Bandhavgarh National Park
Bandhavgarh is the jewel in Madhya Pradesh crown. Situated at a distance
of 195 km fromJabalpur and 225 km from Khajuraho, the Bandhavgarh National
Park is a premier wildlife preserve in the Vindhya mountain range of Central
India. It is a tiny park compared to Kanha but with nearly the same number
of tigers and leopards, or at least that is the official figure.
Besides tigers and leopards, Bandhavgarh is also extremely productive for
medium-sized bison herds. Bandhavgarh came into existence as a national
park in 1968 with a core area of 105 sq. km, which was later extended to
include two adjoining sal forests in 1986. Before becoming a national park,
it was the game reserve of the Maharajas of Rewa. But due to loss of royal
patronage, it remained neglected for a long time until the government declared
it a national park to control rampant poaching in the area.
Bandhavgarh's history goes back 2000 years in time and the earliest signs
of habitation can be seen in the Caves excavated from the cliffs to the
north of the fort. Brahmi inscription here, date back to the 1st century
BC A hunting reserve of the roya! family of Rewa in more recent times, Bandhavgarh
was declared a Park in 1968. This is where the famous white tigers of Rewa
- Mammals & Reptiles
The Forest Department has recorded at least 22 species of mammals and
about 250 species of birds in the Park. Parts of the forest that were
cleared for cultivation have now turned into grasslands where the chinkara
(Indian gazelle), nilgai (blue bull) and chausingha (four-horned antelope)
can be sighted. Groups of wild boar can also be seen moving around,
digging their snouts into the ground. Occasionally, carnivores like
jackals and foxes follow their prey into the forest. The sambar (Indian
stag) and the muntjac (barking deer) inhabit the denser parts of the
forest along with herds of chital (spotted deer). Gaur (Indian bison)
herds can be seen in the Park only during the months of March and April
when they move down from the higher hills to the meadows to graze.
Bandhavgarh is a stopover for migratory birds in winter. A variety of
waterfowls come here, but the absence of wetlands makes them congregate
at small water bodies. These waterfowls are not the only visitors; others
like the steppe eagle also visit Bandhavgarh in winter. A number of
small birds can be seen in and around the National Park, including some
less common ones like the blue-bearded bee-eater, white-bellied drongo,
Tickells blue flycatcher, white-browed fantail, Jerdons
leafbird, gold-fronted leafbird, minivets and woodshrikes. Other prized
sightings include those of the Malabar hornbill, paradise flycatcher
and racket-tailed drongo. The vegetation along the streams and marshes
is also rich in bird life. The easily spotted ones are the green pigeons,
parakeets, peafowls, little grebes, egrets, sarus cranes, black ibis,
lesser whistling teals, white-eyed buzzards, black kites, crested serpent
eagles, black vultures, Egyptian vultures, red jungle fowls, doves and
kingfishers, to name a few.
Best time to visit
- Sal (Shorea robusta) trees dominate almost half the forest of Bandhavgarh.
The sal tree is an important component of the deciduous forests of North
and Central India. Sal forests were found throughout the northern parts
of the Deccan, extending from Madhya Pradesh to Orissa in one continuous
stretch. These magnificent forests have uniform and thick growths of
tall and straight sal trees that have rounded leaves. The sal also provides
precious timber and yields a resin that is used as incense. Over the
years, legal and illegal logging has wiped out large parts of these
forests, and it is only in places like Bandhavgarh that sal forests
are still protected. On Bandhavgarhs upper slopes, a mixed forest
replaces the sal forest, while in the north are large stretches of bamboo
and grasslands. The undergrowth in Bandhavgarh is not very dense.
Like many of Indias other wildlife preserves, national parks and sanctuaries,
Bandhavgarh National Park too closes for visitors during the monsoon months,
July to October. Between November and June is the best- and only-time to
visit the park.
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.
Bandhavgarh National Park, Wildlife Places in India