In the serene hilly terrain of Amravati District of Maharashtra, Gugamal National Park, located in the Chikhaldara and Dharni Tehsils, spreads over a whopping 1673.93 square kilometres. As a part of the Melghat Tiger Reserve, Gugamal National Park attracts tourists in large numbers; the place is known to be among the last ones to house the Indian tigers. The bamboo groves provide shelter to the wild animal where they have found a natural habitat and their numbers have increased too over the years because of strict conservation measures.
Biodiversity at Gugamal National Park
Surrounded by the rugged hills of the Melghat region, the forest cover comes under the Southern dry deciduous forest category. Some of the trees that you can find here are Ain, Tectona grandis, Lendia, Tiwas, Aola, Dhawada and Kusum. The area around Gugamal National Park is famous for the wide variety of plants of medicinal value that grow around the region. While bamboo covers the forest in abundance, the upper areas on the hills have orchids and strobilanthes growing. There are a total of 90 different kinds of trees, 56 climber trees, over 300 herbs varieties and more than 750 plant species that's spellbinding for visitors.
The Gugamal National Park boasts of an extravagant fauna of which wild mammals such as Bengal tiger, sloth bear, Ussuri dhole, Indian jackal, striped hyena, fishing cat, Indian leopard, chausinga, sambar (known to be the largest Deer on the planet) gaur, barking deer, ratel, macaque, flying squirrel, cheetal (a sub-species of Deer), nilgai, python, rhesus monkey, wild boar and langur are an integral part. If you are interested in aquatic life, then you must know that there are more than 25 different fishes here and a larger number of butterflies, merrily flying around the green surroundings. In March 1990, crocodiles were the newest addition to the Siddu Kund in Gadga river near Dhakna, and several more crocodiles were added to the Hathikund in the Dolar river in February 1991. There are also 260 bird species found at the Gugamal National Park which gives a great opportunity for photographers to capture some rare species of birds.
History of Gugamal National Park
Gugamal National Park forms the central region of the Melghat Tiger Reserve established in 1974 under the Directorate of Project Tiger. The Tiger reserve was inaugurated on February 22, 1974, as an initiative to conserve the rich eco-system of the region. Considering the diverse flora and fauna in the surrounding areas, on September 5, 1975, the Melghat Tiger Reserve was categorised as a National Park.
Attractions in Gugamal National Park
While the Gugamal National Park provides a unique opportunity to its visitors to observe the diverse flora and fauna, there are a couple of other activities as well which tourists can indulge into while they are visiting the place. Those who are interested in knowing about a new culture, they can get to know about the Korku tribal culture and even study their practices and traditions. Among other activities that are popular choices are trekking, photography, bird watching and meditation as you get to relax in the tranquil atmosphere, away from the urban jungle. Families seeking adventure can also go on exciting jungle safaris where they get to drive through dense forests and even opt for camping at night under the vast sky and shimmering stars.
Other major attractions in the vicinity of the Gugamal National Park are Makhla, Gavilgarh Fort, Bhootkhora, Narnala Fort, Bhim Kund, Chikaldhara and Panchbol Point.
Eco-tourism at Gugamal National Park
A nearby village, named Semadoh, is located 25 kms away from Chikhaldara is where the first Nature Interpretation Center of the Project Tiger was established. For nature and wildlife lovers, some of the main attractions for them are wildlife viewing in vehicle safari and a visit to the Project Tiger Museum. There are also plans in the pipeline for upgradation of the museum to the national level and a separate Nature Interpretation Centre. The present Interpretation Center at Gullarghat serves the purpose of educating tourists about the value of medicinal plants grown locally. Another Interpretation Center at Amravati imparts education to about the diverse flora and fauna to the tourists to enable them to understand the mission and vision of Melghat.
Entry for Individual: Adult: INR 30 Children (5 to 12 yrs old): INR 15 Student: INR 15 Foreigner (Adult): INR 60 and Children (5 to 12 yrs old): INR 30
Entry with Vehicle: Bus Truck and other heavy vehicles: INR 150 per day Car, jeep and other light vehicles: INR 100 per day Two-wheelers: INR 25 per day
Camera Charges: For Still camera: Indian - INR 500 and Foreigner - INR 1000 For cine camera: Indian - INR 5000 and Foreigner - INR 10000
Best Time to Visit
The perfect time to plan a visit to the Gugamal National Park is between October and June.
How to Reach
Reaching Gugamal National Park is possible through airways, railways and roadways. If you are flying to the National Park, the nearest airport is at Nagpur, 225-km away whereas the nearest railway station is 110 km away from the park at Badnera / Amravati. Renting private cabs to reach the Gugamal National Park is another option where the shortest route is via State highway from Paratwada to Dharni.
Where to Stay
The Semadoh village close to the National Park has accommodation facility for the tourists who are on a 2-3 day's long trip. There are also Forest Rest Houses available in Dhakna, Chaurakund, Jarida, Dhargad, Ranguveli, Chunkhadi, Kolkaz, Makhalara, Raipur and Hatru. For availing the facility at the rest houses, one needs to make a reservation at the Deputy Conservator of Forests, at Paratwada, Amaravati. The eco-huts available at Semadoh are available at INR 700 whereas the VIP Rest House at Kolkhas is available at INR 1800 per day.