At the heart of Bandhavgarh National park, high on a narrow plateau, there are ruins of ancient temples and Bandhavgarh Fort. In mythology, the fort of Bandhavgarh is a token of love from lord Rama for his younger brother, Lakshman (Choudhary, 2016). Bandhav means brother and Garh means fort. The fort is considered sacred by devotees of Vishnu.
Man-made caves and inscriptions suggest there has been settlement in this area from BC. From the third to fifth centuries there are written records of the dynasties ruling from this Fort. In the sixth century the area saw three dynasties – the Sengers, the Kalchuris and the Baghels (Choudhary, 2016).
For a long time Bandhavgarh was a game reserve for the maharajahs of Rewa. Eventually the ecological significance of the area was realised and the maharajahs granted the land to the State government. It was declared a National Park in 1968.
There are three main types of plant communities (habitats) throughout the park, Sal forests, mixed forest and grasslands. There are also streams and springs which provided much needed water for wildlife throughout the dry season. These are supplemented with some managed waterholes which provide a safety net of water for the larger mammals and help to keep animals dispersed throughout the park and therefore reduces the threat of poaching and poisoning.
Spotted and Sambar deer are two of the most common herbivores throughout the park. Barking deer are rarer and more solitary.
There are two types of monkeys – Grey Langur and Rhesus Macaque. In urban areas the Rhesus macaque is common. This changes in Bandhavgarh. You come across Langurs more frequently.
There is also a rich diversity of bird life in Bandhargarh National Park. Here is just a small selection. Vultures, a bee-eater, a Malabar Pied Hornbill, Crested Serpent Eagle. You can click on this images to enlarge them.
There is of course the iconic bird of India – the peacock. Here it is displaying in it’s natural habitat. Far from the manicured lawns of English stately houses!
Every corner and every new foray into Bandhavgarh revealed something new!
On our last safari we were taken to the ancient caves carved out of the rock. These were inhabited by lots of bats. Then along the road up to the fort we passed more caves, shallow cuts into the hillside – stables for the maharajah’s horses. Finally we visited Sheshsaiya. A grove of tall, old trees. Statues of the trinity, Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva set within a pool fed by a perennial spring. A magical soothing place.
Choudhary, L. K. 2016. Fort of the Tiger: Bandhavgarh. Sarahbhi Books Associates, Bhopal, India.