A trip to Kanha

The Khatia gate entrance - opens at 6 am and closes by 6 pm.
The Khatia gate entrance – opens at 6 am and closes by 6 pm.

Kanha national park is among the largest sanctuaries in India. 5 of us visited it during the Holi weekend (Mar 8-11, 2012).

A 9-hr bus trip from Hyderabad to Nagpur and then a 6-hr cab from Nagpur to Khatia gate, the same way back. The total cost of the trip including food and lodging came to about Rs. 7K per head.

The national park can be entered by 3 gates – Khatia (which is the most popular), Mukki and Serai. The park is divided into various zones with Kanha being the base camp and innermost zone. Only forest department officials are permitted in these zones. This area is surrounded by a buffer zone, where human habitation is allowed. The forest rangers use elephants for their daily patrolling activities.

This beautiful sanctuary mostly consists of tall Sal trees and bamboo, and grasslands with small lakes in between. There are about 90 Royal Bengal tigers in this huge sanctuary. Project Tiger and other similar initiatives have saved this magnificent animal from extinction.

On the first day, we went for the morning (6-11 am) and evening (3-6 pm)  safaris. The next morning, we went for a walk along the nature trail. Rules are strict inside the sanctuary – no cellphones, no getting down from the jeep (except on the nature walk), no bright-coloured clothes, no shouting, no plastics to be thrown. The guides and the jeep drivers were very passionate, we could see that they cared for the nature.

We weren’t lucky on either of the safaris – no tiger sightings for us. 😦 But we did manage to see the Barasingha deer, for which Kanha is actually famous for. During 1980s, there were just a handful of them left in the world. Special breeding and conservation programs have led to an increase to about 350 today. These deer are found only in Kanha, in the world.

We also saw the Indian bison, the wild pig, the very rare barking deer, the spotted deer, the famed Sambar deer and a variety of rare birds like the tiger bird and the horn bill. After reading on the net that Rudyard Kipling was inspired by this jungle to write his famous novel Jungle Book, I wanted to visit the place where he stayed, but time didn’t permit us.

By the way, the famous Hindi film dialogue “Jhund me toh kutte shikaar karte hai, sher toh hamesha akela hi aata hai” (Dogs hunt in packs, a tiger always comes alone) is true, I confirmed it with the experienced guide. 😀

In Nagpur, we visited the Zero mile monument. The British had identified this place as the geographical centre of India, measuring from Karachi to Kolkata. Constructed in 1907, the pillar’s height was also used as a benchmark for mean sea level. Located near a traffic junction, very few Nagpur visitors are aware of this landmark.

Read a related post here.

The Zero Mile monument.
The Zero Mile monument.
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