I was visiting my friends in Katni in December 2010 and being wild life and photography enthusiasts and regular visitors to Bandhavgarh National Park, they took me along on the tiger trail. Home to the largest number of tigers in the peninsula, Bandhavgarh National Park (437 sq kms) is also inhabited by a large variety of birds, deers and other animals. The first white Tiger,Mohan was captured in 1951 by Maharaja Martand Singh of Rewa and is now displayed as a stuffed tiger in Rewa Palace.
We had booked 2 jeep safaris and driving through the winding forest roads, listening to the calls of animals and birds interspersed with periods of silence was an unforgettable experience. At the end of the first safari we did not see the tiger but had seen deer, sambhar, nilgai’s and several birds and had to remain content with the fact that the elusive Tiger had definitely seen us. During the 2nd safari next morning, after a lot of hits and misses with B2 the reigning Tiger of the Park we got to see fresh pug marks and just when we were losing hope, we saw a Tigress moving around with her 2 cubs in the bushes. On our way out the guide regaled us with stories of Tigers of Bandhavgarh and their lineage
Tigers of Bandhavgarh
Bandhavgarh is home to some of the most popular Bengal Tigers. Charger and Sita were the most popular tigers from the 1990’s and most of the current breed of tigers found in the park is their descendants. Charger was named thus for his habit of charging at tourists and elephants whom he did not harm and Sita placed Bandhavgarh on the international map after she famously appeared on the cover of National Geographic magazine. Sita was unfortunately killed by poachers and Charger died a natural death in 2000 and was buried in Charger Point within the Park. Their children Mohini, Langru and B2 often graced tourists with their presence around tourist routes. B2 was the dominant male tiger in the region until his controversial death in 2011. Some other tigers met with unfortunate death in the hands of poachers, angry villagers and vehicles within the park. These days tourists get to sight Bamera and 2 tigresses Kankatti and Panpatti moving around with their cubs.
My friends accompanying me have been lucky to spot B2 from close quarters during one of their many visits to the Park and am sharing some of those pictures taken by him (Goutam Das) in this post.
Bandhavgarh National Park Travel
- Open from October to June and closed during monsoon ie July to September. Also closed every Wednesday during season time.
- February to May is the best time to sight and photograph tigers when they are found near the water bodies trying to beat the summer heat
- Plastics and mobile phones are banned within the park to protect the animals
- The nearest rail head is Umaria(35kms) or Katni (100kms)
- The nearest airports are in Jabalpur (200kms) or Khajuraho (250kms)
Bandhavgarh National Park Safari
The park is divided into 3 zones (Tala, Magdhi, Khitauli) and 3-4 routes within each zone for wildlife sighting. Tala Zone also known as Gate 1 is the most popular for viewing tigers. Jeep and Elephant Safaris within the park can be enjoyed during late afternoon (3.15pm-6.30pm) and early morning (6.15am-10.30am). While obtaining a safari pass to enter the park, a route is assigned within the zone for each tourist vehicle to move around. The open vehicles are meant for about 6 passengers and are always accompanied by a forest department guide who is a trained local naturalist extremely conversant with the park. The safari jeeps report to a central point during the middle of the safari which gives a chance to the tourists to rest and refresh. Atleast 2 safari’s are required to sight the animals and birds in the wild.