Bandhavgarh National Park is one of the popular national parks in India located in the Umaria district of Madhya Pradesh. Set among the Vindhya hills of Madhya Pradesh with an area of 168sq miles (437sq kms) it contains a wide variety of habitats and a high density of game, including a large number of Tigers. This is also the White tiger country. These have been found in the old state of Rewa for many years. The last known was captured by Maharaja Martand Singh in 1951. This white Tiger, Mohun is now stuffed and on display in the Palace of Maharaja of Rewa. Bandhavgarh was declared a national park in 1968, spread over the forest divisions of Umaria and Katni.
The park derives its name from the most prominent hillock of the area, which is said to be given by Hindu Lord Rama to his brother Lakshmana to keep a watch on Lanka (Ceylon). Hence the name Bandhavgarh. This park has a large biodiversity. The density of the tiger population at Bandhavgarh is one of the highest known in India. The park has a large breeding population of Leopards, and various species of deer. Maharaja Martand Singh of Rewa captured the first white tiger in this region in 1951. This white tiger, Mohan, is now stuffed and on display in the palace of the Maharajas of Rewa. Prior to becoming a National Park, the forests around Bandhavgarh had long been maintained as a Shikargarh, or game preserve of the Maharaja of Rewa. The Maharaja and his guests carried out hunting – otherwise the wildlife was well protected. It was considered a good omen for Maharaja of Rewa to shoot 109 tigers. His Highness Maharaja Venkat Raman Singh shot 111 Tigers by 1914.
There are 32 hills in this part of the park, which has a large natural fort at its center. The fort’s cliffs are 2625 feet (800 meters) high, 1000 feet (300 meters) above the surrounding countryside. The four main zones of the national park are Tala, Magdhi, Khitauli and Panpatta. Tala is the richest zone in terms of biodiversity, mainly tigers. Together, these four ranges comprise the ‘Core’ of the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve. The vegetation is chiefly of Sal forest in the valleys and on the lower slopes, gradually changing to mixed deciduous forest on the hills and in the hotter drier areas of the park in the south and west. Winter temperatures (Nov-mid-February) vary from almost freezing at night to around 68 degree Fahrenheit in the daytime. Summer nights are also cooler than the daytime temperature, which rises to 104 degree Fahrenheit. This park is closed during the breeding season, which coincides with the monsoon (July-October). Rainfall in the park averages 50 inches (120cm) per year.
Bandhavgarh offers excellent game and bird viewing and a historical interest too which most other parks lack. There are several good weather roads in the park. Jeeps are definitely recommended over other vehicles and can be hired from the Tiger’s Den resort. A forest guide must accompany all visitors into the park. Entry in to the park is allowed only during daylight hours. For both elephants and jeep rides the hour immediately after dawn and before sunset are best.
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