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Wild Life Tour with Bandhavgarh National Park

Bandhavgarh Park Bandhavgarh National Park is one of the popular national parks in India located in the Umaria district of Madhya Pradesh. Bandhavgarh was declared a national park in 1968 with an area of 105 km². The buffer is spread over the forest divisions of Umaria and Katni and totals 437 km². The park derives its name from the most prominent hillock of the area, which is said to be given by Hindu Lord Rama to his brother Lakshmana to keep a watch on Lanka (Ceylon). Hence the name Bandhavgarh (Sanskrit: Brother's Fort).

This park has a large biodiversity. The density of the tiger population at Bandhavgarh is one of the highest known in India. The park has a large breeding population of Leopards, and various species of deer. Maharaja Martand Singh of Rewa captured the first white tiger in this region in 1951. This white tiger, Mohan, is now stuffed and on display in the palace of the Maharajas of Rewa.

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Bandhavgarh National park lies between lat. 23(36í30î and 23(42í30î North and long. 80(57í30î and 81(6í15î East. The area consists of many hills of varying sizes, ranging in altitude from 440 mts in the valleys to 811.40 mts on the highest ridge top. The hills are interspersed with a number of valleys. The central mountain is largest with 281.25 hectares flat plateau.

Bandhavgarh National Park lies on the extreme north- eastern border of the present state of Madhya Pradesh in India and the northern flanks of the eastern Satpuda Mountain range. The geology is soft feldspathic sandstone with quartzite. The soil is generally sandy to sandy-loam. At least twenty streams rise or flow through the park, amongst the streams Umrar (forming the western boundary) is the largest. The other important streams are Johilla (eastern boundary), Janadh, Charnganga, Damnar, Banbei, Ambanala and Andhyari Jhiria. All these streams eventually flow into the river Son, which is an important southern tributary to the Ganges. At the centre of the Park is the Bandhavgarh hill, rising 811 m above sea level – surrounding it are a large number of smaller hills separated by gently sloping valleys. These valleys end in small, swampy meadows, locally known as 'bohera'. The lowest point in the park is at Tala, 440 m above sea level. The terrain is of great rocky hills rising sharply from the swampy and densely forested valley bottoms. The finest of these hills is Bandhavgarh, sided with great cliffs and eroded rocks.

The park lies within the tropical monsoon climatic zone, characterized by well-defined winters, summers and rains. Average rainfall is 1,173 millimetres (46 in), most of which falls during the monsoons. Some rains result from the cyclonic depressions as well, between the months of November and February.
Tourist are restricted to an area of 105 km² of the park, known as the Tala range. However this area is richest in terms of biodiversity, mainly tigers. There are four more ranges in the reserve namely Magdhi, Kallwah, Khitauli and Panpatha. Together, these five ranges comprise the 'Core' of the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve constituting a total area of 694 km². The buffer zone is spread over the forest divisions of Umaria and Katni and totals another 437 km

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According to bio-geographic classification, the area under Northern India Moist Deciduous Forests. The vegetation is chiefly of Sal forest in the valleys and on the lower slopes, gradually changing to mixed deciduous forest on the hills and in the hotter drier areas of the park in the south and west. The wide valleys along the streams carry long linear grasslands flanked by Sal forests. Rich mixed forests consisting of Sal (shorea rubusta), Saja, Salai, and Dhobin etc. with dense bamboo thickets occur in many places. These together provide Bandhavgarh its rich biodiversity.

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With the tiger at the apex of the food chain, it contains 37 species of mammals, more than 250 species of birds, about 70 species of butterflies, a number of reptiles. The richness and tranquility of grasslands invites pairs of Sarus Cranes to breed in the rainy season. One of the biggest attractions of this national park is the tiger(panthera tigris tigris) and its sightings. Bandhavgarh has a very high density of tigers within the folds of its jungles. The 105 km² of park area open for tourist was reported to have 22 Tigers, a density of one tiger for every 4.77 km². (Population estimation exercise 2001). There is a saying about the Park that goes: "In any other Park, You are lucky if you see a tiger. In Bandhavgarh, you are unlucky if you don't see (at least) one."

Bandhagarh tiger reserve is densely populated with other species: the gaur, or Indian bison are now extinct or migrated elsewhere; sambar and barking deer are a common sight, and nilgai are to be seen in the open areas of the park. There has been reporting of Indian Wolf (canis lupus indica), hyeana and the caracal the latter being an open country dweller. The tiger reserve abounds with cheetal or the spotted deer (Axis axis) which is the main prey animal of the tiger and the leopard (Panthera pardus).

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The history of the region can be traced back to 1st century. There are 39 caves in the Bandhavgarh fort and in the surrounding hillocks up to a radius of about 5 km. The oldest cave is of 1st century. Several caves carry inscriptions in Brahmi script. Some caves have embossed figure such as those of tiger, pig, elephant and horseman. Badi gufa, the largest cave, has broad entrance, nine small rooms and several pillars. It has been dated back to the 10th century. The cave appears to be primitive lacking the elaborate statues and carvings seen in the caves of Buddhist period. Its purpose remains mystery.

No records are available to show when Bandhavgarh fort was constructed. However it is thought, to be some 2000 years old, and there are references to it in the ancient books, the “Narad-Panch Ratra” and the ‘Shiva Purana”. Various dynasties have ruled the fort; including the The Mauryans from 3rd century BC, Vakataka rulers from 3rd to 5th century the Sengars from 5th century and the Kalachuris from 10th century. In the 13th century, the Baghels took over, ruling from Bandhavgarh until 1617, when Maharaja Vikramaditya Singh moved his capital to Rewa. The last inhabitants deserted the fort in 1935. Bandhavgarh had long been maintained as a Shikargah, or game preserve, of the Maharajas and their guests. No special conservation measures were taken until 1968.
Project Tiger was constituted in 1972 and then the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 came into force. It was realized that protection of just the 105 km² of prime Bandhavgarh habitat was not enough, so in 1982, three more ranges namely, Khitauli, Magdhi and Kallawah were added to Tala range (the original Bandhavgarh National Park) to extend the area of Bandhavgarh to 448 km². As Project tiger extended its activities and area of influence, Bandhavgarh was taken in its folds in 1993, and a core of 694 km². Including the previously named ranges and the Panpatha Sanctuary along with a buffer area of 437 km² was declared as the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve.

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