Bandhavgarh National Park
The diverse mix of habitats in Bandhavgarh supports a corresponding plentitude of fauna. Its luxuriantly rich ecosystem provides amply for everyone – from the tiny butterflies to the majestic tigers. The park has earned a worldwide reputation for tigers and their unusually high density here is a pleasant surprise for wildlife lovers.
According to bio-geographic classification, the park area lies in the zone 6A-Deccan peninsula, Central highlands. The important prey species consists of chital, sambhar, barking deer, nilgai, chinkara, wild pig, chowsingha, langur and rhesus macaque.
Dependent upon them are the major predators like tiger, leopard, wild dog, wolf and jackal. The lesser predators are fox, jungle cat, ratel, palm civet, and mongoose. Besides them, other mammalians present are sloth bear, porcupine, Indian Pangolin, variety of bats including the giant fruit bat, Indian tree shrew, and many other species of rodents. The avifauna is also well represented. More than 250 species of birds have been recorded with the park.
The raptors are mainly represented by crested serpent eagle, shaheen falcon, bonnelli’s eagle, shikra, marsh and hen harriers
There is a good population of malabar pied hornbill, particularly in the fort and its vicinity. Peafowls, painted and grey partridge, red jungle fowl, sarus crane, lesser adjutant stork, large racket tailed drongo, brown fish owl, paradise flycatcher, green pigeon are quite common here.
Bandhavgarh, with its abundance of streams, marshes, woodland edges and wild flowers, is a paradise for butterflies. Over 70 species have been recorded here which include the common rose, blue tiger, striped tiger, great eggfly, common crow, common and mottled emigrant, spot swordtail, peacock pansy and orange oakleaf. Water pools and marshlands are the abode of dragonflies and damselflies.
Legend has it that Lord Rama bequeathed the fort to his brother Laxmana, hence the name “Bandhavgarh” which means brother’s fort. At the base of the fort is the monolithic statue of Lord Vishnu reclining on the seven hooded snake, known as Sheshshaiyya . Statues of all the incarnations of Lord Vishnu can be seen in the fort area. The fort is surrounded by 32 man-made caves which have inscriptions, carvings and paintings.
Bandhavgarh area was the favourite hunting reserve of ex-rules of Rewa State, hence it remained completely protected from poaching and illicit felling. After abolition of States, degradation of this area started. Deeply soared from this situation, late Maharaja Martand Singh of Rewa prevailed upon the M.P. Government to declare an area of 105 sq. km. as National park in 1968. Area of the park was extended to 448.84 sq.km. in 1982 and in 1993 it was declared a Tiger Reserve under Project Tiger.
The altitude of the area varies from 440m. to 811m. above mean sea level. The rock is feldspathic sandstone that soaks rainwater and releases it through springs that feed many perennial streams and lead to the creation of marshes in the low lying meadows.
The major streams of the park are Charanganga, Dammar, Janad and Umrar.
The forest falls within the tropical moist deciduous belt, dominated by sal and bamboo which form varying mixtures with each other and other usual associates like Saja, Dhawara, Arjun, Mahua, Achar, Amla, etc. Depending upon rock, soil type, slope and moisture. Intermingling grasslands, locally known as “baheras” provide good habitat for herbivores and hunting cover for predators.
Entrance to the park is from Tala, A small village on Umaria-Rewa state highway. Private transport buses are available from Umaria (32 km.), Amarpatan (80km.), Shahdol (102km.) and Rewa (105km.) to reach Tala. Nearest railway stations are Umaria (32km.), Jabalpur (164km.), Katni (92km.) and Satna (120km.). Jabalpur (164km.) and Khajuraho (237km.) are the nearest airport.
There is a four room Forest Rest House at Tala. Four tents of Forest Department are also available at a very reasonable rate.
A Guide and a permit is must on all excursions into the park. Guides are available at entrance gate. Excursion on foot are not permitted. The park is open for tourist from October to June.