Bandhavgarh National Park is 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 km2.
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 km2, 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 km2 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, 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, Bengal 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 grebe, egret, lesser teal, white-eyed buzzard, black kite, crested serpent eagles, black vulture, Egyptian vulture, common peafowl, red jungle fowl, dove, parakeet, kingfisher, Indian roller, and the Indian national bird, the Indian peacock.
Reptilian fauna include cobra, krait, viper, rat-snake, 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 fee is 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°C. 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 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 1 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 hr 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.
The park is closed 1 July-15 October.
Fees and permits
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.
- Park entry fees (Maghadhi, Panpatha and Khitauli Zones): ₹1030 for Indians, and ₹2030 for foreigners.
- Entry fees for Tala Zone: ₹2030 for Indians and ₹4030 for foreigners.
- Guide fees: ₹200
- Total ₹1230 per trip for Indian tourists, and ₹2230 for foreigner tourists (Maghadhi, Panpatha and Khitauli Zones).
- Total ₹2230 per trip for Indian tourists, and ₹4230 for foreigner tourists (Tala Zone)
This cost is per trip entry fees for one jeep for 6 persons.
- Gypsy hiring charges for jungle safari for Tala Zone: ₹2100 per trip
- Gypsy hiring charges for Jungle safari for Panpatha, Maghdhi and Khitauli Zone: ₹2100 per trip
- Gypsy hiring charges for Fort visit: ₹2100 per trip
- Entry fees for Tala Zone from 16 October 2011: ₹2030 for Indians and ₹4030 for foreigners.
- Service charge for booking and arranging Jeep safari: ₹200 per safari.
- Total for Indians: ₹4500 for Tala Zone per Jeep Safari, ₹3500 for other zones per Jeep Safari.
- Total for foreigners: ₹6500 for Tala Zone per Jeep Safari, ₹4500 for other Zones per Jeep Safari.
- Wednesday evening is holiday of Bandhavgarh National Park.
- Elephant Safari for foreigners:
₹2000 per person for 1 hour during Maghadhi Zone jeep safari at morning.
- Elephant Safari for Indians: ₹700.00 per person for 1 hour during Maghadhi Zone jeep safari at morning.
- Elephant Safari for whole day: ₹80,000 per elephant for 1 whole day for 4 people.
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
- Baghel Museum (100 metres from the park). his museum houses many precious and beautiful belongings of the King of Rewa. The King maintained Bandhavgarh National Park as his destination for hunting. There is a stuffed white tiger in the museum amidst certain personal belongings of the King of Rewa.
- Bandhavgarh Fort. Bandhavgarh Fort is located in the centre of 32 hills, present in the park. The fort's cliffs are 2625 feet (800 meters) high, 1000 feet (300 meters) above the surrounding countryside. There are many caves in the fort and in the hills adjacent to the fort. These caves belong to the prehistoric period. The fort still belongs to the Maharaja of Rewa and permission is required to visit it.
- Cheshpur Water Fall. This fall is situated 50 km. from Bandhavgarh. This is a natural water fall in river Johila. This is ideal for picnic.
- Climbers Point. This point ensures the view of amazing natural beauty with the view of beautiful Sal trees. This is a wonderful place to take some rest and give peace to mind and body.
- Fossil National Park. Fossil National Park is situated 110 km from Bandhavgarh, This national park has plants in fossil form that existed in India anywhere between 40 million and 150 million years ago.The Fossils National Park is an area that spreads over 274,100 square metres. Such fossils are found in three villages, which lie outside the national park. The Standing, petrified trunks of trees have been identified as Gymnosperms and Angiosperms- Monocotyledons and palms. There are certain Bryophytes also. There is some doubt about whether the fossils are from the late Jurassic or the early and mid-Cretaceous age. This is because when the breakup of the single land mass, Pangaea occurred, it was split by the continental drift into Laurasia and Gondwanaland somewhere between the Jurassic and Cretaceous ages. India formed a part of Gondwanaland. Interspersed with the plant fossils are to be found the fossils of molluscs. These are about 40 million years ago. The fossils look like ordinary rocks.
- Jwalamukhi Temple. The temple of Goddess Jwalmukhi in situated there. This is situated in bank of River "Charan Ganga". This is 11 km. from Bandhavgarh. That is of 10th century.
- The Shesh Shaya. The statue of Lord Vishnu in laying position with umbrella of "Shesh Nag" along with "The Shivling" and " The Brahma" are situated there. The origin of River "Charan Ganga" is also from the foot of "Lord Vishnu". That is of 10th century.
- Jeep safari The Jeeps all head to the Main Gate before it opens to collect a guide who joins the Jeep for the safari and you then head off into the Jungle. Visitors to Bandhavgarh are allowed into the park twice each day for 3-hour Jeep safaris, once at dawn, and again in late afternoon. These are times when animal activity is most visible. The commonly used safari vehicles are open 4WD Gypsy's. The Jeeps stick to well worn tracks but the park covers a large area and you'll often end up on your own. Most of the wildlife is seen from the Jeeps, but the star attraction - the tigers - are tracked each morning by elephant. If they are found the Jeeps dash towards them. If they are visible from the track the Jeeps bustle around trying to get the best view or, alternatively, your driver enters you in a queue for an elephant ride to see the tigers in the bush. The safari lasts about 3 hours before the park closes at lunch time. There is a second slightly shorter Safari in the afternoon which lasts until dusk. You cannot travel in the park without a Jeep and a guide.
- Elephant Treks Elephants are used every morning by the Forest Department for tiger-tracking. If a tiger is found, the elephant will take you directly to the tiger from a nearby area reached by Jeep/car. A Forest Department guide must always accompany you, or you may choose to pay for a naturalist, instead. This guide/naturalist will be able to direct you and point out wildlife.
- Jain Bhojanalaya at Bandhavgarh - Serves pure vegetarian food. Golbro Tiger View Resort Campus in front of National Park, very near to Tala Gate No.1 and Petrol Pump. Cost is very economical.
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 safari.
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 per person per ride) and the only thing you buy in the lodges are those cool evening beers.
- Bagh Sarai Resorts, Bandhavgarh National Park (in Parasi village), ☎ . An eco-conscious wildlife project, uniting conservation, communities and sustainable tourism. Private bungalow in the jungle.
- Golbro Tiger View Resort (GTV Resort) (near the petrol pump, in front of Bandhavgarh National Park, 32 km from Umaria), ☎ . Check-in: 24 hours, check-out: noon. A.C. and non A.C. rooms, swimming pool, Aqua Massage (jacuzzi), jungle jeep safari, taxi and car rental, restaurant. ₹2,000-3,000.
- Syna Tiger Resort, Bandhavgarh National Park (Village Tala), ☎ . Check-in: noon, check-out: noon. On the very edge of the park. US $430.
- Tiger Trails Resort, bandra mumbai w india (close to tala village adjoining the park boundary), ☎ . Check-in: noon, check-out: 11AM. Wildlife resort on the fringes of the park. A private lake offers good birding on the campus offering AC & non AC cottages with private sit outs. Naturalists accompany guests on safaris, nature treks & bird watching sessions. Also on offer are wildlife film shows, bonfires, BBQ dinners, tribal dances. ₹2250 onwards.
- Van Vilas Bandhavgarh Resort, Village Kuchwahi Dist.Umaria MP (Tala Road), ☎ . Check-in: 24 hr, check-out: noon. 3-star accommodation (suites and cottages). They organise tiger safaris.
- White Tiger Lodge (MP Tourism Resort), A-205, Godrej Coliseum (Behind Everard Nagar), ☎ . Lodge and bungalow with both AC and non AC rooms. ₹2290-3890.
- Wild Haven Resort, Bandhavgarh National Park (Ranchha Road, adjacent Taj Mahua Kothi), ☎ . A resort for the true wildlifer. The focus here is on providing simple, clean comfort. ₹2000 to ₹3500 per day for a couple, inclusive of meals.
- 1 The Wildflower Resort, Ranchha Rd (turn left from the Police Station Tala and follow the road signs), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: noon, check-out: 11:30. A luxury jungle resort with hand-crafted Queen Anne’s design furniture. Bathrooms and private gardens, massages and Ayurvedic spa treatments ₹2500-₹6500.
Bandhavgarh is hot, dry, and dusty. If you are visiting between October and February, do not forget to carry warm clothing, as temperatures have been known to drop as low as 0°C.
The national park is close to following places of interest:
- Jabalpur (164 km): Nearest city, Jabalpur houses an assortment of forts, templs and museums. The prime attraction is the Dhundhar Waterfall and Marble Rocks
- Kanha National Park (240 km): Combing Bandhavgarh with Kanaha can be an interesting wild life experience. Kamha, which is one of the biggest in India and has the distinction of the successfully implemented Project Tiger, as part of the tiger conservation program in India. Every year the park attracts large numbers of tourists for watching tigers from close proximity. The park was also the inspiration for the Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling.
- Khajuraho (237 km): A group of magnificent temples, listed on UNESCO World Heritage List
- Pachmarhi (408 km): Hill station in Satpura Range with the touch of the Raj
- Pench National Park (282 km):A forest known for tiger spotting