Nestled in the Vindhya Ranges across the districts of Chhatarpur and Panna, Panna National Park has the distinction of being India’s 22nd Tiger Reserve, and fifth in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Founded in 1981, the national park was recognized as a Project Tiger Reserve in 1994 by the Government of India.
Historically, the present day national park includes areas of the former Gangau Wildlife Sanctuary and the protected forests of Chhatarpur. The forests used to serve as hunting grounds for the rulers of neighbouring princely states, namely, Bijawar, Panna and Chhatarpur.
The Ken River (a tributary of the Yamuna River) flows through the extensive reserve. Counted amongst the least polluted rivers in the country, the Ken River is home to aquatic fauna and acts as the lifeline of the National Park. Visitors are treated to scenic panoramic views following the river. The Panna National Park’s terrain is marked by vast plateaus and gorges. Panna’s bench topography can be broadly classified into three different tablelands, namely, the upper Talgaon Plateau, the middle Hinata plateau and the Ken valley.
In 2007, the Panna National Park was conferred with the Award of Excellence as the best maintained National Park of the country by the Ministry of Tourism of India. In 2011, the tiger reserve was designated as a Biosphere Reserve as well.
Park Overview at a Glance
- Establishment Year: 1981
- Located in: Panna, Khajuraho
- Total Park Area: 1645.08 sq. km.
- Total Tiger Reserve Area: 542.66 sq. km.
- Best Visiting Time/Month: December to March
Flora & Fauna of Panna National Park
The Panna National Park is home to a wide variety of flora as well as fauna, and is renowned for its Royal Bengal Tiger. The flora in the park comprises tall grasses, shrubs and thorny woodlands, owing to its dry deciduous weather. It’s home to various kinds of trees like Achar, Tendu, Seja, Mahua, Salai, Saja, Bel, and many more.
The National Park is home to a variety of rich fauna, including wild animals such as jungle cat, tiger, wild dog, hyena, sambar, blue bull, sloth bear, spotted deer, chinkara, four-horned antelope, chinkara, hare, rusty spotted cat, porcupine and ratel. Long snouted crocodile and the marsh crocodile can be found in the Ken River. The park is a major point of interest for bird watchers due to its vivid avifauna, and is frequented by more than 200 species of migratory birds.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Panna National Park
Q. When is the best time to visit Panna National Park?
The best time to visit Panna National Park is from December to March, prior to the arrival of the scorching summer season. The pleasant weather this time of the year makes it ideal for a visit.
Q. Where to stay in Panna National Park?
The Panna National Park offers multiple accommodation options to its visitors, namely, Madla Forest Rest House, Hinouta Forest Rest House, Jungle cottage Hinauta, Raneh Fall Huts, Dormitory Madla, and others. These options range from dormitory beds, huts and tents, to private rooms. It is advised that you book well in advance to get the accommodation of your preference, as the supply is limited.
Private accommodation is available near the Madla park gate. Ken River Resort, Taj Safaris and Jungle Camp are few of the options. Many visitors may opt to stay in nearby Khajuraho where there are a plethora of luxury accommodations available, namely, Taj Hotels, Lalit, and Clarks.
Q. What are the Safari Timings of Panna National Park?
Safari timings are 6:30 AM to 10:30 AM in the morning, and 2:30 PM to 5:30 PM in the afternoon.
Q. How to Reach Panna National Park?
The Panna National Park can be reached by the following means of transportation:
- By Road: The National Park is located 750 km from New Delhi and can be reached fastest via the Taj Express Highway. The park is also connected to Madhya Pradesh’s capital, Bhopal (370 km), via NH 86 via Chhatarpur (125 km), and NH 75. Visitors can opt for bus services from Bhopal which operate on a fixed schedule. The park is also accessible from the nearby city of Gwalior (360 km). A drive down from Jhansi (252 km) via NH 78 and Chhatarpur is also an option. Many visitors also opt for the frequent bus services available from Jhansi and Satna (125 km).
- By Train: Khajuraho, located at a distance of 25 km, is the nearest major train station. Jhansi, home to the famed Jhansi fort, is located 180 km from the park. The city is well connected via train to Mumbai, Chennai, and Delhi. Katni, located 150 kms from the park, offers connections to Nagpur, Chennai, and Mumbai. Lastly, Satna (located 90 kms away) is connected to Varanasi, Kolkata, and Delhi.
- By Air: The nearest airport is Khajuraho Airport, which is located 25 km from Panna National Park. The airport offers flights to Delhi, Varanasi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Dehradun, and other cities.
Q. What are the other popular tourist attractions in Panna National Park?
- Raneh Falls: Located in Panna National Park, Raneh Falls is a majestic waterfall named after King Rana Pratap. The waterfall emerges from the confluences of Khuddar and Ken Rivers. Visitors will come across crystalline granite in abundance in a myriad of colors ranging from pink to grey. The Raneh Falls forms the 5 km long and 30 metre deep canyon, which is a gateway to the Ken Gharial Sanctuary.
- Ken Gharial Sanctuary: The Ken Gharial Sanctuary was set up in 1985 for the conservation of the Indian Gharials, an endangered species. Spread across 13.5 square kilometres, the vast sanctuary acts as a natural habitat and is home to several other species including the fish-eating gharial, wild boar, blue bell, peacock, chinkara, chitals, and other animals.
Q. What are the best places to visit nearby Panna Tiger Reserve?
- Khajuraho: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Khajuraho group of temples comprise Hindu and Jain temples. Built in the 10th and 11th centuries by the Chandela Kings, these temples are spread across six kilometres. Famed for intricate detailing, erotic sculptures and symbolism, the temples are a prime example of ancient Indian art, as well as the Nagara style of architecture. The most famous attraction here is the Kandariya Mahadeva Temple, which is decorated with over 800 statues. Visitors from all across the country and abroad make their way to Khajuraho to appreciate the beauty, skill, and artistry of ancient India. Visitors should make sure they catch the illuminating sound and light show which is held every evening.
- Mahamati Prannathji Temple: The Mahamati Prannathji Temple is a prominent pilgrimage site for the Pranamis. The 17th century temple draws scores of devotees during the auspicious day of Sharada Purnima. The building is a beautiful representation of the Hindu and Muslim architectural styles. Legend states that Mahamati Prannathji resided in the temple for 11 long years and took samadhi in one of its domes. The temple comprises Shri Gummatji, Shri Sadguru Mandir, Shri Bangalaji, Shri Baijurajji Mandir, Shri Khijada Mandir, and Shri Chopada Mandir. The main attraction here is Shri Gummatji due to its beautiful marble domes alongside the silver Kaman Darwaza.
- Diamond Mine: Located in Mazgaon and spread across 50 kilometres, the Panna diamond mine is Asia’s only active diamond mine. Visitors can learn about diamond farming and trade by visiting it. The Diamond Mining Project of National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC Ltd), under the administrative control of Ministry of Steel, Government of India, supervises these mines.
- Ajaigarh Fort: Located 36 km from Panna National Park, Ajaigarh Fort is the former capital of the Chandela kings. The fort is nestled in the Vindhya ranges and offers scenic views of the Ken River. Visitors can access the fort via its two gates, Darwaza and Tarhaoni, and gaze at the architectural style prominent during the Chandela era. The fort houses several sculptures of the Goddesses Ashta Shakti. On exploration of the site, visitors will come across the ruins of a Jain Temple and the Ajaypal Lake.
Distance: 94 kms from Panna National Park.