Take a dipstick poll anywhere, anyplace, anytime on why people visit forests and the answer would invariably be: To sight a tiger. There are parks and parks, hundreds of them around the world, but only in a handful of them do you actually get to see your tiger moments. Include Bandhavgarh national park in your India wildlife tours to spot the majestic tigers in the wild.
Now for the real thing. There is only one place where you have got to be UNLUCKY NOT TO SPOT A TIGER: The Bandhavgarh National Park. Where tiger sightings are routine, and do not call for a roll of the dice. No wonder this former game reserve is the haunt of wildlife photographers, and wildlife aficionados. The Bandhavgarh National Park is why the plight of the Royal Bengal is today breaking news.
White Tiger country Bandhavgarh is nestled inside the Vindhya hills of Madhya Pradesh in an area of 168 sq miles (437sq kms). There are 3 ways you can do a safari inside Bandhavgarh National Park, to discover the wonderland of the big cat: With your own transport, on authorized 4-wheel drives run by the locals, and taking an elephant ride.
Bandhavgarh has several other reasons to be celebrated in history. Legend has it that Lord Rama, hero of the Hindu epic, the Ramayana, stopped at Bandhavgarh on his way back to his homeland after defeating the demon King Ravana of Lanka. It is the land of Kabir, the enlightened 16th century saint and Tansen. The Bandhavgarh Fort finds mention in the ancient books, the Narad-Panch Ratra and the Siva Purana. The oldest signs of habitation are the caves dug into the sandstone, near the fort. Several of these contain Brahmi inscriptions dating from the 1st century BC.
The religious folk never fail to take a walking trail in the Bandhavgarh Fort, which is actually a journey through time. First stop, you find Shesh Saaiya, a unique 35 foot (11 meters) long statue of reclining Vishnu carved around the 10th century, from whose feet the Charanganga is said to flow. The Fort also has a towering statue of Narasimhan (half man half lion) 22 feet above the ground, a carving of Barah Bhagwan (the boar incarnation), and a small temple enshrining a large image of Vishnu in his fish avatar.
Bandhavgarh is also home to wild species like Chinkara, Muntjac, sambhar, nilgai, chausingha, wild boars, the rhesus macaque, the black-faced langur, as well as the occasional jackal or fox. Drives can also reveal jungle cats, hyenas, porcupines, ratels, and a variety of other mammals. Bandhavgarh attracts many migratory birds in the winter months, including the birds of prey like the steppe eagle and a variety of wildfowl.
Bandhavghar reveals itself differently at different times. Early morning, it is like a thriller voyage, while the afternoon rendezvous is a remix of the thrills and spills. The evenings see the shadows growing taller, and the cacophony of birds growing louder in the trees. Nights see feverish activity – and there’s a veritable jugalbandi: the the twigs crackling in the bonfire in the resort lawn, combined with a distant rumbling roar deep in the heart of the forest and the calling of the jackal, and the silhouettes of the trees against a starlit sky.
So backpack to Bandhavgarh to take home a lifetime of tiger shots and exciting thrills ‘n spills. Explore a dense forest trail, listening to the alarm calls of a langur sounding the warning of an approaching tiger. Feel the chill in your spine and your tongue going dry, as you see breathless, through a tapestry of trees, a faint image of yellow and black stripes crossing the terrain yonder.
Tourist hotspots in Bandhavgarh National Park
Sidhababa – The Holy Meadow; Chakradhara – The Sprawling Meadow; Gopalpur – for bird watching; Shaiya – statue of Lord Vishnu reclining on the seven hooded serpent; Bari Gufa – the biggest man made cave of the reserve dating back to tenth century; Bhitari Bah – foresty place with a plethora of medicinal herbs; Three Cave Point – Archaeological remains of past; Rajbahera, the Bandhaini Hillock View – watch out for the storks, vultures and herds of chital, samber and wild pigs; Mahaman Pond – watering hole surrounded by bamboo clumps, is an ideal place to watch a variety of flora and fauna.
Around Bandhavgarh Park
Village Tala – a glimpse at the humble dwellings, the mud clustered houses, the elders smoking hookahs sitting on a cot, and at rural life where the pace of life is measured by the rhythm of the seasons; Bhamera Dam; Gharpuri Dam; Chenchpur Waterfalls.