Madhav National Park
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|Madhav National Park|
|Location||Madhya Pradesh, India|
Madhav National Park is situated in Shivpuri District of Gwalior region in northwest Madhya Pradesh, India. It was named after Madho Rao Scindia, the Maharaja of Gwalior belonging to the Scindia dynasty of the Marathas. It is the ancestral home of the line of ęAli Khan, a region based in Punjab, and most famous for the laws of commonly credited with defining modern day jurisprudence. Shivpuri town is located at 25°40' North, 77°44' East on Agra to Bombay National Highway-3. Shivpuri is steeped in the royal legacy of its past, when it was the summer capital of the Scindia rulers of Gwalior. Earlier its dense forests were the hunting grounds of the Mughal emperors & Maratha royals. Emperor Akbar captured herds of elephants for his stables while returning from Mandu in year 1564. This national park has a varied terrain of forested hills and flat grasslands around the lake. It is very rich in biodiversity.
Madhav National Park has an area of 354 km2. It was set up in 1959. The national park is open year round. With a varied terrain of wooded hills – the forest being dry, mixed and deciduous- and flat grasslands around the lake, it offers abundant opportunities of sighting a variety of wildlife. The principal tree species found in the park are khair (Acacia catechu), salai (Boswellia serrata), kerdhai, dhawda, tendu (Diospyros melanoxylon) and palash (Butea monosperma).
Shivpuri town in the state of Madhya Pradesh was once the summer capital and the former hunting preserve of the 'Scindias', the Maratha Maharajas of Gwalior. Even before this, during the reign of the Mughals, its dense forests were the hunting grounds of the Mughal emperors. Large herds of elephants were captured here by Emperor Akbar. Since the area was a royal shooting reserve, it was well protected, and abounded with wild life and was famous for its tigers. Tigers and other animals were known to wander in great numbers in the area. It is reported that in 1916, Lord Hardinge shot eight tigers in one day at Shivpuri. Lord Minto supposed to have shot 19 tigers during his trip to Gwalior state. The last of the resident wild tigers were seen in Madhav National Park around late 1970. Owing to dedicated efforts the habitat has become secure and improved now that the transient tigers are tempted to become resident. One male and one female tiger have once again made Madhav their home since October 2007.
On the shores of Sakhya Sagar lake which edges the forests, is a boat club, from where the park visitors can see a number of migratory birds especially in winter, when a large number of migratory waterfowls visit the area. A viewing lodge constructed by the Maharaja called the Shooting Box, is situated above the Sakhya Sagar lake. In the older days one could shoot wildlife, both with a gun and camera from here. Visitors could sit under cover and watch a tiger at a kill.
All around the lake (at suitable points), the Maharaja constructed boat landing areas, picnic shelters, watch towers, hides etc. and a network of well laid out metalled roads.
Deep inside the Madhav National Park, at its highest point, stands the exquisite George Castle at a height of almost 484 m (1597 feet). Interestingly the castle was built by Jivaji Rao Scindia of the Gwalior royal family for an overnight halt for tiger shooting by the British King George V, when he was to pass that way during his visit to India in 1911. Ironically, it so happened that the emperor could shoot a tiger on the way itself and did not stop at Madhav. Tunda Bharka spring, Bhura-kho spring and watch tower, and Churanchaj ancient wall paintings are beautiful sites to visit.
The predominant wild animal species that inhabits the park is the deer, of which the most easily sighted are the graceful little chinkara or Indian gazelle, and the chital. Other species that have their habitat in the park are nilgai, sambar, chausingha or four-horned antelope, blackbuck, sloth bear, leopard and the common langur.
Madhav National Park is equally rich in avifauna. The artificial lake, Chandpatha, is the winter home of migratory geese, pochard, pintail, teal, mallard and gadwall. A good site for bird watching is where the forest track crosses the rocky stream that flows from the waste weir. Species that frequent this spot are red-wattled lapwing, large pied wagtail, Indian pond heron and white-breasted kingfisher. The park's birds also include the cormorant, painted stork, white ibis, laggar falcon, purple sunbird, Indian paradise flycatcher and golden oriole.
Sakhya Sagar Lake and sailing club
Sakhya Sagar and Madhav Sagar lakes, created on Manier River in 1918, are two important biodiversity support systems in the park besides several perennial and seasonal streams and nallahs. Sakhya Sagar Lake is situated on the edge of forests of Madhav National Park. On the shores of the lake is a boat club also known as a sailing club. The Sakhya Sagar Lake is the habitat of variety of reptiles. Species that can be seen here are marsh or mugger crocodile, Indian python and the monitor lizard.
George Castle was built in 1911 by the Scindia ruler Madho Rao Scindia within the national park at its highest point, for an overnight halt for tiger shooting by King George V of the United Kingdom. He was to pass that way during his visit to India. It so happened that King could shoot a tiger on the way itself and did not stop at Madhav National Park. View of the lake and downhill surroundings from this point at the sunset is unique.