Bandhavgarh National Park is located Sahdol district amongst the outlying
hills of the Vindhyan Range in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.
It is best known as the 'Tiger Land' of India, because the tiger
population at Bandhavgarh is the densest in India.
Bandhavgarh National Park was the hunting reserve of
the Maharajas of Rewa before becoming an area of 105 sq. km as a National
Park in 1968. In 1982, the area of the park was increased to 448.84 sq.
km and it became a tiger reserve under Project Tiger in 1993.
The park consists of a core area of 105 sq km and a buffer
area of approximately 400 sq km. It got its name from the Bandhavgarh
Fort situated on the Bandhavgarh hill. It is the oldest fort in India.
No records remain to show when this fort was constructed. Along the foot
path of the fort and within its wall are ruins of medieval temples and
massive stone sculptures. Some cave with inscriptions confirm that this
was inhabited 2,000 years ago. There is an interesting story behind this
Fort. In the Epic Ramayana, Bandhavgarh Fort was given to brother Laxmana
by Lord Rama to keep a watch on Lanka and hence, the name Bandhavgarh
(Bandhav means brother and Garh means fort).
There are also interesting cave shrines scattered around
the park, with Brahmi inscriptions dating from the 1st century BC.
The park has a vast grasslands rugged with deep ravines, sharp
crested hills, narrow valleys and some plain areas with few scattered
undulating green hillocks. The Park mainly consists of moist deciduous
type which is dominated by Sal trees and bamboo. Plantations of Lofty
Saja and Terminalia spp., Lagerstroemia spp., Syzygium cumini, Boswelia
spp., Pterocarpus spp., Madhuca spp. Madhuca indica, Drossera indica,
Dendrocalamus strictus, Butea monosperma, Woody climbers such as Butea
superba and Bauhinia vahlii and Lianas such as Spatholobus roxburghii
etc cover most of the park area. The park has open marshy grass lands
dominated with many species of grasses.
Bandhavgarh Park holds those animal species which are typical of the
habitat in Central India. The park harbours the largest number of tigers
among the tiger reserves of the country. More than 22 species of mammals
found in Bandhavgarh. Besides Tiger, the other important fauna are Common
Langur, Rhesus macaque, Carnivore species like Jackal, Bengal fox, Sloth
bear, Rattle, Grey (small Indian) and Ruddy mongoose, Striped hyena, Wolf,
Wild dog, Jungle cat, Leopard, Ungulates like Chital, Sambhar, Barking
deer, Chinkara, Chausingha, Nilgai, Wild pig, Rodents like Porcupine,
Lesser bandicoot and Three-striped palm squirrel, Nocturnal species like
Small Indian civet and Toddy cat etc are found in this park. There are
6 animals in this park which are listed as endangered in IUCN
Red List . They are The wild dog, Bengal fox, Sloth bear, Leopard
and Tiger.The avian population comprises over 240 species of birds including
Prey, Vultures, Grebes, Cormorants, Ducks, Kingfishers, Herons, Egrets,
Storks, Hornbills, Barbets, Woodpeckers, Flycatchers etc. The flowering
and fruit trees attract woodland birds which include Green pigeon, Jerdon's
leaf bird, Crested serpent eagle and variable hawk eagle.
Sarus Cranes, the migratory bird visit Bandhavgarh during
monsoon. Great Cormorant, Darter, Lesser Adjutant Stork, Indian
Roller , Red Wattled Lapwing, Common Kingfisher, White Breasted Kingfisher,
Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Lesser Whistling Duck, Red Jungle Fowl, Changeable
Hawk Eagle, Brahminy Starling, Blackhooded Oriole, Indian Grey Hornbill,
Oriental Magpie Robin , Grey Tree Pie etc are some of the birds which
found in this park. Bird watching is considerably better in the
early morning and late afternoon than in the heat of the day.
Bandhavgarh also has a rich collection of reptiles including the
Indian Rock Python , Common Vine Snake, Russell’s Viper , Striped Keelback,
Bengal Monitor Lizard , Skink etc.
75 species of butterflies and insects also add colour
to the Bandhavargah National Park.
Tourist Sports in Bandharvgarh National Park
Only 207 sq. km. are allowed for tourists and this area is divided in
to three tourism zones Tala Zone, Magdhi Zone and Khitauli Zone. Here
several areas that offer tourists some of the best opportunities to sight
Some of them are 'Sidhababa' - The Holy Marshy Meadow is said to be the
abode of Siddha Baba another name of Lord Shiva. Surrounded by the hillocks,
this place has rich in flora and fauna mainly Samhar and Chital, 'Chakradhara'
- The Sprawling Meadow surrounded by the hillocks, which is also rich
in both flora and fauna, 'Gopalpur' an apt place for bird watching, 'Sita
Mandap' a rock intact over a stream in the shape of a bridge,
gives an impression of a 'Mandap' (arch), 'Shesh Shaiya' a pool said to
be the origin of River Charanganga.
Here a large statue of lord Vishnu reclining on the seven
hooded serpent. It is also believed that River Charanganga originates
at the feet of Lord Vishnu, 'Bari Gufa' dating back to tenth century,
it is the biggest cave made by man, 'Ketkiha' known as the Pendanus Point
where the aromatic plant Pendanus flourishes, 'Banbehi Hide', 'Bhitari
Wah' and 'Bhitari Hide' - hideouts to watch wildlife, an important medicinal
plant Achorus calamus also found here, 'Three Cave Point' - the archaeological
remains where animals use this for their shelter, 'Rajbahera' - a
marshy meadow which is the origin of river Dammer.
From here one can get the clear view of Bandhaini
hillock. This also the place for many vultures and herds of Chital, Sambhar
and Wild pigs, 'Rampur Hillock' known as photographer's point, from here
one can get the panoramic view of Bandharvgarh, 'Climber's Point ' which
offers tourists a spectacular view of Woody climbers of Butea superba
and Bauhinia wahlii amidst the giant sal trees, 'Dinosaur Rock' a natural
wonder which reminds of the ‘Jurassic Age’, 'Sehra Dadra' is the biggest
meadow of the park.
Breeding pair of Saras Crane can be seen here in June. One can also get
the view of Bandhavgarh hill from here., 'Sookhi Dam' and 'Baherha' both
are favourite haunt of tigers, 'Patiha Camp' a picturesque marshy grassland
where a temporary elephant camp is located, 'Dabhadol Tank' an artificial
water tank which attracts a large number of winter visiting birds, 'Badbada'
a grass land which attracts herbivores, 'Dhaua Tower' and 'Charki Dongri' hillocks
from which one can have panoramic view of forests, 'Kumbhi Kachhar' and
'Tedka Munara' a forest patches which attracts herbivores and leopard
habitats, 'Garhpuri Dam' which is attracting a large number of winter
visiting birds, 'Nigahi Nala' , a perennial water course and summer abode
of tiger, 'Marjadgarh Tower' - an old place of worship, from here one
can get a panoramic view of the surrounding, 'Umrar River' an ideal place
for an interaction with nature, 'Chhulaha Camp' a patrolling camp in a
grassland on the bank of Umrar river etc.
Facilities inside the Park
There are facilities for Jeep & Elephant Safari in fenced areas.
Jeep safaris are undertaken during the early morning hours till evening.
Each jeep is allowed to carry six visitors plus a tourist department guide
and a driver. Some of the jungle camps include tours of the park in their
charges. One can drive his own four wheeler accompany of a tourist guide
and most hotels in the park will include park related fees in their prices.
Elephant safari are organised for for tiger-tracking and wildlife
viewing early in the morning. It is a 2 hr ride in the park . Both Safaris
can be arranged at the Forest Reception Office.
Elephant Ride fee : Indians Rs 100 per an hour, Foreigners
Best Time to Visit
The visiting season of Bandhavgarh national park starts from Mid-November
to June, as the park remains closed during the monsoon months from July
to early November.