Exploring the Tiger state of India – Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh

Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh

Kanha National Park, famously called the Kanha Tiger Reserve, is the largest national park, approx. 940 sq. Km., situated in central India. Until I visited this state last week, I didn’t know Madhya Pradesh was called the Tiger State of India, due to the maximum number of tigers living in its dense forests.

Jungle safari at Kanha National Park
Jungle safari at Kanha Tiger National Park

Kanha National Park, covered in lush green grasslands and Sal & bamboo forests, is the best place to visit for a memorable Jungle safari experience. In addition, we spotted exotic birds, and even Barasingha or Swamp deer, which Kanha national park is famous for and is found only in the dense forests of Kanha.

Swamp deers
Barasingha or Swamp deer at Kanha National Park

Where is Kanha National Park located in India?

Kanha National Park is located in Madhya Pradesh, the center part of India. From Nagpur to Kanha by road is approx. 250 km. Therefore, after exploring Nagpur, the next morning we started our journey by car to Club Mahindra Kanha.

Club Mahindra Kanha
Club Mahindra Kanha

There are several resorts in Kanha National Park. The roads are well maintained and there was hardly any traffic. Therefore, we covered the distance in about six hours. If you wish to travel by air then Jabalpur is the airport near Kanha national park. The approximate drive to reach Kanha from there is 160kms.

Jungle Safari at Kanha Tiger National Park

Jungle safari amidst the dense forests of Kanha was an experience of a lifetime. While reserving your air or train tickets, you should book for the Kanha National Park Jungle safari as well. We booked it just a week before the journey and could not get the entry from Kanha gate, but trust me it doesn’t matter.

Deers at Kanha
One animal you will surely spot – Deers

So, to give you all a brief, the forests at Kanha are the largest in India and are divided into two zones, namely, the core zone and the buffer zone. The core zones are where the jungle safaris happen. The Core Zones of Kanha have different entry gates, namely, Kanha, Kisli, Sarahi, and Mukki.

Jackal spotted in Kanha National Park
Group of Jackals

Now, many tourists, including me searched for ‘which gate is best for Kanha National Park?’ It is funny that you also get different answers. Some say Mukki gate and some say Kanha, mainly because of tiger spotting. But trust me, animals don’t know in which zone they are, they freely move within the jungle. If you are lucky, you will spot a tiger, if not, remember, life is still good, as you will see many wild animals in Kanha national park, no matter which zone you choose to explore.

Indian bison spotted at Kanha National Park
Group of Indian bison at Kanha

Kanha Kisli zone

Kanha Kisli zone is relatively new and is carved out of the Kanha zone itself. You can spot tigers in any zone, there’s no such guarantee that one zone is better than the other. Early morning at 5.30, we left our resort in our car, which we had booked from Nagpur, and stayed with us for our entire trip of four days. Kisli gate is just 3.5 km from Club Mahindra Kanha, so we reached the entry gate by 6 am. 

After a few formalities at the gate, which hardly took 20 minutes, the four of us were in our jeep along with the driver and guide or naturalist. In one jeep, a maximum of 6 passengers are allowed along with one guide and driver.

Kanha National Park Zones
Jungle Safari at Kanha

Do not forget to rent the binoculars for Rs. 100 only, easily available outside the entry gate, they really come in handy in sighting the animals. We visited the tiger park in December 2021 and so we had to layer with extra clothing, as the weather was cold, especially at the start of the jungle safari.

Jungle Safari – Points to remember

You can do two jungle safaris in a day as jungle safaris also happen during the afternoon hours. However, it is said that more animals are spotted during the early hours, so we took an early safari.  By the sheer fleet of jeeps lined up at the gate, I felt overwhelmed. However, you would not believe we hardly saw other jeeps while on the jungle safari.

Jeeps lined up at Kanha Kisli Gate
Jeeps lined up at Kanha Kisli Gate for Morning Safari

The forest is huge and the driver is trained to drive slowly, not to interrupt any wildlife while letting the visitors enjoy the peace and joy of sighting rare wild animals. My toddler was happy to sight a group of deer just a few minutes into the safari.

Swamp Deers spotted at Kanha National Park
Swamp deers in Kanha National Park

A jungle safari is an exciting experience for all age groups. From my mother-in-law to my baby, everyone was alert, searching for animals amidst the green landscape.

Monkey crossing the road at Kanha
Monkey crossing the Jungle road

At any point, leaving your jeep without your guide’s permission is not allowed, as it is dangerous. Therefore, it is important to respect the instructions and never venture without permission.

Also, never shout if you spot an animal, as that would drive it away. Be soft and silent throughout and the possibility of sighing animals would only go up.

Tigers footprints spotted at Kanha
Tiger footprints at Kanha Tiger Reserve

The jungle safari approximately lasts four hours and the guide stops the jeep, in between, for relaxation. You can use the open loo, made of bamboo and hay if you wish to.

Exploring Kanha tiger national park was once in a lifetime experience as at every interval we could spot one or another animal. Deer, sambar, jackal, monkeys, peacocks, exotic birds, bison, Barasingha, pigs, wild dogs, etc.

Barasingha or Swamp deer at Kanha
Sambar, Indian bison, Swamp deers

Kanha Museum

Kanha Museum is located inside the Kanha National Park, but sadly, its entry is only for visitors entering the jungle through the Kanha zone. Since we had an entry from Kisli, we were not permitted access to the museum. However, if you book in advance and enter through the Kanha gate, you should visit the museum and understand the rich history of Kanha and the wildlife inhabitants of the jungle.

Castle by insects
Insect made castle is as much deep as its height!

Food recommendations

Club Mahindra Kanha has an in-house restaurant, but we didn’t enjoy the food there much. Our favorite stop was Maratha Restaurant, located within a walking distance from our resort. Their specialty paneer and aloo sabzi were awesome, something we hadn’t tasted earlier. It was unique in preparation and taste. Chicken starters and Chicken handi were equally tasty and worth the cost. I highly recommend visiting The Maratha Restaurant at least once, while you stay in Kanha.

More on travel places close to Kanha in my next blog! Stay tuned!

MARATHA RESTAURANT, Mocha - Kanha Kisli
MARATHA RESTAURANT, Mocha – Kanha Kisli

Hope you enjoyed reading the blog. If you need to know any more information, please ask in the comments.

2 thoughts on “Exploring the Tiger state of India – Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh”

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