Stretch of the Satpura Mountain Range
Standing at an elevation of 1,350 metres, the Satpura Range rises in eastern Gujarat and stretches for some 900 km across the widest part of peninsular India. It goes through the borders of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh to the east till Chhattisgarh. The Satpura Range is triangular in shape, with its apex at Ratnapuri and the other two sides are parallel to the Tapti and Narmada river valley.
These two major rivers drain into the Arabian Sea. The Narmada River originates in eastern Madhya Pradesh and flows west across the state, through a narrow valley between the Vindhya Range and spurs of the Satpura Range. It then flows into the Gulf of Khambhat. The Tapti River follows a shorter, parallel course, between 80 to 160 km south of the Narmada, flowing through the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat to drain into the Gulf of Khambhat before meeting the Arabian Sea at Surat.
Some rivers and its tributaries like the Godavari and Mahanadi drains the Deccan Plateau in the south and the easternmost portion of the range respectively. These two rivers flow into the Bay of Bengal, while the Satpura Range meets the hills of the Chota Nagpur Plateau in the eastern end.
Parts of the Satpura Range
The Satpura Range, the name of which means Seven Folds is structurally divided into 3 parts. Lying in the western part with a width of 60 km is the Rajpipla Hills with its steep slopes and pointed tops arc covered by the Deccan lava. Then there are the Mahadeo Hills with its quartzite composition of the Gondwana system and pink sandstones. The highest peak of the Satpuras is located here in Pachmarhi. It is called Mount Dhupgarh or Dhoopgarh and stands at an elevation of 1,352 metres. Dhupgarh is the highest point of the state of Madhya Pradesh. And lastly, there is the Maikal Hills in the eastern part with its highest point at Amarkantak. Standing at an elevation of 1,064 metres, Amarkantak is composed of Gondwanas and Archaean gneisses. It presents structural diversity and looks like a jumble of hills and valleys.
Ecology of the Satpura Range
The Satpura Mountains are primarily composed of schists, granites, quartzites and covered with basalt lava. Most of the range is heavily forested and these forest enclaves provides habitat for several species of animals including endangered ones. Few of the examples include the Bengal tiger, gaur, dhole, sloth bear, four-horned antelope and the blackbuck. Satpura is now famous for several tiger reserves but earlier it used to be the abode of wild Indian elephants and lions. Several protected areas like the Kanha Tiger Reserve, Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve, Bori Reserve Forest, Gugamal and Satpura National Parks have all been earmarked in this area.
Places of Attraction in the Satpura Range
There is a plethora of national parks, hill stations, reserves and towns in the Satpura range, which attracts plenty of visitors each year. Listed below are some of the areas of attraction:
Pachmarhi: Also known as the ‘Queen of Satpuras’. Pachmarhi is a hill station and a tourist destination for trekking, fishing and adventure activities. There are a number of attractions like its exotic wildlife, rich biosphere reserves, numerous falls, rivers and the rocky terrain. Dhupgarh, the highest point of the Satpura Range is also located here.
Satpura National Park: Rich in biodiversity, the Satpura National Park along-with the Bori and Pachmarhi Sanctuaries provides a wide expanse of unique central Indian highland ecosystem. The animals here include leopard, sambar, chital, Indian giant squirrel and a variety of birds, out of which the hornbills and the peafowl are the most common ones. Trees like sal, teak, bamboo, mahua and other medicinal plants are also seen here.
Kanha National Park: Known to be the largest national park in Central India. The Kanha National Park has a significant population of royal Bengal tiger, leopards, the sloth bear, barasingha and Indian wild dog. It is also the first tiger reserve in India to officially introduce a mascot, "Bhoorsingh the Barasingha". The lush sal and bamboo forests, grassy meadows and ravines of Kanha provided inspiration to Rudyard Kipling for his famous novel "Jungle Book."
Bori Wildlife Sanctuary: The sanctuary is mostly covered in mixed deciduous and bamboo forests, part of the eastern highlands moist deciduous forests eco-region. It is an important transition zone between the forests of western and eastern India. Dominant trees include teak, dhaora and tendu, among others. Large mammal species include tiger, leopard, wild boar, muntjac deer, gaur, chital, deer, sambar, and rhesus macaques.
Bandhavgarh National Park: It is one of the popular parks in Madhya Pradesh and is known to have the highest population of tigers in India. The park derives its name from the most prominent hillock of the area, which is said to be given by Lord Rama to his brother Lakshmana to keep a watch on Lanka. The park also has a large breeding population of leopards, and various species of deer.
Pench National Park: Situated to the south of the Satpura, the Pench National Park is named after the river Penchwhich flows through this area. This is the 19th project tiger reserve in India and was declared so in 1992. It has tropical moist deciduous forest.
Amarkantak: Also known as the ‘Teertharaj’ or the king of pilgrimages, Amarkantak is a pilgrim town with a unique natural heritage area. It is the meeting point of the Vindhya and the Satpura Ranges, with the Maikal Hills being the fulcrum. This is where the Narmada, the Son and the Johila rivers emerge. The town of Amarkantak is surrounded by a rich variety of flora with medicinal properties. The enchanting lush green forest belt in Amarkantak is a part of Achanakmr- Amarkantak Biosphere Reserve.
Chhindwara: It is one of the larger towns located in the Satpura range. Chhindwara is situated on a plateau, surrounded by the lush green fields, rivers and sagaun trees. It is surrounded by dense forest with diverse flora and fauna. Pench and Kanhan are the two important rivers of Chhindwara.
Toranmal: Famous for its Gorakhnath Temple, this is the site of yatra attended by thousands of devotees on Mahashivratri. Pilgrims often walk barefoot for days from surrounding areas in the Nandurbar district and across Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat to make the yatra to the small hills station of Toranmal through Shahada.
Chikhaldara: It is the only hill station in Vidharbha region of Maharashtra. Chikhaldara has a number of rivers, waterfalls, dense forests, rocks and mountains. It abounds in wildlife, such as tigers, panthers, sloth bears, sambars, wild boar and wild dogs. Close by is the famous Melghat Tiger Reserve. The scenic beauty of Chikhaldara can be enjoyed from Hurricane Point, Prospect Point and Devi Point. Other interesting excursions include Gavilgad and Narnala Fort, the Pandit Nehru Botanical Gardens, the Tribal Museum and the Semadoh Lake.
The other attractions in and around the Satpura Range are the Melghat Tiger Reserve, Gugamal National Park, Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary and a Jain pilgrimage centre called Muktagiri.