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Bandhavgarh National 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 Laxman 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 panthers, and various species of deer. Maharaja Martand Singh of Rewa captured a 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.

Geography

Area 437 km²
Elevation 410 m to 810m
Climate -Precipitation 2,800 mm (110.2 in)
Summer 44 °C
Winter 22 °C
Established 1968


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

Flora
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.

Fauna
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).

Avifauna

1. Plum-headed Parakeet 2. Orange-headed Thrush 3. Brown-headed Barbe 4. Coppersmith Barbet 5. Common Myna 6. Alexandrine Parakeet 7. Indian Grey Hornbill 8. Rock Pigeon 9. House Crow 10. Carrion Crow 11. Little Egret 12. Cattle Egret 13. Great Egret 14. Black Drongo 15. Pond Heron 16. Common Snipe 17. Black-winged Stilt 18. Red-wattled Lapwing 19. Indian Peafowl 20. Greater Coucal 21. Oriental Magpie Robin 22. Indian Roller 23. Indian Robin 24. Eurasian Collared Dove 25. Hoopoe 26. Sirkeer Malkoha 27. Large-billed Crow 28. White-browed Fantail Flycatcher 29. Yellow-crowned Woodpecker 30. Rufous Treepie (Normal And Pallida) 31. Lesser Adjutant Stork 32. Oriental White Eye 33. Olive-backed Pipit 34. Spotted Dove 35. White-throated Kingfisher 36. Red-rumped Swallow 37. Lesser Whistling Teal 38. Common Kingfisher 39. Black Stork 40. Green Bee-Eater 41. Greater Racket-tailed Drongo 42. Red-vented Bulbul 43. Long-billed Vulture 44. Grey Capped Pigmy Woodpecker 45. Chestnut-shouldered Petronia 46. Crested Serpent Eagle 47. Black Redstart 48. Brahminy Starling 49. Brown Fish Owl 50. Yellow-footed Green Pigeon 51. Malabar Pied Hornbill 52. Common Kestrel 53. White-throated Fantail Flycatcher 54. Rufous Woodpecker 55. Sapphire Flycatcher 56. Changeable Hawk Eagle (Cirrhatus) 57. Oriental Turtle Dove 58. White-rumped Vulture 59. Lesser Kestrel 60. Large Cuckooshrike 61. Pied Bushchat 62. Black-winged Cuckooshrike 63. Black-rumped Flameback Woodpecker 64. House Sparrow 65. Golden Oriole 66. Rose-ringed Parakeet 67. Paddyfield Pipit 68. Dusky Crag Martin 69. Long-tailed Shrike 70. Black Ibis 71. White-necked Stork 72. Purple Sunbird 73. Giant Leafbird 74. Tickell's Flowerpecker 75. Little Cormorant 76. Little Brown Dove 77. White-tailed Swallow 78. Jungle Babbler 79. Shikra 80. Jungle Myna 81. Common Tailorbird 82. Red Collared Dove 83. Red-necked Vulture 84. Painted Francolin 85. Eurasian Thick-knee 86. Common Sandpiper 87. Lesser Spotted Eagle 88. Greater Whistling Teal 89. Great Cormorant 90. Pied Kingfisher 91. Laughing dove 92. Bonelli's Eagle 93. Dark Black Crow

History
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.