Historic Bandhavgarh Fort in India
Esoteric and enchanting are the two words that come to your mind whence you step foot into the complex. Your journey to the fort begins at Shesh Shaiyya, which itself is as much worthy of the two accolades in the introduction line. You can rest here besides the pool watching water cascade over the twenty feet long statue of reclining Lord Vishnu. From here on you will have to walk about one kilometer in between the dense foliage under the Sun to reach the Bandhavgarh Fort.
The next stop will be at the imposing arch. This is the entrance to fort. As you enter, you are greeted by tall grass all around you, a narrow pathway leads you to the idols over looking forests down below. As you move further, you come to rest at the Ram Laxman Janki Temple. The excursions to the remains of an ancient edifice begin as soon as you reach the firsts man made reservoir of total twelve that were constructed.
The fort steeps back into the history pages some two thousand years from date. It is mentioned in many ancient Hindu Scriptures. The name is attributed to Lord Ram who presented it to his brother Lord Laxman. Hence the name Bandhav means brother and Garh means a fort.
Situated deep in the confines of dense Bandhavgarh Forest on top of a table top mountain, the once magnificent architecture lies in ruins. Neglect and degradation have taken over from the past glorious existence. The kings who came to rule over the region left their imprint on the crumbling walls and scattered objects of art. The most eye catching spectacles are the Statues of Lord Visnhu represented in zoo-morphic forms. Varah Avatar, Matsya Avatar and so on.
Many dynasties which conquered the region made this fort their mainstay. Apart from the vantage point, the security and safety were the two factors which the hidden fort offered. The Gond Rulers where the first to construct the structure but additions have been made by other dynasties that ruled here. In spite of additions, the structure depicts Gond Architecture typical to Central India.
The vast expanse of the mountain top makes you feel lost. The jungle and the grasslands are interspersed, and are home to myriads of animals of the reserve. While trekking you have to stick to a route else you will get lost. The remains of once composite structure are scattered every where and as you explore it accords an eerie feeling.
Vishnu Idols At Fort Complex
Temple at Bandhavgarh
Tiger and Temples
Bandhavgarh Forests are home to some of the finest edifices of ancient Hindu Architecture. The Chandelas, Culturis, Baghels and many others that came to rule made structural additions during their period as evidence of their conquest.
The master pieces lie scattered, and some are buried under the layers of top soil continuously settling on this land of the living. Temples, man made caves, idols and stables are most visible, but no more in the state of preservation leaving a few. Micro-organisms, vines and twines, ferns and lichens embrace the walls, they are painting them with melange of cold colors and vivid designs.
Tigers rule over here. The caves and stables once populated by warring soldiers are perfect breeding and resting grounds of tigers. Most of the ruins lie in the core zone of the park called Tala Zone. This is dominated by the biggest and fiercest tigers in the preserve. The redundant structures, surrounding grasslands and forests along with the reservoirs support many wild animals like the wild boar, sambar deer and chital. The fort remains are spread over a large area on the table top.
The temples are in ruins well most of them and are scattered far and wide all over the reserve. Tourists stop at the man made caves to investigate and look at the Brahmi script inscribed on the inner walls of some. The big cats find shelter in the caves, they prove to be the best for breeding.
Nesting Vultures on Cliff
Bandhavgarh Fort Structures
Turning and twisting tortuously the road winds upward toward the the top of the mountain. The stressful drive is riddled with dangers - skids and falls. After many acrobatic maneuvers by the jeep driver you arrive at Sesh Shaiyya.
The canopy of trees shelter the pool beside which lies the reclining statue of Lord Vishnu. Carved out of an igneous rock the statue lies imposingly in peace, totally estranged from the outside World. A curtain of springs nourish the pool since the day it was constructed. The mosaic of verdant greenery and shades is striking in contrast to any urban landscape.
The cool confines of the grove offers succor to the visitors, forest guards and wildlife alike. The battle worn sun scorched soldiers in the past must have cried with relief at Shesh Shaiyya. From here the climb to the fort at Bandhavgarh National Park begins.
Fort on The Hill
Pujari - The Lone Sentinel
With a large vermilion mark on his looming forehead and shagging cheeks he looked scary. I could hardly fix my gaze on him as we discussed his life at the fort. He is dead now, but his son has taken over as the priest of the temple on the hill top.
Loyal to erstwhile Maharajahs of Rewa State he was appointed as the priest years back. True to his scared duty he was unfailing attendant offering prayers and performing the rituals. He would walk eleven kilometers from the entrance of the reserve and climb up to the fort temple.
Every time I met him I found him at peace with himself. Living among the tigers had made no difference to him. The big cats, and the denizens of the jungle had ample of respect form him. He never came unto any harm till the last day of his life.
Bandhavgarh Fort Safari
This safari is organized separately for the fort visitors. Separate charges, rules and regulations apply, and a permit has to be acquired in order to visit. The timings also differ from the tiger safari, and lot of prior arrangements have to be made as regards food, water etc.
The jeep goes up to Sesh Shaiyya, from here one has to climb uphill to the fort. The distance is not staggering, but in summers it can be tiring. When trekking towards the edifice you must remember that you are in a tiger land. On many instances wild animals are met with, including tigers. Hence do not loiter around, the wild animals keep to a safe distance but do not take chances. Keep in company of the forest guide or your fellow tourists.
At the Fort, the mountain edge offers a good opportunity to film or photograph the landscape. The altitude imparts a spectacular view of the reserve as the rivers twist through the whole expanse.
The arrangements for your fort safari can be made by the hotel in Bandhavgarh where you have booked a stay. It can also be done by the tour operators. You can also approach the booking office and book the visit.
Tourism at Bandhavgarh
Much visited on tiger safari by tourists from all over India, The tiger reserve is a popular destination. It is situated in the state of Madhya Pradesh in Umaria District near Jabalpur. The tourism infrastructure is well developed.
A small number of enthusiasts, photographer and researchers visit the fort. Most of the visitors take interest in the game rounds. These are well organized on jeeps in the core zone of the wildlife refuge. Two tiger safaris are organized, one in morning and and another in evening hours. The excursions take place on jeep through an assigned route. During the game ride it is compulsory to hire a forest guide who is well versed with the road network of the park. The tour to the fort could be adjusted in between the game rides.
A very big list of hotels in Bandhavgarh on websites exists today. For accommodation the park offers budget hotels to five star category resorts. There is no shortage of properties in the periphery of the reserve. Jeeps are readily available for park rides. But during the festival time advance booking is required in the resorts. Similarly the fort visit park expeditions have to be booked in advance.
Before organizing a trip to the Bandhavgarh Fort please make sure that permission will be granted. The visit may not be allowed depending upon the policy at that time.
There is small market at Tala Village for buying items of daily needs, beverages and toiletries. There are number of vegetarian restaurants for meals.
Man Made Cave at Bandhavgarh
- Indian wildlife conservation - Tiger safari - Blogs
A blog on Bandhavgarh and Other tiger reserves.
Map of Bandhavgarh Fort
Map of Bandhavgarh
Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve is situated in Umaria District of Madhya Pradesh in India.
© 2012 Uday Patel