Kanha : A jungle safari in the forest of Mowgli- Part 1

 By Somali K Chakrabarti

 

Summer, they say, is the best season for wildlife sightings. The scorching summer heat dries up the water sources in the forests, affecting the animals and birds. So, these denizens of the forest frequently gather around the waterholes to quench their thirst, after those are refilled by the Forest Department.

 “A good tiger sighting would more than make up for the sweltering heat.

This piece of advice from a trusted friend made us agree to plan for a Jungle Safari to Kanha National Park, in Madhya Pradesh, in the month of April last year. We knew that the trip would require us to brave the soaring mercury levels.

A thrilling sensation of adventure took over as we as we set out for our trip to Raipur from Mumbai. We would soon be heading for the jungle, which provided the inspiration for the tales of Mowgli and Bagheera in Kipling’s Jungle Book.

Enroute_Kanha

From Raipur Airport to the Resort

As soon as we came out of the Raipur airport, the difference in temperature was instantly apparent. I, instinctively, covered my head to avoid the heat of the blazing Sun. The resort where we had booked our stay had arranged for the pickup, and the driver was waiting for us. Without wasting a second we hopped inside the car.

It was a long 3 hour journey before we reached Kanha. On the way, the land looked arid; a stretch of the road was hilly and strangely none of the trees on the hills had any leaves on them, which rendered an eerie appearance to the whole place.

We reached the resort by 5 pm. We were received and welcomed by the Manager of the resort, who took us to our cottage. Beautiful illustrations of indigenous Gond tribal art adorned the walls of the cottage.

Kanha_resort
Chitwan Resort at Kanha

The Manager informed us that the last safari of the day had left by then. Our group of friends who had reached before us had gone for the safari. We freshened up and relaxed. With nothing much to do in the evening, we decided to go for a walk to the village. The Manager suggested that one of the persons working at the resort would show us around the village.

A Stroll in the Village Street

By the time we started for Samnapur village, it was around 6 pm and the weather was pleasant. Kishan, who guided us through the village, is a resident of the village. On the way, he briefed us on the village lifestyle and told us about the crops they grow on their farms, including rice, wheat and gram.

 

It was a quaint village with striking cleanliness. The houses were uniformly painted in blue and white, and the walls were made of mud bricks and straw. Some of the houses had cattle sheds in the front, a courtyard in between, and the living rooms were built behind the courtyard. There was a school in the village and some small shops for the daily necessities.

‘Can we enter a village house to see how it looks?’ I requested Kishan.

He nodded. After about ten minutes, he stopped. Asking us to wait, he then entered a house, which I later came to know, belonged to the person who had made the paintings on the cottage walls. After a while, he came out and called us inside. As we took off our shoes and entered the house, some hens came running out.

Gond Paintings

Gond1
Gond Painting on the wall

The walls of the house were decorated with beautiful Gond paintings, similar to the ones we had seen on the cottage walls. Made of intricate lines, the paintings were expressions of their everyday life, their celebrations, rituals, and the local flora and fauna. Dots and dashes filled the outlines in such a way that conveyed a sense of movement to the still images.

The painter was not at home. I could not move my eyes from a wall and stood there appreciating the wall paintings on three sides of the room.

A good painting brings in good luck,” his wife told us as she put on the light while her children watched with an amused look on their face.

Our guide further added that the paintings are made with natural colors. Yellow and brown colours are obtained from coloured sand, and red colour is derived from the Hibiscus flower.

I thought there must be quite some demand for such indigenous art, but had to change my opinion after I came to know that the person has to paint signboards for a living.

Heading Back to the Resort

At the corner of the village road was a Peepal tree, which we learnt was more than a hundred years old.  When the full moon showed up from behind the trees, we decided to turn back towards the resort.

On the way back, we crossed a marriage procession. Women dressed in fineries walked, singing folk songs in Chhattisgarhi language. A few metres behind the women folk came the youngsters in a decorated tempo, with a loudspeaker playing out the popular Hindi tune ‘Yeh ladki beautiful’.

Hindi film songs are a great unifying factor in any corner of India!

Back at the resort, over a cup of tea, we had an interesting conversation with the resident Naturalist, who briefed us on the behavioural patterns of animals in the forest and the incidents of tiger sightings.

Our friends were back from the safari before dinner. We had a relaxed dinner and retired early. Next day we were to leave for the safari at 5.15 AM in the morning.

 

Do join me on the safari in Kanha: A jungle safari in the forest of Mowgli- Part 2. 🙂 🙂

 

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36 thoughts on “Kanha : A jungle safari in the forest of Mowgli- Part 1

  • March 2, 2017 at 1:33 am
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    I long to visit Kanha. Have visited Bandhavgarh and Panna, the experience was unforgettable! Especially liked the Gond artworks you’ve posted, telling a lot about the livelihood of the locals.
    Waiting for the next part of your tour to come up here…:-)

    P.S.Isn’t it “Tu ( instead of yeh) ladki beautiful….kar gayi chull? … 😛 😀 😀

    Reply
    • March 2, 2017 at 6:33 pm
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      Thank you Maniparna. Going to the National Parks is such a unique and wonderful experience. You get to see the other side of the world and feel so close to nature. Have you been to Sunderbans? I want to go there as well.
      Btw, you must write down the account of your visit to Bandhavgarh and Panna. Kanha was my 2nd forest trip after Gir. But unfortunately, I did not jot down the memoirs of the Gir trip and have now forgotten the details.

      Tu ladki beautiful..hote paare. amaar aajkal kar gaaner wordings ekebare mone thake na 🙂

      Reply
  • March 2, 2017 at 1:48 am
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    I was there with you Somali, following your footsteps, admiring those beautiful paintings and amazingly clean surroundings, giving smiles to the amused children…such a relaxing journey, without experiencing the summer heat! You have kept the suspense alive by not telling whether your friends could see any animals! Reminds me of Kaziranga park safari and what a wonderful wildlife we saw there! Also Jim Corbett Park and Sariska wildlife Santuary where we only saw the deers! 🙂
    Looking forward to Part two.

    Reply
    • March 2, 2017 at 6:40 pm
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      Wow Balroop, you must have seen the rhinos at Kaziranga. Tiger sighting is a matter of luck. Initially we were excited to see the spotted deer, but afterwards, we were yearning to see the tiger. The village and the forest transported us to a different world altogether, away from the chaos of city life. I was very impressed with the cleanliness of the village. Thank you Balroop for joining the virtual tour.

      Reply
  • March 2, 2017 at 5:23 am
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    So looking forward to reading about your safari time in Kanha. Good to hear that you got to the resort safely and it was very nice of the man to let you have a look at the house. Like a private tour 😊 Sounds hot and hope you didn’t get sunburnt 😊😏

    Reply
    • March 2, 2017 at 6:47 pm
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      Thank you, Mabel. It was absolutely wonderful to get a feel of local life in the village. To get a view of the house and how they lived felt almost like eco – tourism. To avoid sunburns, we smeared the sunscreen lotion that we had carried with us. 🙂

      Reply
  • March 2, 2017 at 12:10 pm
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    I fully enjoyed your vividly recorded description of Gond life and indigenous Gond art
    in your beautiful post ‘Kanha: A Jungle Safari in the Land of Mowgli’.

    Reply
  • March 2, 2017 at 5:29 pm
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    Wow! Another adventure, dear Somali!! I am SO excited to hear about your safari. I loved the Gond paintings and was sad to hear that the artist had to make signs to earn a living. It’s difficult being an artist, but he seemed to have found a way to balance his passion and his work,

    I wish I could keep hens in my house, but we already have two rabbits and 2 cats living in our house that my husband would probably go crazy with anymore animals 🙂 I’ll see if I can talk him into a horse 😀

    Looking forward to more of your amazing stories. xo

    Reply
  • March 2, 2017 at 6:53 pm
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    Thank you so much, Rose. It looks like many people appreciate art but nobody wants to pay the artists. 🙁
    You are so lucky to have 2 rabbits and 2 cats, but a horse! Gosh that’ll surpass all other animals. Btw, are you planning to ask for the horse as a birthday gift, today? 😀 😀

    Reply
  • March 2, 2017 at 10:28 pm
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    Wow! It’s one of the best maintained national parks. I visited Kanha national park almost 25 years ago. I had lovely sight of a tigress there. But what I liked was a horn-fight between two barasinghas. Enjoy Kanha and let me re-live my expereince through your blog.

    Reply
    • March 3, 2017 at 5:40 pm
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      Seeing the animals in their natural habitat is quite an experience. Incidentally, Barasingas are endemic to Kanha. Seeing them locking horns must be a very interesting experience. Thank you for reading, sir.

      Reply
  • March 3, 2017 at 3:45 am
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    Wow – I am struck by the beauty of the village Somali – the tiger can wait for sometime. Isn’t it so inspirational to us all – our cities have so much waste and pollution and look at this place – so clean- Amazing!

    Reply
    • March 3, 2017 at 5:51 pm
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      Yes, I was so impressed by the cleanliness of the village. It was almost unbelievable. Then I saw that inside the National Park too, they maintain a high standard of cleanliness. Really worth mentioning. Thank you Sunaina.

      Reply
  • March 3, 2017 at 11:54 am
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    Kanha is near my city, very near. But I never got a chance to visit there. But reading this post of yours made me determined to go there. I will surely go one day…. Thanks for the visuals, they are so relaxing and soothing. 😊

    Reply
    • March 3, 2017 at 5:55 pm
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      Hi Sheetal, We often tend to miss out on places that are close by. My parent’s house in Delhi is very close to the Lotus Temple, but the first time I went there was a couple of years back. Am happy that the post has motivated you to go to the National Park some day, maybe soon. 🙂

      Reply
  • March 3, 2017 at 5:13 pm
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    You describe everything in so much detail, love it. Looking forward to the next part.
    And I’m really impressed with the level of cleanliness of the village streets; that is so much rare.

    Reply
  • March 6, 2017 at 4:44 pm
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    Wall paintings are awesome! As far as cleanliness is concerned, it is exemplary! We must learn it from them.

    Reply
    • March 6, 2017 at 8:22 pm
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      Exactly. Inside the National Park, people are trained to maintain cleanliness, but the degree of cleaniness in the village outside the National Park is also extraordinary.

      Reply
  • March 7, 2017 at 7:27 pm
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    amalgamation of lovely write up and pics…makes a good reading..now pl guide me, how to go about writing all this..if you can,not incumbent on you…. in case possible… as I tried and failed
    Regards
    krishna

    Reply
    • March 7, 2017 at 11:01 pm
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      I just saw the first write up on your blog and it is perfectly good. ☺ Like photography, blogging too is a process of self discovery. As you keep writing you will figure out what works for you and interests the readers as well. Like any other social media, you would need to grow your audience/ reader base. It is a painstakingly slow process, but once you get used to blogging, you may start enjoying it. Look forward to more posts on your blog.

      Reply
      • March 8, 2017 at 10:12 pm
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        thank you so much..yea..I know…hope i have that patience…and it has been a pleasure knowing your mind
        I will do my best
        thanks once again
        regards !
        Krishna

        Reply
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  • March 10, 2017 at 6:57 am
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    This is great. Your adventures will help me decide which parts will be right for me when I plan to go to your part of the world. Such a long way but also a large region and so all the more reason I have to be thoughtful. So many wonderful places to explore! Continue to have fun!

    Reply
    • March 10, 2017 at 8:56 am
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      Thank you Karina. You’re so right in saying that India has so many places to explore that you’ll have to be selective in picking up where you want to be, whenever you plan to visit the country. ☺

      Reply
  • March 15, 2017 at 12:43 pm
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    Great reading. Your post got me itching for another trip to Kanha, visited once few years back and stayed in MP tourism hotel which was in core jungle area. We could hear a tiger roar in the night… We saw tiger in every jungle round. Look forward to going there again
    Have never been to the village though!

    Reply
    • March 15, 2017 at 2:00 pm
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      Hi Padma, You were extremely lucky to see a tiger in every safari. To hear a tiger roar in the dead of night must be an experience by itself. 🙂 The cleanliness of the village road, the beautiful tribal art made us take notice. Thank you for stopping by.

      Reply
  • March 16, 2017 at 8:41 pm
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    I feel all the excitement of settling into the village.. And I love the little cottages.. I look forward to seeing more of your Safari.. And I hope you get to see lots of lovely wildlife.. Wishing you well Somali.. Much Love Sue xx

    Reply
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