Bandhavgarh National Park in India

by pateluday

Find information on Bandhavgarh National Park in India. Read all about wildlife, birds, tiger tours, and accommodation in this Central Indian Tiger Reserve.

Introduction of The Reserve

I have been visiting Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve since the seventies whence there was very little infrastructure. The accommodation was available only at the Forest Rest House and Day Center. But since the visitor turnout was low, it was possible to stay at these places without advance reservation.

Bandhavgarh is a tiger conservation center in Madhya Pradesh a state of India. The park is one of the most beautiful reserves. Due to the high density of tigers, the sightings are very frequent. The conservation center has been highly successful under the aegis of the Project Tiger Program. The number of tigers is increasing constantly due to a healthy breeding environment and protection.

The destination was once the hunting preserve of erstwhile rulers of Rewa. Due to the privilege set up for the Royals, the common hunters could not venture into the forests hence they received protection from extensive felling and poaching.

During the seventies, the bison population was on the brink of extinction with only sixty-two heads. I noticed that the population kept on reducing every year and subsequently there were no animals left. The preserve has an excellent conservation practice but the population of bison could not be saved. This has been one sad failure. Recently some bison have been trans-located from Kanha National park in MP.

Tiger Image

Bandhavgarh Tiger
Bandhavgarh Tiger
Teerath Singh

Historic Bandhavgarh

Tiger Conservation Center

Bandhavgarh National Park is home to many wild animals and birds besides Bengal tigers. The preserve boasts of unique grasslands that are marshy and support a large prey base for the big cats. The big cats love to hunt here as the movement of the prey is slowed down. The population of tigers in the park stands at fifty which includes the cubs.

The rivers Charanganga, Umrar, Johila, Banbei are the lifeline of the park. Charanganga emerges from the highest mountain called Bandhavgarh. The river slush creates marshy grasslands all over the refuge. These marshy grasslands hamper the movement of the prey species a factor much preferred by the big cats. Besides this, there are around 31 hillocks that accord the terrain a unique characteristic. The inaccessible regions are the best breeding grounds for tigers and leopards.

The preserve has been expanded to 1100 sq. km after its inclusion in Project Tiger Program. The expanded area promises to preserve the whole ecosystem that prevails over the region. The forest types are the tropical dry deciduous moist types with an abundance of Sal, mixed forest, bamboo, and extensive grasslands.

Other wild animals found in the reserve are Panther, Sloth Bear, Wild Dog, Jackal, Sambar, Spotted Deer, Barking Deer, Four Horned Deer, Wild Boar, Langur, and many nocturnal animals which can be seen on night safaris. There are many reptile and insect species in the preserve. It is exceptionally rich in birds and a lot of migratory species arrive in cold winters.

Video on Bandhavgarh

Bandhavgarh Fort Image

Bandhavgarh Fort Stables
Bandhavgarh Fort Stables
Teerath Singh

Birds of Bandhavgarh

Birding at BTR

Bandhavgarh abounds in avian species. There are both residents and winter visitors inhabiting the Park.

With more than two hundred species to sight, it is a birders paradise. The habitat is diverse hence the avifauna all around the place differs. There are large wetlands outside the park besides smaller water holes that exist within the refuge. These support a large number of waterfowl in their confines.

Hence birding takes place both within and outside the park. During the jeep safari, one can come across the best of the forest and hill birds. Hence the targeted species are Malabar Pied Horn Bill, Peregrine Falcon, Grey Hornbill. Shama, Changeable Hawk Eagle, Crested Hawk Eagle, Honey Buzzard, White Eyed Buzzard, Grey-Headed Fish Eagle, Pallas Fish Eagle, Long-Billed Vulture, White Backed Vulture, Brown Fish Owl, Mottled Wood Owl, Common Iora, Indian Scimitar Babbler, Alexandrine Parakeet, Plum Headed Parakeet, Racket Tailed Drongo, White Bellied Drongo, Spangled Drongo, Painted Francolin, Grey Francolin, Shikra, Common Kestrel, Black Naped Monarch, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Verditor Flycatcher and many more.

The wetlands outside are preferred habitat of Nakta or Comb Duck, Lesser Whistling Teals, Northern Pin Tails, Common Teals, Painted Stork, Wooly Necked Stork, Open Bill Stork, Black Stork, Lesser Adjutant Stork, Green sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Temminck’s Stint, Black Winged Stilts, etc.

The best season is in winters whence the migratory species arrive, but summers also yield an exciting array of resident bird species. One needs a good pair of binoculars and a spotting scope to discover a large number of species. A birding guide is needed if you are a first-timer or into bird photography.

Bird Photos

Common Stonechat a Bandhavgarh
Common Stonechat a Bandhavgarh
Teerath Singh
White Eyed Buzzard
White Eyed Buzzard
Teerath Singh
Indian Roller
Indian Roller
Teerath Singh

Jeep Safari & How to Organize?

Tiger Tours

Tiger on Jeep SafariBandhavgarh is visited by tourists from far and wide to see the tiger. The park excursions offer a panoramic view of the enchanting paradise. The open jeep rides are interesting whence a thrilling encounter with a wild tiger takes place. The unique feature of this wildlife refuge is the marshy grassland or meadows that cover the valleys fed by small rivulets of the Narmada River System.

The safaris are conducted in the early morning hours and afternoon till dusk. The basic formalities are gate fees, vehicle fees, and guide fees. The entry is strictly assigned through the notified gates and the park guide is a must accompaniment.

The Zones

Recently the preserve has been divided into four tourism zones. The Tala Zone is the prime zone with a greater entry fee than others. The other tourism zones are Panpatha, Maghdi, and Khitauli. For excursions, vehicle entry is restricted at all gates. During the holiday season, the rush is unmanageable and one should avoid this period. Else book in advance all hotel accommodations, travel services, and park entries.

The easiest way to manage your tour is to let your hotel in Bandhavgarh do the job. But if you wish to do it yourself then visit the MP Online Website belonging to the government and book your safari the first thing. You should have an idea about the zones though all will offer a fair chance of tiger sighting some will suit the wildlife photographers more.

After you have booked the park excursions you should find good accommodation. Visit hotel websites available online and decide. You could also take reference of good hotels from earlier visitors or friends who have been there. Do a little reading about the place and you would enjoy your visit. A lot of arrangements will be made by the tour operator and your hotelier so be relaxed.

Elephant Safari

Joy Ride on Elephant Back

Elephants are available in the park for joy rides and professional filming at a charge. The joy ride offers a good opportunity to observe the jungles and their denizens at the close.

The joy ride is for one hour or more and the charge depends accordingly. The elephant safari offers insight into the thick canopy of the park habitat and offers an exciting chance to see the tiger in the wild. Sometimes sighting of a leopard is also possible during these rides. The tiger shows which were conducted earlier are banned. The park elephants are mostly used for patrolling and doing odd jobs.

Historical Ruins

History Embedded

The park boasts of a history that dates back toVishnu Idol or Sesh Shaiya 2000 years. On tiger safari, one comes across ancient temples, man-made caves, and scattered ruins of age-old civilizations that ruled here one after the other. Sesh Shayya or reclining Vishnu along with Fort is a must-visit place. There are many zoomorphic forms of Lord Vishnu carved out of tall stones that tower over the landscape. These are situated on the way to the Fort.

The fort on the hill is evidence of ancient civilizations that took shelter here. The forests provided an excellent refuge in the dense forests to dynasties engaged in guerrilla warfare or those in hiding. Situated in the deep confines of Central Indian Highlands, the hilly and inaccessible terrain provided an excellent base for garrisons of the ruling dynasty.

The historical remains comprise stables, cave shelters carved by the armies, forts, temples, and idols, and large man-made reservoirs. The fort is mentioned in many ancient Hindu scriptures. The edifice is situated on the top of a hillock that rises more than 800 meters above sea level.

The fort is in ruins but the Ram Janki Laxman temple situated nearby is in a perfect state of preservation. There are many man-made reservoirs situated in and around the fort complex. Scattered idols can still be found everywhere but the statues of Vishnu are in a perfect state of preservation most of them have been carved using igneous rocks.

Historic Ruins

Bandhavgarh Fort
Bandhavgarh Fort
Teerath Singh

My Tiger Safari Experiences

Exciting Adventures

Golden Jackal I was young whence I visited Bandhavgarh in the late seventies. On this visit, I saw my first male tiger at Kill Khuta as the place was called. I had to hitch a ride on the elephant back in order to see this magnificent beast. It was Tigressdusk and I could make out the silhouette of the big cat as it got up to leave for the dense jungle.

A few years ago we were on the elephant's back when we witnessed a close encounter between the tiger and the bison. They nearly came to charge at each other but at the last moment turned away in different directions. We then proceeded to the gate on the elephant. About one km from the gate we met a huge male tiger that was in a state of confusion. He would come straight at us to charge and back away, which he did many times. We were unnerved by this behavior but the elephant rider, the mahout, explained to us that the tiger was in an unfamiliar area and would settle down soon. Rightly so the tiger left us and moved uphill toward the waiting female.

This was the beginning of my carrier as a naturalist and a wildlife lover. My most exciting time was visiting BTR with a German photographer whence I saw many tigers and wild animals besides learning a few tips about photography.

Since the initial years, the tiger reserve has become a major tourism center. The number of visitors has increased gradually creating a demand for accommodation, travel services, and supplies. The boom in tourism has given employment opportunities to many local dwellers, as a result, turning them towards the conservation of their heritage. Tourism besides being a revenue generator also plays a part in conservation by creating awareness. The best revenue generators at  Bandhavgarh are tiger safaris. But remember to book the tiger safari at Bandhavgarh well in advance. Vehicle entry is limited and you will not be allowed to enter the park. 

The park can be visited when it is open between October 16th to June end. At any time, it can be visited for successful tiger sightings. But winter is the most comfortable period weather-wise. For wildlife photography, I would recommend the summer months with extended daylight. The visibility of tigers, as well as other animals, increases in these stressful times. The shortage of water is a critical factor.

I would also suggest wildlife enthusiasts, conservationists, and nature photographers stay away during the holiday season. The rush hour is Diwali, Xmas, New Year, Holi, and other festivals in India.

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Tiger Safari Photo

Tiger Sighting
Tiger Sighting
Teerath Singh

Bandhavgarh Accommodations

Where to stay?

Bandhavgarh Hotel Bandhavgarh has a full-fledged tourist infrastructure in place outside the park confines. No human habitation is allowed within the core area of the conservation unit. The reserve is a hub of tiger tourism in India. For exciting tiger safaris and birding, one needs to stay over for at least three nights.

There are plenty of lodges, hotels, and resorts for luxury or economy stays. The economy hotels are cheaper but some may not be very comfortable hence find that out before you book your stay. There are one or two five-star hotels besides many three-star hotels in the periphery. These offer very costly packages but luxury and good food are usually there.

The accommodations are placed outside the park near the buffer zone. Stay is possible at Government rest houses but prior booking is required. During the peak season, the hotel prices go up, and advance booking may also be required. Many resorts have naturalist guides whose services can be hired for birding and animal watching. Some resorts offer the services of trained guides for free.

The room types vary with the availability of luxury suites, deluxe rooms, and luxury rooms with and without air conditioning. For comfort, many luxury rooms are equipped with air coolers during the onset of summers. The accommodation can be booked online through the website and many provide online payment facilities for confirmed bookings.

Summer discounts are available especially during the examination season in the country whence the number of visitors goes down.

Food: The entry gate at Tala Village has many budget restaurants and tea shops. For light snacks, tea shops offer many varieties of Indian dishes like samosa and bhajiya. Most of the budget restaurants offer vegetarian meals cooked in Indian style. All the luxury resorts in the park have fine dining restaurants. These serve complete meals, breakfast, lunch, tea, and dinner. The cuisine is usually InterContinental and Indian. Both vegetarian and nonvegetarian dishes are served in these restaurants however some resorts have separate cooking facilities.

The most popular hotels at Bandhavgarh offer luxury stays and good food. They are of the best in class but can be costly. Foreign tourists are given package accommodation as well, known as Jungle Plan. The plan covers accommodation, jungle safaris, and food.

There is a large list of hotels in Bandhavgarh that offer Jungle plan which affordable and offers comfort. Since the booking hassles are taken over by the hotels. Tourists can also stay on room only basis or on American Plan. The hotel bookings have to be done in advance as there can be a rush. During Diwali, Christmas, and New Year accommodation is difficult to obtain.

Government Accommodations

Rest Houses

Rest House Accommodation There are a few rest houses and day centers operated by the Forest Department. These are meant for official visitors and VIP guests. Hence it is difficult to find a stay here. There are some other departmental rest houses present in Bandhavgarh but they are for their staff only.


The tourism department under the State Government of Madhya Pradesh manages a lodge at Bandhavgarh. This is a luxury lodge and offers accommodation, and restaurant, and bar facilities. The property is named White Tiger Lodge and is situated right next to the Charanganga River.

How to Reach Bandhavgarh National Park?

Jabalpur is at the fulcrum of all tiger reserves in Madhya Pradesh. There is a direct flight to Jabalpur from New Delhi. The flight from Mumbai has been recently introduced. From Jabalpur, it takes about five hours drive to the park. Many overnight trains operate between Jabalpur to the Capital City. Other option is to take a train to Umaria Station which is about 32 km from Tala Gate.

Khajuraho to Bandhavgarh is about 6/7 hours drive. Kanha to Bandhavgarh is about five hours drive. From Katni the park is about 80 km. Some small plane service is about to start for this destination which will interconnect major towns of Madhya Pradesh.

Map of Bandhavgarh

Wildlife Posters

Wild Cats
Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate, c. 1944
Cinquenta, Tigre Real
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Updated: 02/21/2023, pateluday
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pateluday on 03/26/2021

Oooff! the image under historical ruins is that of Reclining Lord Vishnu!

pateluday on 03/25/2021

There are now three zones Tala, Magdhi and Khitauli the enrty fee is the same for the three. Indians and Foreigners have to pay the same..

The picture is of Bandhavgarh Hill the park is named after it. It houses the reclining Visnhu and the fort complex.

DerdriuMarriner on 03/25/2021

pateluday, Thank you for the pictures, practicalities and products.
How are the re-introduced bison doing?
It interests me that Bandhavgarh is divided into four tourism zones and that the prime zone, the Tala, has the greatest entry fee. Is there a big difference between its admission and those of the other three? Would the other three be close to each other in their amounts or would there be big leaps between the second and third charges and between the third and the fourth charges and what the admission would allow in the way of activities and sights?
The image under the subtitle Historical Ruins looks so serene of face and of what I see of the body. Would that reclining statue be of Vishnu?

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