Kanha Tiger Reserve: Call of the wild

February 2012 was indeed a special month to me. As I got chance to spend three weekends to three different Tiger Reserves. First it was Panna, then Kanha and finally Sariska (my 4th visit). Thanks to my dear friend Nitin Tripathi who is native of Chattarpur district of Madhya-Pradesh and decided to get married on the day of Valentine in Jabalpur. The first part of marriage ceremony was going to held at his home town which was near to Khajuraho and Panna Tiger Reserve and then the marriage was at Jabalpur which is near to Kanha.  I guess I was more excited than him to visit Kanha & Panna.



Kanha is one of the finest and best administered National Park in Asia. The flora and fauna of Kanha has made it an irresistible attraction for wild life lovers and a true heaven for its animal and avian population. Kanha’s sal and bamboo forests and vast grasslands have stretched over 940 sq km of natural splendor. Kanha Tiger Reserve created in 1947 under Project Tiger. Due to depletion in Tiger population this area was made into absolute sanctuary in 1952 and by a special statute in 1955, Kanha National Park came into its present existence.

Khatia (Near to Kisli gate) and Mukki are the two main entry points to the Kanha National Park. Khatia is around 175 km and Mukki is around 210 km from Jabalpur.

This unforgettable journey was started on Saturday (11.02.12) through MP Sampark Kranti Exp which is a best option to reach Jabalpur from Delhi. The 15 hour long journey was eloped in my excitement to reach the forest. From Jabalpur station either one can go to ISBT Jabalpur to catch the bus up to ‘Mandla’ as the first direct bus to Kanha is at 12:30 or just take a rickshaw that will charge 15 Rs to Empire talkies. The theater is not functioning, but it is a well known point to catch the bus for excursion from Jabalpur. Mandla is 95 km from Jabalpur, almost halfway to Kanha and Buses are plying at a regular interval of 10 minutes. The beautiful journey took me through the Satpura range of forest and low hills. It took around 3 and a half hour to Mandla. The bus to Kanha was scheduled at 2:30 so it gives me little time to explore this small town and to meet the local reporter of the channel I work for. The guy was very helpful and he made some special arrangement for me at Kanha that included a stay and Safari inside the park.

Mandla to Kanha was 75 km and this part of journey was mainly through tribal areas of Madhya Pradesh. The difference between have and have not was visible in every aspect of their life. People were arguing with bus conductor for as low as 2-5 Rs and they were ready to walk for few km if their demand was not accepted. The landscape was beautiful but sometime I could hardly able to locate a house, didn’t know how much these tribes were compelled to walk to catch a bus.

I reached Kanha by 5; my arrangement was made in a resort called ‘Vanya’. The resort was beautiful and I’ll write about it in a separate post. I roamed around few hours, had dinner and slept tight for a beautiful day that was supposed to reveal another part of heaven, as forest is known in my dictionary.


The safari starts at 6:30 in the morning and goes till 12. The evening safari starts at 3:30 and ends at 6, which means less time for same charges. Luckily the guide in morning safari was very enthusiastic, and knowledgeable that means chances of tiger show gets doubled, and that is what proved at end.

Our first encounter was with a male Indian-Bison. It was very interesting to know that if a male Bison is roaming alone that means he was forced to leave the group by females and now he has to regain his power to fight back and win his female again. Otherwise this could be his punishment to live and die alone.

This is a part of soil which is created by Termites through their larva. It is as much inside the ground as it is outside. It mainly contains the egg of termites which is favorite brunch of bear.

The safari usually halts at this point where one can have breakfast and enjoy the museum. The rates are very reasonable and one can also buy some souvenirs from here.

Kanha National Park is the only habitat in the world of the rare hard ground Barasingha. The good news is that their population is now on rise. It was very interesting to know that during mating season these Barasingha put some grass to their antlers and try to seduce their female.

In Sariska Tiger Reserve there are almost 10000 peacocks, and sometimes you felt like shouting…please no more…please no more…in Kanha though less in number but our national bird knows well that how to entertain their admirers.

Another interesting information I came across was about deer family. Male and female deer grow and shed new antlers each year. This characteristic differentiates them with antelope family as antelopes are permanently horned animals. You can see in image the velvet antlers of spotted dear which was in large numbers in Kanha. These velvet antlers though look beautiful but causes itching to deer, so they tend to rub there antlers to trees. During this season (February and March) you will see many trees with red color at their lower half. This is due to velvet antlers. Once deer shed these antlers they grow more firm horn in the later part of the year.

It is pretty common site in forest. These grasses are burnt intentionally so that the test of animals would get change and fresh grass could grow.

From this point the favorite game of forest began, i.e. ‘wait and chase’, without loosing patience and holding your luck.

Like in party after eating every crap we go for some delicious, mouth watering sweets, so here in the similar fashion I am going to present you the king of the forest, the nocturnal, the royal, the BAAP of everyone, when he walks on green carpet peacocks stop dancing, sambhar left their doshas, languor’s stick to their branches and few lucky like us start clicking to their heart content, the tiger.

While enjoying this video and looking at the images, I am going to tell you some secrets about this mighty creature. Tiger never stays in group (Obviously he is not a dog). He owns an area like any other brave soldiers, mostly after bloody riots, then mark the area by urinating around its perimeter and keep looking for it. He just can’t resist heat. That is the reason tiger mostly walk in the night, sometimes even 20-25 kms. In forest there is a common way of asking, what is the movement of the Tiger? Note the word movement. If he moves then it is for some purpose. Either to hunt or to secure his area. If his stomach is full he prefer to rest than wondering around aimlessly. He can sleep as much as 24 hours straight. Tiger is a very lazy creature. The main reason is his food habit. Because of the fresh meat he eats it causes heat in his stomach and makes him lazy.

When tiger feels threat then his tail gets erected like you can see in the image. We literally chase this female tigress to have a glimpse of her, following the different calls of the animals that our expert guide was getting. When we reached the location where she was supposed to cross the road, it was felt like we have almost blocked her way. Quick decision was made and one Gypsy just moved behind to give her the clear access.

In most of the Tiger Reserve the tigers are used to see the tourists. So chances are that they do not react until they feel any kind of threat. But sometime there are new tigers who are not as much exposed to human population so either they roar or came in attacking mode. That time it is advisable to stay calm and still. Any backward movement can alert these predators and they might attack. So, keep firm on your feet and shout as much as you can. It is believed that since tiger is a part of cat family so he is basically of shy nature and he will return without attacking. Though these are mere information I collected through various guides and co-traveler in forest and fortunately never required them to test.

Once tiger is located in Kanha, the information was transmitted to nearest check point/control room. Forest guide like this guy come immediately and inform the authority for probable Tiger Show, which is a unique concept especially in the forest of Madhya Pradesh like Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Pench and Panna. An elephant is called on, and he restricts tiger to make any movement. 200 Rs is collected to visitors and they got chance to see the tiger from closed proximity, riding on elephant back. However that day due to dense forest it was not possible to locate her movement. Anyways I was eternally satisfied so it hardly mattered to me.

It is also believed that the ‘Shravan Taal’ area in Kanha is the same place where the legendary Shravan Kumar gets killed by king Dashratha of Ayodhya, while he was taking his blind parents to pilgrimage.

There are as many as 150 Check point inside the Kanha Tiger Reserve. Each check point is occupied by 2-3 guards who are responsible for their area and its safety. During summer its very common that the forest catch the fire. Usually this happens  when dry bamboo trees gets rubbed with each other.

The guards has responsibility to  prevent the fire  as well take care of animals. Their lives are very tough. They usually have just a knife or a stick while roaming in forest on foot. This is a movie, showing the life of forest guards, that I purchased from Kanha Museum, inside the park.

Morning safari ends at 12 in the noon and evening safari starts at 3.30. Though I was not second time lucky but during evening safari since the route was different so I got the chance to see the beauty of the forest. 

Kanha is evergreen forest like Jim Corbett. Even if you do not encounter with tiger, every second you spend here is worth it. The forest is extremely dense and pleasantly beautiful. During our evening safari we saw two plastic bags thrown in the forest and the guide make sure to collect those so that it could not harm animals. Hats off to this sincerity and love for the forest. I was spellbound with all these efforts, the passion of tourist (many of them were foreigners), the simplicity and love of locals and guide towards the forest, probably these are the facts which make these places our most valuable assets.

Continue…

30 Comments

  • Wow…………………..Amit,

    First of welcome to ghumakkar after so much time.And too with a great bang. I am gone flat with this post. It is one of the best posts have seen in Ghumakkar. Apart from spiritual I am also in interested in wildlife endeavors………….

    But Since my priority is spiritual I go there. But Kanha is the place as written I will definately go.
    Everything was exceptional, the videos , the pics, the description. Apart from this the tiger and peacock were like big big cherries on the cake…………….

    once agains thanks for taking there.

    please give me some time i will reply your mail…………

    • Amit Kumar says:

      Thanks a lot Vishal Ji, I am glad that you liked it.
      I was indeed lucky to see tiger from such a proximity. The peacock dance was also amazing. Seeing the wild animals in their natural environment feels exceptionally good.
      Like your spiritual destinations I feel a sense of calmness in forests and mountains. May be in my previous birth I was “?????” of jungle book :-)
      Well jokes apart Kanha is a kind of place which will “chill and thrill” you at the same time.
      Thanks a lot for your kind words once again.
      Amit

  • Anupam Mazumdar says:

    Wow what beautiful pics and what beautiful description. Made my day.

    regards
    Anupam Mazumdar

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Long time Amit. Glad to see you back with your armory of Ghumakkadi tales.

    Very well written and complete with all the relevant info about access and the jungle. Thank you for posting the video, it was really amazing to see the BAAP cross over. Wow. Must be a different feeling. I have not been to Kanha but it on my list. I was introduced to ‘Tiger Show’ concept in Bandhavgarh for the first time. I am not sure on whether it is the best way to sight a tiger but anyway.

    For some of the pics, the watermark is ruining the feel.

    Look fwd to read more.

    • Amit Kumar says:

      Thanks a lot Nandan :-)
      It’s always my pleasure to be a part of Ghumakkar family. Sometimes I think that whenever we arrange some kind of meet for Ghumakkars, how exciting it would be. Now many of us are in touch through phone and mail and the kind of appreciation, encouragement and suggestion we get here is the only reason to keep writing.
      You are right about tiger show, I am too not in favor to watch tiger like this. The feeling of chase and then see is something else. The watermark was post in hurry so it may got placed wrongly in few images. I’ll take careof this in my new series of posts.

      Amit

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    Well done wild life specialist :-)

    The information given by you regarding tiger’s behavior was new for me. You are very much right that one can enjoy the natural beauty of jungle with even encountering the wild cat.

    I have been to Jim Corrbet 2-3 time never encounter tiger but still I can say that I enjoyed a lot my trip.

    You have been to Jim Corrbet , Ranthambore , Sariska , Panna & Kanha , All must be equally good but if you have to choose one which one will you choose.

    Looking forward to next post.

    • Amit Kumar says:

      “Wild life specialist” quite an honor Mahesh Ji :-)
      Though not specialist but after seeing 5 national parks and 3 tigers, I can say myself “Wild life enthusiast” for sure.
      If you ask to choose me one I’ll surely go with Jim Corbett then comes Kanha. The reason you have already mentioned. Both of these forests are evergreen. Nature is at its best here, truly unspoilt. Rest are dry and deciduous forest so, if you will not encounter something interesting you will get bored. Tiger show is purely matter of chance but being in forest is itself an experience.
      Amit

  • SilentSoul says:

    Very good post Amit !! A different experience for me. I have been to Sariska and Corbette, but could never see any tiger.

    The incident of Baagh crossing among the jeeps is quite bone chilling.

    Photos are great, only in some the water-mark placement disturbed the view. It is best in the right hand lower corner.

    Keep sharing.. I understand you are coming with a flood of posts

    • Amit Kumar says:

      Thanks a lot SS Sir. Glad you liked it :-)

      Tiger show is purely matter of chance but the experience of forest is still amazing.

      You can hear a sound in video where someone says “gap bana-gap gap”. Actually we were sure that she is going to cross from this point and when it felt that we are blocking her path it could be a life threatening mistake. With her erected tail you can see that she was in defensive mood. All this excitement was indeed bone chilling and thrilling.

      Sorry about wrongly placed water mark. I have already scheduled few posts so from next time onwards I’ll take care of your suggestion.

      Amit

  • Mukesh Bhalse says:

    ????,
    ????? ?????? ?? ??? ???????? ?? ?????, ?? ?? ???? ?????? ????? ?? ???. ?? ???, ??? ? ???. ???? ???? ?? ???? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ???? ???? ??? ???? ??, ??? ?? ????? ?????? ????? ???? ?? ???? ???? ??? ??? ???? ?? ?? ???????? ?? ???? ????? ???? ?? ???? ???? ?? ???? ?????? ????? ???? ???? ?? ???. ???? ???????? ?? ?? ?? ???????? ?? ???? ???? ?? ????? ?? ??? ??? ?? ??.

    ?? ??? ?? ????? ?? ???? ???, ???? ?????? ?? ???? ?? ?????? ?? ???? ?????? ??? ?? ?? ?? ????? ???, ????? ??? ??? ???? ?? ???? ???? ????? ?? ?? ???, ?????? ?? ????????? ?? ?????? ?? ???? ?? ????? ?? ????. ????? ?? ???? ?? ???? ????? ???? ????? ????, ??????? ???? ???? ???? ???????? ?? ????? ?? ??? ?? ??????? ?? ??? ??. ???? ??? ??? ?? ??? ??? ??????? ?? ??? ????? ????? ????? ?? ?? ???.

    ??????? ???????? ??? ??? ????? ??? ?? ???? ??? ????? ??? ?? ??? ?? ????? ???? ?? ?????? ??? ?? ???? ?? ??? ?? ???? ???? ??????? ???? ????? ?????? ?? ?? ??? ??? ??.

    ???? ?????? ????? ??? ???????? ??????? ??? ????? ??????? ?? ??? ???????.

    • Amit Kumar says:

      Thanks a ton Mukesh ji.

      You are very kind and your comments meant something special to me. I was not getting time to write though I traveled few places in this interval and now sharing all those.

      You are lucky that you belong to “Tiger state of India”. In-fact not only Kanha but the entire reason of Satpura forest and Maikal forest range is so beautiful. The landscape is amazing, local tribes and their life-style are another attraction.

      Amit

  • subodhkyadav says:

    Great Photographs makes a travelogue much more interesting and Amit you have done that with an ease. My parents are in Jabalpur and I normally makes couple of trips in a year to them but have never ever have thought of visiting Kanha but after reading your post I am definitely will visit to Kanha ..

    • Amit Kumar says:

      Thanks a lot Subodh Ji for your kind words :-)

      Whenever I go to forest it always get difficult that whether to see it or to capture it. And most of time spent in making this balance. Though I have carried handycam and a still camera this time, but sometimes it was hard to decide whether to see, click or record. Anyways I am glad that you liked the images.

      If your parents are in Jabalpur that means you have already won half the battle. It is just 6 hour from there. Definitely visit Kanha and you will never regret it.

      Amit

  • ???? ????? ???? ?? , ???? ???? ?? ??? ????? ????? ,???? ?? ??????? ?? ???? ??? ?? ??? ??? ???? ?? ????? ??? ???? ?? ?? ??????? ?? ???? ??? ?????? ?? ???? ?????? ?? ??? ????? ?? ?? ???? ???? ?? ……………..?? ???? ????? ?? ??? ???? ??? ??? ???? ?? ???? ???? ??????? ?? ????? ???? ?? ?? ???? ???????? ?? ??? ????

  • Ritesh Gupta says:

    ???? ??…… ???? ?? ??????? ?? ????? ???? ???? ?????? ????? ???? ?????? ?? ???? | ???? ?? ???????? ??????? ?? ????? ?????? ??? ???? ?? ??? ?????? ?? ????? ???? ?? ??? ?? ?????? ?? ?? ??? ?? ?????? ?? ???? ??? | ???? ???? ??? ?????? ???? ?????? ?? ???? ?? ???????? ?? ????? ????? ??? |

    Thanks for sharing this nice post.

  • Manish Kumar says:

    Nice informative article. What were the safari rates?

    • Amit Kumar says:

      Thanks a lot Manish Ji.
      For safari you need to hire entire Gypsy that charges around 1500 Rs for jeep, 530 for permit, 300 for guide charges plus entry fee for each person that I am not sure, because my arrangement was done by local reporter of channel so I didn’t paid anything. Overall for 6 person (max) it costs around 3600 Rs.

  • Vibha says:

    Dear Amit,

    Nice to see you back and with such a superb post!

    I love tigers but have never seen one in the wild. So I consider you very lucky. There are three incidents in your post that make me feel particularly happy:

    1) When the jeeps were moved to make way for the tigress. Such sensitivity towards wildlife is very rarely seen.
    2) When the guard took the pains to pick up the plastic bags. I feel that such people should be rewarded to encourage more such responsible actions.
    3) And of course when the tigress made an appearance for you.

    Thanks for taking us through Kanha! Looking forward to your next post.

    • Amit Kumar says:

      Thanks a lot Vibha.

      Indeed I feel lucky to see tigers in their natural habitat. You rightly mentioned about those incidents. National Parks should visited by those who are actually in love with it. Last month I was in Sariska too and a group of hooligans were making noise and trying to disturb the animals. I protested and there was a little argument went on but guide and drivers took my side and they compelled to behave.
      One should not forget that we are the guest and they are the owners.

      Thanks again
      Amit

  • Chandra81 says:

    Welcome back Amit
    It’s been long but as expected a good comeback :-)
    Description of fauna, as usual, is quite informative as well as extensive.
    Good work and how I envy you …Do you know I had to cancel my trip to Ranthambore which was scheduled for tomorrow because of hectic workdays.
    But then there’s always a next time :-)
    Keep traveling keep sharing.
    Cheers!
    Nikhil

    • Amit Kumar says:

      Thanks a lot Nikhil Bhai.
      It was indeed an opportunity because of extended weekend, better luck next time :-)
      I always look forward for your posts related to wildlife. May be we can go some place together in future. And I too envy you for your photography skills :-)
      Regards to one of my favorite wild life enthusiast.
      Amit

  • D.L.Narayan says:

    Great post, Amit, and it was great to see a post from you after quite some time. It was pure infotainment.

    Sort of scary, though, to see people in open-air jeeps with a tiger on the prowl with its tail up. I also wonder why forest guards are so poorly equipped on their patrols. On bikes, without tasers or tranquilising dart guns….is it bravery or plain foolishness? I feel really sorry for them and really appreciate the good job they are doing in spite of everything.

    • Amit Kumar says:

      Thank you sir :-)

      Have you seen the last video it was about and dedicated to those guards who are protecting the wild life in spite of every odds. Even forest guards are not allowed to carry arms because they are not suppose to react even if they feel threat by animals. Have you noticed in a image that two guards are sitting opposite to each other they were deployed to track the movement of tigers. One of them told us that a tigress had just crossed the path. Still they always managed to retain their calm and do their duty.

      Amit

  • vinaymusafir says:

    Truly amazing post!
    All images and videos are adding great values.
    You can work for travel magazines, we should start one.
    I must say that tigers like you, they love to see you.

    Jangle jungle baat chali hai pata chala hai,
    Amit ko dekhne sher chala hai sher chala hai.

    Waiting for the rest of the part.

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