There really is nothing more humbling than seeing a tiger in the wild, and for any budding wildlife enthusiast looking for the next exciting adventure, a trip to Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh in Northern India should definitely be on the list. |
A Historical Insight Into Bandhavgarh
Today, driving through the stunning wilderness that is Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, it is easy to overlook the significant historical importance of this park, one that has been the subject of legends throughout the centuries. Most texts, such as Narad Panch Ratra and the Shiv Purana, imply that the park has long been associated with Ramayana.
The name itself is derived from the word for brother, ‘bandhav’, and the word for fort, ‘garh’. In essence the word Bandhavgarh means ‘brother’s fort’. On a prominent hillock in the middle of the park there indeed stands an ancient fort, which is believed to have been a gift from Lord Rama to his brother Lakshmana. On your visit to Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve you will no doubt have the opportunity to explore the remains of the fort that, despite being believed to have been reconstructed by two monkeys, distinctly displays evidence of human activity. Magnificent architectural features and the man made caves complete with inscriptions and paintings are sure signs that this place had been inhabited by humans for centuries.
The fort at Bandhavgarh is a masterpiece of “Treta Yuga”, a significant time period in Hinduism, and is now reputed to be the oldest masterpiece of its kind, dating back to before Christ.
And More Recently…
Many dynasties ruled this area over time including the Sengars, Kalchuris and Baghels. It was the Baghels that ruled for longest, but during their dominance in the region they moved their ruling capital to Rewa, leaving Bandhavgarh neglected. Forests soon grew and so did the population of tigers and other wildlife.
It was at this time that the park was declared a game reserve, preserved only for the use of royal families who wanted to come here to hunt. There was a great fear among people of tigers and so the Kings of Rewa set out to kill 109 beasts. They succeeded in just over a year.
As time went on and attitudes changed the Maharajas of Rewa handed the land over to the state government who, in 1968, declared this place a national park.
Despite being designated a national park, there was still a lot of work to do to provide a safe haven for the wildlife. Villages were relocated to the buffer zone of the park, dams were built to help with the water crisis, and much effort was been put into installing a strong vigil in both the core and buffer zones.
Thankfully today, with changing ideas about endangered species and much more focus on conservation, Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve has a very healthy population of this magnificent beast. 1993 was the year that the park was declared a tiger reserve under the project tiger influence that was making a name for itself at the Panpatha Sanctuary close by.
What you see today at the park is the result of years of work that has gone into protecting these wonderful creatures and spreading the word about their importance in the great big circle of life. Come to Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve for a few days and you will experience one of the most amazing wildlife adventures of your life.
Marissa Ellis-Snow is a freelance nature writer with a special interest in Tiger watching in the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve. Being passionate about her subject, Marissa chooses the expert-led wildlife holidays organised by Naturetrek, which have brought her unforgettable sightings of a wide range of wildlife in some of the most spectacular regions on Earth.
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