Kanha National Park or KNP is the largest national parks in central India. But more than its size, the park is famous for the presence of the Royal Bengal Tigers. The Park is also famous for being the backdrop of the world-famous novel The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. It is estimated that about 500 tigers live in this forested area at present. The Kanha National Park was declared a national park in 1955 and later it was announced as a Tiger Reserve in 1973.
Location – Kanha Tiger Reserve covers an area of 940 sq. km and is spread out over two adjoining districts in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Part of the Reserve is located in the Mandla district in Madhya Pradesh under the Jabalpur division. The southern part of the district consists of Sal forests and rolling grass plains along the Raigarh – Bichhiya tract. A part of this tract is occupied by the Kanha National Park. The district is mostly inhabited by the Gond tribe and other advasi tribes. The other part of the Reserve falls under the Balaghat district of Madhya Pradesh under the Jabalpur division.This district has the country’s leading manganese and copper mines.
Zone distribution of the Kanha Tiger Reserve – The Core Zone of Kanha Tiger Reserve covers about 940 sq. km while the Buffer Zone is spread out on another 1009 sq. km area. The Park has 5 Core Zones and about 5 Buffer Zones.
a. Core Zones in the Mandla district are Kisli and Kanha zones covering an area of 409.82 sq. km Core Zones in the Balaghat district are Mukki, Bhaisangat & Supkhar zones spread over an area of 530.12 sq. km
b. Buffer Zones in the Mandla district are Khatia, Garhi and Sijhora covering an area of 405.72 sq. km while the Buffer Zones in the Balaghat district are Khapa, Samnapur, Garhi and Sijhora with a total area of 603.97 sq. km
Details of KNP Entry Gates – Kanha National Park has three entry gates i.e. Khatia-Kisli, Sarhi, and Mukki,
a. The Khatia Gate towards the western side of the Park and the newly opened Sarhi Gate lie in the Mandla district. The nearest city by road and also the nearest airport is Jabalpur (185 km). The nearest railway station is Nainpur (51.2 km or 1 hour).
b. Mukki at the south-eastern side of the Park lies in the Balaghat district. The nearest city by road is Raipur (180.3 km); the nearest railway station is Bilaspur (193.3 km or 4.44 hours) and the nearest airport is Jabalpur (229 km).
Kanha Wildlife – The fauna that one can catch glimpses of within the Park include the Royal Bengal Tiger, the sloth bear, the Indian gaur, the Barasingha or the Swamp Deer and the Indian wild dog. These are the species that the park is famous for. But, besides these, Kanha is also home to the Indian leopard, jackals, foxes, sambar deer, spotted deer, barking deer, mouse deer, blackbucks, Nilgai, Indian wolf, Striped hyena, Rhesus Macaque, jungle cat, pythons, cobras, vipers and many different species of birds and reptiles.
Flora in Kanha – Sal trees form the basic green cover here. Bamboo trees are also common while the Indian Ghost Tree has its presence too here. Kanha National Park is home to about 70 species of trees and about 200 species of flowering plants. Besides Sal, the other botanical species that are commonly seen here are Mahua, Tendu, Lendia, Dhawa, and Palas. Different grass varieties can also be seen here.
Lifeline of Kanha Tiger Reserve – The lifeline of the kanha Natinal park is the Banjar River and the Halon River, both being the tributaries of River Narmada. In fact, both the rivers overlap with the boundary of the Park – Banjar on the west and Halon of the east.
Accommodation options – The area around the Park has plenty of accommodation options for tourists, starting from five-star chains to resorts to guesthouses and homestays. In recent times, ecotourism at Kanha National Park is on the rise where many experiential places in Kanha, built to support co-existence between nature and man, have opened their doors to let tourists catch glimpses of sustainable, green and minimal living ideas.