Known as one of the densest national parks in India, the Kanger Ghati National Park offers a rich biodiversity, breathtaking landscapes, natural waterfalls, beautiful limestone caves, and home to the state bird of Chhattisgarh, Hill Myna. The park is located in the Jagdalpur, Bastar district of Chhattisgarh. Spread over 200 km square, Kanger Ghati (Valley) National Park, a biosphere reserve is nestled amidst the stunning Kanger Valley which stretches for 34 km. The park consists mainly of aberrant terrain and is home to a sizeable tribal population.
About the Park
The park is named after river Kanger, which flows through it. Owing to the area's dominant flora and fauna, the place was declared a national park in the year 1982. The Kanger Ghati National Park has a notable geographic diversity. Land formations ranging from gentle low areas to valleys, steep slopes, streams and more can be found in the vicinity of the park. This suitable condition gives birth to a wide variety of flora and fauna inside the park, making it a prominent biodiversity hotspot of India. River Kanger is the lifeline of this park as the park is dependent on the river for electricity generation.
Moist deciduous forests mainly cover the forest area of the park. These are sal, bamboo, and teak trees. In fact, the Kanger Valley happens to be one of the last regions where virgin and pure forests are still left. According to the various surveys done by research organisations, there are 555 herbaceous species in the park. Out of these, 45 species are said to be rare, and 12 species are new and recently added to the lot. The rich and beautiful floral diversity inside the park includes various medicinal plants, climbers, grasses, wild sugarcane, ferns, canes, epiphytes, teak, bamboo, sal, and more.
The Kanger Ghati National Park has an exotic array of wildlife species. Some of these are tigers, mouse deer, leopards, wildcat, sambar, chital, barking deer, langurs, jackals, rhesus macaque, flying squirrel, sloth bear, wild boar, rabbits, striped hyena, pythons, crocodile, cobras, snakes, and monitor lizards. The areal fauna at the park consists of common hill myna, red jungle fowl, spotted owlet, racket-tailed drongos, parrots, peacocks, steppe eagles, phakta, red spurfowl, bhura teeter, heron, tree pie and many others.
To sum it up, the park has about 50 species of mammals, 145 species of birds, 56 species of fish, 16 species of amphibians, 90 species of butterflies, 110 species of spiders, and 25 species of moths.
Attractions Inside The Park
Darhas translate to water pools created by rivers. Bhainsa Darha is one such water pool which is located 65km away from Jagdalpur. The water in here is natural and pure. Crocodiles and tortoises found in the water make up for a great attraction here. Given the fact that the Darha is covered with lush greenery in all directions, you can also plan a picnic or hike in this area.
The Darha remains closed during the rainy season. So the ideal time to visit this place is during winters. Travelling by bikes and other two-wheeled vehicles can get risky as roads here are narrow and slippery. It is advisable to travel in a car.
Kanger Dhara Waterfall
Kanger Dhara is a picnic spot located inside Kanger Ghati National Park, 35 km away from Jagdalpur. Permission from the District Forest Office is required (located at the entry gate of the park) to enter the waterfall area. The cascading falls are attractive to look at. You can also take a bath in the natural water. Summers are the best time to visit the waterfall when the water temperature is comfortable to take a dip. The falls remain closed during monsoons.
Tirathgarh Waterfalls is also fondly called Milky Fall because of the milky white colour of the water that is formed when the water gushes down and crashes with the rocky slope. From a distance, it looks as if fresh milk is falling down a hill. It is eye-catching to look at. The falls is also one of the most visited sites in the state of Chhattisgarh. The splashing water speeding down from a height of over 100 feet offers splendid views. The greenery in the surroundings enriches the beauty of the area. There's a nearby temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and Ma Parvati that has a religious prominence amongst devotees who flock in large numbers to offer prayers. The best time to visit this waterfall is from October to February.
Situated at about 40 km from Jagdalpur, Kotumsar Caves stretch for about 1370 meters and are 35 meters underground. Made up of pure limestone, this alluring cave is adjacent to river Kanger in the western side of Kanger Ghati National Park. Many renowned explorers have searched this cave during the early 1900s. It is one of the most famous caves in the state of Chhattisgarh.
The caves have rocky floors with water pools in several spots. There are no natural lights inside the cave. This, combined with steep and narrow passages (some of which are downward sloping) makes exploring these caves a risky business. Yet, it attracts tourists in large amounts. You can enter the caves through the narrow steps and will have to pass very narrow chambers and passages before getting to the main hall that features impressive acoustics. This sure gets the adrenaline high and blood pumping. There are several interesting tribal tales attached to the caves. The caves also house several species of reptiles and insects like bats, snakes, frog, cricket, spiders, millipedes, and more.
Please note the fact that there is a lack of oxygen in deeper areas of the caves. For safety purposes, entry in some parts of the caves is strictly restricted to tourists and the local population.
Similar to Kotsumar caves, Kailash Caves are located near Mikulwada district, 40 km away from Jagdalpur. The caves were discovered in the year 1993. Around 250 meters long and 40 meters underground, these limestone caves have religious links attached to them. At the end of the caves, you will find a magnificent structure in the shape of a Shivling. The walls of the cave are hollow. When struck, the walls reverberate soothing and acoustic musical sounds. This will surely leave you awe-struck.
The park has vast limestone deposits. Some of it is in the form of caves and where some of them are in the form of caves and the rest in the form of beds or layers one over the other. These deposits are present between the ground and soil. The underground deposits create the caves. The limestone caves are a significant tourist attraction and are spectacular to look at. Some of the main ones are Kailash Cave, Devgiri Cave, Dandak Cave, and Kotumsar Cave. Interestingly, these structures take millions of years to form. There are still some caves in the park which do not have an opening and remain undiscovered.
Best Time to Visit
November to April is the best time to visit the park when the temperatures are cold with a clear to a cloudy sky. The park gets plenty of sunlight, and dense trees are the perfect shade so that you won't be sweating under the scorching sun.
By air: The nearest airport is in Raipur (about 330 km away). You can easily hire a taxi from there.
By railway: The nearest railway station is Jagdalpur Station (about 27 km away).
By bus: The nearest bus station is also in Jagdalpur (about 32 km away).
Kanger Ghati National Park is an ideal destination for wildlife lovers, nature enthusiasts, researchers and for families who love to spend some quality time in nature's lap. This is the best way to discover the immersive natural beauty Chhattisgarh has got to offer.