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The Story of Khursapar (as I know...)

23rd of July 2012 was a black day in the history of forest tourism when Hon. Supreme court bench of Justices Swatanter Kumar and Ibrahim Kalifullah passed the order on a petition filed by conservationist Ajay Dubey that sought a directive to the States to notify the buffer and peripheral areas of the tiger reserves, under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, to prevent tourism in the core areas. On the 24th as the news spread like wildfire in the tourism circles most of the resort property owners as well as locals were in a state of shock. Since the order had come during the off season it did not have an immediate impact, but the future did appear to be very bleak. After lot of debates by various associations and governments in the court revised the order and said that tourism will be allowed but with restrictions . Due to the various formulas and combinations given by National Tiger Conservation authority the total number of vehicles permitted from the park core gates was reduced by 50 %. This was a major blow to the industry at the beginning of the peak tourist season. Due to the strategic location of Pench Tiger Reserve Madhya Pradesh we have access to the Sillari gate which falls in Maharashtra, the gate however is 30 to 35 KMs from any resort property in Pench. As we did not much of an option, after educating the guests about the distance we booked their tickets for Sillari . The monsoons were good and due to the heavy vehicular traffic of NH07 and zero maintenance of the highway the roads were in a bad shape. Personally, I could see guests literally hanging on for their lives in the gypsies as they used to ferry from Pench MP to Pench Maharashtra Sillari gate. Anguished by the pain, I took it as a one man agenda and started to search for a connecting road which would have internally connected to Sillari gate from Pench MP. After catching hold of a few locals, I had many bike expeditions in the adjoining forest area and could trace one road which connected to the "Whakari" forest gate which was about 4 KMs from the Sillari forest gate. Then came the option of pursuing with the forest department and we were blessed to have a dynamic officer M S Reddy who was PCCF Pench during those times. I met Reddy sir and apprised him of the situation and the problems which the tourists were facing, he gave a very patient hearing and told that he will think about it . After a few meetings he called in his DFO Mr. Ajay Pillariseth and after briefing him about my request asked him to look into the matter and see how they can help us. Months of follow-ups went by and the tourist season for 2012 -13 closed . I was bit disheartened but did not lose the patience for I had tremendous faith in PCCF M.S. Reddy Sir as well as his DFO Ajay Pillariseth. The new season for 2013-2014 opened up on 15th of October and there was still no news about the connecting road that I wished to have for all the guests visiting Pench Sillari from Pench MP. The follow ups continued when one fine day in mid of November during my regular meeting with DFO Ajay Pillariseth he said "You said... what you want is an internal road or something like that to Sillari...?", I said yes sir! for that I have been meeting you since so long. To which he replied "You wanted a road... but I am giving you one complete forest area ..." Khursapar!!... This is how Khursapar came into existence. I met the PCCF M.S. Reddy sir and thanked him from the bottom of my heart and went back to tell all our friends in Pench about the new development. We were all happy... very happy but that happiness was short-lived... Sometime during end of November Khursapar forest gate was officially opened for tourism as the buffer area of Pench maharashtra with vehicle capacity of 11 vehicles. The first range forest officer for Khursapar was Mr. Bobde a very nice and friendly gentleman. Khursapar had its problems: 1) That patch of forest was used by men for grazing and also as a gateway to Pench dam for illegal fishing. 2) Due to human activity and almost no water (it being a hilly terrain) the animal life was very less. 3) We had never heard about tigers in that area for long. 4) We were now enemies of the local fishermen lobby. Khursapar had its advantages too: 1) It was very near to the main tourist facilities which were in village Kohka and Turiya . 2) Since the forest was lush green safari experience was not bad. 3) It showed lot of promise for development. Very soon we started communicating with the range forest officers with the dynamic PCCF M.S. Reddy who didn’t even waste a second to take a positive decision for the development of Khursapar gate. Soon we had: 1) A Proper Gate. 2) A Tourist Centre. 3) Wash rooms for tourists at the gate. 4) Water-Holes in strategic places inside the park. 5) A Souvenir shop 6) Increased capacity of the no. of vehicles. 7) Tiger Sightings!! Over the past few years Khursapar has come up and shaped up in a very positive way but miles to go for the gate and the people around but we all are assured that Khursapar has come to stay with Durga, Bindu, Baras, Handsome blessing the park with their off-springs and energising the eco-system around. Many thanks to the field staff at Khursapar and all the present and the past RFO's involved and in particular the work of RFO Sathawane which gave the park the present fame and life. The above story is my side of Khursapar, it’s possible that some other people also might have contributed to its development but myself, Mahendra Godbole, will like to claim a lion’s share for its inception. As Narrated By Mr. Mahendra Godbole, BAAZ Jungle Resort, Pench, MP.

Pench Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, Map

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