Saturday, February 23, 2013

Dakshinayana Part Eight – Kanha National Park and Mandla

Kanha National park is located in Mandla and Balaghat districts of Madhya Pradesh. This park - now stretches over 940 km² - was created on 1st June 1955. National park's buffer zone of 1,067 km² and neighbouring 110 km² Phen Sanctuary forms Kanha Tiger Reserve (created on 1974).  Park has three entrances - Kisli, Mukki and Serai (more information are given in the end).

Kanha Park Information

Entry points and How to reach?

Kanha Tiger Reserve has three entry points, namely, Khatia, Mukki and Sarhi. Khatia is nearly 160 Kms from Jabalpur (Via Mandla), 250 Kms from Raipur (Via Chilpi-Mukki-Baihar) and 220 Kms from Nagpur (Via Seoni-Nainpur Chiraidongri).

Mukki is nearly 200 Kms from Jablpur (Via Mandla-Mocha-Baihar), 210 Kms from Raipur (Via Chilpi) and 260 Kms (Via Seoni-NainpurMocha-Baihar) and 260 Kms (Via Balaghat-Baihar) from Nagpur.

Sarhi Gate is nearly 8 Kms off Bichhiya, which is on NH 12 A about 150 Kms from Jabalpur (Via Mandla) and about 220 Kms from Raipur (Via Chilpi-Sijhora). According to reports currently no logistic infrastructure available at Sarhi Gate.

Gates supports the Day Visitors only.

Best Time

Kanha Park opens from 16th October to 30 th June every year. Best time to visit Kanha  Tiger Reserve is from October to December and Aril to May.  All Wednesday afternoon safaris shall remain closed to the visitors. 'Holi' is also a holiday here.


Tickets are available at Rs 1030/- for each safari to Mukki, Kisli and Sarhi Zone and Rs 1530/- to Kanha Zone. The cost of the ticket does not include the Guide (200) and Vehicle charges (six seats - 1800).



Mandla Bus stand
Early morning, good sceneries on both sides, in total journey to Mandla were interesting. Jabalpur Vehicle Factory and Bargi Reservoir on Narmada River located on the sides of this road. Finally we reached Mandla town well before noon. This historical town is located on the banks of Narmada – will tell you more about Mandla later in this article. After getting down at Mandla bus stand, I got another bus to Kanha – The same one which broke down yesterday night and missed its schedule from Jabalpur. After waiting for some 20 minutes more in that stand, we finally started our journey to Kanha.


Bus charge from Mandla to Kanha (KNP) was 50 INR. I got a seat in the front, bus was not so crowded. Slowly we entered to less and less populated areas; at one stop driver asked about my destination. Probably he wanted to know, whether I already have the ticket or not.

As I was not sure on which day I will be able to reach Kanha, I didn’t reserve the tickets. In case you would like to visit Kanha NP, it will be better to book the tickets online. Kanha NP is the last stop for that shuttle. After reaching there, bus driver introduced me to one of his cousins. He told me that, “there is a family who is going to the Park in afternoon session” (Park will close at noon and open only after 2.30pm. which will last till 5.30pm). Charge was – 2500. After some negotiation it came down to 2200 --- 1530 for ticket, 200 for guide and rest for vehicle (Maruti Gypsy).

This is the same jungle which inspired legendry Rudyard Kipling, author of ‘Jungle Book’, as well.

Just 30 minutes past noon. I had to wait next two hours on that road. Finally it was 2.30, Gypsy’s started to go in one by one. In our open Gypsy, there were three members other than me plus a driver and a guide. It was my first time, in an open gypsy (my favourite vehicle), through a national park where wild animals are free to roam around. Three other tourists were from Calcutta (rest of their family members were travelling in another gypsy). They already went in the morning to see tigers, but didn’t see the prince of the jungle. When they came to know that, I am from Kerala they explained about their trip to Thiruvananthapuram (aka Trivandrum), Alapuzha (aka Aleppey) and Ernakulum (aka Ernankulam :) ).

People often make the mistake of seeing forest for tigers or lions, and often underestimate the scenic beauty of trees and purity of atmosphere. We saw groups of spotted deer, Swamp deer (aka Barasingha), Leopard (I didn’t properly see him, but guide told it was leopard), peacock etc; but not tiger. On the way back, we heard the roar of a tiger.

Inside Kanha, we moved through designated paths overlooked by luxurious growth of Sal trees, in between there were a lot of open areas where deer groups enjoyed their time under sun. Guides, we, driver everyone were looking for pug marks. On the way back, we heard the roaring, stopped the gypsy and waited there for some time, but he didn’t come out. Three hours went quickly; around 5.30 Kanha’s gates were closed behind us.

I met the hotel guy again to collect my bag. He asked me to stay in the night and go to Raipur on next morning. Room charge was fixed at 1350 INR; however he was ready to give concessions. I analysed my options, my liquidity was very low – in fact I was short in cash (there was an ATM, with a notice indicating its inability to dispense cash). If I stayed there, it would be difficult for me to pay hotel bill and next day’s bus charge to Raipur. If I reached Mandla in that night, I could use some ATM and would get a cheaper room. Finally I decided to leave, thanking him for the offer. Last bus from Kanha was at 5.30 in the evening - fortunately it was 10 minutes late – otherwise I would have missed that one.

Before leaving Kanha let me tell you something about the park. Authorities want to restrict the number of people entering Kanha, in the name of protecting the environment. This attitude coupled with recent Supreme Court orders shot up the entry fee. This often limits the options available for people who can’t afford so much merely for three hours. Just imagine you are coming with 8-10 member family. Shelling out this exorbitant entry fee may not be a good idea. Another question is – compared to entry fee in other National Parks and Tiger Reserves, does a journey through Kanha worth the entree fee? May be I am wrong, maybe I didn’t travel enough to see the beauty of Kanha, but my answer is ‘No, it doesn’t’


Bus was soon filled with people rushing to their homes to spend night with their family. Twilight soon transformed to dark night. Yellow light coming from the ceiling of our noisy vehicle hit the tired faces, which were desperately looking for a bed to sleep. Lady sitting next to me in black dress was eagerly talking to her son. Steady stream of cool air coming through an opening in the side window slowly made me sleep.

Finally the calmness of jungle gave her way to noisy Mandla. Six days of non-stop journey, sleeping only 2-3 hours in railway stations (that too in sitting mode), were slowly but steadily making me tired. Finally I rented a hotel room for the night (350 – double bed for a day). After having one aalo-paratha and some normal parathas from a nearby hotel, I slept happily in Mandla.

History of Mandla

Streets of Mandla

Mandla (aka Mahishmati in old days) is considered as the capital of Sahasrabahu Kartyaveer Arjun of puranas. Centuries ago, in this city, Adi Shankara had a debate with Mandana Misra - Misra’s wife Ubhaya Bharati was the referee. After 15 days of defeat Misra accepted defeat, but Adi Shankara was subsequently challenged by his wife. According to the story, she asked him questions related to sexual congress between man and woman – which as sannyasi was beyond the expertise of Shankara. So he called for 15 day recess. Later he defeated Ubhaya Bharati by answering all of her questions. Following this defeat, Mandana Misra accepted Sanyasa order with the new name Suresvaracarya as per the agreed conditions of the debate.

To Raipur

Next day I woke up very late for which I had to pay heavily - missed the first bus to Raipur at 6.30 in the morning. I had to settle for 11.30am bus which won’t reach Raipur before sunset.


Kanha National Park

Kanha National Park

Kanha National Park

Kanha National Park

Kanha National Park

Kanha National Park

Kanha National Park

Kanha National Park

Kanha National Park

For reading rest of the articles please visit,

Dakshinayana Part One – An Introduction
Dakshinayana Part Two – Bangalore to Bhopal
Dakshinayana Part Three – Sanchi
Dakshinayana Part Four – Bhopal: The city of lakes
Dakshinayana Part Five: Ujjain – The Holy City, hearing the sounds of forefathers
Dakshinayana Part Six: Indore – Trade hub of Central India
Dakshinayana Part Seven – Jabalpur: Kalchuris, Gonds and Narmada
Dakshinayana Part Eight – Kanha National Park and Mandla
Dakshinayana Part Nine – Chhattisgarh and Raipur
Dakshinayana Part Ten: Nagpur – The Orange City
Dakshinayana Part Eleven – Sevagram: Walking with Gandhi
Dakshinayana Part Twelve – Aurangabad: The City of Gates
Dakshinayana Part Thirteen – Ellora Memories
Dakshinayana Part Fourteen – U shaped Ajanta
Dakshinayana Part Fifteen – Pune: The Maratha heartland


  1. Thanks for sharing information about Kanha zones. This is very helpful for me. My Kanha jungle safari experience was really good. It's an amazing place actually.

  2. Nice post and thanks for sharing this informative post. Kanha is very beautiful national park and you can spot many animals.
    Resort booking in Kanha
    Online safari booking kanha
    Kanha safari