Kanha National Park (also known as Kanha Tiger Reserve) is the largest national park in Madhya Pradesh. It is located 160 km from Jabalpur and was declared a national park in 1955. It is home to around 300 species of resident and migratory birds. The eagle, red jungle fowl, common peafowl, bee-eater, Indian roller, racquet-tailed drongo, Indian grey hornbill and the Malabar pied hornbill are some of the rare species that can be spotted here.
This national park is the only home in India for the barasingha (swamp deer), also known as the jewel of Kanha National Park. The sal and bamboo forests make spotting the Royal Bengal tiger, leopards, sloth bears, sambhars, chitals, gaur and the Indian wild dog easier here. While the possibility of spotting a tiger at the Bandhavgarh National Park is higher than at Kanha, the entire safari experience is far more fulfilling here. There are several gates to the national park, Khatiya gate being the most popular one.
A seven-km nature trail leads into the forest from the Khatiya gate; tigers venture in this area occasionally. There are many more animals you can spot here like the jackal, fox, porcupine, jungle cat, python, hare, monkey and mongoose. DO SEE Top 5 national parks in Madhya Pradesh every wildlife lover must visit
This is also the forest that inspired British author Rudyard Kipling to write The Jungle Book.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN KANHA NATIONAL PARK
Kanha National Park has accommodation for all budgets. While budget (ie dormitory) accommodation can cost anywhere around Rs 1,000 per night, mid-range hotels will set you back by Rs 2500 or more. The luxury cottages located in the buffer zone of the park cost between Rs 5,000 and Rs 15,000 a night. Many hotels offer bird watching, trekking, jeep safaris, bonfire and tribal dance shows for tourists for a price. Apart from this, regular services like doctor-on-call, car rentals and laundry service are available at all hotels.
Though foreign exchange isn’t available at the park, there is an ATM a few kilometers from the Khatiya gate that accepts international cards too. Hotels usually have local guides to take tourists for jungle walks. Some of the best options are Shergarh tented camp, 999 Wildlife Resort, Kanha Resort and Kanha Village Eco Resort.
While accommodation in the villages outside the buffer zone is cheaper, you will end up spending more since transport and other fees (which come at discounted rates for hotels inside the buffer zone) will add to your expenses.
BEST PLACES TO EAT IN KANHA NATIONAL PARK
Food and snacks in the park are affordable and are not exorbitantly priced. Most resorts have in-house restaurants that provide tourists with healthy and scrumptious meals. There are several dhabas on the way to Kanha that serve hygienic food, so carrying snacks along is not necessary. Though most of these restaurants have a fixed menu, some customized requests are considered too.