Formerly a hunting ground for the Maharajas of Rewa, this National Park is world-renowned as a tiger reserve.
The Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh is a beautiful forest with wildlife and vegetation in abundance. Bandhavgarh is known to have the highest density of Royal Bengal Tigers in the world and the frequent sightings of royal tigers make this national park a must-visit for all wildlife enthusiasts. In 2012, around 44-49 tigers were living in the park. There are more than 22 species of mammals and 250 species of avifauna.
Among the carnivores, Tigers, Asiatic jackals, foxes, sloth bears, ratels, gray mongoose, striped hyenas, jungle cats, and leopards are found here. Deer, monkeys, Wild boars, Nilgai, Chinkara, and Gaur, are also found here. A jeep safari into the park can take for a ride through adventure and enjoyment. The park got its name from the Bandhavgarh fort situated at the height of 800 m high cliffs nearby. The fort is in ruins now, but an hour trek to the fort is worth it as it provides a generous view of surroundings.
Bandhavgarh has a lot of accommodation options from budget hotels to high-end resorts. You can stay in one of the resorts inside the reserve as well.
Picturesque landscape. Has the highest number of tiger density in the world. Fittest topography. Easy access, as it is centrally located.
Spotting of the tiger is not 100% sure. In monsoons, the national park remains closed for three months.
Bandhavgarh National Park is ideal for family trips. It is also perfect for the ones who are looking for adventure and want to experience the wilderness.
Day 1: Reach Umaria station (closest to Bandhavgarh) early morning. A 30-minute drive will take you to the land of tigers. Upon arrival, check into the resort. Relax in the morning. After lunch, take an evening safari to explore the wildlife and stay overnight at the resort.
Day 2: Gear up for morning and afternoon safari into the wildnerness. See the bandhavgarh fort, 3 cave point, shesh shaiya etc. Overnight stay at Bandhavgarh.
Day 3: Take an elephant safari in the morning and enjoy the forest in its absolute and pure form. After lunch, you can visit the nearby tribal village for leisure.
Bandhavgarh boasts the highest number of tigers regarding density. Compared to other national parks, the probability of spotting a tiger is way too high here. The park has three gates, which are - Tala, Magadhi and Khitauli.Out of these three, Tala gate is the most select and expensive gate. The ones who are keen on watching birds can opt for the Magadhi entrance. Being an absolute adventurer's delight, this park never disheartens its visitors because it offers a wide variety of flora and fauna. The list of fauna in Bandhavgarh is - White Tiger, Royal Bengal tiger, Rhesus monkeys, spotted deer, barking deer, sloth bears, leopards, jackals, mongoose, wild pigs, jungle cats, etc. The flora is typically dry and deciduous type with mostly sal and bamboo trees being dominant in the forest. A lot of resorts are there in Bandhavgarh, making the stay memorable and comfortable. Though, during the peak time bookings have to be made in advance. Resorts provide visitors attractive discounts during the summers.
October to May is the ideal time for visiting the national park. Unlike any other national park, there are three types of safaris offered by the authorities - jeep, canter and elephant. Jeep and canter safaris are more popular among the tourists because it is easily available and cheaper than the elephant safari.
Elephants are typically used in Bandhavgarh to take you to the spot where tigers get tracked. Available only in the morning shift, these elephant safaris are on first come first serve basis and charge around Rs. 500 per head to take one to a spot where one can see a tiger in its most natural form. 4 passengers are typically allowed on an elephant and there is a mahout and a naturalist on this trip too.
Jeep Safaris operate in two shifts, one in early morning at the time of sunrise for a duration of 4 hours and then starts again at 2-3pm and goes till the sunset. Since, Bandhavgarh is very popular, its advisable to book a jeep in advance, as only limited number of jeeps are allowed in each shift. Each jeep can take up to 6 travelers other than a driver and one naturalist. Visitors typically prefer Tala region to spot tigers. Afternoon shift is typically closed on Wednesdays.
On the east end of Bandhavgarh national park lies the Bandhavgarh Fort. It is the height point of this national park. Among the oldest forts of India, Bandhavgarh was built more than 2000 years ago though the history around it is not very clear yet. A one hour trek is required to reach here from Tala zone and visitors must take a guide to visit this place. There are numerous caves in this fort area and some of them have inscribed paintings and scripts written in Brahmi. There are also a few temples here. The whole area is deserted, but it is still visited frequently by locals. According to Ramayana, it is believed that Rama's army built this fort and handed it to Lakshmana and hence Lakshmana is the main god of this temple. The trek is totally worth it to this 800 m high fort as it gives a breathtaking view of the surroundings. There is also a giant 35 feet sleeping statue of Vishnu here. This statue is believed to be dating around 10th century A.D. and Vishnu is shown reclining on the bed made by coils of the Seven Hooded Serpent, called Shesh Naag. The statue is locally known as Shesh Shaiya.
With not too many options available, you can find typical Indian cuisine in this area along with popular items of Continental and Chinese cuisine. The local delicacies of Madhya Pradesh that you might find here include Dal Bafla, Biryani, Kebabs, Korma, Poha, Rogan Josh, Jalebi, Ladoos as well as beverages like Lassi and Sugarcane Juice.
- Get your accommodation in advance and book safaris well in time.
- Keep in mind the timings of the park. The park is closed between July and September and the visiting hours are during day hours only.
- Wear comfortable and light colored clothes
- Maintain the rules and regulations of the National Park.
- Elephant safaris are the safest for tiger tours.
- Make sure that a forest guard is with you all the time to ensure your safety.
- Carry binoculars and cameras
- Carry a photo identity card with yourself all the time
By Rohit Shroff
How to reach Bandhavgarh from Delhi?