The Pench National Park is located in the Seoni and Chhindwara districts of Madhya Pradesh – and the main entrance is a short 2 hour drive away from Nagpur.
Seeonee is, of course, familiar to anyone who has read Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. The book was set in the jungles of Central India and the precocious man-cub Mowgli – “stranger to man, friend of animals, brother of the wolves” – was raised by the Wolf Pack of these same Seeonee Hills. So the Pench Tiger Reserve is the fictional home of Mowgli and his friends – Bagheera the Black Panther, Baloo the Bear, the Bandar-log, and of course Shere Khan, the tiger.
Rudyard Kipling first wrote about Mowgli in a short story titled In The Rukh. It, too, is set in Seoni in the rukh (meaning jungle), and tells the tale of a forest ranger in the time of the British Raj who comes across Mowgli and invites him to become a ranger too. This short story was written before The Jungle Book, but is set in a time after it. Kipling proceeded to write more about Mowgli’s adventures in The Second Jungle Book and here’s the best part – all these books are in public domain so feel free to read ’em before you take a run vacation in Pench.
Both books are a collection of stories – many set in the jungle and many involving Mowgli’s life – but not all. You may be surprised to learn that one of the tales in The Jungle Book is set in Alaska(!) of all places.