The Fort at Bandhavgarh is the highest point in the picturesque reserve in Madhya Pradesh in India. The park derives it name from Bandhavgarh Fort which has a history that dates back more then two thousand years. Myths express views that the Fort was gifted by Lord Rama to his brother Laxman hence the name. Many dynasties eventually ruled this fortification in wilderness for centuries. The testimony is evident on ruins and leftovers of the magnificent structures, some obliterated by the ravages of time. The last dynasty was Baghel rulers of erstwhile Rewa Kingdom.
The preserve abounds in man made caves, stables, large reservoirs, Hindu temples and idols carved out of igneous rock. The impressive idols tower many feet and represent zoomorphic forms of Lord Vishnu. The climb to Fort begins at Shesh Shaiyya or statue of reclining Vishnu that lies 20 feet long besides an enchanting pool surrounded all over with dense vegetation of shrubs, ferns, lichens and moss. The tiny trickles of crystal clear water inundate the ancient pool surrounded by towering tree line that provides ample shade as it did to the exhausted soldiers in bygone days.
Bandhavgarh Tigers are World famous thanks to wildlife films made on Sita and Charger - the acclaimed breeding pair besides others. The preserve abounds in big cats and Central Indian Mammals. The insect and reptiles are a matter of intrigue as many are nocturnal. The main prey species are Spotted Deer, Sambar Deer, Langur, Wild Boar, Barking Deer and to lesser extent Sloth Bear and Nilgai. The carnivore is represented by Tiger, Leopard, Wild Dog, Jackal, Fox, Hyena and Indian Wolf the latter two being very less seen.
Bison has been reintroduced in the nature preserve after the last stock became extinct. The relocation has been successful and about 30 plus heads were brought from Kanha National Park. The migratory pattern makes them move to the neighboring hills where they are susceptible to disease. The other mega fauna of interest is the Sambar Deer the largest in Asia. The animal is a favored prey of the tiger and is often hunted down. The deer lives in medium sized herds although they can be encountered in large numbers but very rarely.
After the inclusion of the park in Project Tiger the conservation area has increased and so has the tourism zone. Majority of tourists come here on tiger safari as the big cats are easily seen in the core zone. But the preserve offers much more than tiger sightings one should enjoy every aspect of this enchanting tiger heaven in MP, India.
Reaching Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Overnight Train to Umaria and then 32 km by road to Tala Gate: Fly Down to Jabalpur from New Delhi/Mumbai or take overnight trains to JBP and drive 175 km to the park. Take a day time train from Jabalpur Station and reach Umaria.
Drive Down from Khajuraho about 7 hours. Drive down from Kanha National Park about 6/7 hours. Important rail heads near by: Katni & Satna. Airstrip at Umaria for small planes.