Tadoba National Park is the most attractive spot in Candrapur district and is situated in the heart of the Government Reserved Forests of West Candrapur Division. It has become an ideal resort for the visitors who want to get away from the din and bustle of the city life and the modern civilization, for here they can observe, undisturbed, amidst tranquil conditions the splendid wild life in its natural surroundings, hues and colours.
Extending over an area of 45 square miles, Tadoba is a picturesque spot lavishly endowed by nature and lies about 28 miles from Canda. Its forests are inhabited by a large variety of wild animals excepting lion, elephant, rhino and a few other species. It is said that there were elephants also but they are extinct now. A pucca road from Candrapur runs to Tadoba which for the first six or seven miles traverses through
open country or mal run after which it plunges in the forests
cutting a zigzag path. After crossing Durgapur and Padmapur, two villages in the open country, the first forest village
that is to be crossed is Agarzari which serves as a check post.
Next comes Mohorli, the headquarters of the Mohorli range in
which Tadoba is situated and which lies about 16 miles from
Canda. Seven miles hence is the forest village of Khatoda
where the prohibitive boundary around Tadoba begins. At
Mohorli the road bifurcates, one arm of it running to Khodaingi
touching the forest village of Ramdegi which together with
Khatoda are the only two approach roads to Tadoba. At both
these places two manned gates have been erected. From
Khatoda the real dense forests of Tadoba begin and at some
places these are so dense as to prevent even sunrays from
penetrating. The road now traverses over an undulating tract
and after crossing the Kumbhi nala climbs up a hillock unfolding a bewitching view of an expansive lake covering an area of
300 acres with the forest-clothed hills providing an excellent
background. This is the Tadoba lake. On this hillock there is
a recently constructed rest house of the forest department.
The beautiful Tadoba lake has been formed by bunding up a nala and joining three hillocks which surround it. Interesting legends are related about the Tadoba lake and though every one of these is a fantasy of human imagination at least one of these needs to be recorded here. It is said that in ancient days there was no lake here. Once a marriage party happened to camp here during summer. Searching for water to quench their thirst they could not find it anywhere and there was no inhabitation in sight for a long distance round. So it was suggested by the elders in the party that the newly wed pair dig in the centre of the camp. The digging was started accordingly and soon a spring gushed out and they had their meals happily. But to their surprise they found the waters encircling them rapidly and despite their best efforts not a single soul could escape alive. Some say that where the water finally stopped a temple rose and a Tad tree grew up by its side. Soon the news spread and people began to flock there. Some even go further and tell that pilgrims in need of utensils used to get them from the pool merely by praying, on the condition that these be returned after the use. Once a greedy pilgrim tried to run away with them but was killed on the way and since then they never appeared again. This is however a stock story told about several wells and lakes in Maharastra. Immediately after this incident a lightning destroyed the Tad tree. Whatever may be the authenticity and credibility of the tale, the fact remains that ruins of an antique dilapidated shrine, with the idols still intact, were discovered here and a pious pilgrim erected a small shrine over it. This is the shrine of Tadoba where on every Sunday of the Pausa month a fair is held. Many adivasis visit the temple on these occasions. Sometimes people from Candrapur also visit the temple. There is also a shrine of Maruti. It
is curious to note that the people still believe in the holiness of the water and take it to sprinkle their crops with, under the mistaken belief that it would keep the crop-pests away.
The Tadoba. National Park made a humble beginning in 1905 when as a shooting block it was closed for shooting except the destructive carnivora for which a special permit had to be obtained. But in spite of this when it was noticed that wild animal and bird lite was rapidly depleting, shooting of all kind was prohibited and in 1935 the block was declared a sanctuary. In 1955 it was declared as a national park and a 45 square mile belt was marked out whose development began at a rapid rate. As an additional protect on to wild life a buffer zone of 22 square miles has been created around the park where shooting is also prohibited and as said earlier, in order to regulate traffic and control poaching, two manned gates, one at Khatoda on Canda-Tadoba road and another at Ramdegi on Mohorli-Khodaingi road have been set up. Visitors are forbidden to carry fire-arms inside and a mobile squad is posted to detect poaching. A park officer and a park guard are posted to look after the animals as also to guide and help the tourists. Game wardens keep the track of the movements of the wild animals. As a result of the protection given, wild life has increased rapidly and is not scared easily by the sound of the cars and trucks. No sanctum sanctorum is maintained in this park and regular forestry operations are carried out. However, care is taken to avoid disturbing the wild life unduly. Herds of cheetal, sambhar, blue bull, bison etc., are a common sight in the late afternoons, evenings and mornings around the lake. The lake itself contains quite a few crocodiles and a variety of fishes. Crocodiles can be seen basking in the sun on the lake embankment during winter months. In order to allow the tourist to observe the animals in their natural habitat a network of 88 km. of fair weather roads have been constructed in the park leading to different points. Of these the most important and which the tourists never miss, is the circular road around the lake at whose vantage points macans or towers have been erected from where tourists can observe the animals approaching the lake, drinking and then relaxing. The second important road is the Cheetal road, so named because in the grassy patches along this road large herds of cheetal, sambhar, bison, deer etc., can be seen grazing at peace, oblivious of the visitors, and occasionally lifting their heads to look around. At convenient places along the roads and near the macans artificial salt-licks have been created to attract the wild animals. Nalas have also been bunded to provide a plentiful supply of water to the animals.
The following are the animals commonly met with in the Tadoba park: tiger, panther, bison, sloth bear, hyaena, jackal, wild dog, blue bull, sambhar, cheetal, barking deer, four-horned antelope, chinkara, hare, porcupine, langur and a variety of other animals.
On the hillock which is reached after crossing the Kumbhi
nala is a rest house from where a view of the lake nestling
amidst well maintained forests can be had. The sight almost
enthrals the visitor. On the bank of the lake there is another
rest house from whose verandah, lying in an arm chair one can observe all the animals coming for water on the lake. In the mornings one can have a fine view of the flocks of birds passing over the lake with their images reflected in its still waters. There is also a rest house in the centre of the park and a new one is under construction. A care-taker-cum-cook is attached to the forest rest house. There is a proposal to start canteen services. In the vicinity of the lake can be seen the dwellings of the forest employees. Two more rest houses, one each at Moherli and Khadsingi, but outside the park limit, are maintained. It is proposed to install refrigerator in the newly constructed rest house and make filtered tap-water available in all the rest houses. These will also be electrified.
The park can be visited during the fair-weather from November to June. But the best time to visit it is from February till the onset of monsoon. At present a luxury coach equipped with radio, and microphone with loud-speaker takes the visitors to the park on every Saturday evening. A running commentary is given by a park officer sitting by the driver's side. The bus leaves in the evening and returns back well after mid-night. Search light arrangement is also made. To-day the park has become a valuable earner of foreign exchange attracting besides tourists, even foreign dignitaries paying visits to this country.
Under a new scheme it is not only proposed to extend the roads inside the park but also to asphalt the already constructed ones. Powerful binoculars would be made available to the interested tourists. Photography arrangements are also being made. It is also proposed to set up benches in the park, lay out a garden in front on the new rest house besides maintaining the old one, to prepare new grass patches, to erect a few more macans or observation towers, and to arrange for the conveyance and lodging and boarding of school and college parties.