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The Ultimate Guide for Kanha Forest Safari-Part-I

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From Jabalpur we started after lunch around 2 pm. We took one of shortest road route from Jabalpur to Mandla via NH-30. Chiraidongri- Kanha route is preferred when arrival permission is to be taken from park authority at Mandla for Kanha Tiger Safari. There are 3 gates for entrance into the park. The Kisli gate is best accessed from Jabalpur and ends at the village Khatia, inside the buffer area. The second gate is at Mukki and the third, last opened, gate is at Sarhi.

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As I negotiated my way on that rough clay road, surrounded by roughed redesigned and small villages, away from the main gate of the Kanha National Park, I realized the exclusivity of the resort in the buffer zone of the forest. It was peak winter evening, when I finally arrived at the Motel Chandan Kanha after three and half hours of drive from Jabalpur.

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As I walked towards my cottage, I was amazed by the rural feel of the surroundings. The moment I stepped inside my hut surrounded by the forest, the large open verandahs had brought a big smile on my face. I love spending time at the verandahs, especially in the wilderness. Even my bedsheet had the design of tiger skin and all our doormats having pug mark. Everywhere the tiger like ambiance created suspense among us.

Kanha Tiger Reserve, also known as Kanha-Kisli National Park, is one of the tiger reserves of India and the largest national park of Madhya Pradesh. Kanha Tiger Reserve was ranked among the highest 10 Famous Places for Tourists. (Ref: https://www.touropia.com/tourist-attractions-in-india/ ).

The park features a significant population of the Royal Bengal tiger, Indian leopards, bear, barasingha and Indian wild dog. The forest portrayed in the famous novel by Rudyard Kipling, ‘The Jungle Book’ is based on Kanha Tigre Reserve. (Ref: https://www.dnaindia.com/lifestyle/report-in-search-of-sher-khan-2203345 ).

It is also the primary tiger reserve in India to officially introduce a mascot, the Barasingha (Swamp Deer). Kanha is situated in both the districts; it is around 30 km from Mandla and 80 km from Balaghat. Kanha Tiger Reserve is home to over thousand species of flowering plants. The lowland forest is a mixture of sal and other mixed-forest trees, scattered with meadows. The highland forests are tropical moist, dry deciduous type and of a totally different nature from bamboo on slopes.

Kanha Tiger Reserve has Royal Bengal Tigers, leopards, wild dogs, wild cats, foxes and jackals. The reserve has been instrumental in saving the swamp deer from extinction. Other commonly seen animals within the park include the spotted deer, sambar, deer, and the four-horned antelope. Nilgai can still be seen along with striped hyena and sloth bear are seen occasionally. Langurs and wild boars are common near the Sarahi Gate. Nocturnal animals like fox, hyena, jungle cat, porcupine, and hares can be seen outside the park area.

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The reserve brings around 300 species of birds and the most commonly seen birds are the black ibis, bee-eaters, blossom-headed parakeets, drongos, Indian peafowl, red-wattle lapwing, Tickell’s blue flycatcher, white-eyed buzzard, white-browed fantail, and vultures among many more.

Reptiles such as Indian pythons, Indian cobras, krait, rat snakes, and vipers are nighttime animals, so rarely are seen. Many species of turtles and amphibians are found in or near the water bodies.

In its efforts to take care of and restore tiger habitats, WWF-India has worked to form corridors that support the tigers and their prey, thereby stabilizing the tiger population.

Kanha Tiger Safari

Few interesting facts about Kanha Tiger Reserve are:

1. The core area of Kanha Tiger reserve is 940 sq km.
2. Best season to visit there is February to June.
3. Morning visiting hours: 6:30 am to 11:00 am.
4. Evening visiting hours: 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
5. Kanha Tiger Reserve remains closed from 1 July to 15 October.
6. The Kanha Park became the perfect location for Stanley Breeden and Belinda Wright’s award winning National Geographic Film, “Land of the Tigers”.

I also had gone through several books of Jim Corbett. Kanha is famous for The Royal Bengal Tiger, or Panthera Tigris. The Royal Bengal Tiger is one of the most majestic creations of Mother Nature. The Royal Bengal tiger is seen in several regions in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Bhutan and Southern Tibet. For its grace, beauty and strength, India has picked this cat as its National Animal.

Few interesting facts about Royal Bengal Tiger are-

1. The Royal Bengal tigers have exceptional blend and pattern of strips and no two tigers will appear to be same.
2. The tigers are born killers. They know the particular point to attack on the body of any animal which will snap the life out of the body. The force with which they attack breaks the spine of any animal. Also when they have a hold on the neck of the animal it is complete that the animal is dead then.
3. The tigers will never roar while fighting instead they hiss and fluff. The roaring is usually when the tigers are calling out other tigers which are at a distance.
4. Unlike lions, Royal Bengal Tigers are considerate towards the females and children, therefore, when they catch prey, male tigers eat after the females and children have had their feast.
5. Night vision of these creatures is 6 times that of humans and hearing is 5 times more.
6. Also their roar can be heard from 2 miles away.

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7. Tigers don’t forget faces! Yes, Royal Bengal tiger have a robust memory than most of the animals and humans.
8. White Bengal tigers are a scarcity. These tigers are white because of gene mutation and are not albino because they have black strips over them.
9. Despite their heavy body, Royal Bengal Tigers can climb trees for their prey even though they are not made for climbing.
10. Royal Bengal Tiger is also a great swimmer.

Tourists from everywhere the earth visit Kanha to find the majestic king of the forest – The Royal Bengal Tiger and other wildlife, wildlife photography, enjoy the peaceful environs and spend time with family and friends. Most tourists visiting Kanha opt for Jungle excursions in open Gypsy to enjoy the forest and spot wild animals.

When visiting Kanha you would like to plan your jungle safari excursions and here is where many get confused. Kanha has zones for safaris and entry is through gates but mostly we get confused for zones regarding gates.

The Zones for Kanha Forest Safari :

Safari in kanha is conducted by the forest department and tourists are permitted to go to only 4 zones – Kanha, Kisli, Sarhi and Mukki, in core area. Along with we’ve 3 buffer zones – Khatia, Sijhora and Khapa, also available for safaris.

The Entry points:

Kanha national park have Khatia, Sarhi and Mukki these 3 gates are open for tourists.

Kanha Tiger Safari

Accessibility:

Khatia gate (also referred to as Kisli gate) is that the main entry gate for excursions. If you are staying near Khatia gate you can go to any of core zones for safari as well as visit Khatia buffer.
Sarhi gate is the northern gate and that we can visit Sarhi, Kanha and Kisli zones from this entry point. Sarhi gate doesn’t have good accommodation although Madhya Pradesh Tourism is developing with a property here and forest department runs some home stays. Hardly anyone stays at Sarhi side so most entry to Sarhi zone is from Khatia gate only.

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Kanha Tiger Safari

Mukki gate is best for entry to Mukki, Kanha and Kisli zones. Entry to Khatia, Sijhora and Khapa zones are easily reachable from Khatia, Sarhi and Mukki gates respectively. Khatia gate is easily reachable from Jabalpur, Raipur and Nagpur. Mukki side is straightforward to reach from Raipur and Bilaspur. Sarhi gate will be reached from Jabalpur, Raipur and Bilaspur easily.

Also read JABALPUR DIARY- PART II

Last updated on 19.01.21

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