Tiger On My Mind: A Visit To Bandhavgarh National Park!
The ‘Firsts’ in life are always special.
First Date, First salary, First Love, First Rain and so on…
Add one more to the list. The First sighting of a Tiger!
In life, sometimes a long and unfulfilled wish suddenly comes true! Something similar happened with Nandini Shirguppi. For almost four years she hoped to catch a glimpse of tigers in their natural habitat, and she finally did at the Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh.
Here’s an account of this special ‘First’ of her life..
The reasons I chose Bandhavgarh National Park were pretty simple:
- It has a small forest area with a considerable tiger density, which means the possibility of sighting one is quite high.
- A two hour flight to Jabalpur from Mumbai, a three and a half hour drive the next day with my hubby and a three and a half year old son in tow seemed workable.
Splendid Sightings En Route Bandhavgarh Park
Dhuandhar Falls: When Narmada river narrows down the marble rocks and plunges, it results in a heavy mist which appears like smoke, hence the name – Dhuan -smoke, Dhar – flow. The falls make for a very pretty sight and are pretty hard to be missed.
Bhedaghat: This is the junction where the Narmada river makes its way through the magnificent and breathtakingly beautiful marble rocks. These naturally formed huge marble rocks feature myriad hues of gold, yellow and orange during sunset.
Our boat ride through Bhedaghat was filled with entertaining facts, Bollywood trivia and other anecdotes by the boatman. There is a special ride arranged during a full moon night when the rocks look even more spectacular.
PS: There is a special variety of rice called the Bhedaghat Chawal available here. I highly recommend you carry some of it back home.
We left for Bandhavgarh the next day. ‘Bandhavgarh’, literally means the fort of the brother. (Bandhav – brother, Garh – fort). Legend says that the fort in the park was made by Lord Ram for his brother Laxman.
The road that leads to the park is a good and comfortable drive from Jabalpur (around 180 km). We were greeted by wildlife just as we reached the outskirts of the park.
Once inside the park, most of your thoughts are replaced with hope, excitement and anticipation. This park is famous for tigers and their progeny is closely followed by wildlife enthusiasts and nature conservationists.
Choose Your Safari!
You can book your safaris online well in advance and choose between a full day safari or a regular morning and evening safari. You can have a vehicle exclusively to yourself or share it.
The full day safari although expensive, has a special time advantage. You can enter the park 15 minutes earlier and exit 15 minutes later after the allotted time. Our safari started at 5.30 am amidst the chilling cold, dim lights, heavy cameras, tons of excitement and with the hope of sighting a tiger.
The park has 3 zones – Tala Zone (Gate 1), Magadhi (Gate -2) and Khitauli (Zone 3) and all of them have different entries. The park has strict rules and one cannot change the allotted Zone, except if you have a full day permit.
An Adrenaline Pumping Experience!
The forest looks incredibly beautiful during sunrise. The light that seeps in during this day time of the day makes you feel comfortably warm…
The forest does have a wealth of other wildlife too, but most or all of the people come here for the tigers.
All said and done, tiger sighting is a pure game of luck. Our guide was really good, and the driver did a commendable job. He also followed the tracks and tips given by fellow drivers. And before we knew it someone shouted – TIGER!!
All the vehicles present on the spot aligned themselves for a view, and the others queued up, photographers went into a frenzy and this lasted for a little more than a few minutes, till the tiger disappeared.
Luck was on my side throughout the trip as I witnessed some incredible moments, including the excellent sight of a mother tiger bonding with her cub, along with three other individual tigers.
Hubby not to be left behind, witnessed a tiger enjoying his meal and feeling satiated. Overall a very satisfying and memorable holiday.
It is a different high to see this majestic creature and no amount of words or pictures can do full justice to what you see in person and cherish for a lifetime. So if you have a tiger on your mind, it’s Bandhavgarh calling. Good Luck!
About The Author
Mrs. Nandini S Shirguppi is Graduate in Computer Science, Diploma in Early Child Education and a Masters in Counselling and Therapy. She resides with her family in Mumbai, and is an avid reader, photographer and an ardent nature lover. Her song and activity book for pre-schoolers is set to be released by November 2016. Nandini firmly believes that constant reinvention is crucial to progress and the best way to do that is through Travel 🙂