Bandhavgarh National Park

Bandhavgarh is located in Madhya Pradesh which is a traditional tiger country. The inspiration of Jungle Book was born after Rudyard Kipling visiting Bandhavgarh.

Before Bandhavgarh was announced as National Park it was maintained by Shikargah, Maharaja of Rewa. Earlier Maharaja and his guests visited this park mainly for hunting. Some interesting survey says that Maharaja of Rewa shot 109 tigers where as his highness Maharaja Venkat raman singh shot 111 tigers during 1914.

The area of the Bandhavgarh National Park is 448, which is surrounded by thickest bamboo, sal trees, grasslands with the habitation of highest population of tigers.

Not only for tiger, this park is hideout for 22 species of wildlife, including regal ‘gaur’and umpteen varieties of deer. This park also habitats carnivores like the striped hyena, jungle cat and sloth bear. Over 250 species of birds live in this national park. Within the park itself is the Bandhavgarh Fort, now in ruins and largely overrun by the surrounding forest.

Earlier this national park is known as White Tiger country. White tigers have been found in the old state of Rewa for many years. The last known was captured by Maharajah Martand Singh in 1951. This White Tiger, Mohan, is now stuffed and on display in the palace of the Maharajahs of Rewa.

No records remain to show when Bandhavgarh Fort was constructed. It is thought, however, to be some 2,000 years old, and there are references to it in the ancient books, the Narad-Panch Ratra and the Siva Purana. Various dynasties have ruled this fort: for example, the Maghas from the 1st century AD, the Vakatakas from the 3rd century; the Sengars from the 5th century and the Kalchuris from the 10th century. In the 13th century AD, the Baghels took over, ruling from Bandhavgarh until 1617, when Maharajah Vikramaditya Singh moved his capital to Rewa. The last inhabitants deserted the fort in 1935.

Wildlife Viewing

There are two main ways of getting about in the park- in a motor vehicle or on elephant back. Many of the animals are now accustomed to both; even so, it is best to talk quietly and not make rapid movements.

Jeep safaris are best undertaken from dawn until about 10am and from about 4pm until dusk, as the animals are most active during these periods. A Forest Department guide must always accompany you. This guide will be able to direct you and point out wildlife.

Elephants are used every morning by the Forest Department for Tiger- tracking. If a Tiger is found, then the elephant will take you directly to the Tiger either from the lodge or from a nearby point reached by jeep/car.

Entry Requirements

All visitors to Bandhavgarh need a permit to enter the wildlife national park; this can be obtained at the entrance to the park. Entry fees for foreigners are Rs 200; For Indians and members of SAARC countries, Rs 20. Additional charges are levied for the entry of vehicles, for cameras and for elephant rides.

How to Visit

If you’re looking to sight the majestic tiger in his natural habitat, head for Jabalpur by jeep, bus, plane or train and from there onwards to the Bandhavgarh National Park, 165 km northeast. The nearest airports are in Khajuraho (210 km away) and Jabalpur. Buses from Khajuraho to Bandhavgarh do the trip in about five hours. The closest railhead is the town of Umaria, which is 30 km from Bandhavgarh; it’s linked by train to cities in Madhya Pradesh and other states, including Delhi. Private and state owned bus services operate regular buses to Bandhavgarh from Umaria, Jabalpur, and other towns in Madhya Pradesh. Taxis too can be hired to get to Bandhavgarh. The wildlife park’s entrance is at a tiny settlement called Tala, which has facilities- although limited- for accommodation. Within the bounds of the Bandhavgarh National Park, vehicles may be hired at the entrance to drive around; in addition, private vehicles are allowed in. You could also ride through the jungle on elephant-back -- and if you kept completely quiet and are very, very lucky, you could even spot a tiger!

When to visit

February to June, although the cool season is much more comfortable and still very good for wildlife. The park is closed from July 1 to October 15 because of the monsoon. For those planning a visit, a stay of at least three nights is recommended in order to have a good chance of seeing the more elusive animals - although, of course, a brief visit will also be very interesting.

Where to Stay

The Madhya Pradesh Tourist department has a forest lodge in Bandhavgarh; the PWD and the Forest Department also have guest houses within the park, where the accommodation, though not the height of luxury, is adequate. Rooms range from some interesting cabins on stilts to individual cottages.

Besides this, there are hotels and forest lodges at Tala (at the entrance to Bandhavgarh). More information on Bandhavgarh may be obtained from the Director, Bandhavgarh National Park, P.O. Umaria, District Shahdol, Madhya Pradesh. Reservations for the MP tourism lodge can be made at the MP State Tourism Development Corporation in Bhopal (Tel: 0755-2778383 or 0755-2774343).