Bandhavgarh National Park

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Bandhavgarh National Park is one of the popular national parks in India located in the Umaria districts of Madhya Pradesh. Bandhavgarh was declared a national park in 1968, with an area of 105 km2. The buffer is spread over the forest divisions of Umaria and Katni and totals 437 km2.

The park derives its name from the most prominent hillock of the area, which was said to be given by Hindu Lord Rama to his brother Lakshmana to keep a watch on Lanka. 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 Maharaj of Rewa. Historically, villagers and their cattle have been a threat to the tiger. Rising mining activities around the park are putting the tigers at risk.

The state of Rewa owes its origins to the foundation of a state dating to 1234 by Viagra Dev, a descendant of the Vaghelas of Gujarat. He married the daughter of the Raja of Pirhawan and conquered the territory between Kalpi and Chandalgarh. Karan Dev, son of Vyaghra Dev married the daughter of the Raja of Ratanpur, bringing Bandhogarh which is now known as Bandhavgarh, into the family as her dowry. The legendary fortress of Bandhogarh fell into Mughal hands in 1597, almost by accident. At the death of H.H.Maharaja Virbhadra Rao in 1593, his minor son succeeded as H.H. Maharaja Vikramaditya. When he was sent to Delhi for his own safety, the emperor took advantage of his absence to send one of his loyal nobles as temporary governor.

Once he had taken control of the fort, the Maharaja’s nobles and officials were expelled and the fort annexed by the Mughals. On his return to his remaining domains, H.H. Maharaja Vikramaditya was forced to establish a new capital at Rewa, when the state took its name. No records are available to show when Bandhavgarh Fort was constructed. However, it is thought to be some 2000 years old, and there are references to it in the ancient books, the “Narad-Panch Ratra” and the “Shiva Purana”. It is also believed that Lord Rama visited Bandhavgarh and gave this fort to his younger brother Laxmana resulting in the name as Bandhavgarh.

The last inhabitants deserted the fort in 1935. Bandhavgarh National Park is a park with a rich historical past. Prior to becoming a national park, the forests around Bandhavgarh had long been maintained as a Shikargah, or game preserve, of the Maharajas and their guests. Bandhavgarh has one of the highest density of Bengal tigers known in the world, and is home to some famous named tigers which are large in size and are beautiful. Charger, an animal so named because of his habit of charging at elephants and tourists was the first healthy male known to be living in Bandhavgarh since the 1990s.

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 constituting a total area of 694 km2. The buffer zone is spread over the forest divisions of Umaria and Katni and totals another 437 km2.

The legal status as a national park dates back to 1968, but was limited only to the present Tala range for a considerable length of time. In 1993 the present scheme of things was put in place. With the tiger at the apex of the food chain, it contains 37 species of mammals.

According to forest officials, there are more than 250 species of birds, about 80 species of butterflies, a number of reptiles. But many people have the species’ list of about 350 birds along with photographs. The richness and tranquility of grasslands invites pairs of saris cranes to breed in the rainy season.

This place is an adventure in itself.

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