Travel Guide for Bandhavgarh National Park (MP)
Destination Type :
What to expect :
Bandhavgarh national park is one of the most famous forests in India. Apart from hard-core forest lovers, it also attracts many other tourists who are eager to get a glimpse of the jungle king. Currently Bandhavgarh holds the densest population of tiger amongst all tiger reserves in India and hence it’s a preferred choice of destinations for many people.
The forest gets its name from Bandhavgarh fort, which is built on a hillock in the centre of the forest. While the fort is around 2,000 years old, the national park was established in 1968. The fort is not accessible by tourists as it falls in the 80% of the restricted forest area.
Apart from Tiger, other animals found in this forest are Deers (Spotted, Sambar & Barking) , Monkey, Jackal, Leopard & Sloth Bear. There are many varieties of birds as well including Peacock, Eagle, Vulture, Blue-jay, Kingfisher etc.
Reaching there :
The closest functional airport is Jabalpur, although flights connecting to this airport are not very frequent. Jabalpur to Bandhavgarh can be reached in two ways – via Katni or via Shahpura. If you are traveling this distance by car, it’s recommended to go via Shahpura which is around 160 km and takes little more than 3 hours to travel. This distance lesser compared to the other route and roads are also much smoother.
One can also take a bus from Jabalpur bus stop for Umaria (30 km from Bandhavgarh). However be certain that it goes through Shahpura route. Traveling in bus via Katni might take more than 6 hours. There are buses and cars available in Umaria for Bandhavgarh, but this route runs through the forest and public transportations stop plying by evening. If you are arriving late to Umaria, it’s recommended to book car in advance with help of hotel or local contacts.
Technically the closest railway station from Bandhavgarh is Umaria, but only a handful of trains stop there making it not a viable option. The next closest station is Katni, which is around 100 kms away. The fastest way to reach Umaria from Katni is to take a train which takes about 1 hour 15 mins. However trains are not very frequent. By road this distance would take close to 2 hours, given the poor road condition. Private vehicles are not easily available near the station and buses tend to take even longer time. If you are not sure about your options, it is better to get down at Jabalpur instead of Katni.
Move around :
Bandhavgarh National Park has three gates and all are located within 15 km distance. Most hotels are near Tala gate with a few exception. Most of the moving around within Bandhavgarh will consist of hotel to gate for safari and back. The same gypsy which is booked for your safari would be picking you up from hotel and drop back. For any other travel, you will need to arrange cars with help of hotel staffs.
Major Attractions :
The main attraction for this place is the national park. The forest has dense population of tiger and have higher chance of sighting a tiger.
There are 3 functional gates – Tala, Magadhi & Khitauli. Tala is the oldest zone and once it was most popular for tiger sighting. However currently all three zones observe equal number of sighting.
Safaris are available for morning 6 to 11 AM and evening 3 to 6:30 PM. Safaris can be booked for full vehicle or single seat through official website https://forest.mponline.gov.in/Search.aspx. The charges taken in the website only includes entry fee to the forest. Additional fees for Jeep, guide and camera need to be paid later. Current charges for Jeep is around 2,200 Rs and guide is 300 Rs (as of Apr 2017). Jeeps are assigned by rotation method and you can get information on the vehicle one day before the safari.
Best time to visit :
Bandhavgarh National Park is open from October to June. Park is closed during monsoon. Summer time is considered good for tiger sighting. But it gets very hot during summer with temperature up to 45 degree Celsius. Winter is more pleasant and good for enjoying the forest.
Places to stay :
Many resorts are located near Tala gate of Bandhavgarh national park. If you prefer a luxury stay you can go for Pugdundee Tree House Hideaway, Taj Mahua Kothi or Lemon Tree windlife resort. For slightly lower budget one can choose Aranayak, Wildflower or Tiger’s Den resorts. I have personally stayed at Nature Heritage resort which is priced below 5k with all meals. However the experience had been very average.
There’s also Bandhavgarh Jungle Lodge with tariff around 7-9k. This is a branch of Kanha Jungle Lodge and hence expected to provide great personalized services.
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