Thursday, November 29, 2018

Safari at Satpura Tiger Reserve - Forsyth's Land

Satpura Tiger Reserve 
Forsyth Lodge

Lobby Forsyth 

Forsyth Lodge - Sustainable Hospitality 

Like a swish of fresh air the place descends upon you. Travelling to an unknown destination is full of surprises and Forsyth Lodge was our first one. The lodge manager's connectivity helped us reach  without much trouble.     

The welcoming faces and the warm interiors both did wonders to our sagging spirits after a long trudge of four hours from Jabalpur. Already delayed we managed a sneak peak into the forests of Satpura with Deepankar the lodge manager at helm. 

The lodge encapsulates forty four acres of natural land with lush green vegetation  - climber, herbs, shrubs, grass and trees - wild to the core. Leopards, jungle cats and sloth bears are visitors along with the deer species. If you are a birder or a butterfly enthusiast you will relish going through the land. A trained naturalist is always in sight at this wildlife resort to help you.  

The hospitality at the lodge was reassuring...we were at the right place. Evening was fun besides the pool with wholesome delicious bits and warm fire to celebrate and chill. Asim and Manna the naturalists regaled us with some startling jungle lore and their knowledge of diversity of Satpura. There was more in store with sumptuous dinner to follow. It was the best of Indian cuisine...delicious to the core and tongue tingling till the last morsel. What more could we wish for ...a sound sleep in a cosy cottage and we fell for it. 

Rooms are spacious with balanced decor, aesthetic lights and well equipped with soft king size beds , accessories, peripherals and large attached bath. The separate cottages have a sitout large enough to seat a group overlooking the wild backyard. At Forsyth aesthetics and comfort have been kept in mind will designing, and the staff complements the build with their excellence.   

The safaris are well organised at Forsyth with a trained naturalist accompanying the guests. We were lucky to have Deepanker with us honour. The munch is generous at Forsyth the jungle breakfast was well balanced with chicken sandwich, eggs, juices, cakes, cookies, tea, coffee and fruits. "That's enough now lunch" said my guest Poonam. "Wait". I blurted. Lunch and Dinner are a gastronomic delights at Forsyth and we did full justice.  

The Jungle! On Safari!

As the sun breaks in soft strands of light fall on the floor highlighting the grass and the fortunate trees woken up with a jolt from slumber. The chirping of birds announce the day and loud raucous alarm cries of langur inform us that some excitement lies in store.  The leopard sulks amidst the grass as light descends unto the depression and we see him moving from one avenue to another. Our hearts thumping we move on for more is definitely coming.  

We were at a place called Ladda in the park and all around us was typical Satpura terrain...rivulets, pools bursting at seams, rocky outcrops and spurs, grass and dense canopies full of mixed variety of trees and impressive teak.  

The biodiversity that prevails is astounding, just what James Forsyth had discovered in the heydays of the Raj. If you wish to go back into the past read "The Highlands of Central India". 

With turbulent landscape comprising of verdant hills, fissured rocks, deep glens, rivulets, pools and tall stands, climbers, shrubs and grass the game drives are anything but enchanting. A big surprise is the tiger, the creature much persecuted is making its stand back here, other thrilling encounters are leopard, wild dog and sloth bear. Keep your eyes open for the giant and flying squirrels. 


For those with an eye for birds, the robust winged creatures will be a big surprise for birders coming here for the big cats. More than two hundred species of avian can be sighted here. Migration in winter fetches the bar headed geese in large flocks and other target species that can be seen is the Indian Skimmer at Denwa River!     
Denwa River
 Denwa River forms a natural boundary of the tiger reserve. Visitors have to cross over on a motor boat to the park. It is inundated throughout the year but the level can recede in summers. Those with a spotting scope will revel in avian discoveries. Plus the sight of marsh crocodile, turtles and otters add to the birding experience at STR.    

Pachmarhi Hill Resort 

The township is under the Cantt which mercifully protects it from rampant urbanisation as other hill stations have faced. Most of the wilderness is within the Satpura Tiger Reserve. Towering sandstone mountains clutter the holiday destination jagged edges, bare sandstone cliffs and dense canopies carve vivid formations mesmerizing the viewers. This is unique to Pachmarhi and many hills like Chauragarh and Dhoopgarh are named as per the impression they create. You can go wild with imagination as cliffs loom over.   

Dhoopgarh Highest Point in MP State
On the morning birding we come across tiger pugmarks on the way to Dhoopgarh, the highest point in Madhya Pradesh at 1352 meters MSL. The proximity to the township is startling, but with active conservation measures the big cats are gaining ground.  Wilderness can be encountered at Pachmarhi which anyway is excellent for bird watching, target species being Malabar Whistling Thrush. Take precaution
Tiger Footprints Pachmarhi
while birding since the movement of sloth bear and leopard is frequent in this hill station. 

Ancient Remains

Deep inside on hillock are two Shiva Temples built by the tribal at Zhinzhini. The visit takes place on safari and the sight of ancient civilization is as enthralling as that of a tiger. Built perhaps in the 9th or 10th AD or earlier they are now crumbling ruins, scattered around are idols and temple structures. Igneous rock formations abound at Satpura Reserve due to intense volcanic activity that took place during the tectonic plate movement.   

Carving in stone 
Tribal Shiva Temples 
The reserve has a core area of 1500 plus which encompasses Satpura, Churna and Pachmarhi forests to form a biosphere reserve called Satpura Biosphere Reserve. Teak dominates but it is present mostly in mixed forests while Sal can be encountered in an around the Pachmarhi regions. Night safari is possible at buffer area for which a permit is required. Interesting nocturnal species like palm civet, large Indian civet, small Indian civet,porcupine, ratel, leopard, sloth bear and the rusty spotted cat can be encountered with luck. 

Sehra Buffer Zone

There are around 40 tigers in the region and yes sighting does take place in the tourism zone besides that of plenty of other mammals. With active conservation measures the big cat species is sure to bounce back after a ravage of more than a century. Interesting species of small cats include the felines like rusty spotted cat, desert cat and the jungle cat. 

The Lodge at Madai 

Soft strands break in through the huge crystal clear glass panel as I read a book on Satpura from the well stocked library. A warm cup of tea keeps me rejuvenated and cookies crumble inside refreshing me to no end. Naturalist Asim and Manna arrive to give me company, I am astounded by their knowledge and dedication. Thorough indulgence in luxury and adventure has been the highlight of this visit to STR. 

It is our last day at the lodge and an emotional one. The hospitality and service has been without blemish and the jungle rides have been deeply fulfilling. For a naturalist every visit to the pristine lands is a revelation of facts hidden deep in the folds of nature and the biology of the living. The  wonderful living creatures and the surrounding earthly elements. To yearn is to learn I tell everyone - knowledge is the key so discover.