Kanha: You don’t just come here for the Tiger.

I missed watching the Tiger in Bandavgarh. In Kanha the sighting are rarer still so i stood no chance. But i was happy to make do with the Gaur-the largest cattle in the world. Loved the muscles on the guy but if you look at them carefully they do look funnily built. I guess just like the over pumped guys we know at our gyms (Sanjay_Austa)

Gaur-the largest cattle in the world and even the tiger gives it a wide berth.

If you want to hit the heart of Kipling’s India then you must work hard towards it.  First you must make the eleven  hour overnight train journey from New Delhi to Jabalpur. Then brace yourself for a 175 kilometer road  trip that winds its way through broad leafed teak forests, dusty towns and multitude of tribal villages.

Kanha National Park forms the core of Madhya Pradesh’s tribal belt and attracts only serious wildlife aficionados. It is not a wildlife sampler for weekend tourists who skydive into forests and then leave in a hurry. The nearest airport and train station is 175 kilometers away in Jabalpur.

But you  don’t come here only for the tiger.  Though the elusive beast is the main attraction  and unlike  Bandhavgarh,  where spotting the striped feline  is easy, you may come away not getting a glimpse of him at all. However  Kanha is archetypal Jungle Book territory and has a lot  going on in its secret folds.

Two male spotted deer in Kanha Tiger reserve, Madhya Pradesh (Sanjay_Austa)

Two male spotted deer in Kanha Tiger reserve, Madhya Pradesh.

The jungle overrun with tall grass, taller legends, secret glades and dark thickets  hides other exotic treasures most noticeably the Gaur or the Indian bison. This gentle  giant has  an awkward body design- smallish head topped over by a primordial hump, it remind you of  the over-pumped up guys at the gym. The Gaur is the largest bovine in the world. Even the  tiger gives the gaur a wide birth but the opportunist hunter that  he is, he wont let slip a chance to steal their calf.

Besides thick bush, Kanha has large swathes of open grasslands. Once the habitat of local tribals, who were  translocated to  the park’s fringe, these grasslands  now inhabit forest  grazers most notably the swamp deer or barasingha. Kanha, infact boasts of an impressive breeding program for the barasingha reviving them from the verge of extinction. There are fenced in pockets within the park where their  breeding program is in full swing.

Rarer still to view than even the elusive tigers and the leopards are the wild India dogs  who hunt in  formidable packs of two dozen and more.

Safari Jeeps wade past the Kanha jungle stream, Madhya Pradesh (Sanjay_Austa)

Safari Jeeps wade past the Kanha jungle stream, Madhya Pradesh.

But besides the wealth of flora and fauna, Kanha offers a ringside view to tribal India. Tiger Biologist Latika Rana who has been involved in tiger conservation in Madhya Pradesh says Kanha offers a lot more than just the wildlife. ‘’ Usually tourists come.  They stay in the Lodges. Go to the park and then  go away. They don’t get to see the local people here at all. These are the people who are involved in guarding the jungles. We want to give the tourists a  chance  to see them too’’, she says.

Singinawa her tourist lodge she runs in Kanha with her husband Nanda, organizes  cultural evenings where tribals showcase their traditional  dances to the tourists in all their tribal finery.

The nomadic tribes like the banjaras,  the gonds and  and the baigas- many of whom were ousted from the jungles thus  find newer ways of employment.

 (sanjay austa      sanjayausta@gmail.)


As in all national parts in India there is an urgent need to involve and not exclude the tribal communities in conservation and protection of forests.

A lot of tribals lived inside the forests leading a life of relative harmony. But ever since their ouster from the park many of them live in abject penury.

This  leads to  resentment and the poachers exploit this to their advantage. The tribals are excellent trackers  and the poachers hire them to track the tiger. ‘’ If the tribal are involved in conservation we wont need armed guards to protect our forests.  A poacher cannot enter any reserve if the tribals are on our side. Without their knowledge the poachers cannot do anything.’’, says Latika.

How to Get here:

From Delhi: You can either take an overnight train to Jabalpur or fly in.

From Jabalpur you have to make the 175km road journey to Kanha.



One Response to “Kanha: You don’t just come here for the Tiger.”

  1. farah khan says:

    wow, its a good information about-“Kanha National Park”.

Leave a Reply