Bandhavgarh not just means an abode for Royal Bengal Tigers. The core area of the forest has a mesmerizing wild beauty. Every bend of Bandhavgarh is filled with thrill and awe. As compared to other forests, the chances of coming across tigers in this forest are relatively higher. There is a certainty of seeing a tiger in every 5 square kilometers. There are nearly 46-50 tigers here altogether. Only 20% of the tigers are seen in the tourist regions of Bandhavgarh.
Therefore, one or two safaris into the forest do not always ensure the chances of getting to see a tiger always. It also depends on the experiences of the guide and the driver accompanying you as well as the movements of the tigers.
Bandhavgarh forest has three core areas where one can enter two times in a day. These are Tala, Khitauli, and Magdhi. Each of these areas has specific natural beauty and special attractions. It has a variety of vegetation from rows of sal, babul, banyan, and Palash trees to dense bamboo thickets spread over miles. The wide valleys consist of long linear grasslands flanked by Sal forests just like the African Savanna. In between, there are vast areas comprising streams where the untamed residents of the forests quench their thirst.
Tala and the historical Bandhavgarh Fort
The richest core zone in terms of biodiversity (mainly tigers) is Tala. It is surrounded by small hills and caves from where the Bandhavgarh fort is visible. According to regional folklore, Shri Rama had gifted this fort to his dear brother, Lakshmana so that he could keep an eye on Lanka. Since “Bandhav” means brother and “Garh” means fort, it has derived its name – brother’s fort or Bandhavgarh. There is a temple of the ten reincarnated forms of Lord Bishnu in the dense forest. It is worshipped daily.
The forest department fixes the destination every day. 5:30 early in the morning and 3:30 in the afternoon are the timings for the safari. Exploring the forest in an open safari jeep is extremely thrilling. In addition to tigers, one can also get to see various birds, the beautiful scenic beauty, and experience the unique wild smell. All of these are worth capturing in the camera.
The tigers of Bandhavgarh
Since the hunting time for the tigers is at night, it is often found that they are lazing around water bodies during the day. Each tiger as well as its cubs has different names such as Spotty, Solo, Dotty, Bheem, Rajbera, Kankathi, etc. The three tigers which make Bandhavgarh famous all over the world are Charger, Seeta, and their cub B-2. There are various stories told about them. At present, almost all tigers are their offsprings. Charger is so popular that his cemetery is preserved in Magdhi.
Other animals which reside in this forest
Barking deer, sambar, wild pig, bison, langur, fox, peacock, Nilgai, and a variety of animals are found moving around in the lap of nature. The forest also consists of tamed elephants. After booking a ride, one can go around the forest on an elephant as well. Elephants can venture into those corners of the forest where cars cannot enter.
Along with these, there are more than 250 kinds of colorful birds like the robin, Indian Peta, painted stork, Indian roller, wild cocks, kingfishers, eagles, owls, and such others. If you are lucky enough, you can get to see the peacock spreading its wings sometime in the afternoon.
Tips for a Bandhavgarh tour
The best time to visit this place is from October to March. Though a bit warmer, the months of April and May are best for capturing snaps of the fauna here. The forest is closed for three months during the monsoon. It is best to observe wildlife silently from a distance here instead of intruding on their private habitats.