Bandhavgarh National Park
Bandhavgarh National Park is located in Madhya Pradesh state of India. This park is among the best national parks of India where Asian tigers can be easily viewed. Area of this park is of around 448 sq km.
Bandhavgarh Hill, at the height of 811 meters above the sea level, is located at the centre of the park. This hill is surrounded by sloping valleys.
The state of Rewa owes its origins to the foundation of a state dating to 1234 by Vyaghra Dev, a descendant of the Vaghelas of Gujarat. He married the daughter of the Raja of Ratanpur, bringing Bandhogarh (now known as Bandhavgarh) into the family as her dowry. The legendary fortress of Bandhogarh fell into Mughal hands in 1597, almost by accident. At the death of Maharaja Virbhadra Rao in 1593, his minor son succeeded and was sent to Delhi for his own safety, the emperor took advantage of his absence to send one of his loyal nobles as temporary governor. Once he had taken control of the fort, the Maharaja’s nobles and officials were expelled and the fort annexed by the Mughals. On his return to his remaining domains, H.H. Maharaja Vikramaditya was forced to establish a new capital at Rewa, from whence the state took its name.
Times have changed. You now ride elephants to shoot tigers with your Nikon instead of your rifle, and there remains something very evocative about riding through the Jungle on the look out for those black and orange stripes!
The "jungle" is mostly sparse and dry undergrowth with large areas of woodland. The Park is set around the "castle" - a huge outcrop of rock with a massive plateau top. The whole area is very dry and dusty. Covering 450 sq km, Bandhavgarh is situated in Umaria district of Madhya Pradesh among the outlying hills of the Vindhya range. At the center of park is Bandhavgarh hill rising 811 meters above MSL. The lowest point in the park is at Tala (440 meter above MSL). Bandhavgarh is densely populated with other species. Bandhavgarh is sided with great cliffs and eroded rocks and on its highest point stands "Bandhavgarh fort" thought to be some 2,000 years old. Around the fort are numerous caves containing shrines and ancients sanskrit inscription.
Although Bandhogarh is a relatively small park in the last few years this former game reserve has become one of India's most prominent National Parks. The major reason for all the interest is Bandhogarh's high density of tigers (The Bagh), which roam the mixed forests of in search of an easy kill. It was the preferred hunting place for the Kings of Rewa. The density of tiger population at Bandhavgarh is the highest known in India--60 Tigers at 450 sq km area in Bandhavgarh National Park. This is also White Tiger country. The last known as captured by Maharaja Martand Singh in 1951. This White Tiger "Mohan", is now stuffed and display in the place of Maharajah of Rewa. The tigers (The Bagh) have not only bolstered the local population by breeding successfully, they have also brought international media attention to the park and the plight of the Royal Bengal Tiger.
While the Star Attraction is the tigers but there is a host of other wildlife; 22 species of mammals and 250 species of birds. Leopards and sloth bears are the other two extremely rare animals, seen only by chance. Other wildlife includes spotted deer, samba, Langur and Red faced Monkeys, Jungle Cats, Bangal Fox, Mongoose, Striped Hyena, Bondicoot Rat, Asiatic Jackal, Wild Boars, Nilgai, Chausingha, Chinkara, Indian Bison and of course, the "domestic" elephants.
The vegetation along streams and morasses is rich in bird life, and include the oddly named "Changeable Hawk Eagle" and storks. More common ones are little grabe, egret, lesser teal, white eyed byzzard, black Kite, creasted serpent eagles, Black Vulture, Egyption vulture, common peafow, red jungle fowl, dove, parakeet, king-fisher, Indian roller and the Indian National bird the Indian peacock.
Reptilian fauna include cobra, krait, viper, ratsnake, python, turtle and number of Lizard varieties including varanus.
The vegetation is chiefly of sal forest in the valleys and on the lower slopes bamboo is found throughout the park.
Bandhavgarh experiences climatic conditions that vary to opposite extremes. In winters, the bitter cold forces the visitors to put on multiple layers as protection against the biting cold. Early morning rides can be in temperatures that dip about four, once you take the wind chill factor into consideration. In the summers, it changes drastically to the opposite. It now feels uncomfortable to even sometimes put on the cotton t-shirt. The temperature in the winters varies from 4 to 20°C between November and February. In the summers, the temperatures move to the other extreme and can go up to 48 degrees centigrade. Towards late summer, it is also advisable to carry some protection, for yourself and for your camaras, from rain. Bandhavgarh has an average annual rainfall of 1200 mm. The rains here give very little prior warning and and it is preferable to be prepared for your own protection, as well as for your equipment. These rains, however, bring good respite from the blistering heat. A single shower can make temp eratures fall from 45°C to 30°C. The main monsoon season mostly begins only once the park is closed from 1st July to 15 October.
Tala (Bandhavgarh) is well connected to Katni which is one of the major railway junctions nearby. Generally it takes 2-2.5 hrs and you can easily get vehicles to and from the station by jeeps or similar vehicles waiting at the exit of the Umaria railway station.
There is a park permit fee on top of the cost of hiring a jeep, and any elephant rides are extra. Any safari organised with your lodge normally includes all the jeep and park fees although elephant rides are still extra. You don't have to pay in the jungle but normally pay at your lodge later, although taking a little cash to tip the elephant rider is a good idea.
(All charges above are per trip for 1 to 6 persons in one vehicle)
No of vehicles allowed in the park from October 2012
Vehicle hiing charges.
* Total for Indians -
* Total for Foreigners -
* Elephant Safari for Whole Day -
New Year, Holi, Diwali are peak season timing, its recommended to book park permits , jeep and hotel well in advance during that period.
Tala is a tiny village at the entrance to Bandhavgarh with one or two shops and an internet cafe. The lodges are located within a few minutes walk of the village. Travel into the park is by Jeep, again normally provided in the price by the lodges.
The wild animals are not the only attraction in the park. On at least one safari your driver will take you up the mountain where there is a line of ancient caves, and a huge 10th Century statue of a reclining Vishnu. It is also possible to head to the far side of the park to the elephant enclosure where the elephants are kept. Often this is where the young elephants are and it is a great photo opportunity
Always use mineral packed drinking water. There is no nightlife here at all (thank goodness) but a cool beer after a day in the jungle is a wonderful thing! Remember to take plenty of water on every safar
Once you've paid for the Jungle Package at a Lodge you will struggle to spend anything at all in Tala. Elephant rides are extra but not expensive at all (2005 = 300 Rupees per person per ride) and the only thing you buy in the lodges are those cool evening beers.
Not only is it hot but also very dry and dusty.If you are visiting in the October-February period,do not forget to carry warm clothes because it gets pretty cold here in winter,lowest has been 0 degrees Celsius
Jeeps can easily be booked through the respective hotel you have booked to travel to which ever train station you need. Umaria is the closest. Katni is two hours by car and has good rail connections to Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai.