Bandhavgarh National Park
Altitude : 811m
Core Zone :105sq km
Buffer Zone :448sq km
Best time to visit : February to June
Temp : Max 42o; min 2o Celsius
Closed : July 01 to October 31
Rainfall : 1,500mm
This National Park is small compared to
others, but its importance lies in the fact that it has a high game
density. When originally notified as a protected area in 1968, the
Park was only 105sq km in size. But in 1986, this area was extended to
include large areas of sal (Shorea robusta) forests in the northern
and southern ends of the Park. Today, the Park covers an area of about
448sq km and is home to a wide variety of animals, including
carnivores, primates, ungulates, reptiles and birds.
¤ The Elusive White Tiger
The forests of Bandhavgarh are the white tiger jungles of the
yesteryears. However, no white tigers have been reported from the wild
in the last 50 years, and it is believed that less than a dozen have
been seen in India in about a hundred years. and yet when white tigers
were sighted, it was right here in Bandhavgarh.
Documents in the Rewa Palace record as many as 8 occasions on which
white tigers had been sighted in and around Bandhavgarh during the
first half of the 20th century. In 1951, Maharaja Martand
Singh of Rewa captured an orphaned white tiger cub from the Bagri
forest in Bandhavgarh (see Rewa & Land under Madhya Pradesh). The
Maharaja domesticated this male white tiger and named him Mohan. The
Maharaja was also able to successfully breed white tigers in Rewa and
export the cubs to distant countries. As a result, all white tigers in
captivity today are Mohans descendants. The species has thrived
in captivity, with a number of specimens related to Mohan finding
homes in zoos and circuses all over the world. Mohan was the last
white tiger in the wild, and no white tiger has been reported ever
Before scientists undertook research projects on the white tiger, it
was widely believed that the animals were albinos. However, it was
discovered that the white tiger did not have pink eyes as albinos do.
Instead, these tigers had black stripes and blue eyes, a result of
genetic aberration that occurs due to mutant recessive genes in both
¤ Maharajas of Rewa Claimed Bandhavgarh As Their Private Game
Reserve as a private property worked in favour, as well as against
the interest of the wildlife in the area. While the forests were well
protected and hunting rights remained in the hands of a selected few,
the white tiger was still not safe from human agression.
Maharaja Venkat Raman Singh shot 111 tigers by 1914, a figure that
was slightly above the auspicious number of 109 tigers that the
Maharajas had intended to shoot. The figure of 109 might have been
considered a good omen for kings, but for tigers it only heralded
death and extinction. Had Project Tiger not been launched in 1972 with
the aim of protecting the tiger and its habitat, the tiger may well
have become a thing of the past. The killing of tigers in Bandhavgarh
stopped in 1968 when the area was declared a National Park.
Sal (Shorea robusta) trees dominate almost half the forest of
Bandhavgarh. The sal tree is an important component of the deciduous
forests of North and Central India. Sal forests were found throughout
the northern parts of the Deccan, extending from Madhya Pradesh to
Orissa in one continuous stretch. These magnificent forests have
uniform and thick growths of tall and straight sal trees that have
rounded leaves. The sal also provides precious timber and yields a
resin that is used as incense. Over the years, legal and illegal
logging has wiped out large parts of these forests, and it is only in
places like Bandhavgarh that sal forests are still protected. On
Bandhavgarhs upper slopes, a mixed forest replaces the sal
forest, while in the north are large stretches of bamboo and
grasslands. The undergrowth in Bandhavgarh is not very dense.
¤ Wildlife Population
Mammals & Reptiles
The Forest Department has recorded at least 22 species of mammals and
about 250 species of birds in the Park. Parts of the forest that were
cleared for cultivation have now turned into grasslands where the
chinkara (Indian gazelle), nilgai (blue bull) and
can be sighted. Groups of wild boar can also be seen moving around,
digging their snouts into the ground. Occasionally, carnivores like
jackals and foxes follow their prey into the forest. The sambar
(Indian stag) and the muntjac (barking deer) inhabit the denser parts
of the forest along with herds of chital (spotted deer). Gaur (Indian
bison) herds can be seen in the Park only during the months of March
and April when they move down from the higher hills to the meadows to
A small population of blackbuck also exists around the fort area. The
blackbuck population was reintroduced to the Park and is protected
from predators by the old masonry walls of the fort. A number of
smaller animals such as the ratel, porcupine, small Indian civet, palm
squirrel, lesser bandicoot rat, or predators like the jungle cat,
hyena and jackal, can also be seen during a drive through the Park.
Reptiles including cobras, kraits, vipers, ratsnakes, pythons, lizards
and turtles are more elusive.
A lot of action that takes place in Bandhavgarh is up on the trees,
as two primate species, the rhesus macaque and the Hanuman langur
inhabit the Park. These monkeys are easily visible and fun to watch.
Large langur troops can be seen frolicking and feeding on trees. The
langur feeds on leaves, some of which are so poisonous that even the
most seasoned insects avoid them. Chital herds are often seen close to
langurs, and both share a very special relationship. Perched on
treetops and equipped with keen eyesight, the langur is a vital part
of the alarm system that warns against approaching predators like the
tiger and leopard. It is believed that for the most part, langur and
chital alarm calls mean the presence of a predator in the area.
¤ Aerial Population
Bandhavgarh is a stopover for migratory birds in winter. A variety
of waterfowls come here, but the absence of wetlands makes them
congregate at small water bodies. These waterfowls are not the only
visitors; others like the steppe eagle also visit Bandhavgarh in
A number of small birds can be seen in and around the National Park,
including some less common ones like the blue-bearded bee-eater,
white-bellied drongo, Tickells blue flycatcher, white-browed
fantail, Jerdons leafbird, gold-fronted leafbird, minivets and
woodshrikes. Other prized sightings include those of the Malabar
hornbill, paradise flycatcher and racket-tailed drongo.
The vegetation along the streams and marshes is also rich in bird
life. The easily spotted ones are the green pigeons, parakeets,
peafowls, little grebes, egrets, sarus cranes, black ibis, lesser
whistling teals, white-eyed buzzards, black kites, crested serpent
eagles, black vultures, Egyptian vultures, red jungle fowls, doves and
kingfishers, to name a few.
¤ When to Visit
The best time to see wildlife in Bandhavgarh is in summer when the
undergrowth has died out and the wildlife moves closer to the few
water bodies that survive the heat. Winter is a good time as well, but
sightings are rare during this season.
¤ Best time to visit February to June
Moving around inside the Park is possible either in a hired jeep or
on elephant back. Jeeps with walkie-talkies and licensed guides are
available outside the Park from either the White Tiger Lodge or
Bandhavgarh Jungle Camp. The roads are usually in decent condition and
wildlife sightings are common. The best time to drive through the Park
is from dawn until about 10 a.m., and in the evening from 4 p.m. till
dusk. As a precaution, entry into the Park after dusk is not allowed.
Elephants belonging to the Forest Department are used for safaris into
the Park. The mahouts (elephant trainer-cum-driver) are usually well
informed about the movements of tigers, and the areas that are good
for wildlife viewing in general.
Bandhavgarh Jungle Lodge, near Park gate. 10 cottages & one
Jungle Camp near Tala Gate. For reservations contact Tiger Tops, 1/1,
Rani Jhansi Rd, New Delhi.
Tiger Trails offers cottages near a lake & stream.
: The nearest railway station is Umaria (35km).
Train from Delhi to Umaria: Utkal Express
Train from Varanasi: Sarnath Express.
Bus : Buses ply from Umaria, Tala and Satna. Jeeps can be
hired from Tala (3hrs) and from Umaria (2hrs, Rs 10 per seat).