Situated in the Central Provinces that included Central India during British Raj Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve is the largest national park in Maharashtra. It is undeniably one of the most exciting national parks in India dedicated to conservation and preservation of Tigers. Predominantly known as the most popular grounds for hunting for the Gond rulers of the area; hunting was banned in the year 1935. Thereafter, almost two decades later in the year 1955, a part of it, with an area of 116.54 square kms was declared as a National Park. Still later, in the year 1986, Andhari Wildlife Sanctuary was made on the adjacent jungle. In 1995 though, the amalgamation of both the park and the sanctuary was carried out to form the present Tiger Reserve.
Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) gets its name from 'Tadoba' or 'Taru' who is the god worshipped by the tribal people living in the deep woods of Tadoba and Andhari region and Andhari is the name of the river that snakes through the forest. It is believed by the tribal folk of the region that the Gond tribal chief was killed by a Tiger in this area in a mythological encounter leading to the formation of a shrine under a huge tree at the lake Tadoba, dedicated to God Taru. The adivasis hold a fair here in the Hindu month of Pusa.
Dominated by huge Bamboo shoots and Teak forest, the area is quite rugged with myriad cliffs, marshes, boulders scattered all over the streambeds, caves and perennial lakes dotting the place, giving it a unique semblance for an abundant biodiversity. With the total area of 1727.6 square kms, TATR has a core area of 625.82 square kms and the balance area of 1101.78 square kms comprises of the buffer zones. The core area employs intense Tiger conservation measures, behaving as the critical habitat for the Tigers with human intervention kept to a bare minimum. Apart from the Tigers though, which can be seen in good number at its adjunct, there are many other endangered animals as well, with the likes of Leopard, Leopard cat, Ratel (Honey Badger), Sloth bear and Indian Gaur.
While Tadoba lies surrounded by the Chimur hills, Andhari consists of Kolsa and Mohurli ranges. The undulating topography, with dense forest covered hills, deep valleys and grassy meadows of the park are alive with the rivers and lakes viz. Andhari river, Erai river, Tadoba lake, Kolsa lake and Junoria lake. The rivers, lake and rivulets are the lifeline of the park, allowing a great variety of plants and animals to thrive in the region.
The climate of Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve is quite dry and humid. It becomes excessively hot and dry in the summers and very humid in the monsoon season. The winters are very cold but the temperature doesn't drop as low as the Northern part of India. The winters begin from October and last until February when the climate remains cold. However the temperature varies over the months. While October faces a temperature of around 18°C, November and December experiences a lower temperature from 18°C to 9°C; again rising to about 25°C in the coming months of January and February. The summers begin from March and remain till June. The climate is hot and dry. While the heat is bearable with temperature ranging over 15°C to 30°C in March-April, it gets unbearable in May-June with the temperature soaring as high as 45°C. Monsoons bring a breath of relief and satiates the earth. The rainfall usually heavy with up to 50 inches rejuvenates the whole area and renders the landscape lush green. The monsoon season arrives in the mid of June and remains until September.
Weather-wise, the best time to visit the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve is in the winter season, that is from the mid of October to February. March and April also make for good time to visit the park since the climate is still tolerable during that time and the morning safaris are quite enjoyable then. May and June very hot but are considered as the best time for Tiger sightings as most of the streams and water holes in the jungles get dried and the chances of spotting the majestic beautiful big cat near a few bigger perennial water bodies become higher.
The Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve has offers many options for accommodation at its periphery located and catering at different gates of the park.
Tadoba is home to many mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects and birds. All are closely interconnected with the rich plant life found in the area. Among the carnivorous species the Tiger, Sloth Bear, Leopard, Leopard Cat and Rusty Spotted Cat earn the first mentions. Other than these there are Wolf, Small Indian Civet, Fox, Hyena, Indian Gaur, Jackal and Wild Dogs. The herbivores include the Spotted Deer in abundance with many other species like Sambar, Nilgai, Wild Boar, Chital, Rhesus Macaque, Chinkara, Barking Deer, Langur, and the Four Horned Deer. The reptile clan consist of Indian Star Tortoise, Russel's Viper, Leaf Nosed Snake, Nastrix, Cobra, Indian Python, Rat Snake, Krait, Terrapins, Monitor Lizard, Bronze Tree Snake and fresh water Crocodile. The insects form an integral part of this complex ecosystem. About 74 different species of Butterflies are found in Tadoba Andhari including Monarch, Pansies, Swordtails and Mormons. Other insects include Dragonflies, Moths, Stick Insects, Praying Mantis, Eggfly and Jewel Beetles alongside many species of spiders like Giant Wood Spider, Wolf Spider, Signature Spider, Red Wood Spider etc.
Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve has a dry deciduous type of forest cover with a mixed variety of plants. Teak and Bamboo are the primary flora found in the region. Other plant species include Kosum, Haldu, Ber, Mahua, Dhawa, Tendu, Salai, Palas, Bija, Kurlu, Char, Semal, Mahua, Bahera, Lyndia and Harra. The grasslands are scarce which wear off during the hot and dry summer.
Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve is known to have 195 species of birds with 3 of them notably endangered species, viz. the Changeable Hawk-Eagle, Grey-Headed Fish Eagle and Crested Serpent Eagle. The other noteworthy birds of the land include Indian Pitta, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, White Eyed Buzzard, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Peacock, Indian Scimitar Babbler, Grey Jungle Fowl, Painted Spur Fowl, Black Naped Blue Flycatcher, Brown Fish Owl, Golden Oriole, Plum Headed Parakeet, Mottled Wood Owl, Larks etc.
The best way to enjoy the wild in TATR is with Tiger Safari. Tadoba being one of the best Tiger Reserves in the country, safari gives the opportunity to see the Tigers in their natural habitat besides letting one enjoy the serene woods and other beautiful and majestic beasts as well. Open jeeps are used for safari purposes. These jeeps have to be registered with the park authorities and some personal details and identification papers have to be submitted to get the permission to go on the safari excursion. There are two trips daily and safari at the core zones of the park remains closed on all Tuesdays when the buffer zone safaris may be undertaken. All the trips need to be accompanied by a naturalist / guide who are quite knowledgeable and know the terrain well. The timings for the safari are one from 6:00 am to 10:00 am and the other from 3:00pm until dusk. However, the timing may vary depending upon the sun rising and setting. Each safari requires separate gate entrance fee, jeep hiring and fee for the naturalist/ guide hired.
Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve lies in the Chandrapur district of Maharashtra. Nagpur is the closest city to it which serves as both the nearest railway station and an airport to reach Tadoba. Visitors can reach all the gates of the park from Nagpur, the nearest park gate from the city being Kolara which is located at the distance of 125 kms from Nagpur. The farthest park gate though, is the Moharli gate that lies at a distance of 150 kms from the city.
Air: Nagpur is the nearest airport located at a distance of 150 kms from Tadoba.
Rail: Chandrapur (45 kms) in the Delhi-Chennai main line, is the closest railway station to Tadoba. Nagpur (150 kms) is the major railhead close to Tadoba, which being located at the centre of the country, is very well connected to almost all major railway stations in India.
Road: Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve is very well connected by road with various locations including: Nagpur - 3 hours (150 kms), Chandrapur - 1 hour (30 kms), Chimur - 1 hour (60 kms), Pench - 4 hours (250 kms)