Kanha National Park Mandla is located in the Maikal Hills of the Satpura Hills range in the south eastern part of the state of Madhya pradesh in Jabalpur inspired Rudyard Kipling ‘Jungle Book’. Visiting a jungle is so unlike beach places like andaman-islands-the-beach-capital-of-india. Kanha National Park is one of the largest Tiger reserves in India where tigers are preserved and protected into the natural habitat completely. It is spread across huge 940 sq km approximately and inhabiting Tiger, Leopard, Chital, Sambhar, Nilgai, Chinkara, Barking Deer, Barasingha, Wild Bear and over 200 avian species. Kanha Tiger Reserve is mainly dominated by lush Sal and Bamboo tree forests and was established in the year of 1955 and forms the core of project tiger 1974 by the initiative of then prime minister Indira Gandhi. It is famous for tigers which are around 80 to 100 this year by the time the park has been reopened on 1st of october 2016. Kanha National Park is also famous for preserving the endangered species of Barasingha (rare hardground swamp deer). I recently visited it for my pre birthday celebrations and spent around three days there in ‘Baghira Jungle Resort‘. It was an amazing trip and refreshed me to the core by the end of the trip and now I am ready to dwell back in the urban world. I am sharing my experience with you all so that if you make a plan around then you can always have a real reference.
How to Reach
Jabalpur (Best route to reach)
It is one of the major trade city of Madhya Pradesh and itself is a major tourist attraction around the park like Dhuandhar Waterfalls and Marble shopping at Jabalpur It is situated at the northwest of Kanha National Park and has ‘Dumna Airport’ which is easily connected to Delhi Airport and the flight takes approximately 1.5 hrs. Indian airlines and Spice Jet run their flights through this route. Jabalpur is also connected via trains to other major Indian cities like Mumbai etc.
It is approximately 156 km away from the city and takes around 4-5 hours by road which is the only way to reach there through Jabalpur. There are no connecting trains in between. The journey may extend upto 6-7 hours too totally depending upon the conditions of the roads. There are two routes to reach Kanha national park Mandla through Jabalpur. One is through national highway 7 and other is recently constructed ‘Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna’ which is the best route as roads are in pretty good shape and less traffic result in smooth journey. I took national highway for reaching the tiger reserve and the roads were in bad shape and even the routes were pretty confusing. We had hired a taxi (Artica) and we reached there around 4PM when we started our journey by 10 Am without stopping anywhere but the Gramin Sadak Yojna route took us total of 4 hrs while returning.
Kanha National Park can also be visited through Raipur which is at a distance of 250 km from the park. It is the capital city of Chattisgarh and connected to other major Indian cities.
Nagpur is around 260 km away from Kanha National park and this major city of Maharashtra is easily connected to other indian cities via trains.
Where to stay
There are no dearth of hotels and resorts there at and around the Kanha National Park which rounds upto 180 in numbers. They cater to almost all types of budget and even five star resorts like TAJ group of hotels has a five star Jungle lodge named ‘Banjaar Tola’ near Mukki gate. There is also Club Mahindra and Kingfisher luxury resorts.
I stayed in Baghira Jungle Resort which is the initiative of MP government and pretty cheap as compared to other luxury hotels of it’s category. Though I found it the best among all because it is situated near the riverside with villa type suites at Kisli. I guess it’s the only one at the riverside. The view was mesmerising and stay was super comfortable.
Here are the links to few of the hotels
Best Time to Visit/ Whether
Kanha National Park is closed for three months from July to September and it is opened for rest of the year. Summers are the best time for animal sightings and also the most probable times for the tiger sightings when almost all the animals come out near the water reservoirs with relatively less flora around which results in clear animal sightings. Though rest of the years including winter are also preferable times to visit the Kanha National Park when you can enjoy a good whether, lush meadows, bamboo and sal forests. Avoid visiting it around monsoons as roads would be in pretty bad shape and animal safari can also be suspended depending upon the whether. Though the buffer zone is opened throughout the year and it’s actually the core part that is closed during the monsoon. This year in 2016 it has been reopened on 1st of october.
History of Kanha National Park
Jabalpur was the 12th century capital of Gond kings and even today the Mandala district is dominated by the ‘Gond Tribe’ whose major occupation is farming but the newer generation also prefers to be the tourist guides. Then the marathas ruled the area by 1817 till the British occupied it and converted it into a cantonment. The Kanha National Park is also referred as ‘Gondwala Jungle’
Kanha National Park Jungle Safari
One can book the safari tickets online these days through Madhya Pradesh tourism official website which is important as it means you have the required permission to visit the jungle and you have paid the entrance charges. Though it does not include the guide fee and vehicle fee which has to be paid at the reception area Kathia or at the entrance gate of the park. I will suggest you to book the vehicle in advance. It is normally around Rs250 per person if you decide to pool and rs 1500 if you decide to rent the entire vehicle for yourself.
The safaris are allowed at mornings and evenings both. The morning timings are like 6:00 Am to 10:30 Am and the evening timings are like 3pm -6pm this season. From this year onwards total of 140 vehicles are allowed in a day and so I will suggest you to book it in advance. Though the jungle safari can also be done for the entire day if you are willing to pay rs 40000/day. Many researchers,scientist or animal channel people do it.
The elephant ride has not started yet but it’s suppose to start by November.
These things can also be taken care of by your resort or other booking agents if you want to avoid the headache for some extra charges. Though it will be costlier than the shared safari. Here is the link for further details and booking.
About the Kanha National Park
It is divided into four zones ‘Kanha, Kisli, Mukki, Sari’ and the entry for the animal safari is through one of these gates and you are not allowed to cross into another zone than that allocated to you. Around 170 check posts are there in the park area and only about 50 km of safari is allowed. No walkie talkies and weapons are allowed. There are many cameras installed in the jungle for keeping a check on the animal movement and animal poachers. Best time for tiger sighting is early morning. Over 350 varieties of birds and flora are found here along with rare species of many animals. Though it is most famous as most administered tiger reserve in Asia.
Attractions at Kanha National Park
- It is the most dense forest area in terms of Tiger population.
- It is the most well preserved tiger reserve in Asia.
- Rare species of Hardground Swamp Deer (Bara Singha) and mouse deer.
- Rare species of porcupines, royal bengal tiger and leopards.
- Rare types of Bisons can also be seen.
- Rare type of crocodile bark tree (Sanjha) can also be seen.
- Herds of spotted deer here and there is very common sightings along with plenty of monkeys.
- Huge termite hills can also be seen.
- Even though you won’t sight a tiger but you will surely end up seeing the pug marks of tigers and the scratch marks that they make on the tree to announce their territory is also amusing to see.
- Sunset at ‘Bamni Dadar‘ is truly spectacular at the dense forest.
Shopping at Kanha National Park
Well there are not much shops and shopping scopes in the area are not very lucrative as it’s the forest area and the nearest major shopping centre would be Jabalpur only which is famous for marble statues, Chanderi sarees and Zardosi work. But You can easily buy souvenir key chains, Tees and other things at few shops right before the entrance area. Especially there’s a shop named ‘Kaladirgha’ which is good and you can also find some of the jute stuff and wooden artifacts at very reasonable prices.
- It will be great if you could carry your own Binoculars though the guides also carry it.
- Try to wear camouflage jungle clothes into the forest so that it don’t disturb the wild life though there is no dress code.
- Carry plenty of cash with you as ATMs are rare sightings.
- All charges are already fixed by the government so don’t trust the agent who try to negotiate with you.
- The forests are mostly cold areas so at least carry a jacket with you and also carry nice woolen clothes during winters.
- Avoid roaming around the deserted or forest area alone as there is a danger of animal attack.
- Mobile networks are there but the towers are pretty bad.
- Carry your own water bottles with you during the animal safari.
- If you are with babies then carry diapers, milk bottles, food etc kid related things during the safari.
- It will be wise to keep plenty of kids related and other required things to the park beforehand.
It is truly one of a kind of experience which you must take to experience how much we have left during the course of evolution. Kanha National park makes you realize that Tigers are truly magnanimous creation of nature and true ruler of jungle. The chirping of birds, crawling of insects and voices of various animals create a very mysterious aura around. Leave your senses back at home and surrender yourself truly to the nature once you are there. It will be one of the most memorable trip of your life connecting your soul to the nature in the most natural way.
Save the Tiger and do visit Kanha National Park once!
Hereis the link to another nearby tourist attraction at jablpur madhya pradesh ‘Dhuandhar falls’