Kanha National park, also known as Kanha Tiger Reserve, is the largest national park in Madhya Pradesh (there are 4 in total) and one of the designated tiger reserves in India. Earlier, during 1930s, Kanha was divided into two wildlife sanctuaries namely Hallon and Banjar. The present day Kanha National Park was established on 1st June 1955 and was declared a Tiger Reserve in 1973. Kanha national Park now covers an area of 940 square kilometers and stretched over two districts – Balaghat and Mandla. Together with the adjacent Phen Sanctuary and the buffer zone, it forms Kanha Tiger Reserve, which is the largest of its kind in Central India.
The tiger reserve was named one of the top ten tourist attractions in the country.
Kanha National Park comprises over 1000 various species of Flora including a majority of Sal, Dendrocalamus strictus ( a variety of bamboo), and a magnificent Davidia involucrata – the Indian Ghost Tree.
The fauna in the park consists of tigers, wild cats and dogs, leopards, Swamp Deer, Indian Bison (seem mostly in winters), Black buck, Nilgai, Hyenas, Sloth Bears, langurs, and wild boars.
There are more than one gates for entry to the park, but Khatiya Gate is the moist common one.
The most famous activity to do while in Kanha National Park is to book a jeep safari. You can do so on the website of Madhya Pradesh Government (www.mponline.gov.in) although it is hassle-free and more convenient if you ask your hotel staff to do it for you. Some of the safari tickets are reserved for on-the-spot bookings at the gate which are done half hour prior to when the gate opens. Another benefit of booking through your hotel is that they can often hook you up with other independent travelers so as to share the burden of the costs. Note, the jeep/vehicle fee varies depending upon which zone you are going to. Also note, that a jeep that has both Indian as well Foreigner tourists will be charged the foreigner fee. Safaris are done in time slots and essentially there are two – one in the morning which starts roughly at 06:00 A.M and lasts up to 11:00 A.M, and one in the afternoon which starts roughly around 03:00 P.M and ends at 06:00 P.M.
If you are more into nature walks and enjoy a good walking tour, you can take a tour guide for INR300 and go on a walk to a well-marked 7 km trail which takes you through just inside the Khatiya Gate and along the edges of the national park before it brings you back to the village. You will easily see monkeys and birds, but beware of the occasional visits by the deadliest predators, which is all the more reason that you need to hire a guide.
Follow the rules as per your guides and stay away from any sort of danger. If you happen to spot any of the wild and dangerous animals, DO NOT tease or shout at them. These animals can attack if they feel threatened. Also, remember to carry warm clothes even if you happen to visit the park during summers as it gets really freezing during the early morning safaris before the sunrise.
While booking your accommodation, you may be asked to choose between an American Plan (AP) or a Jungle Plan (JP). Please note that AP stands for you room booking plus all meals and JP stands for your room, meals plus a morning and afternoon jeep safari. Always ensure that you clarify what all your package/booking includes before confirming any type of monetary transaction.
For more information, visit the website of Kanha National Park.
Kanha National Park is close to more than one airport. Daily flights from New Delhi and Mumbai operate between Jabalpur, Nagpur and Raipur. From the airports, you can take a bus or a cab or ask your hotel to book an arrangement.
The nearest railheads to the national park include Jabalpur, Nagpur, and Gondia. Trains operate daily and the schedule can be checked on www.irctc.co.in. Major cities which are connected to the above-mentioned railheads include Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune, and Ahmedabad.
Kanha can also be reached via road transportation from nearby districts such as Jabalpur, Nagpur, Bilaspur, Raipur, Gondia, Bandhavgarh National Park, Pench National Park, and Panna National Park. The time taken to cover the distance varies between 4 hours minimum to 8 hours maximum.