Wildlife watching has come up in a very strong way and wildlife watching and Eco tourism is on the rise. Most national parks and wilderness areas are located in districts where tribal population is good. While visiting any national park for tiger safari or wildlife / bird watching a good addition can be, visit to some tribal villages to see and understand their culture and tradition.
Kanha National Park is one of the most famous tiger reserves in India where people from around the world visit to see wild animals in their home the jungles. Most visitors visit the national park in open gypsy and enjoy the Sal and Bamboo forests and grasslands so aptly described by many authors and made famous by Rudyard Kipling in his famous Jungle Book. Visiting Kanha is an experience no one would ever forget, seeing Spotted deer, Sambhar deer, Jackal, Fox, Leopard, Sloth beer and so many other animals, birds, insects and reptiles along with the Hard ground Barasingha known as jewel of Kanha or the king of the forest – Tiger makes you a true nature lover from your first round inside the forest.
Tourism in and around national parks like Kanha is restricted to wildlife watching and most tourists do not see the Tribal culture of the area. Gond and Baiga tribal have been living in this region for time unknown and a visit to their village can be a fine experience. If properly planned you can see the lifestyle of these tribal communities and even have dinner at their house to get a taste of what they eat. The ethnic tribal cuisines are made of coarse grains but are really tasty and healthy above all since most of these are grown without chemical fertilizers. Trying local bread known as 'Roti’s' made of Kodo, Maize or Makka along with chatni (Local sauce) or some vegitable and Mahua alchohol which is brewed by almost every household is an experience in itself.
If you reach on local market day, which is Wednesday for Kanha, you will be able to see small stalls with fruits, vegetables, cloths, silver jewellery, utensils, toys etc. And if it’s some religious program at any villagers house you can see them dancing happily and enjoying. Although new movie songs have entered the tribal culture but still at places you can hear the old tunes on dholak and manjira. You can even enjoy tribal dance along with bon fire and dinner at any tribal household which can be arranged by your accommodation provider. Near Kanha Tiger Reserve, Kanha Village Eco Resort is well known for its eco tourism policy and does these kind of activities for its guest which they believe is a good way of helping the locals economically as they get paid for food and tribal dance.
So, when you plan a trip to Kanha National Park or any other forest area next time do remember to take out some time to see and enjoy the local tribal culture as well. This will help you in understanding how difficult the lifestyle of these local people is but even then they are the happiest lot with whatever minimal possessions they have.