Bandhavgarh: A little bit of history, some things that tigers like to eat and more.

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.

Bandhavgarh Sunrise 21st April 2017

Sunrise at Bandhavgarh

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.

Bandhavgarh plateau

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.


Spotted deer


Spotted deer


Sambar deer

Sambar deer amongst bamboo

Sambar male

Muntjak or Barking deer

Female Muntjak or Barking deer

Male Muntjak getting a drink

Male Muntjak at a waterhole

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.


Rhesus macaque

Rhesus macaque in Bandhavgarh

Rhesus macaque

Group of Langurs in dry riverbed

Grey Langurs in riverbed

Langur flopped in tree, Bandhavgarh NP, India 2

Grey Langur response to the heat

Langur mother and baby


Langurs - just chillin with Mum

Just chillin with Mum

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.

Bandhavgarh Sunset

Sunset at Bandhavgarh


“When the stars threw down their spears And water’d heaven with their tears:”

In this post I am daring to frame the symmetry of the tiger. One of my favourite poems is ” The Tyger” by William Blake. Here are the first two verses from the poem

“Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?”

Beautiful cub

Tiger cub about 1 year old

We arrived at Tiger’s Den Resort just as the day was getting hot. The entry garden of the resort has shady trees and a path leading to a friendly face, cool, moist face flannels and a lemon squash. Safari’s into Bandhavgarh National Park occur at dawn and dusk. It’s too hot for tourists and the wildlife in the middle of the day!

Bandhavgarh National Park is in a region with a subtropical climate. There is a hot, dry summer (April- June) followed by monsoon rains from July to September. Then from October through to March it is cool and dry, gradually warming into summer. We got to know the park in its summer attire; golden dry grass, carpets of dessicated leaf litter, dusty earth, blue skies and the brilliant lush, green, fresh foliage of Sal trees (Shorea robusta). Dormant rice fields surround the park, waiting for monsoon.

Anyway onto tigers….

The first tigers we saw were 3 cubs who I think were about 4 months old. They were well hidden in bush near a waterhole. Their father turned up for a drink and they emerged from their shady hideaway to play at the waterhole and drink. A chicken (jungle fowl), an original chicken because India is where chickens come from and where I assume they were domesticated, crossed the road to the waterhole. Two of the tiger cubs got very excited. You can see them in the photo – very alert and watching the jungle fowl. As the fowl wandered away from the waterhole one of the cubs assumed full stalking posture and moved in slowly on the dallying bird. Suddenly the cub pounced. The startled fowl went hurtling off and crossed another road in front of us. The cub followed in hot pursuit. The rooster and cub disappeared from view into the bushes. There was a bit of crashing then a huge racket of squawking jungle fowl -the rooster had obviously found his flock to warn them and they all panicked loudly. A little while later the sheepish cub returned to the waterhole without success. More training was needed!

We watched the male and the cubs until it was time to leave the park. The cubs clambered all over their father and played with his tail. Then play fought with each other.

Tiger cubs resting in the shade

Tiger cubs hidden in the shade

Male - Dad to three 9mth cubs

Dad tiger arrives

Male Tiger at waterhole

Dad tiger has drink

Male tiger with cubs at waterhole

Dad hanging out in the pool with his cubs

Rooster who got stalked

The ill fated rooster

Two cubs have spotted the rooster

Tiger cubs spot the rooster

Father and cub

Back playing with Dad

The second tiger we saw was a beautiful tigress.

TigressTigress licking lipsTigress up closeTigress in grass

This tigress is mother to these three cubs who were about 1 year old

Our final tiger spotting was a male who had just eaten a very big meal. Look at how distended his stomach is. We came upon him as the heat of the day was beginning to build. He took his enormous belly to float and cool off in the waterhole.

Cooling off

Floating his big belly and cooling off

Male Tiger emerges from water

Emerging from the water. Just look at his full puku