The Kanha of Kipling
We all have grown up listening, watching or reading stories of Mowgli, isn’t it? Well, you would be surprised to know that the Mowgli stories came right out of the Kanha National Park, India.
I have no doubt that Kipling must have visited this jungle, now called the Kanha National Park. Nestling in the valleys of the Satpura Ranges, this forest is a naturalist’s delight.
Today, this park is one of the finest managed wildlife sanctuaries in Southeast Asia. The tiger conservation efforts in this jungle have really paid off well.
But, wait…..have you actually heard about Rudyard Kipling?Or did I assume that you actually have read him?
Joseph Rudyard Kipling was an English journalist, short-story teller and novelist, non pareil.Born in Mumbai in 1865, he wrote several books and short stories for children. Kipling is mainly known for his seminal work,’ Jungle Book’ which explores the tales of Mowgli, Bagheera, Balu and many other animal characters. Many people say that ‘JungleBook’ was inspired by Kipling’s travels in Central India! He won the Nobel Prize for English literature in 1907.
Did Kipling write ‘Jungle Book’ while he was in India? No, Sir. He wrote this book during his stay in Vermont, United States. Kipling says that he was inspired to write this book by the stories that he heard from the officials of the Indian Forest Service.
Kanha National Park – the land of the Gonds
Kanha became a tiger reserve in the 1950s. This forest belt was earlier the habitat of the Gonds, one of the communities which inhabit Central India. Today, the Gonds live a very common life but several hundred years back, they ruled large parts of Central India. The famous Rani Durgawati was married to a Gond ruler from this area.
This magnificent tiger reserve is spread in the districts of Mandla and Balaghat of Madhya Pradesh.
Real Stories of Kanha National Park
The story of the gaur and the tiger
Did you hear this story of a wounded bison which was attacked by a tiger in this Park? While the bison lay hungry and bleeding, the tiger kept a watch over it, waiting for the gaur to die. But, within minutes, the cries of the gaur attracted its friends which started collecting at that spot. The tiger was forced to flee after a few young bisons attacked the tiger with their horns.
Unfortunately, the wounded bison died a few days later. But for all those days, its friends kept an eye on their fallen colleague. Isn’t this story an amazing example of friendship?
He died to save a cheetal
Ravi Singh Thakur was forest guard at the Kanha National Park. He was young, cheerful and deeply committed to his cause. Ravi was a role model to the rest of the Park staff. He would never say no to any duty assigned to him. I am taking about him here because Ravi died saving a cheetal (deer) from drowning in a swamp. How many Ravis can you find today? Very few.
Do you know, that Kanha was notified as a reserve forest in 1878 and was declared a tiger reserve in 1933? A few years later, it was denotified as a wildlife reserve. Taking advantage of the changed conditions, the Raja of Vizianagaram shot dead 33 tigers in 4 years between 1947 and 1951. This led to a national uproar and forced the government to declare this beautiful land as a national park.
The Park’s Mascot
Kanha is the only national park in India which has an animal as a mascot. The park authorities have nominated a barasingha. a species of deer as the local mascot. The name of the mascot is Beer Singh. I think this has to do with protecting this species in Kanha National Park from the poachers.
Best time to visit Kanha
The best time to visit this amazing tiger reserve is between February and June. After June, the park is shut off to the visitors. The monsoons hit the Indian sub-continent from the end of June, the soil becomes wet and now is the right time to take the census of all the animals in the park. Once the rains are over, and this means September onwards, the Park reopens to its visitors.
So the best place to visit the Kanha National Park is NOW!
How to reach Kanha
The closest airport is in Jabalpur, 190 kilometers away. This city is also the nearest railhead to Kanha. From Jabalpur, you will have to take a cab to reach the Park. Be sure to reserve your room in some of the many resorts, hotels located around Kanha. You will also have to book a safari tour before reaching here. Don’t worry, one of my friends runs a safari and he will be happy to host you.
Also, Read- The affairs at the Ranthambore National Park
If you want to book a government accommodation, click here http://www.mponline.gov.in/Portal/Services/Forest/FinalForest/foresthome.htm
Since a lot of my readers are from outside India, here is a ready reckoner to reach Kanha:
- Take a flight to Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai or Kolkata.
- Book a train ticket to Jabalpur using the www.irctc.co.in . You can also book tickets via Cleartrip, Makemytrip or Yatra.
- Upon reaching Jabalpur, please contact your registered tour operator.
Ever seen a tiger taking a bath, watch this video,
If you do not want to do all this, please contact me and I will arrange your booking. One of my good friends, Saurabh Bhatnagar runs a jungle safari tour company. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Book your slot by visiting his website www.junglewala.com
That is it, friends, I hope you enjoy your Kanha trip.
Pics credit- Saurabh Bhatnagar, CEO, Junglewala Safaris