Located in the Vindhya Hills of central India in Madhya Pradesh, Bandhavgarh National Park derives its name from an ancient ‘Bandhavgarh’ fort, perched on top of a hill in the middle of the park. Spread over a total area of @450 square kilometres, with a core zone of only 105 square kilometres, Bandhavgarh is one of the smallest tiger reserves in India compared to its largest counterpart in Kanha, 255 kilometers away.
The forest around Bandhavgarh was a popular hunting ground for the Maharaja of Rewa, which was later handed over to the state government for tiger conservation. The ruins of the fort are a great hiding place for wild animals. After the success of Project Tiger, Bandhavgarh National Park is considered to have the densest tiger population in India, making it the easiest place to spot tigers in India.
The National Park is home to a wide variety of animals and birds, including Royal Bengal tigers, leopards, jackals, hyenas, sloth bears, spotted deer, chinkara, prawns, and nilgai.
For safari purposes, Bandhavgarh National Park is divided into 3 areas of Tala, Maghdi and Khitauli zones. Most of the jungle is covered by dense Sal and Bamboo vegetation, but grasslands can be found on higher planes. Animal and bird watching can be explored using open-air jeeps. Lush green foliage and rocky terrain make these jungle safaris an exhilarating experience!
Game drives can be taken in the early morning at sunrise, as well as in the late afternoon before sunset. These are the best time zones when animal activities and movements are at their peak.
Apart from spotting wildlife during jungle safaris, one can also visit ‘Bandhavgarh’ fort to explore the ancient ruins. The fort is considered to be almost 2000 years old and has been mentioned in some of the ancient Hindu texts. ‘Shesh Shaiya’ is another place of interest within the park, where a 65ft long statue of Lord Vishnu is reclining horizontally, on top of a seven-headed serpent, called Shesh Naag. The Charanganga River originates at this point. The river gets its name from the shallow water levels, which only go as far as your feet (Charan)! Mahouts gather around Charanganga in the morning to bathe their elephants, and it’s a visual delight for wildlife enthusiasts returning from a morning game drive.
Best time to visit
The park is open to visitors from October 15 to June 30. The best time to visit Bandgavgarh National Park is at the end of November and end of March when the weather is neither too hot nor cold and the number of tourists is less as there are no long holidays in that period like any other Park. National in India.
Tiger sightings are relatively easy in April and May due to some of the vegetation drying out. Unlike Kanha, the thick Sal forest in Bandhavgarh keeps it cooler during the summer months, although the high levels of humidity in May and June are not so welcoming.
Safaris need to be booked well in advance to avoid disappointment at a later stage. The number of jeeps allowed in the park has been drastically reduced and one is not likely to get any safari with the current booking during busy tourist seasons.
Elephant safari should be considered only if tiger or any wild animal is seen in a particular area of the park. This is when the Forest Department organizes the ‘Tiger Show’ to get a closer look at the wild animal.
Stay at one of the Madhya Pradesh Tourism Corporation properties, situated just inside the central area of the park, animals can be heard and seen from the balcony of the resort. Complete a true wildlife experience.
Befriend one of the resort’s guides or owners and spend an ecstatic night around a campfire, listening to their stories of fights between a tiger and a bison, a leopard chasing a bison, or a leopard stealthily following one of the rangers. shift. !
How to get there:
Bandhavgarh is accessible by road from the cities of Jabalpur, Satna, Umaria and Khajuraho. Jabalpur is 200 kms from Bandhavgarh, and is one of the major cities with the nearest airport. Umaria is 35 km away and is the nearest railway station to Bandhavgarh. Umaria is well connected by train with the main cities by train. You can also travel from Kanha National Park, which is 250 km away; although it is not advisable since the road conditions are very bad.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Watching Wildlife in India’s National Parks:
1) It is advisable to take open-air jeeps or cantor safaris, rather than taking personal vehicles. The chances of seeing wild animals are much higher if you drive slowly in open air vehicles than in a super cool luxury SUV.
2) Hiring a guide is essential in almost all national parks. The guides and jeep drivers are well versed in the jungle terrain, trails and are highly experienced in spotting animals and birds in the forest. It makes sense to hire their services and trust your instincts.
3) Camouflage outfits or neutral or earthy colors are the most suitable for being in the jungle. Bright colors can alarm wild beasts, and should be left behind for a beach vacation!
4) Patience is one of the most important requirements when visiting any National Park. One may have to wait hours before seeing a wild creature. It is advisable to trust the guide and keep calm as they have eyes and ears to sense the presence of any wild animal around.
5) You can even take more than one safari to see wild animals in larger parks. Jungle safari is not just about spotting a tiger or leopard. There are many other fascinating animals and birds that can make these safaris interesting. Driving through lush green vegetation and rocky terrain provides a unique experience.
6) Staying calm is extremely vital in the woods. It’s not your house! Noise or hyperactivity could disturb the movement of animals and scare them away or, in the worst case, alarm them could also endanger the wildlife experience for others.
7) It is absolutely forbidden to get off the vehicle in any wildlife sanctuary. Respect the rules of the jungle. The guide can tell you when and where it is advisable to get off the vehicle.
8) In case of sighting a tiger or any wild beast, keep a safe distance, so as not to disturb the animal. It is not advisable to leave the specified trails; it can disturb the flora and fauna of the forest.
9) The stories of the previous sightings can be discussed later while lounging around the campfire at night. While in the jungle, stay alert and focused to maximize the chances of spotting various creatures/birds and enjoy nature at its best!
10) Don’t forget to bring binoculars, it will help you not only to watch birds, but also to detect the presence of any wild animals or fortress ruins in the distance.
11) Avoid littering in the forest. Take an empty bag to take the garbage to the hotel.
12) It is forbidden to smoke or light fire inside the jungle; a small mistake can bring down the forest in no time.
13) Respect the entrance and exit hours of the park. Driving through the woods after sunset can be dangerous to yourself and the animals.
14) The photography enthusiast should bring as much equipment as possible to avoid disappointment. Ensure smooth and fluid movements while changing lenses, avoiding noise or disturbance not only to the animals but also to other passengers.
15) Morning game drives in open jeeps/cantors in winter can be very painful with the freezing air blowing through your body. The best thing would be to wrap yourself in a blanket from the hotel room! It is advisable to take extra layers, gloves, scarves even during night safaris to protect against chills on the way back.
16) During the summer months it can get very hot inside the forest. It is worth bringing hats, light scarves, sunglasses and extra water bottles.
Tiger sighting experience!
The experience of a tiger sighting begins with listening to the songs of birds and monkeys. One may hear hyperactivity and chatter from birds and monkeys in a particular area, which is a sign that an animal is lurking somewhere nearby. These calls help deer and other animals to be on their guard and change course. Spotting the pug’s marking is another sign of the presence of a wild animal. Guides and drivers are experts at identifying these pug markings and following the route the animal may have taken. The presence of a carcass or any dead deer or monkey indicates when the beast ate and if it will be visiting the same area soon. Loud growling or snarling is a sure indication of a tiger’s presence! These are some of the things that make tiger watching an exciting experience!