Grassland “Bandhavgarh National Park is a very exciting place to come for a visit, and I hope you are planning to do so. If not, you will surely miss out on experiencing this ancient land for yourself; where spectacular age-old, pre-historic sites await.
Bandhavgarh is said to have been a gift from Lord Rama, to his younger sibling; Lakshmana. It is a land of great histories. The word Bandhavgarh is a combination of two words: Bandhav + Garh where Bandhav means brother and Garh means Fort. So the meaning of Bandhavgarh is “brother’s fort”.
Bandhavgarh is also a place that holds religious and spiritual importance. The Bandhavgarh Fort, found on the top of Fort Hill; on a tall, flat mountain that is easily seen from the reserve below, is scripted with many convincing indicators of early human activities, and architectural techniques.
……AND, as if coming face to face with the magnificent Royal Bengal Tiger isn’t exciting enough, when you are here, you also get to experience a place of great mythical significance…
As the legend explains, the ruined Fort was being reconstructed by two Monkeys, who built a bridge between Lanka and the mainland. The Fort also lets you explore several man-made caves with inscriptions and rock paintings. Special permission is required to view the ancient Fort, so let your desires know to your tour company, in advance.
Jungle Bandhavgarh National Park is one of the most visited Tiger-sightings places in India. But aside from the main draw of the seeing Tigers in this Park, just driving through Bandhavgarh, is like being in a real, life-sized jungle storybook. The Park is beautiful beyond words, and still very primal. It is how nature is supposed to be; clean and unspoiled.
We arrived in October 2019, just after the park reopened, following the closure during Monsoon season. It has been just as lush and green as it could be. We had beautiful blue sky days, with no rain. Mornings have a little nip in the air, but nothing that a provided blanket over your legs, can’t fix. The fur coats of the Tigers are also at their brightest colors during this time; the orange in their coat is rich and deep, and the white, is so white!
We enjoyed taking photos of the morning light as the sun came up, and streaks of sunlight shot down through the trees; through the mist. Sunset, was equally as pretty, often times seeing the orange fireball on the horizon as it set. It was absolutely magical!
One is forever changed, after seeing the wild Tiger for the first time, in its natural habitat.
I have been on many Safaris, before this Tiger Safari, and I can tell you; (for example) seeing a large pride of Lions on the Masai Mara, is quite a thrill; even getting close enough to see the ticks on their faces…. BUT, the Lions never looked back at me, like I was looking at them. I did not know it at the time, but I was invisible to the Lion. It wasn’t until I made eye contact with the Tigers, that THAT wasn’t the case with the Lions.
So yes, it was a much more personal and moving experience, seeing the Wild Tiger, because when they looked at me, they saw me. They studied me. They were aware of my presence and movements. The jungle was so alive with their energy, too. Even when we could not see the Tigers, the Deer and Monkeys would sound their alarm; barking and howling, telling everything around them, a threat was present. That threat usually meant a Tiger, but it could also mean a Leopard. We knew the cats were watching us. It was a big deal—very exciting, indeed!
In the beginning, though, Bandhavgarh was only 41 square miles, till three additional ranges were added to the area in 1982. These ranges are: Khitauli, Magdhi and Kallawah. By the time Bandhavgarh was turned into a Tiger Reserve in 1993, it had a core area of 269 square miles.
The Journey of Bandhavgarh Park started with one dominant male Tiger.
He was called “Charger.” This Tiger was named this, because of his habit of “mock charging” elephants and safari jeeps, on the regular. Charger ruled his territory from 1991-1999. He left his Chakradhara territory after his longtime companion; Sita died. His territory was overtaken by three other male Tigers (B1, B2 and B3) which caused a fight between the new Tigers and Charger. Ultimately, with the combination of this fact, and his advancing age, Charger passed away in 2002. A memorial was erected in a place in the Park, where he lived out his final days and the location was named Charger’s Point; depicting the saga of one of the most dominant male Tigers, ever, in the history of the Park.
The Matriarch of Bandhavgarh was named Sita. She was one of the most popular and the most photographed Tigress in the world. She had a lifespan of 17 years, in which she gave birth to six litters; including two male cubs from her long-time partner Charger. There was one cub that was a bit bigger in size and he was named “Bara Bachha.” The other cub was named “Langur,” as he had a slight limp in his hind leg. Sita had a lifetime relationship with Charger, which is seen very rarely in Tiger families, and almost all Tigers in Bandhavgarh today, are descendants of the Charger and Sita.
The Tiger Reserve is divided into three zones: Tala, Magdhi and Khitauli. Tala zone is said to have the largest variety of wildlife, and Tigers are also, mostly seen here. This Park has a large biodiversity, and the density of the Tiger population at Bandhavgarh is one of the highest known in India. The Park also has a large breeding population of Leopards and various species of deer. There are Wild Boar, Sloth Bear, Hyena,
Jackal, Bison, Langur and Pigtail Macaque Monkeys, to name a few.
A variety of birds; both large and small are also present in the reserve.
Going back, some years, it is said that Maharajah 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 Maharajah of Rewa.
By our last afternoon game run, after 4.5 days and nine total game runs, we experienced eleven Tiger sighting, with nine different Tigers. We took the time, then, to drive most of the way up Fort Hill to visit Shesh Shaiya; the ancient reclining statue of Lord Vishnu…. In sleeping position. I thought the view was going to be the most impressive sight, but while the scene over the primal jungle/forest was amazing, this old reclining statue made my jaw drop open. I did not expect anything quite this cool; an old statue in the middle of a jungle! I am so happy this statue has been so well preserved and protected. It truly is a gem in Bandhavgarh, and very impressive to see.
There is a natural spring, at this Hindu religious site called Chakradhara that trickles continuously, and it has created a pond called Tala. This is also the water source that makes its way to the Charanganga River.
It was so peaceful there, listening to the spring water, and the birds of the national park. The moss that has grown, naturally, over time; covers the statue, only adding to the mystique of this religious site. The place is serene. I was in awe looking at this rare, 2000-year-old reclining statue, and it will be forever etched in my mind.
The Vishnu statue is 35 feet long and is in reclining position (called Saiya). Lord Vishnu is carved from stone, and lies on a bed of stone that has been carved into a seven-headed serpent (Sesh Nag).
In addition, there are 39 ancient caves in the Bandhavgarh National Park of Fort Hill and in the surrounding hillocks; up to the radius of about three miles. The oldest caves appear to be as ancient as the 1st Century A.D, and several of the caves carry inscriptions in the Brahmi script. Other caves have embossed figures such as those of Tigers, Boar, Deer, Elephant, and the Horsemen.
Badi Gufa: the largest of the caves, has a broad entrance, nine small rooms and several pillars. This is the one cave tourists can enter. It has a gate that is in place to keep wildlife out. The cave has been dated back to the 10th century A.D. The cave is spacious, and has adequate vertical room, for a person of average height to stand and walk.
This cave is visible from the ancient Fort, which signifies its strategic location and position. The cave appears to be primitive, lacking the elaborate statues and carvings seen in the caves of the Buddhist period. Its purpose remains a mystery, although initially it could have been used by Monks for spiritual pursuits, and later used by the army for strategic purposes.
At the present time, and for quite some time, the other 38 caves are being used by wildlife; from bats to Tigers… It was very interesting going inside the cave, and I was fascinated by the skylights that were man-made… How they cut such a perfectly round tunnel of sorts, through the stone, so long ago, is a mystery to me. We saw bats, and most of the cave was dark, beyond the entrance, where there was natural light. The inscriptions were still visible, and so old.
What a treat to see!
Enjoy 6days by sightseeing tigers and wildlife adventures at Bandhavgarh park by choosing the Bandhavgarh National Park tour package.
To get to Bandhavgarh, National Park, we took a two-hour flight from Mumbai to the Jabalpur Airport. From Jabalpur, it felt like the trip really started there. The drive may average four hours, but we found it to be quite interesting, as we passed through many small, farmland, villages with bright green rice fiends, and interesting people-watching opportunities of the locals; their farm animals, and other daily activities.
We recommend Nature Safari India, for lining up your Tiger Safari. Ask for “Varun.” He did a fantastic job for us. He will take good care of you. Also, we recommend our Safari driver, quite highly. His name is “Sanjay.” Be sure to request his services. His knowledge, years of experience and ability behind the wheel of the Jeep, can’t be beat!”
We’d sincerely like to thank Colleen for her kind words, amazing photographs and superb research about Bandhavgarh and hope that it inspires many others to make the trip to India to see its Tigers and fascinating jungles. We always endeavor to be of help, and Nature Safari is born out of genuine interest, appreciation and enjoyment of Indian Wildlife.
Born and brought up in New Delhi, it was Sharad’s childhood passion to play cricket for India. While on a holiday in 1990, he saw his first tiger. Little did he know that this one sighting would immerse him into a realm where forests and tigers were all that mattered.
Sharad’s experiences as a wildlife photographer have inspired him to observe the tiger’s behavior for over 30 years and motivated him on his own journey as an entrepreneur. He started Nature Safari India Pvt Ltd, with a focus on “Conservation through Tourism.” to align himself to the mission of saving the regal species and repopulating them in India’s forests. In 2006, he set up one of India’s premier jungle lodges in Kanha National Park.
Sharad believes that there are many lessons to be learned from a tiger that can be applied successfully to leadership—both in business and in life. Here’s a new book by Sharad Vats on management and leadership skills to learn from a Tiger.