National Park, Madhya Pradesh
Kanha National Park, in Madhya Pradesh, forms the core of
the Kanha Tiger Reserve created in 1974, under Project Tiger.
Stretching over 940 sq km, the vegetation, chiefly made of
sal and bamboo forests, grasslands and streams, this park
is the sole habitat of the rare hardground barasingha.
The forests of the Banjar valley and Halon valley, respectively
forming Kanha's western and eastern halves, had even , at
the turn of the century, been famous for their deer and tiger
population. By a special statute in 1955, Kanha National Park
came into being. Since then, a string of stringent conservation
programmes have been launched, for the overall protection
of the park's fauna and flora. It is one of the most well-maintained
National Parks in Asia, and a major attraction for avid wildlife
buffs all over the world.
Kanha boasts of about 22 species of mammals. Some of the inhabitants
of this park are the gaur, the largest of the world's cattle;
the sambar, the largest Indian deer; and the chausingha, the
only four-horned antelope in the world. Other frequent visitors
include the Nilgai antelope, the sloth bear, the dhole, or
Indian wild dog, and an occasional panther. Some 200 species
of birds inhabit the park, that include the cattle egret,
black ibis, hawk eagle, and the red-wattled lapwing. Shravantal
is an old, earthenbound tank in the central Kanha meadows,
which happens to be an important watering hole, for a large
number of water fowl in winter. Bamni Dadar, known as Sunset
Point, is the most beautiful section of the park, and the
view of the sunset from this spot is absolutely mesmerising.
Quite a few animals can be sighted around this area which
include the sambar, gaur, the four-horned antelope and the
The barasingha is undoubtedly, the jewel of Kanha, and drastic
steps have been taken to rescue it from complete extinction.
The enlargement of the grasslands, through village reallocation,
has been responsible for this impressive achievement. Barasinghas
exist almost totally on grass, and tall grass meadows are
essential for their security. At the height of winter, between
December and January, falls the rutting season of these animals,
and huge groups can be easily spotted in the Kanha and Sonph
meadows. A small, but significant number of blackbucks also
inhabit the central Kanha meadow.
But for all the astonishing diversity in its wildlife population,
Kanha is best known as the habitat of the tiger. Sighting
and photographing this magnificent animal from elephant back,
is an unforgettable experience. It was here that the first
ever scientific study of the tiger was undertaken by the great
zoologist George Schaller.
M P S T D C jeeps are available on hire for touring the park.
For tiger-tracking, elephants are used. Forest Department
guides accompany visitors around the park on circuits, which
enable the latter to view a good cross-section of the abundant
When to visit
The park is closed from July 1 to October 31, because of the
heavy monsoon. The ideal time to visit Kanha would be the
period between February and June. A stay of at least 3 nights
is recommended, in order, to get a really good sighting of
Kanha's more elusive animals.
How to get there
Khatia (3 km from Kisli) and Mukki are the two main entry
points to the Park. The nearest town is Mandla (65 km).
By air: Nearest airports are
located at Jabalpur (170 km), Raipur and Nagpur (270 km).
By rail: The closest railheads
are at Jabalpur and Bilaspur.
By road: A daily bus service
is available for Kisli and Mukki from Jabalpur, and back.
It is advisable to reach Kisli before sunset, as vehicles
are not allowed in the park after dark.