Tadoba National Park was christened after the local God Taru, who is worshipped as 'Tadoba'. Legend holds that Taru was apparently a village chief who was killed in a mythological encounter with a tiger. A shrine dedicated to the God Taru exists even today beneath a huge tree, on the banks of the Tadoba Lake. The temple is frequented by adivasis, especially during the fair held every year in the Hindu month of Pusha, between December and January.
The Gond kings once ruled these forests in the vicinity of the Chimur hills in Chandrapur district. Hunting was completely in 1935. Two decades later, in 1955, 116.54 sq. km. was declared as Tadoba National Park under the Madhya Pradesh National Park Act. The area was ceded to the state of Maharashtra in 1956. In 1986, an area of 509 sq. km. adjacent to the reserve was notified as the Andhari Wildlife Sanctuary. The two sanctuaries were subsequently integrated and in 1993, it became a Project Tiger Reserve.
The local population comprises mainly Gond tribals who speak Marathi and Gondi. The tribals use the forest for several natural products. In these families, a newborn child is fed the nectar of the Mahua flower even before mother's milk to symbolise that the child and the tree will support each other all their lives.
The adivasis also sprinkle the sacred water of the Tadoba lake on their crops during the rainy season, in the belief that it would protect their crops from pests.
Tadoba lies in the Moharli hills of the West Chandrapur Forest Division of Maharashtra. The terrain is hilly with a gradual slope from north to south. The altitude of the hills averages about 200-350 m. The Tadoba Lake is a 120 ha. water body located in the heart of the reserve. This lake is a perennial water source that the area depends on, especially during the dry summer months. Other wetland areas within the reserve include the Kolsa lake and Andhari river.Thick forests are relieved by smooth meadows and deep valleys. Cliffs, talus and caves provide refuge for several animals.
Tadoba has predominantly southern tropical dry deciduous forest, with teak Tectona grandis being a prominent species. These dense woodlands form about 87 per cent of the protected area. Other deciduous trees include ain or crocodile bark Terminalia tomentosa, tendu Diospyros melanoxylon, beheda Terminalia belerica, hirda Terminalia chebula, karayagum Sterculia urens and mahua Madhuca. Boswellia serrata, Pterocarpus marsupium, Lagerstroemia parviflora and Lannea coramandelica are other common species.
Axlewood Anogeissus latifolia is a fire-resistant species. Palas or Flame of the Forest Butea monosperma adds vibrant colour to the forest. Jamun or black plum Syzigium cumini trees grow in the riparian habitat around the lake, since these trees can survive the waterlogging that occurs during the monsoons. At the waterhole at Panchadhara, huge arjun Terminalia arjuna trees are seen.
Grasses are found in patches distributed throughout the reserve. Bamboo Dendrocalamus strictus thickets grow throughout the reserve. The climber Kach Kujali Mucuu prureans is medicinally important for patients with Parkinson's disease. The leaves of bheria Chloroxylon swietenia are used as an insect repellent and bija Pterocarpus marsupium is a medicinal gum. Beheda Terminalia belerica is also an important medicine.
Taboda is bursting with life. It houses several endangered species. The apex species of the reserve is the tiger. The leopard and the jungle cat are some of the other carnivores that share these forests. The jackal, hyena, Indian wild dog, civet, sloth bear may also be encountered. The reserve is also renowned for the gaur. Large herds of chital and sambar may be seen. The sturdy nilgai and the swift-footed four-horned antelope are also residents of this reserve. The muntjac (barking deer), chevrotain (mouse deer), common langur, flying squirrel and wild pig also abound.
Crocodiles are another highlight of the reserve. The reptilian fauna includes species such as the endangered Indian python and the common Indian monitor. Terrapins, star tortoises, common cobra and Russel's viper also occur in Tadoba.
Tadoba is also an entomologist's paradise. 74 species of butterflies have been recorded including the pansies, monarch, mormons and swordtails. Two endangered species include the Danaid Egg Fly and the Great Egg Fly. Dragonflies, stick insects, jewel beetles and the praying mantis are other insects in the reserve. The signature spider, giant wood and red wood spiders are often seen in the monsoon and soon after. Some hunting spiders like the wolf spiders, crab spiders and "lynx" spiders are also common.
195 species of birds have been recorded, including three endangered varieties. The Grey Headed Fishing Eagle Ichthyophaga icthyaetus and the Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela are some of the raptors. Other interesting species include the Crested Tree Swift Hemiprocne longipennis, Stone Curlew Burhinus oedicnemus, Honey Buzzard Pernis ptilorhyncus, Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone paradisi, Bronze Winged Jacana Metopidius indicus and Lesser Goldenbacked Woodpecker Dinopium benghalense. Warblers and the Blacknaped blueflycatcher exist here and the call of the Peacock Pavo cristatus may often be heard.
There are several machans in the reserve, one at the Panchadhara waterhole, another at the Vasant Bhandara waterhole, two around the Tadoba lake and another at Jamunbadi. You may travel by Forest Department buses or jeeps to any of these locations except Vasant Bhandara, which is a 5 km. trek from the reception centre.
A stroll along the road around the Tadoba lake provides for good wildlife viewing. Chital are commonly seen in the grasslands and around the lake and the tourist complex. Gaur also exist in large numbers near the lake or in the grassy patches. Troops of the Hanuman langur play frivolously on the overhanging branches of trees bordering the lake. Large populations of the mugger crocodile reside in the Tadoba lake. But they may sometimes be seen sunning themselves on forest paths near the lake. Nilgai maybe spotted, either solitary or in pairs, in the early mornings and late evenings.
The sloth bear prefers hilly terrain, and you may often see them behind the tourist complex or near Vasant Bhandara. Lairs of the bear, leopard and tiger may be seen en route from the reception center to Vasant Bhandara. The sloth bear is also found in the heart of the forests at Katezari, which now forms part of the core forest. Dhole is seen ubiquitously throughout the reserve. Hyaenas are not as common, but you may occasionally be surprised by one of them near thickets.
Tigers and leopards are elusive and sightings are rare. There are fairly good chances of spotting the tiger at Panchadhara. The palm civet may be seen on trees, and flying squirrels also make an appearance at dusk.
The blacknaped hare is commonly encountered along a route called Sasa road. ('Sasa' is hare in Marathi)
Visitors are permitted inside the park from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on all days except Tuesday, when the park is closed. A trip lasting at least three-four days is recommended.
Private vehicles are allowed inside the park. However, Two/three-wheelers are not permitted.
Guides are compulsory with every vehicle entering the reserve.
A visitor could opt for the Jungle Safari Tour, or take the enjoyable elephant rides.
The Deputy Conservator of Forests, Tadoba National Park,
Chandrapur, Maharashtra – 442401.
Tel.: 07172-251414; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The park is open to visitors throughout the year. Animals are best seen from February to May. Vegetation and insect life is at its best with the onset of rains in mid-June. Because of the dense growth of plants and grasses, animals are not easily sighted in this season.
Winter lasts from November to February and is one of the best times for a visit. Day temperatures range between 250-300C and the park is pleasantly green. It is best to avoid a visit at the end of December since the winter session of the State Government will be on at Nagpur and with officials thronging the place, bookings may be a problem.
Summers are unbearably hot in Tadoba, with day temperatures rising sometimes to 470C. However, it is the ideal time to view mammals near water sources, as vegetation is also scarce, enhancing visibility. The monsoon breaks in June with rainfall of about 1,275 mm. and humidity at about 66 per cent.
The park is open for visitors throughout the year. Excursions are permitted only by daylight i.e. sunrise to sunset. Official guides are compulsory for all excursions. The best times to visit are early mornings and late afternoons.
Rest houses, dormitories and tents are available. Besides the guest houses at Tadoba, there is also a holiday home with three family blocks and a youth hostel with a dormitory of 36 beds. The tourist complex is located on the banks of the lake, in the midst of thick forests. Refreshments and meals are available on prior intimation at the canteen.
By Air: Nagpur airport is 205 km. away via Chandrapur; 140 km. via Chimur.
By Rail: The nearest railhead is Chandrapur, 45 km. from the park.
By Road: You may enter the park from the Khatoda gate at Moharli or via Chimur. State transport buses ply from Chandrapur. Taxis and Jeeps from Nagpur or Chandrapur are other options. Chandrapur is 45 km. from the park; Chimur is 32 km. away.