A prized tourist attraction in the state of Madhya Pradesh, Kanha National Park could easily be the playground of ‘Mowgli’, the lovable fictional character from Jungle Book and ‘Shere Khan’, his evil antagonist. It isn’t though – that distinction belongs to Seoni, a small town over 120 km away.
Kanha does have a landscape evoking the same mystique. Grassy meadows, bamboo forests, Sal, Tendu, and Mahua trees, which are the lifeline of the human population in these parts, all come together to create a wilderness that affords the same refuge to lizards as it does to tigers.
Should you have dreamed of sighting a tiger in the wild, Kanha is a good bet with over 130 tigers living in roughly a 1950 square km area. Summer is a good time to see the majestic animal as he reveals himself in the quest for a drink and a dip in the muddy streams that criss-cross the terrain. Join people in jeeps or on elephants as they hunt for the hunter – not literally of course! If you’re lucky, you might spot the real star of these parts - ‘Munna’, a much photographed tiger who is now ageing.
Tigers are not the only reason nature lovers come to Kanha though. The hard ground swamp deer or ‘Barasingha’ is a species that is now found only in Kanha, two localities in Assam, and six localities in Uttar Pradesh. Once a common sight in grasslands they fell prey to unregulated hunting and loss of habitat as large grasslands were converted to agricultural land. Now, Kanha considers them the crown jewel among the many species that run, crawl, swim, fly, and slither on its protected premises. You have the chance to spot over 1,000 species of flowering plants, around 300 species of birds, and over 110 species of butterflies.
If you are looking for more, there are museums to visit, and shopping to do. Step into the Kanha Museum near the entrance of Kisli Gate to see animal skeletons and the like or The Tribal Museum near Mukki Gate for a peek into interesting facets of tribal lifestyle through photographs, information panels, items of everyday use like pots, utensils etc. It also might have artists at work and you could buy handicrafts made by the Gond and Baiga tribes at the curio shop. If art interests you, visit the Kanha Museum of Life and Art on the premises of Singinawa Jungle Lodge for a look at paintings by renowned artists like Jangarh Singh Shyam or for buying unique art pieces at the gift shop. One thing is for sure, you will find more than one reason to keep coming back to Kanha.
The author is a travel writer, blogger, and amateur photographer. She blogs at https://pixelvoyages.com and vlogs at http://bit.ly/2pNmXYC