The vast grasslands of Kanha National Park, stretching over an area of 2,000sq km, are surrounded by the Satpura Range. Comprising the Banjar and Halon valleys of the erstwhile princely provinces of Central India, Kanha became a hunting ground for the British between 1879 and 1910. In 1933, it was established as a sanctuary and was eventually declared a national park in 1955. Though Kanha is one of India’s better protected Project Tiger reserves, conservationists do have their worries about this national park. This is due to its proximity to impoverished villages, and its closeness to Nagpur, which is a known illegal wildlife trade hub in Central India.

Entry Indians ₹1,320; Foreigners ₹2,640 per vehicle, per round, upto six pax Fee for Kanha zone Indians ₹1,980; Foreigners ₹3,960 Timings October–June: 6.00am–noon & 3.30–6.00pm

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

Besides the elusive tiger, there are a host of other attractions here. The park authorities are most proud of the presence of a rare species of barasingha (swamp deer) which was brought back from the brink of extinction through concerted conservation efforts. Also keep an eye out for dholes, or wild dogs.

Sanjoy Ghosh
Visitors catch a glimpse of the apex predator on a jeep safari
Visitors catch a glimpse of the apex predator on a jeep safari

Jeep Safari

You can now only go on a jeep safari. Elephant safaris have been discontinued in the park. The safaris are held in the mornings and afternoons. Jeeps can be hired from the MPTDC office. If you are staying at a camp, you can opt for their vehicles and guide.

Safari Timing 5.30–10.30am & 3.30– 6.00pm; dependent on sunrise and sunset according to season

Birdwatching

There are as many as 300 bird species here, both resident and migratory. Shravantal is a beautiful water body where the chances of sighting exotic birds are very high. Note that you can’t get down from your vehicle in the core area of the sanctuary, but you can always walk along the trails in the buffer zone

Blackbucks

Do look out for the blackbuck, which is one of Kanha National Park’s best acquisitions. The antelope became extinct in the park in the 90s, but was reintroduced through translocation in 2011. Although half of the 50 animals brought in here died, the survivors are now breeding well. Wildlife officials monitor their movements carefully to protect their numbers.

THE INFORMATION

When to go November–March is the most comfortable time to go

Wildlife/ Tourist offices

Kanha National Park, Field Director, Kanha Tiger Reserve, Mandla, Tel: 07642-250760, Cell: 09424792001, W kanhatigerreserve.com

Tourist Information Counter, Khatia, Tel: 07649-277242

STD code  Mandla 07642   Kisli 07649

GETTING THERE

Air Nearest airport: Jabalpur (Kisli Gate is 165km/ 4hrs) connected by flights from Delhi, Mumbai and Bhopal. Taxi ₹5,000–6,500 approx return fare. It takes about 5hrs to Mukki Gate

Rail Nearest railhead: Jabalpur, connected to all metros and many big cities across the country

Road From Jabalpur take NH12A to Mandla. This route brings you to Kisli gate. To reach Mukki Gate, at Mandla switch to state roads for Mocha via Bamhni. From Mocha, head for Kumadehi and on to Baihar. Mukki Gate can also be accessed from Nagpur via Gondia and Baihar Bus Private buses and MP Tourism canter services are available