Bandhavgarh National Park
Bandhavgarh is one of India’s most picturesque Central Indian jungles. Bamboo clumps are an intrinsic feature of Bandhavgarh, as is the hilly terrain with its steep ridges, sal forests and grassy pastures. The impressive Bandhavgarh Fort stands out as an extant reminder of the ancient history of the region. Even today discoveries are being made amidst the crumbling ruins and ramparts of the fort that throw new light on battles fought and empires lost. No one who visits this incredible forest comes away unaffected by its heady brew of history and wild nature.
History And Culture
No one is really sure who built the Bandhavgarh Fort, which was constructed on a virtually unassailable plateau at an elevation of 800 m., though scores of myths about its origins continue to do the rounds. It is clear, however, that the area now encompassed by the park has seen settlements and civilisations come and go for millennia. Historians suggest that sandstone caves to the north of the Bandhavgarh Fort harbour Brahmi inscriptions dating back to the 1st Century B.C. One of these caves, called Bagdhalak, is embellished with the stripe patterns and pugmarks of the tiger.
The Chandela dynasty of Bundelkhand, most famous today for having built the Khajuraho temples (210 km. away) also ruled here for a while around the 12th century. Later, warrior clans fought and lost many battles for possession of the fort, until the Baghels made the Bandhavgarh Fort their capital in the 17th century. The house of Rewa, whose descendents still own the imposing fort, trace a direct lineage from the Baghel dynasty and the fort is still owned by the Rewa family. This is, in fact, the only private property egally recognised within the National Park area and tourists can visit it after obtaining permission.Today the fort is, however, run down and has been ever since the capital was shifted to Rewa 120 km. away.
The white tigers of Rewa were taken from the wild and are justifiably famous worldwide. But no specimens have been seen in the wild in recent years. A well documented story reveals that Mohan, the first ever white tiger cub to be discovered, was accidentally found in the Bandhavgarh forest in 1951 and was kept as a pet by the then Maharaja. Vets confirmed that it was not an albino, but a rare recessive gene that had somehow surfaced. This one animal was the progenitor of all the cubs that now live in zoos in different parts of the globe and displayed to the public as a (very beautiful) freak of nature.
Vegetation / Flora
The vegetation in Bandhavgarh can be classified as the Indus-Ganges Monsoon Forest type consisting mainly of semi-evergreen sal forest mixed with the lofty Terminalia and mixed bamboo species. Lagerstroemia, Boswelia, Pterocarpus and Madhuca enhance the fl oral richness. Over half the area has sal, saj, dhobin and saja. Bamboo and grassland called bahs are situated in the north, where Saccharum, Phragmites, Themeda and Heteropogan form the staple food base for herbivores.
It is thought that swamp deer used to live here, but that they moved away with the gradual change in the habitat. Bamboos flowered gregariously in 1985 and this has led to a profusion of dense new clumps, that can be seen together with the vestiges of old ones. Nallahs such as the Charan Ganga, Umara, Junad, Damnar and Bhadar crisscross the forest. Botanists would like to stop by and admire the ferns that dominate these wet areas, which also sport other typical moist evergreen species.