“The forest is testing you” my friend murmured with conviction. I sat on the chair closing my eyes as I let his words and the December breeze in one of the most famous tiger destinations in the world soothe me. It has been 26 safaris accounting to almost a year and half which has already included 3 visits to Bandhavgarh that has not yielded any glimpse of the striped beauty. Ironical it may sound but one of the best places in the world to see wild free roaming tiger yet has not opened up its secret to me. In that trip, I made up my mind- I am never going to be-friend Bandhavgarh and shall come back till the sun of good fortune peeps out from the eclipse covering my luck.
As promised, I came back in the month of May carrying the baggage of missed chances and lack of fortune only to see 7 tigers in the first safari and my 3 days stint presented my with 14 different Tigers and over 26 sightings. That trip I learnt my biggest lesson-Nature answers to those who wait and loyalty is indeed a virtue in the forest.
Bandhavgarh is like a collection of tiger poem set in the background of rich history that still whispers its presence.
Landscaped by a 2000-year-old fort, which is believed to be a gift of Lord Ram for his brother Lakshman, this 434 sq Km is a jewel that shines as one of the most important Tigers habitats on this planet.
The perfume of history here mixes with the legacy of fabled tigers from the past. Charger, B2, Bamera, Sita are few names that have been the symbol of the species and the reason that has placed Bandhavgarh in the epitome of desire.
The area is divided into three zones, Tala, Magadhi and Khitouli along with the buffer area that provides us lesser mortals with an opportunity to encounter the extra ordinary.
From vast landscapes to bamboo clutters resigning to the wisdom of Saal trees, Badhavgarh offers you an unlimited quantum of visual delight topped with its feline charm.
It is one of the best seasons Bandhavgarh has seen in a long while. Tala the cherry of the Kingdom is now a hot spot of some great cat movements. The ever gracious Spotty along with her sub adult female cubs are spreading their charm far and wide. The occasional visits of Rajbhera male (now almost full grown Tigers) has kept dynamics of the park interesting. With the first litter of Solo also in the scene it would be interesting to see how many of these small cubs survive the monsoon and the advancing threats of the Rajbhera males who are in the dawn of their youth. Banbehi along with her sub adults carve out exciting news for the rocky terrains of the area. With the shy Chakradhara female and now less sighted Rajbhera female there is a huge possibility of Tala regaining its erstwhile vitality in terms of its lost Tigers. All these under the purview of Mangu the dominant male of the area. Once more with the advancement of the Rajbhera males only time will count the fortune of how this equilibrium shapes the park.
Magadhi has been in the epicentre of all attention over the last two years.It reached the climax with the birth of 3 cubs of Junior Kankatti. Fathered by the very able Bamera’s Son this family rocked this summer with almost daily sightings. It would be apt to mention here that these next generation cubs are some of the boldest and tourist friendly tigers that Bandhavgarh can get. With the occasional sightings of Mahaman male and Dotty (sister of Spotty and mothered by Sukhi Pathia) along with Sukhi Pathia and her cubs Magadhi has evolved to be apple of every visitor’s feline dreams.
Khitouli- This is a zone of surprises. From that unsuspecting Sloth Bear to the crouching Jungle Cat you can bump onto anything. This is the home of the mighty Bheem and new Tiger that has entered the zone migrating from Panna. The Darraha Female along with her cubs and Mahaman female which shuttles between Magadhi and Tala provides the possibility of sudden encounters