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Panna National Park

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Photo: Dhiren Shah/Sanctuary Photo Library.

Panna is a 542.66 sq. km. reserve located in the Chhatarpur and Panna districts of Madhya Pradesh, close to the temple town of Khajuraho in central India. Panna was the fifth Project Tiger reserve of Madhya Pradesh and the 22nd tiger reserve of the country under Project Tiger. Located on the banks of the River Ken, the park is lush green with deep ravines, cascading waterfalls and thick teak forests, the Panna National Park is renowned for the tiger, deer and nilgai. The reserve stands hidden in the shadows of the Khajuraho figurines and the famed diamond mines nearby that threaten to strip the area of its vast resources.

  • Plan your trip
  • Wild life
  • Habitat
  • Places to see
  • Useful Tips
  • History

Best season

Panna has characteristic tropical climate. Summers are uncomfortably hot with maximum temperatures that could rise to 450C, though the season probably affords the greatest chance of sighting wildlife. Winters are cool and pleasant with temperatures usually under 250C with the minimum plummeting to about 60C. The monsoons last from July to mid-September with average rainfall of about 1,423 mm., after which a long, dry spell ensues.

The park is open from November to June, which would be the best season for a visit. The Pandav Falls are however best visited during the monsoon. 


Sanctuary Asia encourages sustainability in travel, so you can choose from one of the TOFTigers, PUG eco-certified lodges in the park vicinity and help sustain this destination.

Pashan Garh – Taj Safaris – Near the Hinauta Gate

Ken River Lodge – Near the Madla Gate

Tourist lodges are available in the vicinity of the park. Another exciting option is to try the tree houses! More conventional accommodation is available at Madla. Another alternative would be to stay at one of the numerous tourist hotels at Khajuraho and plan a day trip to the park. 


By Air: The Khajuraho aerodrome is only 27 km. from the Madla Gate at Ken River. Distances of some major airport towns from the Panna National Park are: Bhopal 727 km., Delhi 889 km., Chennai 1,761 km. and Calcutta 1,040 km. 

By Rail: The nearest railhead is Satna station on the Central railway, located 70 km. from the Panna town. Satna is a major railway junction, connected to several important cities and towns in central and western India, including Mumbai (1,540 km.). Jhansi is another alternative, 175 km. from Panna National Park.

By Road: Both the Madla and the Hinouta gates of the park are at an accessible 20 km. from Panna town, which is located on State Highway No.6, 200 km. from Jhansi and 215 km. from Jabalpur, via Katni junction (125 km. from the park). Madla is 24 km. southwest of Khajuraho, which is another option from where you can reach Panna National Park by road.

The tiger Panthera tigris is the prime species of this reserve. Besides the tiger, other predators like the leopard P. pardus and jungle cat Felis chaus; and scavengers like the striped hyena Hyaena hyaena exist here. The jackal Canis aureus, sloth bear Melursus ursinus are also found in these forests. Herds of chinkara (mountain gazelle) Gazella gazella may be seen here along with muntjac Muntiacus muntjac, Indian hare Lepus nigricollis and other animals like the porcupine or the langur.

In this park, the nilgai Boselaphus tragocamelus (in winter) and sambar Cervus unicolor (in summer) are the most significant herbivores comprising the prey base. The chital Axis axis is important prey during the monsoons. Smaller species like the wild boar Sus scrofa and Chousingha Tetracerus quadricornis are also fairly common in the reserve. Dhole, wolf, Indian fox, mongoose, ratel and wild pigs are other species that you may come across in Panna. The caracal, a relative of the extinct cheetah, may be sighted here on very rare occasions. 

Gharial and mugger crocodiles are found in the Ken river. 

Additionally, there is a rich and diverse variety of birds in this park as in any other tiger reserve. Around 200 species of birds are found here, including winter migrants from the Himalayas and Central Asia. The Common Peafowl, India's National Bird is frequently encountered in the park. There is also a high density of the Paradise Flycatcher, the State Bird of Madhya Pradesh. 

The park is situated in the Vindhyan Ranges of north-central Madhya Pradesh where the landscape is mildly undulating with hills ranging from 200 - 500 m. The park area is mainly plateau, with the flatlands punctuated with hills, deep valleys and gorges. The terrain is largely rocky and uneven covered with scrub and grass. The Talegaon plateau that lies to the east in the Panna range is the highest. At an intermediate altitude is the Hinouta plateau sandwiched between Panna and Madla at a lower altitude. The Madla range lies in a narrow stretch along the south bank of the Ken river. 

The Ken river is a tributary of the Yamuna that flows north-south 55 km. through the park, forming a boundary between the Panna and Chhatarpur districts. It is a perennial water source for villages on either side. In the Chhatarpur district, there are a series of hills and plateaus of the Chandranagar Range. The Hinouta plateau is one of the most virgin areas of the reserve owing to the relocation of three villages from this area in the 1980s. 


The region mainly has mixed dry deciduous forests with short grasses and open woods. Lower altitudes are characterised by taller grasses and closed woodlands. Anogeissus pendula and Acacia catechu are the dominant species occurring on the steep, dry slopes of the plateau. Teak trees Tectona grandis are also found in plenty in the dry areas. These areas have scanty grasses. Other tree species include Diospyros melanoxylon, Madhuca indica, Buchannia latifolia, Lannea coromandelica and Boswelia serrata. The common bamboo also occurs in profusion on hilly slopes and gorges. Fruit trees like amla, tendu, achar, ben and ghont are also found in the park in areas with thick undergrowth. Shrubs like Lantana camara, Grevia spp., Nyctanthus arbortristis, Ixora spp., Zizyphus mauritiana etc. grow on the rocky terrain. Grasses are widespread, and the different varieties like Apluda mutica, Themeda quadrivalvis, Hetropogon contortus, Aristida spp. Eragrostis spp. remain till the end of winter, especially on the plateaux, notably in the Hinouta Range. The district of Panna is the northernmost part of the country where teak trees occur. It also signifies the eastern limits of teak-kardhai trees in India.

Tiger sightings are not too common and would require a lot of patience and luck.

Dry and short grasses are a favourite with the nilgai and chinkara. The tall grasses support large herds of sambar and chital.

Wildlife may be seen relatively undisturbed in the Madla and Hinouta ranges in areas like Bhadar, Sankro, Judi, Gata and Seha.

The Ken River harbours both the mugger and long-snouted gharial species of crocodiles. 

Panna National Park is en-route to Bandhavgarh and Kanha National Parks.

Khajuraho (57 km.) is a half-hour drive from the Madla gate to Panna National Park. Khajuraho is a World Heritage site renowned for its temples with exquisite, erotic art.

Hinouta is the other entrance of the park, near Majhgawan Diamond Mines of NMDC and is 20 km. from Panna town. 

Telephone, post and telegraph facilities are available at Madla. 

Internet facilities are available in most hotels at Khajuraho.

Useful contacts

The Tourist Information Office,
Government of India,
Near Western Group of Temples,
Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh.
Tel.: 07686-2047/ 2048.

According to legend, the Pandavas of the Mahabharat probably spent a good part of their exile in the Panna forests. The Pandava Falls, 11 km. east of Mandla, has a beautiful lake and shrines dedicated to them in the surrounding cliffs. The park also used to be the private hunting grounds of the royal family of Panna, Chhatarpur and Bijawar states.

It was accorded the status of a National Park in 1981 and was declared a tiger reserve in 1994. Prior to the notification, most areas within the park were included as part of the Gangau Wildlife Sanctuary, which was declared in 1975.

The sanctuary was located in the Panna district covering the forests of present-day North Panna Forest Division; and thereafter extended to include the Chhatarpur Forest Division, beyond the river, increasing the park area from less than 380 sq. km. to 543 sq. km. 


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