An itinerary of Chhattisgarh should include a stopover of a couple of days to Ambikapur, which forms the base of wildlife exploration in the sanctuaries which are a few miles from it. The Surjuga district of Chhattisgarh in which the town of Ambikapur is located, is home to the Semarsot and Tamor Pingala Wildlife Sanctuary.
The Semarsot Wildlife Sanctuary is near Semarsot on the Ambikapur-Daltongunj Road. To reach Semarsot by rail, you have to get down at the Jainagar Railway Station which is the nearest to the place. The airport nearest to Semarsot is Varanasi. Tourists will find quality accommodation in the town of Ambikapur.
The best time to visit the Semarsot Wildlife Sanctuary is from January to May, when you can spot herds of deer, like Nilgai, Chital, Sambar, Chinkara. The 1997 census recorded a count of 1 Tiger and 19 leopards. Other animals you are most likely to come across on your wildlife safari are a variety of reptiles, sloth bears, wild boars, foxes and colorful birds. The Semarsot Wildlife Sanctuary covers an area of 430.36 Sq. Kms and is covered with sal, deciduous and other riverine trees.
The Tamor Pingla Wildlife Sanctuary which is also located in the Surjuga District is so called because of the 2 prominent features of this piece of land the Tamor Hill and the Pingla Nalla (stream). Its terrain is also marked by the Moran River which passes it to finally drain its waters into the Govind Ballabh Pant Sagar in Uttar Pradesh. Bishrampur is the nearest railhead to the sanctuary. In the case of Tamor Pingla Wildlife Sanctuary too, Ambikapur makes a good halt for tourists who come to have a glimpse of the mixed wildlife of this sanctuary.
This is a slightly larger sanctuary than the Semarsot Wildlife Sanctuary and covers a ground of 608.55 sq. kms. The forest cover consists of a mix of Sal and other deciduous trees. An estimate of the 1997 census suggests that there were 11 tigers and 15 leopards in the sanctuary at that time.
From December to March, the best time to visit this sanctuary, it is not uncommon to sight multi-hued migratory birds, a number of species of Indian deer, like the barking deer, 4-horned antelope, chitals and sambar deer. You may even catch glimpses of python, cobras, striped hyenas, jackals, brown and red varieties of jungle fowl, blue bulls, and green pigeons.
Both the Semarsot and Tamor Pingla Wildlife Sanctuary of Chhattisgarh are virgin natural reserves and instances of the rich wildlife of Chhattisgarh. Right in the heart of India, safe from commercial activities, these sanctuaries exert an appeal that is fresh, unadulterated and primal. A visit to these sanctuaries will refresh one and reinforce one’s zeal to preserve them.