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Bandhavgarh National Park

Introduction
Bandhavgarh Mammals It is a popular place in world map for good tiger sighting where probability to see tigers in very high. Situated in the district of Umaria in Madhya Pradesh and former hunting grounds of the erstwhile Rewa State, Bandhavgarh was first declared as a National Park in 1968, largely due to the efforts made by Maharaja Martand Singh of Rewa in Madhya Pradesh, Central India. Today, Bandhavgarh harbors more than 40 tigers within 694 sq Kms. core zone and 437 Sq. Kms. of buffer zone. It is also a Project Tiger Reserve since year 1993 where policies and rules of Project Tiger are implemented. As per rule park is divided into core-buffer strategy. Their are 6 ranges in Bandhavgarh which are: Tala, Khitauli, Panpatha, Patour, Kallwah and Magdhi which falls under Umaria and Katni forest divisions. Among them Tala range and Magadhi range are more exposed to tourists due to which they are more popular among visitors. Out of total park area only 105 sq.kms area is exposed for tourism activities. Earlier it was private hunting preserve of Baghel rulers of Rewa. If we go back to its history, it was a capital of Baghel rulers who rules from Bandhavgarh fort whose ruins are still present inside park and can be visited in fort safari.

History
If we go by Bandhavgarh history, old legends says Bandhavgarh fort, located inside park, was gifted by lord Rama to younger brother Laxmana due to which its name became Bandhavgarh means "Fort of Brother". The Sandstone caves to the north of the Fort have the brahmi inscriptions dating to the 1st century BC suggesting that there have been human settlements in the area for over 2,000 years. From the early centuries of the 1st millennium onwards, successive waves of the rulers, including the Chandela kings of Bundelkhand. In the 12th century, it became the capital of the Baghels, and remained thus till early 17th century, when their descendants shifted their capital to Rewa. From then onwards, Bandhavgarh began functioning as a royal hunting preserve or shikhargarh for the maharajas of Rewa and their guests.

Though the forests were spared from human encroachment, its tigers were ruthlessly hunted by the Maharajas, who felt compelled to uphold a cruel tradition of killing 109 tigers each. A particularly bloodthirsty royal, Gulab Sing of Rewa, boasted of killing 480 tigers in his lifetime! Famous white tigers of Bandhavgarh were also found here during that time. Few of them were earlier hunted down. Later one such Whiter Tiger Mohan was captured and used for breeding. His stuffed statue is still present in museum at Maharaja resort in Bandhavgarh. After independence, with the abolition of the privy purses, the territories of the royals were taken over and Bandhavgarh became a part of Madhya Pradesh. However, the Maharajas of Rewa still retained their hunting rights and no special conservation measures were taken until 1968. When 105 Sq Km of forest was converted into Bandhavgarh National Park.

After declaration of National park, tiger population controlled in this forest and were brought back from the brink of extinction, though their numbers increased substantially only after 1986, when the protected area was increased to 449 sq km. In 1993 Bandhavgarh was declared a Tiger Reserve under Project Tiger. Inside park marks of human presence can still be seen during safari in Tala zone like caves, sculpture work, stable, statues of god, temples, treasury, water-well, man-made ponds etc. Their is still active temple near Bandhavgarh fort which is known by the name of Bandhavdheesh Temple. It is operated by priest who lives here since many generations.

Geography
is a tropical moist deciduous mixed forest dominated by sal and bamboo. Lying in the low hills of Vindhyas with altitudes ranging from 436 to 810 meters (from sea level) at the fort, Bandhavgarh is a part of famous Central India Highlands. Bandhavgarh fort is not a vast lavish fort but a garrison and The average rainfall is 117 centimeters. Some of the rainwater is absorbed by the soft sandstone, which gives birth to several springs. These springs form many perennial streams like Charnaganga, Banbehi, Damnar, Jhiria and Aama Nala. A large streams called Umrar flows through khitauli range while Johilla forms the eastern boundary of the park. Another stream called Jand flows through kallawah range and all of these small and large stremas eventually merge in the river Son, which is the prominent southern tributary of the Ganges, the holiest river of Hindus.

Mammals
deer bandhavgarh national park In Bandhavgarh we can find more than 29 mammal species in which commonly seen are : Tiger, Leopards, Wild Boar, Chital, Chousingha (Four-horned Antelope), Barking Deer, Neel Gai (Blue Bull), Sambhar, Indian Fox, Wild Dog (Dholes), Striped Hyena, Jackal, Jungle Cat, Sloth Bear, Black-faced Langurs etc. Till year 1996 Gaurs were also here but later due to human disturbance in their migration route, they disappeared from here. But since year 2011, they are re-introduced form nearby Kanha National Park under a project which is still going on. Blue bull and wild-dog sighting in Bandhavgarh is area specific like they can be seen easily in Khitauli zone but rarely in Tala & Magadhi zone. Similar is the case with leopards and other mammals also.

Birds
Bird sighting at Bandhavgarh is also great. Their is a special bird watching point at the top of the hill, close to Bandhavgarh Fort (Garrison). From such a height, one can watch flying birds and have fabulous bird photography from here. Some of the birds that can be encountered during Bandhavgarh Park Safari are: Greater Racket Tailed Drango, Jungle Babbler, Grey Hornbill, Malabar-pied Hornbill, Grey Headed Fishing Eagle, Asian Paradise Fly-catcher, Plum headed Parakeet, Crested Serpent Eagle, Blue Beared Fly-catcher, Indian Roller, Yellow-Red Wattled Lapwings, Black Storks, Shrikes, White-necked Storks, White Breasted Kingfisher etc.

How to reach
One can reach Bandhavgarh by all means of transport i.e. by road, train and flight. Park is well connected from nearby places.
By Road: It is well connected by road from nearby tourist attractions like Khajuraho (260kms), Kanha National Park (255kms), Panna National Park (220kms), Amarkantak (260kms) etc. For reaching Bandhavgarh by road, nearby town and cities are Umaria (37kms), Katni (100kms), Satna (150kms) and Jabalpur (190kms).
By Train: Nearest railway station for reaching Bandhavgarh by train is Umarai at 37kms. Famous luxury Maharaja Train arrives here during tour. Next option is Katni city at a distance of 100kms/02:30hrs which is well connected with Agra, Delhi, Varanasi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Haridwar, Jaipur etc. Jabalpur railway station (190kms) is another better option which is a big city with better connectivity by all means of transport.
By Flight: Nearest airport for reaching Bandhavgarh is in Jabalpur city which has connectivity with Delhi. Next option is Khajuraho airport which has connectivity with Varanasi. Charter planes can reach up to Umaria to visit tiger reserve.


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