We all know walking is good for us. How many times have we been asked, pushed, threatened, or bribed to go for walks by our elders. And how many times have we ignored it? But walking or taking a bicycle around Madhya Pradesh to discover the 'National Treasures' of India is something that you must do over a long weekend or during your vacations.
FOSSIL NATIONAL PARK
This is a treat for botany enthusiasts as this park spread over a whopping 274,100 square kilometers covering almost 7-8 villages and has the remains of plants from 40-150 million years ago. You can see plant specimens still present in petrified or fossilized forms spread all over the Mandla Fossil National Park in the Mandla District. Imagine walking through trails spotted with Jurassic Age gymnosperms and angiosperms.
Just be careful as not to displace any fossil or take it home as they are a part of your history and a very illustrious past. Also don't litter as there are animals residing in the forests and can be hurt by empty water bottles or packets, etc.
The park is well connected by major roads and the nearest town is Mandla.
KANHA NATIONAL PARK
Fanned out over the Maikal Hills of the Satpura Range, this reserve forest is known for the last of the surviving tiger populations in the world and in India. Usually safaris are conducted inside the national park for tourists so that they can catch a glimpse of the predator-prey co habitation but why not take a trek inside? Ditch the four wheelers and put on some walking shoes and discover the ragged terrain of the Maikal Hills. Take a turn around Shravan Tal, Macha Dongar, Shravan Chita, etc. and watch a beautiful sunset.
There are other animals like wild dogs, which can be seen chasing the spotted deer, the Barasingha, whose dwindling population has been revived here, the langur, and around 300 species of birds. Just keep in mind that as much as the animals are fascinating, one should keep their distance. They will do anything to protect themselves and their young ones if they sense any danger. So plan your excursion carefully and be safe.
Dhuandhar Falls are named so because of the prodigious amount of mist that rises as the water of the holy river Narmada falls from a height of mere 98ft. The water gushes through gorges and evergreen plantations on to "Marble Rocks" thus creating a smoky effect which makes the area a treat for the eyes. Dhuandhar Falls are located at Bhedaghat which is 30km from Jabalpur.
Enjoy a trekking excursion here as the mist rising from the fall sprays your face and enervates your soul. Also walk to the famous "Bandar Kodidni Point", which used to be a narrow leeway for water and over which monkeys used to jump. Now it has widened due to the shifting of rocks over the years due to rains and the heavy flow of the Narmada water.
KUNO PALPUR WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
Located in the Sheopur district of Madhya Pradesh, Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary is situated very close to the state of Rajasthan. It spreads across the Vindhaya Hill Range and is bred by the Kuno River. Take a walk along this river which is the only all year round watering hole of many animals like the spotted deer, sambar, barking deer, nilgai, chinkara, wild dogs, and if you are lucky you might just spot a lone leopard.
Be aware of the reptiles that swarm Kuno. Snakes like the cobra, krait, viper, python, etc. can be found lurking around in the bushes or hanging from trees. You might want to also lookout for the ferocious monitor lizard. There are fresh water crocodiles which can be spotted sun bathing along the Kuno River and an array of migratory and local avifauna to be spotted.
ORCHHA WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
Situated in the area through which the Betwa River flows, Orchha Wildlife Sanctuary was established in 1994. Though comparatively smaller, spreading across only 46 square kilometers, it compensates in the fauna department. The exquisite wildlife includes the spotted deer, blue bull, wild pig, monkeys, jackals, nilgai, sloth bear,etc. Also this forest plays host to around 200 species of exotic as well as indigenous avifauna like peafowls, peacocks, Jungle Bush Quail, kingfisher, swans, black swan, stork, owls, etc. Orchha is also known for the adventure activities which can be enjoyed around here. Trekking is one of them. The resorts around Betwa provide you with provisions for boating, fishing, camping, etc.