Snuggled in the heart of capital city Bhopal, Van Vihar National Park spans over an area of 4.45 sq. km. and was announced a national park in the year 1983.
Despite having the status of being a national park, Van Vihar is typically managed and developed as contemporary zoological park, as per the Central Zoo Authority rules. In this 445 hectare zoo, you have a lot to see and explore. Here, forest officials have kept animals in their nearest natural habitat. A lot of animals are either exchanged from nearby zoos or orphaned from several locations in Madhya Pradesh. They didn’t capture any animal from the forest. Visitors can easily access it from the main road going through the national park. Hence, Van Vihar National Park, Bhopal is different from others. To provide natural environment to the animals, they built trenches to prevent poachers to harm animals.
Carnivores like panther, tiger, lion, hyena, bear, crocodiles, snakes, gharial, python and more are kept in the enclosures by the zoo management.
As per the guidelines of the Central Zoo Authority, poultry, mutton and buffalo meat are given to all the carnivores. Fruits, milk and vegetables are given to bears for their balanced diet.
Sambar, Cheetal, blue bull, black buck and other free roaming animals are the center of attractions in Van Vihar. For these animals, no enclosures are added to restrict them, except outside boundaries. Several flora and fauna species are thriving in this green community because of having suitable environment for both. When grass is reduced in summer months, all herbivores are fed with wheat husk and green fodder as supplements. So, all the species are growing and are far away from being endangered.
The park is rich in avifauna species in its wilderness and ideal habitat. Over 200 bird species have been recorded in several areas of this national park. The migratory waterfowl frequent this park in winters and join the lush wetland of its large lake. A vulture breeding center was developed in 2010. It focuses mainly on increasing the density of population of white-backed oriental vulture,blossom-headed parakeet, Changeable hawk-eagle and Indian vulture.
For senior citizens and college and school students, entry is absolutely free. The basic entry fee for Indian visitors is Rs. 15 and for foreign visitors is Rs. 150. Visitors may have to pay extra Rs. 40 for still camera or Rs. 300 if they are using video camera. They can be charged extra Rs. 200 for getting in the park with their vehicles. From April to September, park stays open for public from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. From October to March, the timings are from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. On every Tuesday, the park stays closed.
The Madhya Pradesh Forest Department maintains Van Vihar, Bhopal. One assistant director, 3 deputy rangers, 4 forest rangers, 3 range officials and 24 game guards are assisting the park administration and a chief conservator is the head of the park administration. The administration of Van Vihar promotes using bicycles.Visitors can rent bicycles.