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Kanha Tiger Reserve

Located in Madhya Pradesh, a state that accounts for most of India’s royal Bengal tiger population, the Kanha Tiger Reserve was one of the first few Project Tiger reserves to be established. Also known as the Kanha-Kisli National Park, it sits between Bandhavgarh and Pench Tiger Reserves, both of which also have a flourishing tiger population.

Although the royal Bengal tigers are its primary attraction, visitors should look beyond the tigers as it’s also home to a large number of rare birds, predators, antelopes and deers, and over 1000 species of flowering plants. Kanha also has its very own sunset point, the Bamni Darbar.

The History‌ ‌of‌ Kanha Tiger Reserve

The Gond dynasty ruled the area for centuries prior to the 19th century. Since then, hunter-gatherers and cultivators of the Gonds and Baigas tribes have inhabited the region. Over the years, the tribes have become accustomed to living alongside the wildlife and have learned about their behaviours. What they know has been passed down through generations, and several of their descendants act as local tour guides on the safari in the Kanha park.

  • 1862: The forest department prohibited the cutting of bijou, shisham, sal, saja, and teak trees without official authorisation. Having taken such a huge decision in the early years has benefited the park.
  • 1879: The Kanha area was declared as a reserve forest.
  • 1880: In 1880, the region was turned into a hunting ground. Hunting was an elaborate activity at the time, including large hunting parties shooting animals as they rode on elephants.
  • 1923: A. A Dunbar Brander book “Wild Animals in Central Indian” published in 1923 is focused on the Kanha’s wildlife.1933: Kanha Forest Reserve was proclaimed as a sanctuary although the hunting of wildlife didn’t stop.
  • 1955: Two decades later, Kanha was officially proclaimed as a national park.
  • 1967: George Schaller published the book, “The Deer and The Tiger,” which is based on the Kanha ecosystem.
  • 1969: To accommodate new expansions, Kanha’s park management relocated several villages such as Bishanpura and Gorhela. Animal hunting continued.
  • 1970: Before 1970, barasingha (swamp deer) were almost hunted to extinction. In 1970, the authorities successfully thwarted their extinction by creating a special barasingha enclosure within the park. It protects them from predators as well as encourages breeding.
  • 1972: India carried out its first tiger census, which correctly identified the decreasing populations of tigers. It moved the government and forest department to launch Project Tiger the next year.
  • 1973-1974: After launching Project Tiger, the Indian government turned Kanha into a tiger reserve.
  • 1980: An award-winning ceremony held at the Kanha National Park for the success of the National Geographic film – Land of the Tigers.
  • 2000: Due to the reorganization of the Indian states, the Chilpi range in Kanha Tiger Reserve was transferred to Chhattisgarh.
  • 2017: It became possible to book tours of Kanha Tiger Reserve in advance through online booking.

Wildlife In Kanha Tiger Reserve

Kanha’s tiger population growth has followed a slow and steady pace and today there are over 150 tigers in the park with their population continuing to grow. Other predators in the park include Indian wild dogs, Indian leopards, jackals, jungle cats, and Indian foxes.

Kanha also has an ample population of herbivores, such as chinkara, barking deer, blue bull, four-horned antelope, sambar, spotted deer, and gaur.

Additionally, the park is also known as a prominent birding destination, with over 300 species of birds calling it home. Amongst these are 6 species of ducks, 7 species of doves, 8 species of quails, 9 species of cuckoos, and 15 distinct species of eagles. Black-hooded oriole, green bee-eater, Indian roller, Malabar pied hornbill, and scarlet minivet are some of the visually stunning birds found in this bird paradise.

Kanha Tiger Reserve Premier Attractions

  • Bamni Dadar: The park’s famous sunset point is located 275 meters above Kanha National Park. The views from Bamni Dadar are spectacular. Visitors can capture stunning pictures of four-horned antelopes, barking deer, sambar, and gaur – animals that frequent Bamni Dadar.
  • Kanha Museum: Located within the Kanha Tiger Reserve, Kanha Museum tells a story about Kanha’s natural history. The museum displays charts and wildlife specimens depicting the evolution of the region’s It also teaches a lot about the park’s current topography and wildlife.
  • Kawardha Palace: Located two hours away from Kanha Tiger Reserve, in the 1930s, this impressive palace was built by Maharaja Dharamraj Singh. Although the view from the outside is good, it isn’t until you catch sight of colonial and Mughal architecture that you realise the true value of the monument. A visit to the palace will also allow you to see the nearest attractions, such as Madan Mahari Mahal, Mandawa Mahal, Bhoramdeo temple and Krishna temple.
  • Amarkantak: A rustic town located 4 hours drive away from the Kanha National Park is one of the most iconic tourist destinations in Madhya Pradesh. One of its attractions is Dudh Dhara waterfalls, which has its own mythical legend. It is also the source of the Narmada river – India’s fifth longest river. Amarkantak is home to primaeval temples existing since the Kalachuri period, such as Narmada Udgam temple, Pataleshwar Mahadev temple, and Sarvodaya Jain temple.

When To visit Kanha Tiger Reserve

Kanha National Park is closed for tourists during the monsoons (July to October). Although the wildlife is great year-round, April to May is the ideal time for spotting wildlife in the Kanha Tiger Reserve. In fact, it is an excellent time to spot royal Bengal tigers in this protected region. Visitors have to remember that the summer temperatures in the park can get quite hot.

Visitors who don’t want to deal with the unbearable heat should plan a trip from December to January. The temperatures are a bit cooler, and you can have some luck spotting Kanha’s barasinghas and other wildlife species.

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