State: Madhya Pradesh
Location: Chattarpur, Madhya Pradesh
Area: 543 sq km
Best time to visit: January to May
Nearest Town: Khajuraho
Panna National Park is known worldwide for its wild cats, including tigers as well as deer and antelope. Due to its closeness to one of the best-known Indian tourist attraction in India, Khajuraho, the park has the potential of becoming a major tourist attraction. Situated in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh at a distance of around 57 km from Khajuraho is the Panna National Park. The region, which is famous for its diamonds, is also home to some of the best wildlife species in India and is one of the better Tiger Reserves in the country. The park is known worldwide for its wild cats, including tigers as well as deer and antelope. Due to its closeness to one of the best-known Indian tourist attraction in India, Khajuraho, the park has the potential of becoming a major tourist attraction. Panna National Park is located in the Vindhyan tracts of Madhya Pradesh this 540km2 National Park holds some of the most dramatic forest patches and ruggedly breathtaking scenery of peninsular India. The Ken river coursing through Panna National Park embellishes the countryside with its aquamarine waters and along with a few perennial springs is an important source of drinking water for the animals. Alternating valleys and plateaux, grassy maidans (fields), steep gorges and sheer escarpments down which sheets of sparkling curtains of aqua roll down present eye popping vistas all around. For a relative small park, Panna packs in quite a punch with an impressive array of representatives from the "critters club".
Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris), the king of the jungle, roams freely in this secure, though a bit small habitat alongwith his fellow beings – leopard (Panthera pardus), wild dog (Cuon alpinus), wolf (Canis lupus), hyaena (Hyaena hyaena) and caracal (Felus caracal) and smaller cats. Sloth bear has his most favourite home in the rock escarpments and undisturbed vales. The wooded areas are dotted with sambar the largest of Indian deers, chital and chowsingha. One can easily see nilgai and chinkara in most open areas in the grasslands, specially on the periphery.
The avifauna comprises more than 200 species, including a host of migratory birds. One can see white necked stork, barheaded goose, honey Buuzzard, King vulture, Blossom headed Parakeet, Paradise flycatcher, Slaty headed Scimitar babbler to name a few.
Varieties of snakes, including the python and other reptiles are found here.
Dry and hot climate, in union with shallow Vindhyan soils has given rise to dry Teak and dry mixed forest. The dominating vegetation type is miscellaneous dry deciduous forest inter spread with grassland areas. Other major forest types are riverines, open grasslands, open woodlands with tall grasses and thorny woodlands. The characteristic floral species of this area include tree species such as Tectona grandis, Diospyros melanoxylon, Madhuca indica, Buchnania latifolia, Anogeissus latifolia, Anogeissus pendula, Lannea coromandelica, Bosswelia serrata etc.
Panna is famous for its diamond mining industry and this make it an interesting place to visit. Pandav falls is also a major attraction with its lake fed by a waterfall. One more attraction in this region is the Rajgarh Palace, a magnificent piece of architecture overlooking the valley.
Legend has it that the Pandavs of Mahabharat spent a good part of their seclusion here in the forests of the Panna National Park. This was ages away, but even now the park region attracted every sort of visitors. The park was the private hunting region of the royal family of Panna. After independence, the park was declared a wildlife sanctuary. It is in the year 1981 that this park was declared a National Park and now it attracts the attention of wildlife enthusiasts in large numbers.
Summers are too hot and at times the mercury touches around 40 c, though this is the time when one has the maximum chances of encountering the exclusive wildlife of this park. Winters are cold and comfortable and the temperature generally remains under 25°C. Monsoon touches this region in July and continues till mid-September.