After having our breakfast we started for Bandhavgarh National Park. We took NH30 and crossed Mandla, Shahpura and Umaria and then reached our Resort the Whispering Grass. Bandhavgarh Park is situated within the Umaria district of Madhya Pradesh. Bandhavgarh, with an area of 105 sq km, became Tiger Reserve in 1993. The park originates its name from the most prominent hillock of the area, which was said to be given by Hindu Lord Rama to his brother Laxmana to keep a watch on Lanka (Sri Lanka). Hence the name Bandhavgarh (Sanskrit: Brother’s Fort). We had done our Bandhavgarh National Park visit on a christmas holiday.
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We reached our resort The Whispering Grass around 1 pm. A nice property with a green and peaceful atmosphere. There were many birds in the premises and a corridor for a male tiger that used to cross it maybe once a week as well. Rooms were cozy, spacious and clean. The cottages were neat and clean and facing a balcony to Charan Ganga river.
Let me share few points about Bandhavgarh National Park. The density of the tiger population at Bandhavgarh is one among the highest five known in India. The park has a huge breeding population of leopards, and several species of deer. The three main zones of the park are Tala, Magdhi and Khitauli. Tala is the richest zone of tigers. The widespread valleys along the watercourses carry long linear grasslands lined by Sal forests. Bandhavgarh has one among the highest densities of Bengal tigers known within the world.
Post lunch we started our Bandhavgarh forest jeep safari. Our driver Laxman told many stories about the forest. Charger, a tiger so named due to his habit of charging at elephants and tourists,was the primary healthy male known to be living in Bandhavgarh since the 1990s, as well as a female known as Sita. Sita once appeared on the cover of National Geographic and is considered the second most photographed tiger in the world. Almost all the tigers of Bandhavgarh today are offspring of Sita and Charger. Their daughter Joyita, sons Langru and B2 also maintained their tradition for frequent sighting and moving close to tourist vehicles. The reserve is also densely populated with other species: the gaur, or Indian bison, sambar and barking deer are a common sight, and nilgai are to be seen in the open areas of the park.
Bandhavgarh National Park had a small inhabitants of gaur, but due to disease passed from cattle to them, all of them died. The project of reintroduction of gaurs handled shifting some gaurs from Kanha park to Bandhavgarh.
We felt like we were being trailed by an untamed pair of eyes. A haunting in this wilderness would be hard to battle. We noticed how the pool sparkled in the glare of artificial lights and how different it was from the glow of the sun.
Safaris are exciting and at the same time they are also painful because of the rough roads. But you forget everything when you glimpse a peacock or a deer or other animals. On this trip, we remained a stranger to the tigers but we did see more birds than we had ever done and a wide variety of animals each of whom was beautiful in a different way (sambhar and chital deer, a mongoose, a nilgai, jackals, vultures).
And though we did not see the beast himself, we did see the tiger’s pug marks hinting at his indefinable presence and the guide also brought our notice to the tiger’s territorial markings on tree trunks.
Shiva, the local forest guide delighted us with the shocking tale of a foreign photographer who was attacked by a tigress in the 90s after he used the flash feature while photographing her. “The driver dragged the tigress off by her tail and the photographer escaped with wounds,” Shiva told us with passion. So when you go, remember not to surprise or irritate the animal in any way. Else, you might be another one of Shiva’s stories.
A sudden hush fell over the jeep when we spotted in the distance, a family of deer relaxing sipping water from a big pond, while a couple of jackals and a lone vulture lay on the surrounding grass. It was a frame straight out of a wildlife documentary and for once.
We then came back to our resort. The experience to spent in this property has never lost its charm. The food prepared by chef was amazing and he took time to cater exactly to the needs. The staffs always remain at disposal for any service a guest may require. My stay on Christmas with 14 more people was memorable.
On New Year eve they provided us a camp fire till midnight completely complementary. The Tribal dance performance on New Year eve was enthralling. If you were looking for homely atmosphere with warm staff at disposal, this was the place especially if you were a wildlife loving person.
Best Time for Bandhavgarh National Park visit
To enjoy the fullest in Bandhavgarh Forest Safari, keeping in mind the weather of that region. The weather remains pleasant and favorable from November to March and is considered as the best time to visit the park.
Wildlife Safari Timings
The park has three major divisions or zones named Tala, Magadhi, and Khitauli. Tourists can enjoy jeep or safari in Bandhavgarh National Park within a specified time. There are two shifts of safari conducted a day. The jeep safari carries six tourists at a time while the canter safari allows sixteen tourists. The number of vehicles allowed to enter the park during each shift is-Tala Zone (25), Magadhi Zone (66), and Khitauli Zone (35).The Bandhavgarh Forest Safari entry and exit timings changes according to the change of seasons. Jeeps carrying groups of tourists or individuals along with guides are allowed to enter the park.
Visitors can enjoy Bandhavgarh Forest Safari in Bandhavgarh National Park from 15th October to 30th June. One can take the morning safari from 6 am to 11am or the evening shift from 2.30 pm to 5.30 pm in 15th October to 15th Feb. The safari shift timings from 16th Feb to 31st March are 6 am to 11am & 3 pm to 6 pm. 15th April to 30th June the safari is scheduled from 5.30 am to 10 am & 4 pm to 7 pm.
1. On every Wednesday, the Evening Safari shift remains closed for visitors at Bandhavgarh National Park.
2. During Holi (celebrated in the month of March), both the safari shifts remains closed.
3. Bandhavgarh park features a fort located in its center atop the Hill of Bandhavgarh, where the local rulers wont to sit before they shifted to Rewa, in 1617 A.D.
I hope the details above on visiting Bandhavgarh National Park will be helpful if you want to visit there. For more information you’ll visit their official website. If you have any other questions; or need any further details; please feel free to ask in the comments section below, and I will be glad to answer.
Also read KANHA FOREST SAFARI-PART- II