Places to see in Bandhavgarh National Park
Bandhavgarh Fort: is an an hour long trek and worth every bit of your effort. The climb to the fort is a journey back in time as you discover the ancient monuments surrounding it. Do take a guide with if you want to know all about the history and mythology of Bandhavgarh. Till 1935, the fort was in the possession of the royals of Rewa. Bandhavgarh Fort finds mention in Narad Panch Ratra and Shiv Purana, although no living records of the fort have been traced. The fort has been home to various dynasties going back to the 1st century AD, when it was ruled by the Maghas. In the following centuries its residents included the Vakatkas from the 3rd century, after which a number of dynasties ruled the fort including the Sengars from the 5th century, from the 10th century, the Kalchuris and the Chandelas of Bundelkhand after which, in the 13th century, it came in the possession of the Baghels, the ancestors of the Rewas. The Rewas were tricked by the Mughals into leaving the fort in 1617 and Maharaja Vikramaditya Singh was forced to make Rewa his capital. The mythological allusions to the fort date it to an even earlier period, the time of Lord Ram. It is believed that enroute to his kingdom after defeating Ravana, he had stopped at Bandhavgarh and the fort was built by two monkeys who are believed to be the architects of Ram Setu connecting India with Sri Lanka. According to the legend, Ram gifted the fort to Lakshman who became Lord of the Fort or Bandhavdhish. In fact, the place derives its name from bandhu (brother) and means brother’s land. Visit the temple dedicated to Lakshman, where he is worshipped as the god of the Fort.
The manmade caves date back to the 1st century and some of them have Bramhi inscriptions dating to 1st century BC. There are believed to be 39 caves and the largest of them, Badi Gufa, with nine rooms and many pillars, is believed to have been constructed in the 10th century. Several caves bear embossed figures of animals and humans.
There is an unusual 35 ft long statue of god Vishnu in a reclining posture framed against the Sheshnaaga behind his head. The statue dates back to the 10th century and it is believed that the Charangaga flows from its feet. The imposing Shesh Saiyya, as the statue is known, is at the base of the fort surrounded by lush jungles and offers a convenient parking spot. Take the next lap to the fort on foot. It’s a pleasure exploring ancient architectural marvels in the unsullied natural surroundings. The rock carvings dating back to 10th century are a marvellous sight in their green surroundings. These include the various incarnations of Vishnu—22 ft towering statue of Narasimhan (half man half lion); the boar known as the Barah Bhagwan; the fish incarnation enshrined in a small temple; the tortoise incarnation and later date incarnations of other gods and goddesses including Lord ganesh. Do also visit the three 12th century temples. No longer in use now, still their historical and architectural value is immense. Some of the monuments lie off the path, so do not venture off alone while exploring. The fort itself, once you reach it, provides a breathtaking view of the park from the ramparts. Birds fill up the quiet ambience with shrill calls and lilting chirps. Some take off to the clear blue skies as vultures circle overhead. The fort atop the Bandhavgarh hills stands 1,000 ft above the surrounding park. The cliffs of the hill are 800 metre high. A good vantage point, indeed, for a deep breath of fresh air and for a lasting image of Bandhavgarh in its natural splendour. For a closer view, Climber’s Point provides a perfect 360 degree aerial view of the park.Currently, the fort is inaccessible for tourists.
The Caves : The manmade caves date back to the 1st century and some of them have Bramhi inscriptions dating to 1st century BC. There are believed to be 39 caves and the largest of them, Badi Gufa, with nine rooms and many pillars, is believed to have been constructed in the 10th century. This cave, in particular is inhabitated by Horseshoe bats. Several caves bear embossed figures of animals and humans.
Sheshaiya : There is an unusual 35 ft long statue of god Vishnu in a reclining posture framed against the Sheshnaaga behind his head. The statue dates back to the 10th century and it is believed that the Charangaga river flows from its feet. The imposing Sheshaiya, as the statue is known, is at the base of the fort surrounded by lush jungles and offers a convenient parking spot. A huge Shiva linga is based near the head of the reclining Vishnu statues. A statue of Brahma was located at the extreme end, now destroyed emphasizing The Trimurti – “In Hinduism, cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction are personified by three deities typically Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer/regenerator ).
The Meadows : The park offers a grand discovery trail with its biodiversity-rich marshy meadows. Do visit Chakradhara, Sidhababa, Rajbahera and Sehra, all marshy meadows with their own distinct offerings. If you are keen on catching the variety of bird population of the park, head to gopalpur and Rajbahera. The Rajbahera meadows offers spectacular view of the Bandhini hills & most of the time in the day, you can see various species of vultures drying their wings in the grounds.
The richly scented Kewra plants will lead you to Ketkiha, where they grow in a marshy patch. Bhitari Bah is a serene spot rich in medicinal plants.
Bandhavgarh Park offers a differentiated offering with its amazing biodiversity. If the morning safari is magical, the evening safari is scintillating. The chirping of the birds heading home after a day’s hard work builds into a crescendo warning of the approaching night. No sightseeing activity is allowed at night. However, a night stay at one of the resorts in the viscinity of the jungle is a lifetime experience. There are tents with glass ceilings to give you the real feel of a night in the jungle—stars, a distant roar, spine-chilling call of the jackals and the hyena, and the rustling leaves of the surrounding trees. It’s scary and exhilarating. After the experience at the fort, the Baghel Museum is a must visit for a flashback on Rewa’s royals. Before you depart, you may like to check into the Tala village for an experience of rural tourism. The village retains it rustic charm, far away from the hustle and bustle of city life. There are two dams within 20 km distance from the park offering an unhindered encounter with water birds. Do take a drive down to Chenchpur Waterfall, a little over 40 km from Bandhavgarh. You will be mesmerised by the haunting beauty of this water body. For long after, the memories of Bandhavgarh linger as do the tales of this royal sanctuary and its royal residents, both human and animal. It was the latter that brought this spot to international notice, especially Charger and Sita—the royal tigers of Bandhavgarh owe their lineage to them. Do find out about the unique history of Bandhavgarh tigers when you are there.