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Vindhya Hills & Vindhya Forests in Madhya Pradesh

vindhya hills

Vindhyan Hills

Being a native of Varanasi, I have many memories attached to Vindhyan Hills. The hill series starts hardly thirty-five kilometers from my home in Varanasi and during my childhood and even later when I was doing my higher studies, we often go to several waterfalls situated in those hills for picnics. When I was doing my graduation in biological sciences, that was the time when I started exploring the area and jungles of Vindhyan Hills.

The Vindhyan range or Vindhyachal is a series of broken hills forming the southern escarpment of Central Indian Highlands. It runs north and parallel to Satpura Range and Narmada River, and together both the ranges form Central Indian highlands, one of the strongholds of the Tiger Population in India. It starts in the east from Chhattisgarh, and then traveled through Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan and ends in Gujarat. During its expanse, it is known by different names in different parts.

The Eastern part of the Range is known as Kaimur Hills, which starts from Sasaram in Bihar and runs through Mirzapur, Sonbhadra, Maihar, and Satna and then ends in Jabalpur. The area in Chitrakoot, Jhansi, Banda, Sagar, Damoh, and Panna is called Bundelkhand due to its distinct culture, arid region, and unique dialect. Near Western Madhya Pradesh and South Eastern Rajasthan, it meets the Malwa plateau.

 

Vindhya Hills Range

 

The Vindhyan Ranges are also known for their beautiful and pre-historic rock paintings. Bhimbetka Rock Paintings, a UNESCO world heritage site is located in Vindhyan Hills near Bhopal. Kaimur Hills in Mirzapur have several sites from where the cave paintings of the prehistoric period have been discovered, even the world’s first rock painting was discovered in Mirzapur.

Vindhyan Range is one of the oldest mountain ranges of India and has several sites from where several very old fossils have been found. One of them is situated in the Sonbhadra District of Uttar Pradesh. This fossil park is known as Salkhan fossil park and it has fossils of stromatolite types. The area was under the Tethys Sea before continental drift and these were the fossils of underwater algae found in the sea. It is believed that this fossils park is one of the oldest and biggest, even bigger than the fossils park of Yellowstone National Park.

Historically this range was covered with different types of forests and vegetation as per the local climatic features, which include Tropical Moist Deciduous Forests, Tropical Dry Deciduous Forests, Grassland and Meadows, Arid and scrubland, etc. but due to large-scale deforestation and stone mining, most of the land in the Vindhyan range is now deprived of its natural vegetation.

My first introduction to a protected area was Chandraprabha Wildlife Sanctuary. This is one of the oldest wildlife sanctuaries of Uttar Pradesh and is known for the first big carnivore re-introduction project in India. During the late fifties, a few lions and lionesses were reintroduced in the forests of Chandraprabha to provide a second home to the Asiatic Lion apart from Gir. Initially, this was a successful project and they multiplied two-fold, but all of sudden they all disappeared and now none left. It was assumed that all of them were either killed by poachers or were killed by locals to save their cattle. Even after that when the expert committee was given the task to find a second home for the lion, they found Kuno National Park in Vindhyan hills as one of the best sites to relocate the big cats. We all know that cheetahs are recently reintroduced in India, and Kuno is found to be a perfect habitat for them for their re-introduction. So basically because of its several different habitat types, Vindhyan hills are ideal for Tigers, Lions, leopards, and cheetahs.

 

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve

Another protected area in Vindhyan which is important for the conservation of Big Cats like tigers and leopards is Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve. Known for its Tiger Population, Bandhavgarh is represented by Sal forests, hills, valleys, rivers, marshes, and meadows which support varied flora and fauna. The major forest types are Sal-forest and Bamboo Forest. Top flat plateaus are covered by mixed deciduous forests, but the major vegetation type is tropical moist deciduous forests. The richness of floral diversity makes it an ideal place for people interested in floral studies. There are more than 600 species of flowering plants, 50 species of aquatic plants, and 18 species of rare and endangered plants such as the insectivorous plant Drosera peltate. The major species of trees found in these forests are Sal, Mahua, Saja, Beeja, Palash (Flame of the forests), Chiraunji, Harra, Bahera, Jamun, Haldu, Dhaman, Tendu, etc.

 

tiger in bandhavgarh

 

Panna Tiger Reserve is another jewel in Vindhyan Hills. This is one of the most beautiful and scenic reserves in this range. Once a stronghold of tigers, the reserve lost all its tigers to poaching. Later the state government re-introduced a few tigers from different reserves in Madhya Pradesh. Now, these tigers are multiplying manifold, thanks to the effort of the state forest department. The vegetation in Panna is predominantly open canopied forests, but in some places, there are close canopy forests, especially near a water body or stream. There are open forests with short grass and shrub understory, and Open Savannah grassland on the plateau. Relocated village areas are now beautiful grassland that supports a number of herbivore population. The major tree species are Teak and Kardhai. The major source of water for the reserve is the Ken River and other seasonal streams.

Browse our popular tiger safari tours in India.

 

Ranthambore Tiger Reserve

Ranthambore Tiger Reserve which is situated at the junction of Aravali and Vindhyan Hills is one of the most famous tiger reserves in India. The area is unique in terms of natural as well as cultural richness. The major vegetation type is Dry Deciduous forests. Here one can see the different features of both the Hill ranges in one place. From flat-topped hills of Vindhyan to conical hillocks of Aravallis. The major tree species is Dhonk which can easily survive the harsh environment of Eastern Rajasthan.

 

tiger in ranthambore tiger reserve

 

Our journey to the Vindhyan Hills has shown that the eastern part of the range is covered mostly with dense forests and moist deciduous forest type is quite common but once we go towards the west it gradually shows more dryness and more open type of forests are major features. Ratapani Tiger Reserve near Bhopal, Ranipur Tiger Reserve near Chitrakoot, and Rani Durgavati Tiger Reserve near Sagar are some of the other important forested areas of Vindhyan Hills.

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