Kanha's sal and bamboo forests, rolling grasslands and meandering streams stretch over 940 sq km in dramatic natural splendor which form the core of the Kanha Tiger Reserve created in 1974 under Project Tiger. The park is the only habitat of the rare hardground barasingha (Cervus Duvaceli Branderi)
In the 1930s, the Kanha area was divided into two sanctuaries, Hallon and Banjar, of 250 and 300 sq km each. Though one of these was subsequently disbanded, the area remained protected until 1947. Depletion of the tiger population in the years that followed led to the area being made an absolute sanctuary in 1952.
By a special statute in 1955, Kanha National Park came into being. Since then, a series of stringent conservation programmes for the protection of the park's flora and fauna has given Kanha its deserved reputation for being one of the finest and best administered National Parks in Asia, an irresistible attraction for all wildlife lovers and a true haven for its animal and avian population.
Best season: November to June. The Park is closed from 1 July to 15th October due to rains.
Kanha has some 22 species of mammals. Those most easily spotted are the striped palm squirrel, common langur, jackal, wild pig, chital or spotted deer, barasingha or swamp deer, sambar and blackbuck.
Less commonly seen species are : tiger, Indian hare, dhole or Indian wild dog, barking deer and Indian bison or gaur. Patient watching should reward the visitor with a sight of: Indian fox, sloth bear, striped hyena, jungle cat, leopard, mouse deer, chausingha or four horned antelope, nilgai, ratel and porcupine.
Very rarely seen species are : Wolf, which lives in the far east of the park, chinkara, to be found outside the park's northern boundary, Indian pangolin, the smooth Indian otter and the small Indian civet.
Avian Species : Kanha has some 200 species of birds. Watchers should station themselves in the hills, where the mixed and bamboo forests harbor many species and in the grassy forest clearings. Water birds can be seen near the parks many rivulets and at Sarvantal, a pool that is frequented by water birds and the area in front of the museum.
The sal forests do not normally yield a sight of Kanha's avifauna. Early mornings and late afternoons are best for bird watching, binoculars are an invaluable aid to the watcher.
Commonly seen species include: cattle egret, pond heron, black ibis, common peafowl, crested serpent, racket-tailed drongo, Hawk eagle and red wattled lapwing, various species of flycatcher, woodpecker, pigeon, dove, parakeet, babbler and mynah, Indian roller, white breasted kingfisher and grey hornbill.
Forest Department guides accompany visitors around the park on mapped-out circuits which enable viewers to see a good cross-section of Kanha's wildlife. The best areas are the meadows around Kanha, where blackbuck, chital and barasingha can be seen throughout the day.
Jeep and Elephant Hire
MPSTDC jeeps are available on hire for touring the park. Elephants are used for tiger tracking and should a tiger be located, the elephant can take visitors to the site.
Known as Sunset Point, this is one of the most beautiful areas of the park, from where a spectacular sunset can be watched. The dense luxuriance of Kanha's forests can be seen from here. Animals that can be sighted around this point are typical of the mixed forest zone; sambar, barking deer, gaur and four-horned antelope.
Climate & Seasons
February to June, although the cool season is much more comfortable and still very good for wildlife. (The park is closed from July 1 to September 30 because of the monsoon).
For those planning a visit, a stay of at least three nights is recommended in order to have a good chance of seeing the more elusive animals � although, of course, a brief visit will also be very interesting.
What to wear
Cottons, but bring woolens as well, as early mornings and evenings can be chilly, especially in a moving jeep and in the cool season. Try not to wear loud colors.
To ENSURE least disturbances to wildlife habitats, especially in national parks covered under Project Tiger Madhya Pradesh Government has a different pattern for wildlife tourism for coming season. To be implemented from this year, entries to the premier zones of national parks would become an opportunity exclusively for people falling under riches.
Making slight changes from previous years, entry fee for premier zone Kesli Gate at Kanha National Park would be 2,230 INR for Indian tourists and 3730 INR for foreigners.
Khatia (3 km from Kisli) and Mukki are the two main entry points to the Kanha National Park. From Jabalpur, Kisli is 165 km via Chiraidongri, and Mukki is 203km via Motinala and Garhi. For travelers from Bilaspur (182km), Raipur (213 km) and Balaghat (83km), Mukki on State Highway No.26 is more convenient. From Nagpur, Kisli is 259 km via Nainpur and Chiraidongri, and Mukki is 289km via Balaghat.
Nearest airports are at Jabalpur (160 km), Raipur (240km) and Nagpur (335km).
Most convenient railheads are at Jabalpur and Bilaspur.
There is a daily bus service available for Kisli and Mukki from Jabalpur and back . Taxis are available for hire from Jabalpur, Bilaspur and Raipur. It is advisable to reach Kisli before sunset as vehicles are not permitted within the park after dark.