History of Pench National Park

Pench Tiger Reserve’s current geographical area has an illuminated history. Abul Fazl’s Ain-i-Akbari, an immortal book showcasing Akbar’s regime & era, does mention the flora, fauna & the location of this forest.Eminant natural historians like R. A. Strendale’s ‘Seonee – Camp life in the Satpuras’, Forsyth’s ‘Highlands of Central India’ and Dunbar Brander’s ‘Wild animals of Central India’ unambiguously  presents the visual panorama of nature’s vividity in this area. Strendale’s semi-autobiographical ‘Seonee’ was the inspiration behind Rudyard Kipling’s epic tale ‘Jungle Book’.

Mowgli :

Mowgli, the wolf child was caught by Lieut. Moor in the jungles of Seoni in the year 1831 near the village Sant Vavadi, situated 10 kms away from Seoni. He was said to be reared by a pack of wolves in the Seonee hills.

Land of the ‘The Jungle Book’ :

Pench National Park and its surrounding areas are the original setting of Rudyard Kipling’s most famous work, The Jungle Book. Kipling borrowed heavily from Robert Armitage Strendale’s books ‘Seonee’, ‘Mammalia of India and Ceylon’, ‘Rambles and Recollections of an Indian official’ and ‘Denizens of the Jungle’ for the topography, flora & fauna, location of the valleys & villages and its ways. Mowgli was inspired by Sir William Henry Sleeman’s pamphlet, ‘An Account of Wolves Nurturing Children in Their Dens’ which describes a wolf-boy captured in Seoni district near the village of Sant Baori in 1831. Many of The Jungle Book’s locations are actual locations in Seoni District, like the Wainganga river with its gorge where Sherkhan was killed, Kanhiwara villlage and the ‘Seeonee hills’.

While this may be a folklore made famous by the epic book, locals point out to a cave in the outskirts of Kanhiwada, a village that is specifically mentioned in the original tale.

After a 3 km drive from the village Kanhiwada, lies a small & desolate village named “Chhui”. A  search reveals a forest department board that points towards “Amodagadh, the Karmasthali of the wolf-child Mowgli”. Twelve kilometres of rugged dirt track lie ahead.The track twists and turns amid fields, and ends up bumping into the forest corridor. As one moves ahead, a hillock surges amidst the amidst the forest. One gets instantly lost in what Kipling wrote in The Jungle Book. “A hilltop covered with stones and boulders where a hundred wolves could hide.

Just before us is the “Council Rock”, the meeting place of the wolf pack that adopted Mowgli. Glance down from the spot where Akela held court, the Wainganga seems to split the mountain in two. Smooth rocks — some the size of cars — engulf the ravine confined between two almost-vertical cliff walls. Look closely, and one can see why Sher Khan couldn’t escape the rampaging buffalo through which Mowgli escapes (in the book). This could be the gorge where it all ended. Could it also be the real wolf boy’s den? Local legend says so :- “That’s the spot where Mowgli was captured,” although officials term it as a mere hypothesis.

Sir Rudyard Kipling :

Sir Rudyard Kipling wrote ” The Jungle Book” in 1894, based on William Sleeman’s book, the Rambles and Recollections; in which Sleeman narrated the story of the Wolf Child. Kipling has mentioned Jungles of Seoni, river Waingauga, Hirri, Kanhiwada and Dhutera in his book . These references are the same as in the year 1831, when the wolf child was caught. ‘The Jungle Book’ is based on forest of Seoni now ‘Pench Tiger Reserve’. Sir Rudyard Kipling served in the Dewas Riyasat of old Madhya Pradesh. He probably never visited the Seoni forest and learned about the forest and wildlife of that region from the mentioned reference books.

William Sleeman :

William Sleeman was appointed Superintendent for the eradication of Thugs who were operating on the main Calcutta – Bombay Highway. He served in Jabalpur during the time of Governor General Sir William Benting, that is, from 1825-1831. Among the works of William Sleeman is the book “The man eater Siyar of Sant Vavadi” (the Jackal).

Lieut John Moor :

Lieut John Moor camped in the village for almost a month and was finally able to capture the wolf boy who was living in the company of the wolves and was caught eating human flesh with wolves. It seems that wolves reared this boy since his childhood as his mother in panic might have left the boy due to sudden appearance of Tiger.

Books which accounts the Pench landscape :

  • Caption J. Forsyth – High lands of central India
  • R.A. Strendale – Camplife in Seoni and Mammals of India
  • Dunbar Brander – Wild animals in Central India
  • Rudyard Kipling – The Jungle book

Pench National Park offers :

  • Typical representation of the wilderness of great Central Indian Highland
  • Excellent habitat to harbor the Tiger, the highly endangered species.
  • Catchment of river Pench that ultimately affects the storage of water in the Totladoh reservoir – the main source of water supplies to Nagpur and generation of electricity for Madhya Pradesh.
  • Educational value – example of intricacies of natural ecosystem- a good site for nature education.
  • Aesthetic value – Real feeling of wilderness
S.No. Year Details
i 1977 Declared Pench Sanctuary (449.392 sq km)
ii 1983 Declared Pench National Park (292.857 sq km) 118.473 sq km remained as sanctuary and 38.062 excluded from umbrella of PA
iii 1992 Included in Project Tiger
iv 1995 Management of Sanctuary was handed over to Pench Tiger Reserve
v 1998 The Pench Sanctuary was finally notified by vide the Govt. of M.P. Forest Department’s Notification no. F.15-65-96-X-2 Bhopal dated 21-8-1998.
vi 2002 National Park was renamed as “Indira Priyadarshinig Pench National Park” and Sanctuary was named as “Pench Mowgli Sanctuary”
vii 2005 Final notification as “Indira Priyadarshini Pench National Park” vide notification dated 16.12.05 by MP Govt. no. F-15-11-05-x-02
viii 2007 Areas of National Park and Sanctuary are declared as Core of Pench Tiger Reserve Reserve notified dated 24.12.2007 by MP Govt. no. F-15-31-2007-X-2.
ix 2010 The Buffer Zone of the tiger reserve has been notified F-15-8/2009/10-2 dated 05-10-2010
i 1977 Declared Pench Sanctuary (449.392 sq km)