What can you do at Kanha?
Kanha National Park is spread over 2000 Sq. Kms including core and buffer forest area. One of the best managed Tiger reserves of India, it is visited by tourists from all over the world to enjoy wildlife safari, spot tiger and other free roaming animals in their natural habitat. With most of the hotels at Kanha and tour operators, selling tiger safari packages people tend to miss that this one of the most beautiful forests of central India has so much more to offer.
Visiting Kanha tiger reserve only to see the big cat is, I personally feel, the biggest blunder any tourist can make. But, due to dearth of information about other activities and attractions around Kanha I will certainly say it is not the tourists fault since the accommodation providers, wildlife tour operators as well as tourism department does not provide detailed information. Most tour packages for Kanha National Park only have tiger safari options. Here I present a list of activities and attractions which most of the resorts at Kanha and wildlife lodges at Kanha will be able to help you with.
Tiger Safari: Certainly the most famous activity for this world famous national park. It is conducted in two parts morning and noon wherein tourists visit the core area in 4 x 4 Gypsy vehicles. Safaris are conducted on designated zones and roads with a guide provided by the forest department.
Elephant Safari: A very good way to see the dense forest where your safari Gypsy cannot take you due to lack of roads is on elephant back. But, I personally am against this since we need the elephants for patrolling and not joy rides so best avoided as there are other better ways of exploring the forest like – on foot.
Jungle Walk: Tiger reserve management has made few pathways in the buffer area of tiger reserve where you can take a walk with help of a guide which is made available on payment of a small amount at the Khatia / Mukki entry gate. I will suggest – sacrifice a safari for it and you will never regret your decision. Here you will be able to enjoy the forest more, see those small things which we normally miss sitting on a safari vehicle and certainly be able to appreciate the bio-diversity in much better way. Guide fees of 200/- has to be paid at the ticket counter including which the total cost comes to around 750/- per group of 6 people.
Bird Watching: Kanha forest has more than 280 bird species which can be seen inside and outside the core area. Different species of birds choose different type of forests from open to scrub to dense or grass land. Every season has its own advantage like in winters many migratory birds visit this area but some locals one migrate to further southern region and come back in summers. Near water body or around it is the best area to see birds. You can visit the core area to see those flying wonders that prefer dense forests and take walks in the buffer area to appreciate ones which do not hesitate of humans. Check list of birds in Kanha is available and can be purchased at local store or downloaded from www.kanhavillage.com.
Wildlife Photography: One beautiful photograph can change heart of so many making them fall in love with nature and wildlife converting them in to conservationists. Today wildlife nature photography as a hobby is catching up very fast amongst our younger generation and why not, it is one of the best ways to appreciate our natural heritage and wildlife. When at Kanha you can take wildlife safari in the core forest as well as walks in the buffer area to do photography. Here I would certainly request that always keep photography ethics in mind and do not ever force your guide or driver in any way to break any rule just to take one unusual photograph.
MPCA visit: Medicinal Plantation Conservation Area (MPCA) located near village Boda Chhapri, in buffer of Kanha Tiger Reserve is one place you should visit to see the diverse plant species found in Kanha landscape. Here you will be able to observe some of those rare herbs which are used in traditional medicines and are even raw material for modern medicine. Ask your accommodation provider in Kanha to arrange a local Vaidya or Ojha who will be able to describe in detail about all trees and herbs you see and tell about its medicinal properties. This costs around Indian Rupees 750/- to 1000/- per group of 6 people.
Tribal village visit: Plan to visit one of those Baiga villages around Kanha to see how the actual guardians of central Indian forests used to live. Baiga tribal are one of the oldest inhabitants of our forests and understand the local biodiversity as the back of their palm. One of the most famous of them was Late Manglu Baiga about whom we hear stories that how he has helped officers earn their Doctorate degrees but he himself always remained what he was from the first day, a true nature warrior and lover of Kanha’s vast natural heritage. Although modern world and influx of tourists has certainly changed their life style to certain extent but visiting a Baiga village has its own appeal.
Yoga and Meditation: Today’s demanding life sucks out all life juice from our mind and body. Just sit back and relax under any tree enjoying the beautiful natural heritage around, listening to the music of nature, reading a book, making a painting or sketch. Believe me even though resorts in Kanha do not offer it but this is one of the best activity and least harmful for our forests. If a group of people are planning they can take a Yoga or spiritual guru along and take full advantage of calm atmosphere of Kanha.
Rejuvenation and wellness: Peaceful and relaxing atmosphere around Kanha is one of the best places to rejuvenate and re-energize your mind and body. Hotels in Kanha can arrange massage for guests which along with jungle walks, swimming and simple food can help a lot. Although we do not have specialized spa and wellness resorts at Kanha but facility for same can be arranged by many.
Star gazing: ‘Twinkle Twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are’ – we all have heard of this beautiful poem sometimes or other. In cities we do not see those twinkles due to lighting all around, pollution and Television. At Kanha you can sit out with all lights shut off and see the stars and constellations, remembering those good old times when you were young and so fascinated by those diamonds in the sky and lady on the moon.
Kanha national park is in Mandla district with its head quarters just 45 Kms from Khatia. Interested people can see Fort and Palace of Gond kings, some old temples or take a dip in holy river Narmada. There are a few souvenir shops in Kanha where you can purchase items made by local tribal and villagers for your loved and dear ones.
Before I forget, one activity which I like the most when at Kanha, forget all your work, just give time to your other half and try to understand him / her better. Take a stroll with her / him while birds singing in the background provide perfect musical romantic mood and trees ideal ambience.
Come Celebrate Nature Celebrate Life