A hill station with tigers in the vicinity! How does that sound? Dangerous or interesting? Well, there is actually nothing to fear but only to enjoy when you plan a visit to the quiet hill station of Chikhaldara where you will be transported to a serene zone of just flora and fauna. In fact, if you are really looking for a place to unwind, Chikhaldara is where you should be.
Chikhaldara is located about 100 kilometers north of Amravati and is the only hill station of its kind in the Vidarbha region. It is situated on a mountain range beyond which Maharashtra ends and Madhya Pradesh begins. At a height of 1,088 meters above sea level, Chikhaldara has flourished in terms of flora and fauna because of the good rainfall it receives as compared to other parts of Vidarbha. But what really adds value to Chikhaldara is that it is surrounded on three sides by the borders of the Melghat Project Tiger Area which is spread over an area of about 1,676 square kilometers.
The Project Tiger area is divided into several smaller wildlife reserves and the Melghat Wildlife Reserve, which is about 780 square kilometers, makes for the entire southern border and partly the western border of Chikhaldara. The Gugamal National Park, which is about 320 square kilometers, is the core zone of the Project Tiger reserve and forms the eastern border of Chikhaldara and partly its northeastern border.
In fact, given the spread of the region, Chilkhaldara and Melghat Project Tiger (MPT) are like closely bonded kin. The MPT area is home to about 700 species of plants belonging to 400 genres and 97 different families. Of these 700 species, 90 are tree species and they make for the true treasure of this reserve. It is this amazing floral diversity that has also groomed a wide range of fauna. According to the last count, the tiger reserve has over 70 tigers along with almost the same number of leopards. It also has about 200 sloth bears, 1,800 Indian gaurs and hundreds of herbivore animals like Cheetal, Sambar, Barking Deer, Wild Boar, Choushinga, etc. The reserve also has rare animals like the Flying Squirrel, Pangolin, Mouse Deer, Ratel and Honey Badger.
If you want to hire any vehicle or want to take a bus to reach Chikhaldara, you have to go to Amravati first. The distance to Nagpur is approximately 230 kilometers which is the nearest airport. For a Pune or Mumbai resident, the travelling distance is about 750 kilometers. There are many luxury buses that ply on the Mumbai – Aurangabad – Nagpur highway. The best season to visit Chikhaldara is from October to June.