Bandhavgarh National Park in Central India
Tiger at Bandhavgarh
Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve
Coordinates: 23.6994° N, 80.9619° E
Location: Umaria District in Madhya Pradesh.
Cradled among the Vindhya Ranges in MP, Bandhavgarh is a tiger heaven and a paradise on Earth. The reserve was favorite hunting grounds of erstwhile Maharajas of Rewa. White tiger was found in the nearby forests which brought fame to this region. This little reserve is bustling with tigers in its wilderness.
The park is a major conservation center under the aegis of Project Tiger Program. There are more than forty big cats in the picturesque preserve. Breeding is highly successful with many cubs born every year. Steps are being taken to conserve the Indian bison here which had become locally extinct due to disease transmitted by local live stock.
(During the year 2015 50 bison were successfully trans-located from Kanha National Park. They were kept in a large pen for some months and then released into the wild. As of now they are breeding successfully and the population has grown to eighty. They have now spread to areas frequented by bison before extinction at BTR.)
The park is named after the highest hillock that rises to 810 meters. Ancient Fort and reclining Vishnu are the highlights of the hillock. Many zoomorphic statues lie scattered all along the hillside. A popular Laxman Temple resides at one end of the hill overlooking the reserve. The Fort was gifted by Lord Rama to his brother hence the name.The reserve is full of man made caves, stables, ancient temples and pools. There are the architectural ruins of structures built by the dynasties that came to rule over the Fort.
Bandhavgarh National Park is small as compared to Kanha, but offers the best opportunity to see the tiger in the wild. The park has an area of 1516 plus sq.km under the project tiger, the core zone is approximately 710 sq.km the rest is buffer. .
Adjacent to the park is the Panpatha Wildlife Sanctuary which is equally rich in biodiversity and is also a good habitat. Panpantha WLS is now a part of this wildlife refuge in Central India.
Bandhavgarh is very popular for tiger safaris and birding. The park is home to many Central Indian Mammals, reptiles and birds. On a safari one can see a tiger, leopard, sloth bear, wild dog or dhole, sambar deer, spotted deer, barking deer, wild boar and langurs. Nilgai is seen at Bathan while wolf and hyena are often seen outside the park.
It is possible to see small mammals that are shy and nocturnal on night safaris outside the park confines. Birding is done alongside tiger tracking, and it can be conducted outside the park in buffer zone.
Tiger is usually met with during the jeep safaris but if not than one can see the big cat on elephant back. This is known as tiger show and tourists are taken on elephant back to the spot where the animal has been cordoned off by elephants. The ride is short, from jeep to the tiger, but offers view of the animal from close.
The park has a wildlife interpretation center for more information on the biodiversity that prevails. The safaris are conducted in the morning and evening. One has to pay a vehicle and guide fees, a camera fee is also charged in case of professional equipment. A guide from the forest department accompanies the tourists on jeep safaris - this is compulsory.
For tourism, the park has been divided into three zones in twenty percent of the core. These are:
- Tala Zone
- Magdhi Zone
- Khitauli Zone
There are five zones in the buffer which have been opened for tourism Year 2014 onward.
Since October 2016 the premium zone status has been abolished hence all zones being equal the fee applicable is the same. You can book tiger safaris at MP Online Website or request your hotel to do it for you.
The opening of buffer zone for tourism will increase the number of vehicles that will be able to go for tiger safari hence the number of tourists will increase.
Note* Evening safari on Wednesdays are closed throughout the season.
This little paradise is home to more than 250 species of avian of which many are winter migrants to Central India. The best place to see the forest birds, hence the tiger reserve is much visited by professional birders.
The park has dense forest canopies and marshy grasslands. Hence it is a good place to enjoy bird watching here. The major attractions are:
- Indian Pitta
- Paradise Flycatcher
- Malabar Pied Horn Bill
- Black Naped Monarch
- White Rumped Shama
- Indian Scimitar Babbler
- Gold Mantled Chloropsis
- Jerdon's Leaf Bird
- Ultramarine Flycatcher
- Red Throated Flycatcher
- Painted Francolin
- Grey Francolin
- Grey Hornbill
- Alexandrine Parakeet
- Golden Oriole
- Black Hooded Oriole
- White Eyed Buzzard
- Bonelli's Eagle
- Honey Buzzard
- Spangled Drongo
- Racket Tailed Drongo
- White Bellied Drongo
- Plum Headed Parakeet
- Changeable Hawk Eagle
- Crested Serpent Eagle
- Long Billed Vulture
- White Backed Vulture
- Red Headed Vulture
- Egyptian Vulture
- Pallas Fish Eagle
- Grey Headed Fish Eagle
As is believed the white tiger was not found in the forests of Bandhavgarh. It was discovered somewhere near these forests by the then Maharajah of Rewa. This is the only specimen that has been found in the wild ever, and all others in various zoos are descendant of this big cat named Mohun.
The white tiger is not a different species nor it is an albino. The animal is due to the domination of a recessive gene. One among ten thousand births could lead to a white tiger in the World.
The only white tiger to be found in the wild was Mohun near jungles of Bandhavgarh in India. No white specimen has been found ever in the wild. All the white tigers in the zoo are Mohun's progeny.
Attractions - Mammals & Reptiles
The mega fauna of Bandhavgarh attracts thousands of visitors from India and abroad. Tourists come to see the tiger but they are also enthralled by other wild animals. Some of the star attractions beside the tiger are:
- Wild Dog
- Sloth Bear
- Sambar Deer
- Chital Deer
- Four Horned Deer
- Barking Deer
- Wild Boar
- Rhesus Macque
- Rusty Spotted Cat
- Jungle Cat
- Civet Cat
- Common Krait
- Russel's Viper
Snakes are nocturnal but with luck some species can be seen at day time.
Lodge At Bandhavgarh
Accommodations at Bandhavgarh
It is essential to stay overnight for tiger safaris in the park. There are few rest houses at Tala Gate in Bandhavgarh but they are reserved for officials and VIPs. All services for park safaris are available from Tala Village - jeeps, taxis, transportation, boarding and lodging.
The safari accommodation can be booked online since many resorts have their sites. There are various packages available for a stay in the resorts in Bandhavgarh. Most popular among the tourists is the Jungle Plan which includes jeep safaris, accommodation and food. There are no home stays and day centers available. But there are many budget hotels for a short stay. At Tala Gate a number of joints offer breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The tourism infrastructure is well developed for tiger tours. There are many hotels and wildlife resorts at Bandhavgarh for luxury accommodation. The prices range from budget to 3 star and even 5 star hotels. Most of the hotels are well equipped for safaris and birding with experienced nature guides at their disposal. The luxury resorts have wildlife interpretation centers which are good for understanding the park ecosystem and diversity.
During the holiday season and weekends the park is full of visitors hence booking has to be done in advance. It is better to visit during the lean period as number of visitors become less and one can bargain. A large number of hotels in Bandhavgarh offer affordable prices for a stay during off season.
The number of tourists is high during the winter months, hence those on budget should visit the reserve in summer months. The wildlife sightings increase during this period for number of reasons. This is the best time to avail discounts from luxury accommodations in the wildlife refuge.
Meadow in the Park
Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve
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Tiger & Elephant Safari Photo
The park is open from 16th October to 30th June every year. It gets very cold during the months of November to January. During this period the temperature can go down to 1 degree centigrade. The cold starts decreasing from February onwards and then gradually hot season takes over.
The park is intensely hot during the months of April, May and June. It can reach 42 degree centigrade during the summers. The park is closed during the monsoons.
How to Reach?
An overnight train Utkal Express connects with Umaria Station which is thirty two km from Bandhavgarh.
The nearest airport Jabalpur is connected by air with Mumbai and New Delhi. A large number of rails connect Jabalpur from major cities. it is approximately 175 km from the tiger reserve.
Khajuraho is also connected to the park by road and so are Satna and Katni. The latter is a big railway junction.
Bandhavgarh Forests Conservation History
Being the personal hunting preserve of the Maharajahs of Rewa State in colonial India the forest received protection. The rulers prevented destruction of forests and hunting without permission.
Bandhavgarh Road Map
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Books on The Park
© 2010 Uday Patel
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