Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Kanha Kisli

The name brings nostalgic memories of Kanha of old. I remember when I first visited Kanha in early seventies. That time the National Park was popularly known as Kanha Kisli.

The reason for the park being called Kanha Kisli was due to villages in what is now the core area of the park. When you enter the park from Khatia gate you first reach Kisli, here the village has been shifted out of the park and only the British period rest houses remain. Besides the two rest houses and canteen an MPTDC hotel and a dormitory has come up and a day center for the forest staff. The petrol pump is also functioning at Kisli.

Outside the park in the periphery of the buffer zone the lodges at Kanha have far overtaken the rest house which now caters to VIPs and Government officers of top ranking. At that time the rest houses where in near dilapidated condition and you had to cook your own food. At the time of my visit the village at Kisli was still there but shifted soon after.

Tigers prowled the vicinity of the rest house we stayed in, and one could hear the roars at night time. Thankfully tigers still prowl there and roars can be heard even now. Villages at Kanha where shifted earlier and the rest house is now a museum. At hill top at Kanha the Field Director’s residence is enveloped by forest canopy and is one of most enviable object for a tiger lover like me.

Kanha museum is worth visiting informative and entertaining as it is. For those on tiger safari Kanha is a resting stop where one is allowed to consume eatables prohibited elsewhere in the park. If you are not carrying food then visit the canteen for some hot tea and spicy samosas.

On that trip I spotted a tigress and large herds of Bison or gaur as they are called in Hindi. The gaur population was depleted in 1976 due to rinderpest attack. The swamp deer or hard ground barasingha where struggling to survive and were penned in a large enclosure. This assured of an increasing population in times to come and conservation of this rare animal is history.
The road to Kanha was lined with pristine forests and small but quaint tribal villages. Now a whole community of retailers, small business men, hoteliers and what not has added to the population. The urbanization forces you to find succor within the National Park.