Set amidst the Vindhya hills, Bandhavgarh National Park is located in the Umaria district of Madhya Pradesh. In 1968, Bandhavgarh was declared a national park and is now one of the popular national parks of India. Prior to becoming a National Park, the jungle had long been maintained as a Shikargarh, or game preserve of the Maharaja of Rewa. The Maharaja was the last occupier of the fort, and managed the surrounding forest to increase his chances of a good hunt. He and his guests used to carry out hunting – otherwise the wildlife of this park was well protected. It is surrounded by a large number of smaller hills separated by gently sloping valleys, which end in small & swampy meadows. There are now increasingly measures in place to limit the disturbance of the tiger’s activities; also jeep numbers are now even more strictly limited and must be pre-booked.
The park has a large biodiversity and a large natural fort, located on the Bandhavgarh hill, rising 811 meters above sea level at the centre of the park. Bandhavgarh has been a center of human activity and settlement for over thousand years, and there are references to it in the ancient books. 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. Legend has it that Lord Rama, hero of the Hindu epic – the Ramayana, stopped at Bandhavgarh on his way back to his homeland after defeating the demon King Ravana of Lanka. He handed it over to his brother who became known as Bandavdhish “The Lord of the Fort”. The park contains a wide variety of habitats, including a large number of Tigers, various species of deer and rarely sighted Leopard.
Flora, Fauna & Avifauna
- About half of the park is covered with fine trees of Sal, while mixed forests are found in the higher reaches of the hills. Stretches of bamboo and grasslands extend to the north. The major floral attractions in the Park are Sal, Saja, Tendu, Aonla Dhawda, Jamun, Salai, Garari etc.
- Animals to be seen here are Nilgai, Chausingha (Four-horned antilope), Wild Boar, as well as the occasional Jackal and Fox. Jungle cats, hyenas, rattles, porcupines and a variety of other mammals can be spotted too. The Reptile population of the park is comprises of Cobras, Kraits, Vipers and Python etc.
- Bandhavgarh attracts many migratory birds including the birds of prey like the steppe eagles and a variety of wildfowl. There are more than 242 species of birds some very attractive and less common birds can be seen – like Peafowl, Red Jungle fowl, Common Teals, Grey Hornbill, White Breasted Kingfisher, Crested.