Sunday, December 1, 2019

Bandhavgarh Land of Tiger

Words can be written about this magical paradise accolades come and go but the memories stay forever. Nestled in the Vindhya Hills Bandhavgarh was an erstwhile kingdom of Maharajahs of Rewa. But at these enchanted forests it was the Gonds that first step foot and built the fort dedicated to Laxman Lord Ram's brother hence the name.  The historical turbulence saw many warring dynasties ruling the place in the annals of history. The fort is now in ruins but some artifacts, reservoirs, idols of Lord Vishnu and structures are in a state of preservation.  An exploration of table top mountain encompassing the Fort will put you in a trance but unfortunately the area is closed for tourism. But one must visit Sesh Shaiyya or reclining Vishnu idol on the way up to the fort.

All along the Tala Range one can see historical structures especially on the Bandhavgarh Mountain at 800 plus MSL. The famous Fort, Ram Laxman Janki Temple and Reclining Idol of Lord Vishnu are situated here. 

Once part of contiguous patch of forests encompassing both Satpura and Vindhya Ranges - their confluence is at Maikal Hills in Madhya Pradesh - the tiger reserve is now isolated due to frequent denudation and ravage. Maikal Hills are home to Amarkantak and Achanakmar biosphere reserve and the famous Kanha National Park weakly connected.

The National Park and tiger reserve and Panpatha WLS comprises of 1536.7 square kilometres with  716.46 designated as core and the rest as buffer.

Though the floral composition is vastly similar in these Sal dominated forests Bandhavgarh terrain is unique with mesmerizing beauty.  The unique feature is the steep hills or cliffs and table top mountains. Small mountain streams of rivulets are in plentyful that create marshy grasslands as they intersect the plains in the valleys. Most of the rivulets like Charanganga are perennial forming an important  lifeline of the ecosystem.

The Gondwana Rocks mainly comprise of sandstone, the sand is mainly sandy loam with sprinkling of silica. The rugged topography encompasses Sal, mixed, and bamboo besides plethora of herbs and shrubs usually found in the niche.  

The tiger is at the top of the food chain while another tertiary predators is the leopard, other carnivores are dhole, jackal and fox, rusty spotted and jungle cat so on. The sloth bear along with wild boar are omnivores albeit they do not predate but have been seen on carcass frequently. The detrivores are Egyptian, White Rumped and Indian vultures the latter two being critically endangered.

The antelopes present are the Nilgai, Four Horned Antelope and Indian Gazelle. The deer family comprises of Sambar, Chital and Muntjac or barking deer.  There are two primates commonly seen here they are the Gray of Hanuman Langur and Rhesus Macaque. 

Small mammals are chiefly nocturnal and a night drive can yield a sight of toddy cat, small Indian civet, large civet and porcupine. 

A tiger safari which encompasses passage through the inclining and steep elevations is stunning and driving is a test of skill. Though the animal in focus is the tiger, nonetheless a sight of sloth bear, panther and the bison is equally exciting. 

The marshy grasslands and the ecotone are the focus of those on excursions as the big cats prefer to hunt in these habitat patches which hinder the movement of the prey.

Bandhavgarh offers a unique opportunity for nature photography with enchanting panoramic background. Winters are rich with hues of strong colors and background greenery nonetheless all seasons in this National Park offer a unique panoramic background to the lens men. 

The park is closed during the monsoon but the tourism in buffer is on. In order to reach BTR one needs to fly to Jabalpur in MP and then drive four hours. An overnight train from New Delhi halts at Umaria about 32 km from the park. The destinations can be reached from various rail heads and towns nearby. The park is well connected to Khajuraho Temple Town and Kanha National Park all in Central India. 

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