WILDLIFE ATTRACTIONS IN KANHA NATIONAL PARK
The lush sal and bamboo forests, grassy meadows and ravines of Kanha provided inspiration to Rudyard Kipling for his famous novel "The Jungle Book". Kanha National Park located in the Mandla district of Madhya Pradesh came into being in 1955 and forms the core of the Kanha Tiger Reserve, created in 1974 under Project Tiger. The Park's landmark achievement is the preservation of the rare hardground Swamp Deer (Barasingha), saving it from near extinction. Stringent conservation programs for the overall protection of the Park's fauna and flora, makes Kanha one of the most well maintained National Parks in Asia.
A heightened attraction within the Park is Bamni Dadar. Popularly known as the Sunset Point, it offers the most awe-inspiring backdrop of the setting sun against grazing Sambhars and Gaurs, magnifying the natural splendor of the area. Aside from its diverse wildlife and bird population, the frequent sightings of Tigers roaming in the wild at Kanha Wildlife Sanctuary remain the most popular draw.
If one animal species were to represent Kanha, it would probably be the barasingha, or the swamp deer. The barasinghas at Kanha are unique, being the hard ground variety, which populate the large open tracts of grass amidst the forests of teak and bamboo. Twenty years ago, the Barasingha was faced with extinction but some desperate measures which included the fencing-off of some animals helped save them and again the air in Kanha bugled with their rutting calls.
The main wildlife attractions in the park are tiger, bison, gaur, sambhar, chital, barasingha, barking deer, black deer, black buck, chousingha, nilgai, mouse deer, sloth bear, jackal fox, porcupine, hyena, jungle cat, python, pea fowl, hare, monkey, mongoose, tiger, and leopard.
The bird species in the park include storks, teals, pintails, pond herons, egrets, peacock, pea fowl, jungle fowl, spur fowl, partridges, quails, ring doves, spotted parakeets, green pigeons, rock pigeons, cuckoos, papihas, rollers, bee-eater, hoopoes, drongos, warblers, kingfishers, woodpeckers, finches, orioles, owls and fly catchers.
Jeep Safari and Elephant Safari are the two options for spotting wild animals in the park. The safaris can be enjoyed any time during the day while the best time for animal spotting is during early morning or late evening. The safari timings generally are 6 AM to 12 Noon and 3 to 5:30 PM.
You can top your visit to the Kanha National Park by visiting the Kanha Museum, situated inside the park. The museum provides useful information about varied topics including the topography, park maps, pug marks of various animals etc, which can enhance your experience of visiting the park.
Near the visitor centre one can see the stumps of two giant sal trees that are worshipped daily in the forests. Known as Raja Rani, these trees once lived in the Kanha National Park.
How to Get There
By Air: Jabalpur is the nearest airport, while Nagpur is the nearest most convenient airport. Indian Airlines operates daily Delhi-Nagpur (7:15) and Mumbai-Nagpur (6:40 & 19:40) flights. Jet Airways also has a daily flight schedule of Mumbai-Nagpur and Delhi-Nagpur.
By Rail: Jabalpur (169 kms/4 hrs) is the nearest railhead. Daily trains between Delhi and Jabalpur are Mahakoshal Exp. (16:25) and Gondwana Express (14:30), while Mumbai is connected through the Mahanagari Exp. (00:10), Rajendra Ngr Exp. (23:40), Kolkata Mail (21:25), LTT RJPB Exp. (22:10) and Gorakhpur Express (6:35). Other major trains plying to Jabalpur include Sanghamitra Exp. (Bangalore-Jabalpur, 6:57, Tue & Fri) and Varanasi Exp. (Chennai-Jabalpur, 17:30, Mon & Sat).
By Road: There are regular to and fro bus services available from Jabalpur to Kanha. Cars can be hired from all the nearby towns to reach Kanha, the choice should however be an all terrain 4 wheel petrol vehicle. The drive from Nagpur to Kisli takes around 6 hours by car. The travel up to Seoni (130 km) on the Jabalpur National Highway is a smooth drive. From Seoni, take a right turn to Keolari, Nainpur and Chiraidongri to finally reach the Kisli gate of the park. Alternately, to reach the Mukki gate, divert away from Seoni through Balaghat and Boihar. Another option is the drive from Jabalpur (well connected by train to major Indian cities) via Tikaria and Mandla. To reach the park from Nagpur, take the NH6 to Bhandara. From there state roads lead to Kanha (Mukki) via Balaghat and Baihar.