image of this post) are the most visible wildlife in the region. They bask i…

Nun Kun glacier and Rangdum: The drive to glacier country

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Beyond Paradise: Villages in Kargil Dist's upper Suru Valley

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A handful of small villages and hamlets are located in the upper part of the Suru River valley. The Nun-Kun peaks over look much of Upper Suru valley and together with the many glaciers form a spectacular backdrop to these habitations - Tai Suru, Panikhar, Tangole and Parkachik among others.


Below are some images of the drive from Purtikchay to Tangole - the village that provides climbers access to Nun - Kun.


A gushing stream fed by snow-capped peaks (above).

The valley suddenly opens vast vistas at Purtikchay village (above).

From Purtichay the first clear view of the Nun-Kun peaks (above).

Nun-Kun peaks dominate the landscape in the Upper Suru valley (above).

A Government primary school amidst the Himalayas (above).

The landscape is simply spectacular and some of the views hit your sense very hard. These views are too hard to forget and hang-over of the trip lingers on in a visitor's mind for years. A barley field with the backdrop of Parkachik glacier seen in the above and below pi…