On my way to Kanha
An early 7 o’clock flight from Delhi, and at 8:30 am you are in India’s hinterland, Madhya Pradesh. Jabalpur, to be exact. The airport is tiny, and barren. The taxi ride of 120 kms goes through the undulating Deccan Platue, tiny hamlets of India’s backward regions, sporadic dense vegetation, and mostly brown earth dotted with clusters of trees. But roads are nice and broad, and may be so because we just witnessed a Lok Sabha elections, and in our country rural development happens only before a major election.
Kanha is one of the biggest success stories of Project Tiger, a project by the government on India which had aimed at taking care of the tiger population of the country. What started off in an illustrious way, has lost much of its steam due to rampant corruption, an uncaring administration, and a nexus between poachers, criminals and politicians. Had it not been the ever vigilante forest guards and officials, meager population of India’s around 1400 tigers would have diminished at a much rapid scale. Kanha presently hosts around 90 tigers in an area of around 2,000 sqkms.
A quick stop at the Madhya Pradesh (MP) Tourism guesthouse at Mandla for refreshments, and your senses are heightened and your anticipation peaks.
Our stay’s at the Baghera Log Huts, manned by MPTDC staff, located in the buffer zone on the national park. An entry from the Khatiya Gate of the forest and you are in the forest fringes, proceeding deeper into the buffer zone. A recent Supreme Court order has directed a shutdown of all accommodations in the buffer zone of forests and these huts are also facing a closure .
We may be very well the last set of guests to stay in these quaint and clean cottages, with monkeys, deers, bisons and a stray bear for company.