Kanha National Park is located in Madhya Pradesh in southeastern India south of the city of Jabalpur. Kanha is one of India’s largest parks with over 770 square miles of land surrounded by gentle meandering rivers in the Banjar Valley making it a very lush area rich in fauna. Disney used the park to film “The Jungle Book”. Kanha originally formed a part of the Gondwana which means “Lands of the Gonds”….the forest was inhabited by two aboriginal tribes, the Gonds and the Baigas. The heritage of these tribes can be seen today in the villages surrounding Kanha.
The National Park was established in 1953, combining Hallon and Banjar river valleys, in an effort to save the almost extince indian Swamp Deer. The forest area of the present National Park was declared a reserve in 1879.
Some of the first serious research on Tigers was also begun in this park and became a model for wildlife management. Visitors to the park can take part in what are called “Tiger Moments” where, once a tiger is spotted, your driver can signal an elephant driver to approach the vehicle and you climb aboard for a ride into the jungle to view the tiger sited. Unfortunately we were not lucky enough to participate in a “Tiger Moment” at Kanha but we did get two sitings of tiger from the safari vehicle.
Our game guide while we were at Kanha was Parikshit Rathmore, a very personable and informative young man who made our experiences at Kanha very enjoyable. Parikshit was connected to Chitivan jungle Resort where we were lodged. The name Chitivan comes from Cheetah, which the area was originally teeming with and the Hindu word for jungle which is van, thus Cheetah-Van later modified to Chitvan. At Chitvan most of the food is grown on the grounds of the resort and used in the all vegetarian menu,
often cooked in solar ovens that were seen around the kitchen/dining area.
Another activity a Kanha was an evening of Tribal Dances around a campfire, performed by members of a nearby village. The most interesting aspect of these dances was their resemblance to Native American Dances and Music with lots of chanting and drums. Obviously the words were not the same but the cadence and rhythm of themusic was.
On leaving the resort we would have to travel a few kilometers to the park entrance and along that road were many signs for other resorts and spas in the area. One that stood out to us was a large diamond shaped sign that read: SAVE TIGER, TIGER WOODS KANHA RESORT AND SPA. (This was when the golfer Tiger Woods was having some of his difficulties and the sign struck a humorous note.