Magical MP – Kanha

After a break of 2 days from Forest, we were ready to head to Kanha, it was once again an excellent stretch of road through Dindori-Mandla-Kanha. We booked accommodation in Kanha FRH at Khatia Gate. In this end there are 2 gates, Khatia and Kisli (couple of km further towards forest), earlier the safari used to start from Kisli but as park is being expanded, now the safaris start from Khatia Gate itself. In Kisli (which is by now within park) only available accommodation is with MP Tourism. MP Tourism is allotted land now outside Khatia Gate and they are in process of moving the Guest House out of the park boundary. In Khatia gate, you would have lots of accommodation options are various range but FRH is excellent location wise as that’s closest to park gate. The Park has three zones, Kanha is the most favored among tourists, Mukki comes next and the least visited zone is Sarhi. A local guide told me, the road through the park from Kanha to Mukki or the reverse way can be traveled by paying entry fees of both gates in 3 specific days of week, haven’t verified that information with forest department, but I am pretty sure, it would be a great jungle drive from kanha to mukki if at all allowed by forest department. Kanha gate is more accessible from Jabalpur (Northern) end and Mukki is better approachable from south side. Nearest rail head to Mukki is Rajnandgaon on Kolkata – Mumbai via Nagpur section. Kanha FRH is having options of 2 types of Air Cooled Rooms, newer costs 500 and older 400 per day. I have taken the newer ones and would say they are extreme value for money. The food cost in all the FRH are same, they charge you flat Rs.100/- per meal per person for standard veg meal including eggs. You can expect to pay more for a Non Veg dish, quantity is unlimited, as much as you can eat. The food was good in both Bandhavgarh and Kanha FRH. The forest rates are same as Bandhavgarh except the Jeep Charges. Here for Morning safaris (between 6.15am to 12.00noon, though people usually leave by 11.00am) Jeep rate is 1500 and for evening (3.15pm to 6.15pm) it is 1000. Now again you could manage it by Rs.2000 for both the safaris in a day if you can bargain. Options are plenty to choose from. But once again as you can’t choose your guide here, choosing an expert driver helps. I took the service of Imrat, who is having around 20 yrs experience in Kanha and he was brilliant. His younger brother Sadan Yadav is a guide there and he was my point of contact in Kanha like Mukesh in Bandhavgarh. Imrat can himself be a guide as well as he knows almost all mammals and birds there and in my trip to B’garh, Pench and Kanha I didn’t find anyone better than him to understand tiger tracking. Here though we have seen tiger twice in our 3 safaris but from quite a distance unlike what we have seen in Bandhavgarh. Also due to vastness of park it is more difficult to spot a tiger here than Bandhavgarh. But still we enjoyed it more here as the charm of tracking the big cat in an absolute wilderness like Kanha with an experienced tracker is something you should have to feel. He understands the movement so well and we were in true sense running behind it, the hide and seek game it was playing with us, the start and sudden stop of alarm calls, change in call direction, running towards that end, understanding and guessing its movement all adds more thrill to the experience. Kanha tested our patience and it was really an effort that is worth spending to gain this experience.

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As a forest, I liked it most in comparison to others just because of the vastness and varieties of landscapes it offers. Kanha surely deserves at least a week from any wild life lover, I would say. Guide told us there are some 200 odd routes available for safaris in Kanha. (in comparison to 4 to 6 routes in Bandhavgarh/Pench).

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We have seen what all we have seen in Bandhavgarh and in addition to that we have seen the Indian Gaur (few call it as bison too, though they are completely different) and Barasingha. This rare species of deer family is Kanha’s main attraction and you would see them in herds here. They are simply amazing. We had also a very close encounter with couple of wild dogs here whose sightings are rare too. This year MP Forest department took 19 Gaurs from Kanha and placed them in Bandhavgarh in a protected zone, may be from next year onwards you may see them in Bandhavgarh as well.

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