Kanha National Park, which is one of the most well known tiger reserves worldwide, is located among the Banjar and Halon valleys in the Mandla / Balaghat districts of the state of Madhya Pradesh. It's creation took place among, and after, a lot of turbulence and storm within concerned circles regarding rampant killing of wildlife in the area at the time..
The central Kanha valley was declared a sanctuary way back in 1933 but got it's status as a National Park in 1955. It covers a large area of 1,945 square kilometers, out of which 940 square kilometers form the main park. The altitude of the park ranges from 450 meters to 900 meters above sea level. The temperature, depending on the season, ranges from 0 degrees in the winters to 48 degrees in the summers. The park remains open from the 01st of November to the 30th of June. Sometimes, as with most parks of the country, it can be closed earlier if the monsoon season arrives sooner than expected. The park has a heavy monsoon season with an average annual rainfall of 1600mm. The basic infrastructure at the park is well developed and visits can "mostly" be expected to pass without any problems.
Kanha is also famous for it's animal conservation efforts made in collaboration and cooperation with the local resident communities. One of the famous success stories of the park is the survival of the Barasingha population in the park, which went down to as low as 66 animals in 1970 from the earlier 3000 and which through huge efforts have now revived to a respectable number of around 1000. Kanha boasts of many such success stories of which this is only an example.
The terrain inside the park is varied, nonetheless enjoyable. Bamboo forests flow into Sal forests and meadows. There are herds of spotted deer to be seen with smaller herds of beautiful Antelope, the Black Buck. With a little luck, you could also spot the timorous Barking Deer. It's snapping warns other denizens of the forest that a predator is around. There is also a very strong possibility that you will see the Rare Barasingha, the Swamp Deer. Once there were only 66 of these in Kanha, but careful conservation and management raised their population to over 400.
Spotting wild animals is always a matter of luck but Kanha is so rich in wildlife that the odds are titled in your favor. First time visitors are often so keen to spot the larger animals that they overlook the smaller ones. There are 175 varieties of birds in Kanha. So if you happen to be bird watcher, look forward to a full bird show. Most people are keener to meet Kanha's major attraction, the Tiger; still one has to be patient to spot one.
But while on a mission to find a tiger, one can easily catch glimpses of all the grazers, a Porcupine, many Gray Langurs, Mongoose, Hyena, Jungle Cat, even a Leopard. Other wild attractions in this Tiger country include varieties of Deer - the Barasingha, Chital or Spotted Deer, Chousingha, Nilgai, as well as the majestic Gaur or Indian Bison and wild Pig.
There is a museum at Kanha National Park, depicting attributes and activities of the park and the tribal culture of the state of Madhya Pradesh.
There are several excursion points that you can visit from Kanha. Most of the places are of historical importance. Some of them also make ideal base points to visit some of the popular tourist destinations of Madhya Pradesh. The city of Nagpur which is famous for its orange orchards makes an ideal day or weekend destination from Kanha. Moreover, you can also visit Jabalpur, a small city housing some of the important historical monuments and archaeological findings. Jabalpur is also famous for its highly revered Tilwara ghat where Mahatma Gandhi's ashes were immersed in the river here.
Open Gypsy is the best way to see the beauty of Kanha. On sharing Jeep Safari you are accompanies by other guests, Driver and experieced park rangers. The Service of Naturalists are extra. Good Naturalist can enhance your safari experience manifold times.
Wednesday mornings are closed forjepp safaris in the core zone. Safaris happen twice during the day - Morning and evening. Before entering into the National Park one has to complete some necessary paper formalities at the entrance gate regarding vehicle details, naturalist details, visitor's details etc. All these formalities take almost 15 to 20 minutes.
Kanha Tiger Reserve is closed to visitors during the monsoon months, from July to October. Winter, between November and January, is a comfortable time to visit the park, when the weather is pleasant. April to June is when the summer sets in; it can get pretty hot at this time, but if you are a die-hard wildlife fan, this is when a visit can reward you with satisfactory wildlife-watching at the parks waterholes.
Visitors are advised to reach the gate half an hour in advance to complete the formalities for entry into the park.
The Manager, Madhya Pradesh State Tourism Development Corporation Ltd., Log Hut, Kisli, Bhopal.
The Field Director, Project Tiger, Kanha Tiger Reserve, Mandla - 481661.