Kanha National Park
This is my first blog entry regarding a national park and I had to choose Kanha National Park to be the subject of it. Why you ask me? Well, because that is where my journey of wildlife tourism began. It was the summer of 1999 when I first visited Kanha National Park and fell in love with the jungle and the idea of visiting jungles in holidays! So it seems right for it to be the first jungle I write about.
First thing- ‘The Jungle Book’ is NOT based on the Kanha national park. You may see certain blogs and posts which say this, but it is not true. Rudyard Kipling does start with “In a jungle in central India” , but it is Pench National Park that he refers to, not Kanha national Park. (Pench is another jungle in the central part of India- a separate blog on my experience there soon). So, even though you see hotels named ‘Mowgli’ and ‘Kipling’ around Kanha, they are probably more in context at Pench.
Anyway, speaking of Kanha National park, just a google search will provide you all the necessary geographical attributes and commonly known details. Hence I won’t spend too much effort in describing that. I would just like to share the impressions of my time there-which is the main idea of my blog anyway!
Ofcourse, the most famous aspect of Kanha is the Royal Bengal Tiger! Kanha is home to a healthy population of tigers and that is the prime factor that attracts so many people towards the national park. The tiger named ‘Munna’ whose forehead markings read out “CAT” is probably the poster boy of the forest. However, the tiger is not just the only thing that makes this forest special!
The jungle basically has a superior management team-something which is typical of jungles in Madhya Pradesh. The forest guards and the entire forest management teams work relentlessly to manage all activities of the park really well which adds value to the overall experience there. Once the basic formalities and permits are done and you enter the jungle, be ready to get mesmerized by the Sal forests, the grasslands and also the rocky terrains of some parts of the park. They together form a beautiful setting to watch the wildlife that the jungle holds .The moment you enter the park, spotted deers and peacocks welcome you to the jungle! You proceed through the beautiful landscape on allotted routes to try your luck at seeing the other animals and birds! Seeing a tiger in the Kanha meadows at sunset remains one of my most beautiful memories ever!
The Kanha national park is also home to the endemic hard ground barasingha (swamp deer). The word barasingha literally translates into 12 horns –which the animal does not have However, the name comes from the fact that the Barasingha male has multi-branched antlers and the number of branches are generalized as 12 (bara). As they are endemic to the park, you will not be able to see this species anywhere else in the world!
Other big mammals that Kanha houses are the leopards and the sloth bear. In a jungle dominated by the tiger-leopards will always be on the fringes. Add to it the shy nature of the leopard, making it rarer to see the leopard than viewing a tiger. You will also be lucky if you get to see the sloth bear-a black bear with a golden V mark on its chest! With poor eyesight but a strong sense of smell, the sloth bear is a very adorable animal to observe. If you are extremely lucky, you may get to see a female sloth bear carrying her young ones on her back! Sambar deers, Indian Gaurs (wrongly called as the Indian bison), wild dogs or the dhole, barking deer, nilgai, wild boars are some other mammals seen commonly.
A variety of birds like the Indian roller, scarlet minivet, golden orioles, flycatches, Indian shama, flowerpeckers, bee-eaters etc can be observed in the park. These are just a few names that came to my mind immediately. Make sure you carry a set of good binoculars and a field guide on mammals and birds of India when you visit.
As many will tell you, summer is the most popular to visit any national park in India. The reason is simple, the high temperatures make the animals visit the water holes frequently, many a times staying at the water hole for long. The foliage on the trees is lesser too, leading to better visibility. Both these reasons lead to a very high chance of viewing some of the fascinating wildlife in the parks.So if your agenda is to see the tiger, then probably yes, summer is the best season for you.
However, visiting the park in winters has its own charm. The foliage is thick and green, a velvety coat can be seen on the spotted deers’ antlers. The grass has a different shade and the overall beauty seems elated! The number of tourists are lesser and the temperatures are low! It is an excellent time to do birding too with many migratory birds being visible around the park. So, if your idea is to enjoy the jungle, I would suggest winter to be the season to visit the park. (the park remains closed in monsoons).
Along with Kanha, the state of Madhya Pradesh also is home to the Bandhavgadh , Pench and Satpuda National Parks. If schedules permit, one may consider planning a visit to all these parks together.
I can go on and on talking about Kanha and the forests of Madhya Pradesh, but I need to stop somewhere and so I shall now. Also, some things are best experienced than read! So here’s to many more trips to Kanha – I hope to see you there!
P.S. – Do get in touch with us through www.helloindiahelloworld.com if you need help in planning your trip to Kanha. We would be happy to help!