History of Kanha National Park
Kanha originally formed a part of the Gondwana or the “land of gonds”. These forests were inhabited by two aboriginal tribes, practising shifting cultivation and subsisting on forest resources.
Local Population :
The Baiga are among the most primitive tribes of India. They are skilled woodsmen, practicing shifting cultivation and survived largely by hunting and gathering honey, herb, gum, flowers, and fruit from the forest. These and locally crafted handicraft items like mats, umbrellas and basket are bartered for cloth, salt, utensil and ornaments in the weekly bazaars, although now cash is the economic vertical.
They are remarkably knowledgeable about the surrounding forests,animals and plants. Naturally, they make extremely good trackers.
The Gond have racial affinity with the aborigines of Australia. They speak various dialects of Gondi, an unwritten language. Some have lost their own language and speak Hindi, Marathi or Telgu. They practise shifting cultivation and worship nature, village deities, the tiger and their ancestors.
- 1933 : Around 233 sq. km. in the Banjar Valley ( Kisli and Kanha area ) and about 400 sq. km. of Halon Valley was declares a Sanctuary.
- 1935 : Around 500 sq. km. of forest area in the Halon valley (Supkhar area) was declared a Sanctuary.
- 1942 : Sanctuary in the Halon Valley was de-notified.
- 1955 : The Banjar (Kanha) Sanctuary was elevated to a National Park (252.97 sq. km.) under the Madhya Pradesh National Parks Act.
- 1964 : The National Park area was enlarged to 446.6 sq. km.
- 1969 : Relocation of 27 forest villages from the core (The National Park)
- 1973 : Kanha was declared a Tiger Reserve under Project Tiger.
- 1974 : The Supkhar area, 487.72 sq. km. (Hallon Valley) was declared a Sanctuary under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
- 1976 : The Supkhar Sanctuary was merged with Kanha National Park, thus increasing the National Park area to 940 sq. km.
- 1983 : Phen Wildlife Sanctuary serving as a ‘satellitic micro core’ brought under the unified management of Kanha Tiger Reserve.
- 1995 : Buffer Zone brought under unified control of tiger reserve management.
- 2000 : Chilpi Range of Buffer transferred to Chhattisgarh due to reorganization of Madhya Pradesh.
- 2010 : Around 148 sq. km. area of the Motinala (T) range added to the Buffer Zone, enlarging it to 1134 sq. km.
How Kanha Got Its Name
There are many local tales and folklores about how Kanha was christened.. Some say it comes from Kanhar, a type of locally found clayey soil found in the area. Others say the area is named after Kanva, a holy sage who resided here and was the father of Shakuntala, the lead character in Kalidasa’s famous play “Abhijñānashākuntala”.
An important character of the great Indian epic Ramayana, Shravan Kumar was taking his blind parents on a pilgrimage with the help of a device like a balance, to carry them on his shoulders. As the legend has it, he was passing through the forests of Kanha when King Dashratha, the father of Lord Rama, was hunting in these forests.
One evening, Sharavan Kumar went to a tank for water for his thirsty parents. King Dasharatha, in the darkness mistaking the sound of Shravan’s pitcher being dipped in the pool for a deer drinking water, killed Shravan.
Hearing Shravan’s cry King Dashratha rushed to the spot and discovered his mistake .Before breathing his last Shravan asked the king to carry the water to his thirsty parents. When Shravan’s parents learnt of their son’s death, they cursed King Dasharatha that just as they would die pining for their son he, too would die without his beloved sons at his death-bed Shravan Tal, a small tank in the central Kanha meadows, is the site where the episode is believed to have taken place. Other spots connected to this story are Dasharatha Machan, the place from where King Dasharatha shot the arrow, and Shravan Chita, the place where Shravan is said to have been cremated. This also remains a favourite tiger sighting spot, especially in summers.