There are some forested areas in India that are steeped deep in history and are blessed with natural beauty as well as burgeoning with wildlife and vegetation. The Bandhavgarh National Park is one such reserve that leaves you awed and inspired. Situated in Madhya Pradesh it was declared a national park in 1968 and covers an area of approximately 105 sq km. Believed by many as the forest which marks the lineage of white tigers, the Park has the maximum density of tigers in India today.
Project Tiger was introduced in 1972 and the Park is divided into the Tala, Magdi and Bamera zone. The Tala zone is where tourist usually throng to watch the mighty majestic creature in action.
WHAT TO SEE
According to mythology, the Park derives its name from a hillock, said to have been given by Lord Rama to his younger brother Lakshman (bandhavgarh which means brother’s fort). The Bandhavgarh Fort is found within the Park and though the exact date of construction is unknown, it is estimated to be more than 2000 years old.
The Maharajas of Rewa have been great influencers in this area and the forests around Bandavgarh had been used as Shikargarh or hunting grounds by the king and his guests.
Maharaja Martand Singh is said to have captured the first white tiger, named Mohan, who is now preserved and is displayed in the palace of the Rewa Maharajas.
Interestingly, the Bandhavgarh National Park is connected to the Kanha National Park through corridors of forested areas and the two parks together are deemed as the most important tiger breeding ground in the world. It is estimated that Madhya Pradesh alone houses about 20% of the world’s tigers.
How to reach
The Park is located in the Umaria district of Madhya Pradesh. The cities of Umaria (37km), Jabalpur (190km), Katni (100km) and Khajuraho (250km) are not too far away and also well connected to the Park.
Rail – Umaria, Jabalpur, Katni and Khajuraho are the railway stations that are close to the Park. All of these stations are well connected through railways to different destinations.
Air – The Jabalpur airport is the nearest airport to the Park. The Khajuraho Civil aerodrome too can be availed for air services. Both these airports are well connected to the major cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and so on.
Road – Buses, taxis and private cars are available from the cities of Jabalpur, Umaria, Khajuraho and Katni.
What to see
The Bandavgarh National Park is undoubtedly brimming with flora and fauna of various types. It is an aweing experience to encounter the tigers in their natural habitat. Watching these magnificent feline creatures in an equally majestic environment instills a sense of wonderment and amazement. Besides, the white tigers and Royal Bengal Tigers the other animals that are found here and are equally a gracious part of this environ are the leopards, sambars, barking deers, nilgais, gaurs, chausinghas, chinkaras, wild boars, Bengal fox, sloth bears, grey mangoose, jungle cat and stripped hyena.
Due to some disease the gaur population in the Park had all died, however, they were successfully shifted from Kanha National Park. By 2012 about 50 gaurs were shifted to the Bandavgarh National Park.
The wetlands and marshes support a variety of avian species, such as the brown shrike, long tailed shrike, common lora, black ibis, crested serpent eagle, wooly necked stork, lesser white throat and more. There are about 250 bird species and 80 species of different types of butterflies.
There are numerous insect types found here which are still not really documented due to their large presence.
The forest cover in the Park ranges from tall grasslands to sal, saja, dhobin and salai trees. Dense bamboo cover is a common occurrence in this region. The vegetation in the valley and slopes is primarily of Sal trees and changes to deciduous forest along the hills.
Things to do
The jungle safari is the main attraction of the Park. Safaris are carried out in open jeeps and are extremely exciting not only because of the animal and bird sighting, but also because of the lush green vegetation, rolling topography, Vindhyas silhouetted in the background and the streams and marshes that make the ride worth the while.
The Bandhavgarh Fort is definitely a stop to make and is located in the center of the Park on a hilltop. It is surrounded by smaller hills and valleys, and there are quite a few man made caves which have paintings and carvings on its walls. The Bari Gufa and the Three cave point are some of the caves found in the Park.
The Mahaman Pond is located near the fort and is a great place to see the different types of birds and animals that come here to quench their thirst.
Climber’s Point – This point is from where you get one of the best views of the Park.
The adjoining Tala village can be visited to soak in the ethnic and typical lifestyle of a village in India.
The Fossil National Park is about 100km away from the Park and showcases all the fossils that date between 40 million to 150 million years ago.
Day 1 – Arrive at the Park by noon and check into the hotel for lunch and some relaxation. Meet with the group in the evening to discuss the plan for the following days.
Day 2- We start early for the morning safari and spend quality time in the forest, watching the wildlife, wilderness, the marshes and fort. Post lunch we continue with the afternoon safari and explore the jungle further. After a tiring but fulfilling day we return to the hotel for much needed rest.
Day 3- We stick to the same plan and start early, only to bid farewell to the forest. The afternoon is spent visiting the villages near-by and in the evening you can proceed to your onward destination.