Spread over 450 sq km, the national park in Madhya Pradesh is known for its thriving flora and fauna. Considered the original home of white tigers, the park is also a habitat for Indian bison, sambars, langurs and cheetals. The park is surrounded by hilly terrains of sandstones and rocks and is covered with marshy lands.
- The park is closed from July 1 to September 30 due to monsoon.
Before it became a National Park, the forest around Bandhavgarh had been maintained as a Shikargah, or game preserve, of the Maharajahs of Rewa. Bandhavgarh came under the regulations of Madhya Pradesh in 1947 after the merger of Rewa with Madhya Pradesh. The hunting rights remained with Maharaja of Rewa. Until 1968 when the areas were constituted as a national park, no special conservation measures were taken. Several steps were taken later to retain Bandhavgarh National Park as an unspoilt natural habitat.
The park gets its name from the ancient fort located on 800m-high cliffs, which are part of the Vindhyan mountain range. Lord Ram gave the hillock to his brother Laxman to keep a watch on Lanka (Ceylon).
Though no records are available to show when Bandhavgarh fort was constructed, it is thought to be some 2000 years old. There are references to it in the ancient books, the “Narad-Panch Ratra” and the “Shiva Purana”. Various dynasties have ruled the fort; including the Mauryans from the 3rd century BC, Vakataka rulers from the 3rd to the 5th century, the Sengars from the 5th century and the Kalachuris from the 10th century. In the 13th century, the Baghels took over, ruling from Bandhavgarh until 1617, when Maharaja Vikramaditya Singh moved his capital to Rewa. The last inhabitants deserted the fort in 1935.
Tourists are restricted to an area of 105 km of the park, known as the Tala range. However this area is richest in terms of biodiversity, mainly tigers. There are four more ranges in the reserve namely – Magdhi, Kallwah, Khitauli and Panpatha. Together, these five ranges comprise the 'Core' of the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve constituting a total area of 694 km. The buffer zone is spread over the forest divisions of Umaria and Katni and totals another 437 km. The legal status as a national park dates back to 1968, but was limited only to the present Tala range for a considerable length of time. In 1993 the present scheme of things was put in place.
As Project tiger extended its activities and area of influence, Bandhavgarh was taken into its folds in 1993, and a core area of 694 km was established including the previously named ranges and the Panpatha Sanctuary along with a buffer area of 437 km which was declared as the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve.
- Going around the park on an elephant safari can be much fun.
- This park is a very good place for bird-watching as well.
- Some rare species of reptiles can also be found in this park.
Where to stay
The luxury hotels in this part of Madhya Pradesh are very good. The main facilities include help desks to guide you to plan safaris and other tourist activities, swimming pools, air conditioned lobby and bars. The food at these hotels is also good. One night’s stay would cost you around Rs 4,000 to Rs 6,000. One can also find plenty of mid-range hotels in the Bandhavgarh city. The rooms are well maintained with good furniture. These budget hotels offer decent facilities that usually fit the bill. A night’s stay would cost Rs 600 to Rs 900.
Best time to visit
The best season to visit Bandhavgarh National Park is November to March. March to June is good for spotting wild animals. July to October is good for short outings and sight-seeing.
(Photo credit: MP Tourism)