Formerly a hunting ground for the Maharajas of Rewa, the Bandhavgarh National Park is world-renowned as a tiger reserve and it is known to have the highest density of Bengal tigers in the world. The frequent sightings of royal tigers make this national park a must-visit for all wildlife enthusiasts. In 2012, around 44-49 tigers were living in the park. There are more than 22 species of mammals and 250 species of avifauna.
The park got its name from the Bandhavgarh fort situated at the height of 800 m high cliffs nearby. The fort is in ruins now, but an hour trek to the fort is worth it as it provides ample views of the surroundings. The jeep safaris are amongst the most popular activities taken by visitors.
Best Time To Visit
October to May is the ideal time for visiting the national park. Unlike any other national park, there are three types of safaris offered by the authorities – jeep, canter and elephant. Jeep and canter safaris are more popular among the tourists because it is easily available and cheaper than the elephant safari.
Types Of Safari
- Elephant Safari
- Jeep Safari
- Canter Safari
Elephants are typically used in Bandhavgarh to take you to the spot where tigers get tracked. Available only in the morning shift, these elephant safaris are on first come first serve basis and charge around INR 500 per head to take one to a spot where one can see a tiger in its most natural form. Four passengers are typically allowed on an elephant, and there are a mahout and a naturalist on this trip too.
These safaris operate in two shifts, one in the early morning at the time of sunrise (Around 5.30 AM) for 4 hours and then starts again at 2-3 PM and goes till sunset. Since Bandhavgarh is very popular, it is advisable to book a jeep in advance, as only a limited number of jeeps are allowed in each shift. Each jeep can take up to 6 travellers other than a driver and one naturalist. Visitors typically prefer Tala region to spot tigers. Afternoon shift is typically closed on Wednesdays.
Canter safaris with a seating capacity of 12 people can be booked on the spot. However, prior online booking is recommended. They charge INR 1200 for Indians and INR 2400 for foreigners.
Note: The cost may vary from zone to zone.
Tips: Carry your sunglasses, hats and water bottles. Also, carry ID Proof for the reservation. Children under 5 years of age are allowed along with the adults free of cost.
Among the carnivores, the fauna that can be found in the national park includes tigers, Asiatic jackals, foxes, sloth bears, rats, grey mongoose, striped hyenas, jungle cats, and leopards are found here. Deer, monkeys, Wild boars, Nilgai, Chinkara, and Gaur, can also be found here. It also hosts species of birds including Dove, Parakeet, Serpent Eagle, Black Vulture and common Peafowl. Several species of reptiles such as python, turtle, viper, and rat-snake are commonly found in the area.
The flora is the typically dry and deciduous type with mostly sal and bamboo trees being dominant in the forest.
The Three Gates
Bandhavgarh boasts the highest number of tigers regarding density. Compared to other national parks, the probability of spotting a tiger is way too high here.
The park has three gates, which are – Tala, Magadhi and Khitauli. Out of these three, the Tala gate is the most select and expensive gate. The ones who are keen on watching birds can opt for the Magadhi entrance. Being an absolute adventurer’s delight, this park never disheartens its visitors because it offers a wide variety of flora and fauna.
On the east end of Bandhavgarh national park lies the Bandhavgarh Fort. It is the height point of this national park. Among the oldest forts of India, Bandhavgarh was built more than 2000 years ago though the history around it is not very clear yet.
A one hour trek is required to reach here from Tala zone and visitors must take a guide to visit this place. There are numerous caves in this fort area and some of them have inscribed paintings and scripts written in Brahmi. There are also a few temples here.
The whole area is deserted, but it is still visited frequently by locals. According to Ramayana, it is believed that Rama’s army built this fort and handed it to Lakshmana and hence Lakshmana is the main god of this temple. The trek is totally worth it to this 800 m high fort as it gives a breathtaking view of the surroundings.
There is also a giant 35 feet sleeping statue of Vishnu here. This statue is believed to be dating around 10th century A.D. and Vishnu is shown reclining on the bed made by coils of the Seven Hooded Serpent, called Shesh Naag. The statue is locally known as Shesh Shaiya.
History & Etymology
Bandhavgarh National Park used to be a former hunting preserve of the Maharaja of Rewa which is presently famous for its heritage and white tigers. This place is legendary and owns an abundance of historically abundant landmarks within the park.
The city of Bandhavgarh has been demolished and flourished through several ages since the age of Ramayana. The National Park was given the name of Bandhavgarh because of an ancient fort in a hillock in Umaria along with the Vindhya ranges.
The name Bandhavgarh is derived from the word ‘bandhav’ which means brother and ‘Garh’ meaning fort. The legend has it that Lord Rama was passing the forests of Bandhavgarh after defeating Ravana and decided to build a fort. It was to symbolise his love for his brother Lakshman.
Must Try Food in Bandhavgarh
1. Kolkata Restaurant
2. Malaya Cafe
3. Bandhavgarh 365 “ her cafe “
4. Tiger Villa Restaurant
5. Ganesh Samosa Corner
6. Baba Restaurant
7. Agrawal Sweets Namkeen & Coldrink
How To Get Here
Jabalpur is the nearest airport to Bandhavgarh and is about 200 km which takes around 4:30 hrs from there. Air India and SpiceJet operate from Delhi-Jabalpur and Mumbai-Jabalpur flights. The most convenient way is to hire a taxi from the airport to travel to Bandhavgarh.
Nearest Airport: Jabalpur Airport (JLR) – 114 kms from Bandhavgarh National Park
Search for flights to Jabalpur Airport (JLR)
No bus services are offered from Jabalpur to Bandhavgarh. However, the tiger reserve is easily accessible by road through cars.
The nearest railway station is Umaria which is very well connected to cities like Delhi, Jabalpur, and Agra. A taxi can be hired from Umaria up to Bandhavgarh.