Kanha National Park lying between the districts of Balaghat and Mandla in Madhya Pradesh and spread over an area of 940 sq. km is no less than a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts. It is home to Royal Bengal Tigers, the Barasingha, and a variety of diversified flora and fauna. It is the right place for a jeep safari to catch these animals and birds in their natural habitation. Visitors to Kanha, however, can look forward to some other equally exciting and thrilling activities, beyond safari in Khatia Kanha that promise to leave them impressed forever.
Things to do beyond safari around Khatia Kanha, include –
- Village Walk – visitors who love the rural rustic life of villagers, this is an ideal activity to indulge in. The buffer zone of the Kanha National Park has about 155 villages. Most of the village houses are decorated with beautiful handmade paintings made by the tribal – in fact, visitors can buy some of these paintings and carry back memories with them. While many of the villages have modern amenities, many of them appear to be standing still time. Closest to nature, nothing could be a better experience than this non-safari experience at Khatia Kanha, for nature lovers.
- Cycling – For people who wish to spend valuable time close to nature, there is a separate cycling track amid the forest, especially in the green corridor that connects Kanha National Park and Pench National Park. The cycling stretch is about 200 km or more and is again a once-in-a-lifetime chance for people to experience the ultimate adventure. The track between Kanha to Pench is meant for professional cyclists while others can go around Surwahi Sarekha belt and witness the culturally rich life of people residing in villages like Chandiya, Khailanji, Dhanwar, Patpara, Narna, Bhilewani, etc. Stunning mango gardens, ponds, bridges on River Banjar, and buffer forest area that consists of Mahuas, Sal, and Palash trees are the major attractions for the cyclists.
- Friday Market Visit – the Friday market at Sarekha is a weekly affair but just the place shoppers wouldn’t want to miss at any cost. Going beyond safari in Khatia Kanha, this is the right venue offering an indigenous and authentic experience of shopping at a local market. It is like a travel back into time where life is simple, all living creatures living in perfect harmony with each other and most of all life is not influenced in any way by modernisation.
- Fun Activities In River Banjar – the Banjar River is the lifeline of Kanha and one of the main tributaries of the Narmada River. Following through the Mandla district and surrounded by sal trees on the catchment area, visitors here can indulge in the following activities: –
- Take a dip in the refreshing waters of the River at a designated place near Surwahi Social. The river is mostly serene and hence provides one of the best non-safari experiences at Khatia Kanha enabling travellers to take a cool break from the hectic safari and other adventure activities.
- Enjoy some exciting moments while bathing at the Gidli Ghogra Waterfalls near Surwahi Social.
- Spend some relaxing time on the banks of river Banjar, especially guests who are booked for a stay at one of the hotels, lodges or resorts that are located near the Banjar River. A barefoot walk on the sandy bank of the river is as satisfying as spending time with the family at a day picnic or a high-tea session on the banks.
- Sanduk Nala Stop Dam Visit – A Stop Dam is being constructed across the Sanduk Nala just on the periphery of Surwahi Social by the Surwahi Khairlanji Panchayat. The Sanduk Nala is a perennial small stream that flows across the Surwahi village, adjacent to Surwahi Social Kanha and meets the Banjar River, about few hundred metres from the Homestay. The water conservation structure is expected to go live in another two months with construction in full swing. The project that will lead to the creation of an artificial lake is going to be a big boon to the local village that often faces a shortage of water for drinking and agriculture purpose during drought summer months. A walk down the stream to its merging point with the Banjar River and the view of the artificial lake is one of the best things to do beyond safari around Khatia Kanha.
- Elephant Bath in KNP – the lush green forests of Kanha and the rivers flowing through Kanha offer a welcome respite to the hundreds of animals residing here. While the Royal Bengal Tiger is the ultimate sighting here, another similar worthwhile activity is to watch herds of elephants taking a dip in the water bodies inside the Park. The fun that these animals have while sprinkling their vast back with jets of water from their trunk is one of the most worthwhile experience. Tourists also get the opportunity to book for an elephant ride through the jungle where the elevated height on the animal’s back provides a panoramic view of the forest.
- Night Safari in KNP – people staying closer to the Khatia buffer zone can book for a night safari. This is an eventful experience for most visitors especially with no torch lights or flashlights allowed. In complete darkness of the wilderness with only the moonlight to guide, tourists can watch the exciting aspects of the jungle. The safari is permitted from 7 pm to 10 pm and needs to be booked at least a month prior to get the gate passes.
- Baiga Dance at KNP – a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and one of the unique experiences beyond safari in Khatia Kanha is this. The Baiga community lives on the periphery of the Kanha National Park with their lives closely connected with the forest. While most of them work as farmers, during season time, the tribal men and women entertain guests and visitors with the elaborate traditional dance and folk music. Dressed in their ethnic clothing along with headgear, peacock feathers and ornaments they dance in a group and tourists are more than welcome to join in and become part of the dance performance.
- Bird watching on the outside of the National Park is another popular non-safari experience at Khatia Kanha.
- A planned visit to Boda, the Potters’ Village can be organized for the creative-minded visitors. They can learn how to make pots, shop for pottery utensils made by local artisans and spend valuable time interacting with the potter’s community.
- Farming volunteer – the adjoining areas of Kanha is famous for organic farming where guests get the opportunity to participate in local farming and revel in the practice of sustainable agriculture. In fact, guests can opt for an exclusive Kitchen Gardening experience at the Surwahi Sarekha belt. Kitchen Garden referred to as ‘Badi’ in local language provides the chance for visitors to gain knowledge and sense about local produce that includes fruits, vegetables and grains. The activities highlight the significance of being ecologically sensitive on the part of human beings and contribute towards the sustenance of the environment.