Know your park
Originally the private forests and game preserve of the erstwhile Maharaja of Rewa till 1968. Bandhavgarh is now located in the political boundaries of District Umaria in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Bandhavgarh was declared a National Park in 1968 with an area of 105 sq.kms, which was not enough, In 1982 three more adjoining ranges Khitauli, Magadhi and Kalhwah were added to Tala range in order to extend the area of Bandhavgarh to 448 sq.kms. In 1993, Project Tiger was taken into its fold and a core area of 694 sq.kms was established including the previously named ranges and Panpatha sanctuary along with a buffer area of 437 sq. kms, which was declared as the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve.
The four main zones of National Park are Tala, Magadhi, Khitauli and Panpatha. According to bio-geographic classification, the area lies in Deccan peninsula, Central Highlands. The vegetation is chiefly by Saal forests in the valleys and on the lower slopes, gradually changing to mixed deciduous forests on the hills and in the hotter dryer areas of the park in the south and west. The wide valleys along the streams carry long linear grasslands flanked by Saal forests. Rich mixed forest consisting of Saal, Saja, Salai and Dhobin etc with dense Bamboo thickens occur in many places.
With the Tiger at the apex of the food chain it contains 37 species of mammals. According to bird watchers there are more than 350 species of birds, about 80 species of butterflies, a number of reptiles. The richness and tranquility of grasslands invites pairs of Sauras cranes to breed in monsoons. There is a saying about the park that goes
“In any other park, you are lucky if you see a tiger. In Bandhavgarh, you are unlucky if you don’t see at least one”.
Bandhavgarh National Park is densely populated with other species like sambar, barking deer, blue bull and spotted deer in the open areas of the park. There have been reports of the Indian grey wolf, striped hyena, and the caracal the latter being an open country dweller. Bandhavgarh National park had small population of bison. Fifty Indian bison were reintroduced from Kanha National Park in 2012 under reintroduction project executed by Madhya Pradesh Forest Department, Wildlife Institute of India under technical collaboration of Conservation Corporation of Africa.
There are 32 hills in the park. It has a large natural fort on 800 mts. high cliff. Almost half of the park is covered by Saal forests –shorea robusta towards the north, there are grasslands and bamboo stretches.
Bandhavgarh encompasses 39 ancient caves into the sandstone to the north of the fort. Several caves contain Brahmi inscriptions dating from first century BC.
Bandhavgarh, as the name depicts Bandhav-Brother and Garh-Fort. It is named after Laxmana, the younger brother of lord Rama, hero of the hindu epic Ramayana. It is said that two monkey engineers Nala and Neela thought of presenting a tribute to lord after coronation of lord Rama.
This fort was believed to be handed over by Rama to Laxmana, his younger brother to keep a watch on Lanka. No records are available to show when Bandhavgarh fort was constructed. It is thought to be 2000 years old and there are references to it in the ancient books, the “Narad Panch Ratra” and “Shiva Purana”. The last Baghel inhabitants deserted the fort in 1935, though the capital was moved to Rewa from Bandhavgarh in 1617.