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Bandhavgarh National Park
22.8° C / 73° F
October to June
3 to 5 Days
Jabalpur Airport (200 kms)
Umariya Railway Station (31 kms)
Bandhavgarh lies in the Umaria district in Madhya Pradesh, which is in central India. This is one of the most popular Tiger reserves and has often been popularized by the fact that it has the highest population density of tigers in the world. It is open for visitors, both Indian nationals and foreign tourists, from mid October to June end. Although it officially spreads over an area of 105 square kilometers, Bandhavgarh National Park extends over the Umaria and Katni forest divisions totaling an area of 437 square kilometers. It is a major attraction for tiger aficionados and wildlife researchers from across the globe. Given the necessity to save the ever decreasing tiger population, it was declared a Reserve in 1968.
Best Time To Visit
Although the winter months are much more comfortable and still very good for wildlife, February to May is a better time to visit Bandhavgarh. While April and May can be extremely hot, animal sightings tend to be higher during summer months. The park is closed during monsoons from July 1 to September 30.
Weather in the Bandhavgarh National Fort is typically tropical. Summer months are very hot and dry with temperature ranging from 35-45 degree Celsius whereas in the winter months the day temperatures fall as low as 8 degrees. Tourists are advised not to wear reflective clothing whenever visiting the National Park as this attracts the attention of animals. Try to wear pastel and nature identical colors like grays, greens and browns in a non reflecting fabric.
As casual visitors what you shall appreciate most is the biodiversity of Bandhavgarh. The photographers amongst you will be overwhelmed by the possibility of tiger and leopard sightings. The best months for tiger photography are February and April. Depending on the time of the year it is possible to sight exquisite rare fauna like Chital, the spotted deer, the four horned antelope or Chausinga as well as the blue bull or neel gai. The national park also boasts of such species as Sambar, Indian gazelle and the wild bear. Flora at Bandhavgarh National Park is equally bewitching. Amidst the thick undergrowth and foliage also grow the beautiful trees of sal, khameer, salai and bhirra. Owing to the hot tropical climate in Madhya Pradesh, one can find tendu, aonla, rajun and saja spread around the Vindhyan Hill Range.
A lot of ornithologists and veteran bird lovers visit the place for 242 identified birds and other magnificent winged species. Some of these include grey hornbill, the beautiful Common Teals, the ever so common Red Jungle Fowl, and the rare Red Wattle Lapwing. An enthusiast’s eye shall not fail to notice in the right time of the year such species as Crested Serpent Eagle, the magnificent White Chested Kingfisher. And with the right binocular range even the Lesser Adjutant storks will not go unnoticed. These and several others can be found perched on the Sal trees in the adjoining low lying areas of Chakradhara and Bhitri Bah.
Herpetologists from around the world also visit the forest reserve of Bandhavgarh for its reptile species, most popular of which are Vipers, the Great Indian Cobra, Kraits and Pythons.
Bandhavgarh Jungle Safaris
Several state run safaris are available and these can range from Wildlife Tours to Tiger special tours. You can also opt for Photography special safaris and Fort safaris depending on your requirements. Some tour packages offer 11 days of wildlife exploration and remain the most sought after tours for a holistic experience of Bandhavgarh.
Safaris in the tiger reserve take place twice a day around 5:30am and 3:00pm. 6-seater Jeep rentals cost around Rs.2,000. In addition, Jeep entry rates for Tala (the zone with the most tigers) per Jeep are around Rs.4,000 for foreigners and Rs.2,000 for Indians. It is highly recommended that you check the availability and book your Jungle Safaris in advance for the dates you intend to visit.
The history of conservation dates back to 1965 when degradation and deforestation started happening indiscriminately due to the abolition of the princely state after the Indian independence. Maharaja Martand Singh of Rewa who was much disturbed by such activities pressed the then government to enclose the area of 105 square kilometers and Bandhavgarh was therefore declared a National Park.
Staying is not usually a problem for tourists, both Indians and foreigners. Several categories of rooms are available from budget to Luxury resorts in Bandhavgarh. Costs and facilities vary and it would be advisable to book your accommodation well in advance.
The Bandhavgarh National Park and its adjoining forest areas lie mostly in the smallish 32 hills interspaced with streams, valleys forming spurs. There are several low lying areas around it like Rajbahera and Kolua bah where there are marshy meadows. These are possible sites for reptile spotting. Because the soil type is sandstone, water percolates through the ground layers and eventually forms brooks and springs. In certain isolated regions of the Tala range one can find rare medicinal plants like Acorus calamus and insectivorous species like Drocera peltata. On the eastern side tourists can visit the fascinating rivers Son and Johilla while on the west the river Umrar flows along the hill of Bandhavgarh.
The Bandhavgarh Fort
This is another surreal tourist attraction in the national park. Erected in the 10th century it was called the Moti Mahal when it was under the control of the Bahela Rajputs. Although now only the ruins remain, what is most fascinating about the fort is the stunning view of the Bandhavgarh National park it offers from that height (approximately 811 meters). As it is uninhabited the fort sometimes shelters tiger cubs and a tigress.
Bandhavgarh Ancient Caves
In the vicinity of the fort (around 5kms) are the 39 exquisite caves. These famous caves, some of which date back to the first century AD are a major attraction in the Bandhavgarh reserve. Tourists take delight in noticing the embossed animals in these caves like elephants and tigers. The reason for the erection of these caves is not fully understood but many archeologists do not rule out the possibility of these caves being used for strategic purposes by the earlier armies.
How To Get To Bandhavgarh
The nearest railway stations are Jabalpur (164 km), Katni (102 km), and Satna (120 km) on the Central Railway and Umaria (35 km) on the South-Eastern Railway.
State / private transport buses ply between Katni and Umaria and from Satna and Rewa to Tala (Bandhavgarh). Taxis are available at Satna, Jabalpur,Katni, Umaria, Bilaspur (300 km) and Khajuraho.