Friday, September 15, 2023

 Traveling to Bandhavgarh

Situated in a remote corner of India Bandhavgarh is a paradise that is home to the Bengal Tiger. It is home to many enchanting creatures like the sloth bear, bison, Asia's largest deer the sambar, and spotted deer both are the tiger's main prey base. Other animals seen are the wild dog, barking deer, Nilgai, four-horned deer, chinkara, jackal, langur, rhesus macaque, and fox. Both domestic and overseas tourists arrive here in thousands to see the Bengal Tiger and other animals.

There are more than two hundred birds in the park some of which are palearctic migrants. Most of the avian species are forest dwellers and very few wetland species are found. Yet the tiger reserve and the National Park attracts thousands of birders every year.  

The reserve is home to ancient relics some of them in ruins these date 2000 years back. They were built by the tribal who ruled the fort at Bandhavgarh Hill. The hill is the tallest structure at 800 MSL it is home to zoomorphic idols of Lord Vishnu and Ram Janki Laxman Temple. There are more than 11 man-made reservoirs at the fort 
complex which is inhabited by wild animals. The tall grass, groves, and plains attract many wild animals in the safe sanctuary of the fort complex. Humans have long vacated the fort complex after the last rulers the Baghels shifted their capital to the nearby city of Rewa.

The most attractive feature of the park is Sesh Shaiyya which lies at the foothill of the fort. It comprises of shady grove and a fairy pool. A twenty feet long reclining Vishnu lies at the edge of the pool. The sacred idol is as old as the fort and was built by the tribal at that time. It is the most visited place by tourists on tiger safari in Tala Range. Sesh Shaiyya is also the breeding ground for the tigresses in the safe sanctuary of the dense forests nearby. Many times the lucky tourists get a glimpse of the majestic beast.

Tiger Safari        

Two tiger safaris are organised in the park one in the morning and another in the evening. The game rides are conducted on the open jeeps and canter. They have to be hired at the entrance of the respective zones. The park has three zones

  • Magadi
  • Khitoli
  • Tala

Safari is organized in each zone however each zone has a limited entry hence permits have to be booked in advance.

Bandhavgarh National Park Infrastructure

Bandhavgarh National Park has many wonderful sights to offer and thus a large number of tourists visit the park every year. The reserve also attracts filmmakers, wildlife photographers, naturalists, and holidaymakers. To cater to a large number of tourists there are many hotels and resorts built around the periphery of the park. These range from budget to luxury accommodations.    

The main habitation is the Tala Village with few budget hotels and shops. It is the main entry point to the park.

The Park 

The park lies in Umaria and Shahdol Districts of Madhya Pradesh. The access point is Jabalpur Airport in Madhya Pradesh a state of India. From the airport taxis are the best means of travel to the park at a distance of 175 km.

You can 
book a taxi from Jabalpur to Bandhavgarh which has numerous operators. The ride is smooth and picturesque. You can also book an AC Taxi. Before embarking on a journey to Bandhavgarh make all the essential purchases at Jabalpur.


Wednesday, July 5, 2023

A Holiday Trip to Bandhavgarh

 Bandhavgarh is the land of the tiger. It is located in Umaria District in the State of Madhya Pradesh. It is a National Park and a tiger reserve declared as a protected area by the State Government. A part of the reserve is slated for tourism.

The reserve encompasses fifteen hundred thirty-six kilometers. The current core area is 716 sq. km while the rest is the outer limit or the buffer zone. Tourism is conducted in 20 percent of the core area while some forest patches are reserved for tourism in the buffer area.

Bandhavgarh is a paradise on the Earth. It is home to tigers, leopards, sloth bears, bison, deer, rhesus macaque, Hanuman Langur, jungle cats, rusty spotted cats, jackals, foxes, and small predators. The antelope family comprises four-horned antelope and the Nilgai.

Bandhavgarh is also a place that comprises ancient ruins. These ruins are over two thousand years old and comprise zoomorphic idols of Lord Vishnu, idols of Shiva, manmade caves, temples, stables, reservoirs, and an ancient fort completely in ruins.

Over 170000 visitors arrive at the reserve for holidaying, photography, and filming. Before finalizing the trip to Bandhavgarh one should book a permit issued by the forest department of Madhya Pradesh. The next step is to book a luxury hotel for accommodations. There are also budget and deluxe hotels outside the reserve most of them are situated near the Tala Village.

The trip usually begins from Jabalpur Airport which is at a distance of 175 km. You can travel Jabalpur via Shahpura and Umaria. The latter is just 32 km from the park. The road is good and you can cover it in four hours. There are other routes to the reserve but they are longer.

You can drive in your car or go for a taxi-booking as there are plenty available. For overseas visitors booking a taxi is the best option. Air-conditioned taxis are available from Jabalpur. While going for a holiday in Bandhavgarh you should carry all the essentials as the reserve is situated in a remote place.       

Sunday, May 14, 2023

A Classic Tour Called Golden Triangle Tour


The tour literarily forms a triangle. It begins from New Delhi the Capital of India and ends at Ranthambore Tiger Reserve.

New Delhi

Situated in North, New Delhi is a window to India. People from all places live in the city and create a mixed culture. But the city is well known for its old and modern complexes. It is a wonderful sightseeing destination and some of the old monuments are:

Qutub  Minar

Red Fort

Humayun's Tomb

Lodhi Garden

Chandni Chowk Baazar

Purana Qila

Mughal Gardens

Hauz Khas Village

Sajdarjungs Tomb

Isa Khan's Tomb

Alai Darwaza

Jama Masjid

Diwan i Am

Imam Zamin Tomb

Tughlaqbad Tomb

Jantar Mantar

India Gate

Ajmeri Gate

Other Recent Monuments are

Swaminarayan Temple

Bahai Temple

Parliament House

Coronation Dubar Park

Besides these parks and places, there are many small and lesser-known places. Delhi is not a new city and it may take weeks to see all that it has to offer.  The tour's first lag is New Delhi where a few days are spent sightseeing.

The next visit is to Agra the city of the Taj Mahal the world-famous monument that takes a long time to see. In the same trip, Red Fort and Fatehpur Sikri are visited. Within the same route is Jaipur the capital city of Rajasthan. The old city was named after Rajah Jai Singh II in the 18th Century. It is a charismatic city with a characteristic pink touch. It is also known as the Pink City. The best tourist places in Jaipur are:

Hawa Mahal

Jaipur Palace

City Palace

Jantar Mantar

Jaigarh Fort

Nahargarh Fort

Birla Temple

Jal Mahal

Amber Fort

Kanak Ghati

Govind Devji Temple

The food in Jaipur is unique it is known as Marwari Cuisine. The city is full of gardens and places of interest. The Golden Triangle Tour is extended by a visit to Ranthambore Tiger Reserve.  The reserve is a good place for tiger sighting and bird watching. This ends the Golden Triangle Tour in North West India.



Monday, April 3, 2023

Tiger Tours at Kanha National Park

Kanha is also known as Kanha Kisli, it is also known as the land of the tiger. It is home to the hard-ground swamp deer. This deer subspecies now only survive at Kanha National Park. The park is famous for the tiger but also for the saving of the critically endangered swamp deer. From just 66 heads the population now ranges over 500 heads. The credit goes to the Kanha team and George Schaller from the USA.

Kanha is home to over 100 tigers in an area of 2000 sq. km. The core area of the park is 940 sq. km and it is totally inviolate. No human activity except tourism in 20 percent area is allowed. The park is well protected by forest guards whole live in self-sufficient patrolling huts. There are more than 150 patrolling huts spread all over the park. Tourists are not allowed in the rest of the core zone.

Tourism also takes place in the buffer zone which is a multiple-use area. Besides the forest cover, there are human settlements and their farms. They are allowed to rear livestock. No commercial activities are allowed in the park. But there are wildlife resorts in the buffer under strict regulations. Small trade is possible in the buffer but no major commercial activities are permitted. While core zone tourism is limited with restriction on entry of jeeps no such limit exists in the buffer tourism zone at present.

Kanha Wilderness

Kanha is a tiger reserve and a National Park under the aegis of the State Government of Madhya Pradesh. Some tourism policies are advised by the NTCA which stands for National Tiger Conservation Authority. It is a Central Government body that now looks after the affairs of Project Tiger.  

The wild animals found at Kanha National Park are tiger, sloth bear, bison, chital deer, sambar deer, swamp deer, fox, jackal, mouse deer, barking deer, Nilgai, and four-horned antelope. Among the smaller fauna are porcupines, pangolins, jungle cats, civet cats, and wild rats.

There are more than 250 bird species in the park. Among the noted avian species are the white-tailed shama, orange-headed ground thrush, verditor flycatcher, Tickell's blue flycatcher, Tickell's thrush, common grey hornbill, Malabar Pied Hornbill, greenish warbler, Hume's warbler, booted warbler, Graylag geese, bar-headed geese, and more. Some raptors are the crested serpent eagle, honey buzzard, shikra, sparrow hawk, red-necked falcon white-eyed buzzard, and crested hawk eagle.  There are plenty of avians to be seen on tiger safari.

A permit for a tiger safari at Kanha is required. You can book the permits at MPOnline a Government of Madya Pradesh Portal. Since the jeep entity is limited you should book the safari in advance. Another option is to book a tiger safari at the gates subject to availability. 


Sunday, April 2, 2023

Filming Tigers in India

Every wildlife photographer amateurs or professionals dream of photographing tigers in India. All filmmakers major or minor think of filming big cats in India. The country has more than 50 tiger reserves and more than 3000 adult tigers. Due to active protection, the number of these big cats is growing day by day as breeding has increased tremendously. The big cats give birth to more than 4 cubs every year, and rear them for two and a half years after which they breed again. The males can mate throughout the year till the ripe age of 14 years.      

Though any tiger reserve can be chosen for filming the big cats,  some destinations offer better opportunities due to the high number of sightings. The parks with very good sightings usually have high visitor traffic. These are the most visited parks but there is a limit to the number of people that can enter the reserve due to restrictions placed by NTCA and the State governments.  The parks are divided into a few zones, and each zone has a limit. Most of the safaris are booked online on the State Government Portals while booking is also available at the reserve gates. You can also book a safari at the director's office or respective reserve, these are protected areas and have separate forest departments. The addresses could be found online on the Internet by typing the name of the reserves.

Best Tiger Reserves

Some of the best reserves are National Parks as well.

Corbett Tiger Reserve in Uttrakhand

Kanha Tiger Reserve in Uttrakhand

Bandhavgarh In MP

Ranthambhore in Rajasthan 

Pench National Park in MP

Panna National Park in MP 

These NPs have more than 100 thousand visitors and are highly popular. While many amateur photographers and small filmmakers can use their skills to film on safari, making documentaries is costly and time-consuming.  

For documentary makers, and professional photographers who need to cross the limits of regular safari need special permission from the Ministry of Environment or MOEF, and the principal chief wildlife warden or PCCF  of the states.  These are costly and require time for permissions to be granted if acceptable. It is not easy to organize photo tours in India for professionals.  Wildlife filmmakers and professional photographers need to make a lot of arrangements for photography sessions and need the help of local guides.

The best is to take the help of the local tour operators who can help organize the sessions in the respective tiger reserves.  The best choice is to go with Indian tour operators who can organize the documentary filming events.  Remember there is a rush during the festive seasons and weekdays hence book safari in advance.    


Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Tiger Safari at Bandhavgarh And The Ancient Structures

Bandhavgarh National Park is known for its enchanting wilderness, and the tigers. But many people have no inclination toward ancient idols cut from the rock and the inscriptions on the stone in the dense confines of the park. The most amazing ancient structures are the Bandhavgarh Fort complex and the idols of Lord Vishnu in zoomorphic forms. The original structures were built by the Gonds that were subject to further additions by many dynasties that came to rule here.

Tiger Safari at Bandhavgarh

The fort and its surroundings in the dense forests were ruled by tigers and humans from time immemorial but the structures made by the Gond civilization date back 2000 years. Gonds were worshippers of lord Vishnu and other Hindu deities. On the top of the mountain, one will find idols of zoomorphic avatars of Lord Vishnu. It is said that the fort was gifted to brother Laxman by Lord Rama when he visited Bandhavgarh forests in exile.   

The other structure that was carved in stones are courts, horse stables, caves, and rooms and you will see stone wall now in ruins around Bandhavgarh Hill. There are thirty-two steep cliffs and tabletop mountains at Bandhavgarh. The terrain is characterized by steep cliffs deep glens and marshy grasslands interspersed by rivulets.

Since the fort is out of bounds for tourism tourists cannot visit the fort complex. They can go up to the Sesha Shaiyya or reclining Vishnu.  Sesh Shaiyya is a beautiful spot where you can see the twenty feet idols of Lord Vishnu in a reclining position.  The idol is crowned by the heads of the cobra and the whole structure is covered in microscopic algae, fungi, and lichens. Sesh Shaiyya is one of the most beautiful spots in the tiger reserve and must visit. Those who are wishing to see the ancient structures must go for a tiger safari at Tala in Bandhavgarh.   

Rich in the wilderness the park is home to tigers, leopards, wild dogs, sloth bears, bison, Nilgai, barking deer, four-horned deer, wild boar, and monkeys. It is home to more than 250 birds including the winter migrants.

For an exciting tiger safari at Bandhavgarh, a safari permit is required. So book the safari in advance as the entry of vehicles is limited. Safari can be booked online at MPOnline Portal. You can also ask the tour operators to book a safari for you. They are in the know-how of the best zones in the National Park for you to visit.

You can best reach Bandhavgarh from Jabalpur Airport at 175 km. The overnight train is also available from New Delhi to Umaria which is at a distance of 32 km from Tala Township. Overnight trains from Mumbai and Kolkata ply to Jabalpur in MP.          

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Inbound Travel News - VISA Tug of War

 India Reinstates E-Visa

When India asked British visa applicants to appear in person at Indian High Commission in London there was chaos among those who had already planned the trip. Most of the people had booked VISA through middlemen to tour companies in the UK as there was no need to be at Indian High Commission in person. 

The new term came as a jolt for UK travelers who had already planned the trip.  Most of the had very little time to make the trip and no time to visit Indian High Commission. A lot of journeys were canceled this was a sad happening by India is not solely to blame for this.  

Thankfully as per news dated December 5 in travel weekly, the e-visa has been reinstated with doorstep service available. Of the total percentage of inbound travelers to India, UK travelers from England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland constitute as much as 50%. The reason is not only familiarity with our country. The familiarity is anyway is decreasing among next-gen travelers. The main reasons are the proximity distance wise, and the prevalence of the English language pan India that invites the British. 

The urge to travel may be due to colonial instinct the exploratory zeal is well known among the British. But then inbound tourists visit India from many countries. They come from Western Europe like France, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Holland, and some more.  Russians also visit India from the Eastern Bloc in good numbers. These are tourists who are interested in tiger safaris and sightseeing while most of the travelers from Buddhist countries in Asia come to visit the holy sites. The traveler from AFPAC visits India for medical tourism. 

VISA Tug of War

In order to balance host country travel restrictions tit for tat steps are taken by other countries as well. Although interim disruption is a regular norm between two countries, the loss to both exchequers is significant. The impact hurts the travel services and tour operators the most. 

A lot of hotel bookings and tour operator packages were canceled in India. This was a significant loss to the hospitality industry as well as the exchequer. India depends heavily on its inbound tourism sector for foreign exchange, employment to locals, and the health of its hospitality industry that caters to inbound travelers.  

The Indian hospitality industry is expected to have a warm winter to the expected arrival of a large number of UK travelers. After the pandemic, this is like a flow of fresh air not only for the hotel industry, the news is good for small service providers like guides, naturalists, taxi services, and the man selling chana on the street corner.  

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Planning A Tiger Safari Choose the Best National Park for You

Inbound Tourism in India 

Inbound revenue generation comprises a significant amount of nature tourism. The global market size stands at USD 650 billion. India makes an impact in inbound revenue generation that fetches significant foreign exchange vital for the country's economy. Well, this is not all, nature tourism, like tiger tourism in India, is vital for sustainable local economies, and a large sum of revenue is plowed back into the conservation of the inheritance.  

Book My Safari Team India (Award) 

Tiger Tourism In India

In MP alone visitors' fee draws in rupees 13 crores plus every year and this money is plowed back into conservation. Hence when you make a visit to a tiger reserve you not only seek a holiday recreation you contribute to conservation as well in terms of entry fee, guide fee, hospitality charges, and whatnot. You contribute to the local economy as well which is vital for the conservation of our priceless inheritance.

Tiger in India

What Pays Stays

Nothing can be truer. The contemporary economy is an equity-based one, and income for survival plays a vital role in managing environmental concerns sustainably. Wildlife attracts crowds and draws revenue hence preserving takes precedence over neglect and destruction.  The core benefit that these tiger reserves and the National Parks accord are employment and business to locals, infrastructure development in terms of schools, and dispensaries, diverse training for empowerment of women and children, and better mainstream connectivity. 

The parks and hospitality industry employs a huge chunk of locals as guides, cooks, waiters, guards, and drivers.  The tiger safari in the parks is regulated to prevent disturbance and harm to the animals. In spite of severe criticism, and a court case the ecosystem, on the contrary, has increased immensely and the tiger population has risen from 1411 to over 3000 since the beginning of Project Tiger Campaign in 1973. The inviolate core at the protected areas has proven to be the main savior of endangered tigers and other lifeforms. The buffer sustains old animals and growing populations of herbivores and tigers as well. Although conserving the sink is of major concern due to extreme human pressures nevertheless positive efforts are being made. 

With over 52 tiger reserves, inbound tiger tourism is one of the main contributors to foreign exchange earnings besides the supporting income generated for domestic tourism. 

Organizing a Safari Holiday in India 

No wonder the concept of a safari holiday is on the increase globally. In India, the spurt is recent, beginning in the mid-nineties, and has begun to peak now. Though the ecotourism concept includes bird watching, tiger spotting, and spotting the country's endemic and rare animals spread all over, the mainstays are the reserves where the big cats thrive. 

For overseas holidaymakers, wildlife enthusiasts, filmmakers, and photographers the preparation for tiger safari in India should begin at least six months in advance unless they are frequent travelers. For domestic travelers a few days ahead of planning is a prerequisite.   Remember securing a safari permits is mandatory for excursions. 
Book My Safari Company Mumbai

Among the top-ranking factors that you should consider for a memorable experience are:

  • Tiger Watching Success
  • Other Animal Watching Success
  • Birding Potential 
  • Expectations 
  • Popular Circuit 
  • Local Experiences (Frequent Travelers) 
  • A Classic Hospitality Experience 
  • Reach 
  • Ease of Travel
  • Safety 
  • Smooth travel in a long itinerary (package tours)

The Best National Parks 

There are many reserves that are well known for the high visibility of the big cats and tourists flock in large numbers to them. Though the purpose is a holistic visit, it is well known that the focus is on the tiger. But many other factors define a sound holiday experience.  

Although there are few well-known National Parks in India, the ones listed below are most preferred.

  • Ranthambore National Park
  • Kanha National Park
  • Corbett National Park 
  • Bandhavgarh National Park
  • Pench National Park
  • Tadoba National Park 
These destinations rank highest among visitors as far as tiger sighting is concerned. But there are other factors that encourage visitors to choose them for a safari. Corbett, for example, is not only good for spotting big cats but also good for spotting a number of mammals and reptiles, besides it is the best place for birding. The bird species at Corbett range over 500 including the Palearctic migrants. It is close to birding hotspots like Sat Tal & Pangot in Nainital in Uttarakhand. The preserve gets crowded on weekends and festival times so plan your visit carefully.

Ranthambore is part of the famous Golden Triangle Tour that comprises visits to New Delhi, the Taj Mahal, and Jaipur the capital city of the State of Rajasthan. It is popular for the high visibility of predators and for bird watching in terms of the number of visitors, it could be most crowded so avoid a visit during the weekends and holidays. 

Kanha, Pench, and Bandhavgarh form an extended circuit for package tours in Central India. Though the wildlife experience is the same, there are subtle differences that make tourists visit them often.

Bandhavgarh's inheritance includes panoramic sightseeing and exploring ancient tribal architecture that dates back over 2000 years. Kanha has been acknowledged as the world's best-managed park, it is home to the rare hard-ground swamp deer a race only found in this park. 

Pench is Kipling's Country made famous by the movie Jungle Book based on Rudyard Kipling's esoteric novel the Jungle Book. Shere Khan, Bagheera, Baloo, Bandar Log, Tabaqui, and Kaa all can be seen on a visit. Though Mowgli is no more thousand of charismatic kids live around the neighboring villages. Another attractive feature of Pench is its vicinity to Nagpur Airport which is just 90 km away. 

Tadoba is a recent success with a phenomenal number of sightings of the big cat. The tourism infrastructure is fast developing and attracting a large number of inbound tourists from many countries.  It is about 140 km from Nagpur Airport. 

Other Popular National Parks are:
  • Periyar National Park
  • Manas
  • Namdhapha
  • Wayanad 
  • Nagzira Navegaon
  • Bandipur
  • Nagarhole
  • Mudumalai
  • Eravikulam 
These destinations attract tourism on an impressive scale with unique sightings and wildlife experiences. They have a well-developed tourism infrastructure and can be reached easily. 

Choosing Best Destination 

If the tiger is the main focus, choose the first list for making a decision. Base your decision on the ranking factors listed above. Holidaymakers have their own reason for visiting wildlife places for recreation and rest. But if you consider the factors described above you will be able to have a good wildlife experience and tiger spotting of course. Choose a place based on your own preference besides the suggestions made here. 

For travelers not interested in making their own arrangements package tours are the best. There are many package tour operators in India that provide good service. They can be verified using testimonials and TripAdvisor reviews or using references from friends and relatives.  


Saturday, October 1, 2022

Bandhavgarh Historical Treasure Trove of Ancient Artifacts & Civilizational Remains

White Tiger Story 

The strip of pristine Sal forests was once the hunting reserve of Maharajahs of Rewa Estate during the pre-independence period. The last Maharajah was a hunter turned conservationist, and is credited with discovering and nurturing the white tiger. Mohan, the white tiger cub was found in the forests of Sidhi an hour's drive from Bandhavgarh then contiguous. 

Mohan was raised at Govindgarh Fortress by the Maharajah, and all the white tigers around the World are his progeny. Without much scientific pursuit, Maharajah Martandsinghji raised and increased the population, thanks to his understanding of big cat behavior and diligence.  The strip of Sal forests where the cub was discovered is now known as Sanjay Dubri National Park. Both parks are situated in Central India in the state of Madhya Pradesh. 

Bandhavgarh Civilization Where Time Stands Still 

Much before the white cub was discovered in these contiguous forests tribes had found succor in the deep confines of the Sal forests. There were two prominent reasons for the existence of civilization in the inaccessible forests of Bandhavgarh. 

Primary reason was based on the security provided by the steep cliffs and tabletop mountains without access. The reason was to avoid conflicts with neighboring tribes, and kingdoms. Bandhavgarh Fort at the height of 800 plus MSL provided an easy lookout to thwart invasions.  

It was the Gond Tribes aligned with Rajputs that built the first structures, this was perhaps more than two thousand years back. The mention in ancient Hindu Scriptures date around two thousand years. As the story goes Lord Ram during his exile gifted the Fort to brother Laxman hence the name. 

At heights, time stands still and you can experience the ambiance as it was back before humans arrived. Now your company will be zoomorphic idols and wild animals. 

Recent Archeological Discoveries at Bandhavgarh 

Most of the structures are carved out of the igneous rocks prevailing in the region. The civilizational remains are spread out over a large region covering more than 2000 While Fort Complex was known from earlier times including the magnificent idols of Lord Vishnu in zoomorphic forms new artifacts and structures have been discovered recently by the ASI or Archeological Survey of India. 

Based on newspaper reports, Hindu Temples, idols, inscriptions on stones, and cave walls have been discovered recently. ASI has also found Buddhist Stupas in the region authenticating Buddhist influence in the region.  

Recent discoveries include:

  • 26 Hindu Temples
  • Two Monastries 
  • 19 Reservoirs 
  • Votive Stupas 
  • 24 Inscriptions 
  • 46 Sculptures 
  • 26 Caves
More is expected to be discovered making Bandhavgarh a treasure trove of ancient civilizational remains. The period mentioned dates to Raja Bhimsena, Maharajah Potteseri & Maharajah Bhattdeva of Kalchuri Dynasties.  Some remains date back to the 2nd or 3rd Century AD. Some of the manmade caves date back to the 2nd Century BC highlighting civilization dating such a long time back.  

The link from India Times News elaborates the discoveries for the readers. 

Turbulence in Sylvan Surroundings 

The remote and peaceful confines of the Bandhavgarh Forests were not very peaceful as such due to the constant internecine battles that raged between different dynasties that had come to rule the Bandhavgarh Fort, now in complete ruins. Stables, courts, ramparts, and cave shelters are all suggestive of an expanded turbulent era.  

The Baghels were the last to rule this tribal refuge, and Maharajah Martandsinghji was the last ruler of the region. The Baghels had shifted their capital to Rewa a long time back, but the fort complex was well looked after. A Ram Laxman Janki Temple still stands as a testimony. However, most of the remains were out of human capacity to preserve due to inaccessibility and extreme climatic conditions. Air and water erosion brought lot many structures and artifacts to dust. 

The Pujari 

The royals still pay for the priestly service at the Hindu temple. The old Pujari a legendary figure who trudged the tiger-infested forests for the temple's upkeep is no more. His son now follows the same routine without fail. 
Most charismatic sights greet tourists now, especially the spectacle at Sesh Shaiyya or reclining Vishnu. The fort complex is out of bounds, but the zoomorphic idols of Lord Vishu are well preserved.  I was lucky to visit the fort complex a couple of decades back. 

Bandhvagarh Tiger Refuge 

The destination is now a tiger reserve and a National Park and is home to enchanting biodiversity and the Bengal Tiger. Only the forest staff shares accommodation with the big cats and the civilizational structures are completely bereft of human presence. 

The tiger rules over the dizzy heights of the park's 32 steep cliffs and breeds in the panoramic landscape. The reserve is a biodiversity hub with more than 22 Central India Mammals, reptiles, insects, and avians.  The floral habitats and the mountain rivers support incredible wilderness in an area comprising more than 1100 sq. km. 

Except for the forest guards and tourists in 20 % of the core, the belligerent erstwhile soldiers and their rulers are nowhere in the picture, the only conquest that is slated at Bandhavgarh is the conservation of the endangered species. 

Exploring Bandhavgarh 

Tourism is organized at Bandhavgarh  National Park every year. You can explore the pristine paradise by booking a permit at MPOnline Portal belonging to MP State. Day and evening safaris are organized in open jeeps and canters. But please book well in advance including the hotel accommodations in the buffer region.

Park is closed during the monsoon from 1 July to 30th September. You can reach the destination from Jabalpur Airport at 170 km or from the neighboring cities of Satna and Katni. Jabalpur provides the best access for inbound tourists from overseas. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

At Bandhavgarh, The Blood Soaked Sun Hangs Listless Over the Mountain Tops

Tribal Structures of Bandhavgarh

Hectic urban life comes to a standstill as you set foot into the realm of the tribal and the tiger.

All alone, I stood on the tabletop mountain, transfixed by the looming spectacle of Lord Vishnu Idol on the precipice. For a small-time travel writer, losing oneself in the void is awe-inspiring, and a pathway to creativity.  As we traverse through the passage of life, we realize that some moments are indelible, and even in a state of memory flux, they hang onto you like an old family portrait on the wall. I could visualize the historical moment more than two thousand years back when the zoomorphic idol was deftly carved out of the igneous rock and placed on the precipice. As you stand aside the lion-faced Visnu idol, you can visualize the Universe below your feet, and above you, the massive ball of fire blood-soaked to the brim reminds you that life is real.

Bandhavgarh Grassland

The statue hung in a timeless space all around me dwelling in eternity in an ambiance of absolute silence and serenity. Bandhavgarh is one place in India where art and history come together in the remote wilderness. Driven by passion and faith, the tribal of Bandhavgarh carved timeless masterpieces that still linger like a nature quiz with many questions unanswered.

With all the available land in the open plains, why did the tribal venture deep into the forest to create this fascinating architectural complex?  It was certainly a matter of faith, and the zoomorphic idols and the ancient structures are a bold statement. Another reason was to avoid the ravage of frequent wars with the neighboring clans. 

Bengal Tiger

The aging rock structures are all black, buff, and steel blue colored by the vermillion paste and impregnating layers of microscopic vegetation. Well preserved, somewhat pock marked by erosion, the zoomorphic idols are the road to the rediscovery of our ancient culture.

The inert, aging, idols are a rejuvenating sight when you venture into the mystical land. Bandhavgarh Fort hangs in total ruins in the large complex,  but scattered architectural marvels have survived the evolutionary forces that prevail on the Earth. In life nothing is permanent, but incredulously these idols seem to overpower the phenomenon called change. Lord Vishnu manifests here as tortoise, fish, boar, and lion. The aging brick walls, large reservoirs, and crumbling temple structures are found all around the complex. Only three temples stand in a perfect state of preservation perhaps built much later by a victorious Maharajah. Laxman  Temple stands apart and is much visited by locals on holy occasions. A priest trudges 11km from the Tala village to tend to the Hindu temple. Tigers hide in the grassland and prowl all around the complex, they frequent the place to breed and hunt. The place is out of bounds for tourists now. Tigers rule Bandhvagarh! 

Bandhavgarh More Than A Tiger Land

Gond tribal inhabited this land, and ruled over the vast stretch of forests that have now been fractured and culled beyond our imagination. Bandhavgarh is the land of the tiger, but it is much more. On one visit it becomes apparent that the paradise holds sights of wild animals, birds, and ancient marvels that are going to make your holiday in the wild incredulous.

Historical scars proliferate the ruins and depict tales of conquests and defeats. Many dynasties came to rule the region and were vanquished when overpowered. Situated at the height of 800 MSL the highest mountain is called Bandhavgarh which gave the tiger reserve and National Park its name. All around are steep cliffs and tabletop mountains embedded amidst the forest glades and deep glens fed by sparking mountain rivulets that create an absorbing panoramic landscape. The picturesque terrain is a spectacle beyond belief, and it excites the sensory apparatus at one go.  The mountain fort at the top was a gift to brother Laxman by Lord Rama as the story goes and hence named Bandhavgarh (Bandhav = brother, Garh=Fort).  A large crowd of tribal and locals walk through the forest and negotiate the steep ascent to the fort during Ram Navmi and other Hindu festivals as an annual pilgrimage. On that day, the out-of-bound tiger reserve is open to the pious.

Sesh Shaiyya or Reclining Vishnu lies midway, a thankful respite for the weary pilgrims. While the fort complex is out of bounds for the tourists  Shesh Shaiyya is not. It is a fairy tale grove shaded by Jamun and Sal towering over an inert pool covered with moss and algae.

A twenty feet reclining idol of Lord Vishnu crowned by a multiheaded cobra lies beside the pool. Water trickles down like a minuscule fall from between thick ferns and grass creating a mesmerizing spectacle. This is the spot to be to realize the essence of this enchanting paradise.  Traces of vermillion, scattered flowers, and exhausted incense sticks indicate that the fort priests and tourists on tiger safari pray to the Lord on frequent visits. Hinduism is a colorful religion with ample freedom to pray with few restrictions.

Situated in Central India, Bandhavgarh National Park is ideal for tiger safari holidays. One needs to book permits and accommodations in advance. The park is closed during the monsoon from July to September end.

For booking holidays contact MP Tiger Safari Company: +91 8889469120       


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