Planning the trip to Kanha National Park
I have taken a while to write about this since we have been so piled on with work but this is another scenic road trip we did this year. While picking up locations, we were only seeking for somewhere we had never been to. Being nature lovers always helps and we decided to pack our bags and head out on the road to Kanha National Park from Ahmedabad to Kanha in our Maruti Suzuki Ciaz. Of course, whenever you plan a road trip, there has to be some pre-planning. There is so much to explore in Madhya Pradesh and we wanted to see as much as we could in 10 days and all the big animals at the Kanha National Park but not everything because we would always like to come back. As bitten by the travel bug, we finally decided upon the following itinerary: Ahmedabad-Indore-Bhopal-Kanha-Jabalpur-Sanchi-Bhopal-Ahmedabad. This was one trip which was power packed with a lot of things, for starters, waking up super early in the morning. I told some people about my road trip to Kanha National Park from Ahmedabad to Kanha and they were sort of shocked.
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Some observations about Madhya Pradesh: On the road to Kanha National Park
Since I am from Uttar Pradesh, I could feel the similarities between the two States in terms of the standard of living, infrastructure and a few more factors. We had lots of questions about the route from Ahmedabad to Indore for the following reasons:
- Different people that we spoke to, the roads were bad. I mean BAD. But it was absolutely not.
- We had to reach Indore as early as we could because on the way a few places such as Jhabua are known to be notorious for dacoits.
- Almost everywhere unless you’re in a small town or village, there are no decent places you could probably take a break, grab a snack or even find a washroom. This was difficult. But we had lots of food and water with us.
- Rash drivers everywhere with zero sense of direction. Not that Indians across the country are sound with the whole idea of traffic rules but it was really risky here. Men drove right into the junctions in high speed without looking on the other sides.
- State highways are better than the National Highways. It’s funny but I guess it’s all developing right now and soon will be very good roads.
- By the end of our trip to Kanha National Park, we realized the roads from Ahmedabad to Bhopal were much better than we were told.
Day 1: Ahmedabad to Bhopal
The drive usually is of about 11.5 hours but we had started at 5:00 am and we reached Indore comfortably at 12:00 pm. The roads were nothing like we had heard from the most of the people, but were instead looking recently done. The distance from Indore to Bhopal is approximately 194.1 km which is about 3 hr 40 minutes journey. We reached almost by 4 because sadly traffic and roads. Entering Bhopal was pleasant. It is the city of lakes and the weather just made it even better. We had some time to think what could we do in Bhopal, so we went around the city, bought some good liquor, dined and came back.
It was a smooth drive through. Slept in the rest of the day.
Day 2: Bhopal to Kanha
Very excited, we started from our hotel at 6:00 am and the target to reach Kanha was by 1:30-2:00 pm. The bitter truth: There is a stretch that starts right outside Bhopal towards Kanha and trust me it was superlatively bad. Dad was literally driving at a constant speed of 20 kmph and it took us a good hour to get through that stretch. Then the roads got slightly better but every now and then it was interrupted by such under construction stretches. Nonetheless, we finally made it to the beautiful resort of Club Mahindra, Kanha. We’re wildlife enthusiasts in the family and will never miss a chance to visit a wildlife sanctuary, and hence, Kanha was or happy place to hopefully spot the Tigers. We had booked two safaris, each in different zones of the Kanha national park.
Club Mahindra, Kanha is beautiful. We had our room with a verandah and I only kept hoping every day that I wish I spot a leopard here which isn’t impossible as per the locals. I realized that in this resort most people were from the eastern parts of the country such as Bihar and Bengal. But there were more wildlife enthusiasts than I expected which means we were not the only ones who drove as far as the Kanha National park. There was a woman I spoke to who had come from Pune thrice in the last 6 months hoping she would spot the Big Three animals all at once, which she did, well at least the Tigers. When I say wildlife enthusiasts, I don’t mean we’re only there to look at mammals. We spot for everything like different species of birds.
Well, the first day was all about relaxing and exploring the resort.
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Day 3 and Day 4: Kanha National Park- Safari 1 and Safari 2
Up and ready we left the resort in our jeep at 5:00 am. The restaurant at Club Mahindra packs breakfast for such safaris so the guests can comfortable have their meal in a spot that’s on the outskirts of the Kanha National park. There’s something different about these places so dense with flora and fauna, you would want to breathe in all the fresh air. By 5:30 am, we were headed into the jungle. We took the safaris every day only hoping to see more and more. Every day we were inside the park for 3-3.5 hours and that felt like 10 minutes. We live in Gujarat and people have more or less seen the lions in the Gir National Park (I haven’t yet sadly). Lions are poise. But the thing about tigers is that if you see them walking freely in the greens, you will never feel it’s enough. It’s almost like you’re hungover but you want more of it.
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We spotted a young male tiger on the first day of our safari in the Kisli Zone of the Kanha National Park called M1. You have to observe silence especially when you’re trying to spot a carnivorous animal who tend to attack for no reason which tigers are. When the tiger walked it was like he stared into our eyes. We waited 1.5 hours alone there to get a full glimpse of his complete flamboyant physique. But sadly, people forget some basic rules for wildlife safaris and tend to do things that will only disturb the animals further. We weren’t completely disappointed because I GOT A VIDEO OF HIM WALKING AND LOOKING AT US! (All caps are for the magnificent experience description.)
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We also saw the Sloth bear that day while it kept foraging around comfortably for a good 30 minutes and a pair of jackals. It is a rare occasion when anyone gets to see the Big Three, we were one of those lucky ones when we saw a young male leopard rushing into the bushes. When we came back to the resort, we were probably the luckiest to have seen all that we saw including some rare birds such as the Indian Pitta and Night Jar (which is very difficult to spot). The last safari was in the Kanha Zone and looks like we were still holding our pot of luck because we saw a grown female tigress Neelam and her 23 months old cub. Over the two wonderful safaris we saw 13 mammals and 27 bird species, and that included the Big Three of Kanha, The Tiger, Sloth Bear and Leopard. That, my friend, is the heavens blessing us with pure fortune.
Day 5 and Day 6: Club Mahindra, Kanha
We had to indulge the last couple days at the resort before we headed back home. So, what could have been better than some swimming followed by a spa? Also, let me tell you the food at this resort is pretty good too.
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Day 7: Kanha to Jabalpur
We finally left still mesmerized with so the majestic creatures of the Kanha National Park and started for Jabalpur. Why? Because of Bhedaghat, and the Dhuandhar Falls or better known as the Niagara of India. For both these places, I would share pictures instead of explaining too much.
Try and get a boat ride through the ghats and listen to the guide, he has a Bollywood explanation for everything.
The Dhuandhar Falls, Jabalpur
Day 8: Jabalpur-Sanchi-Bhopal
It was very important to me that we went to the Sanchi Stupa because it’s been on my to-go list forever and also, we were in MP. Everyone agreed in one voice and we went anyway with a little detour since it is just 40 km from Bhopal. We reached the location around 1 pm and to see everything you will probably just need about 45 minutes. Missed the Bhimbetka Caves which was not too far either but next time. Pictures away!
I found the angle. Sanchi Stupa, Madhya Pradesh
Day 9 & 10: Bhopal-Indore to Ahmedabad
Plans were now to explore the city a bit. We first visited the Khajrana Temple followed by 56 Dukaan street. I think we were quite early but fortunately we could have some Indori Chaat as an early lunch of sorts. Packed lots of namkeen from Agarwaal Sweets too! By 11:30am we were back on road for home.
Super long drive, but we made it successfully and comfortably anyway by 6:45 pm almost. I’d say our road trip to Kanha National Park was an adventure.
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