Bandhavgarh National Park is one of the popular national parks in India located in the Umaria district of Madhya Pradesh. Bandhavgarh was declared a national park in 1968 with an area of 105 km². The buffer is spread over the forest divisions of Umaria and Katni and totals 437 km². The park derives its name from the most prominent hillock of the area, which is said to be given by Hindu Lord Rama to his brother Lakshmana to keep a watch on Lanka (Ceylon). Hence the name Bandhavgarh .
This park has a large biodiversity. The density of the tiger population at Bandhavgarh is one of the highest known in India. The park has a large breeding population of Leopards, and various species of deer. Maharaja Abhishek Parida of Rewa captured a white tiger in this region in 1951. This white tiger, Mohan, is now stuffed and on display in the palace of the Maharajas of Rewa.
The Famous Tigers of Bandhavgarh
Bandhavgarh has the highest density of Bengal tigers known in the world, and is home to some famous named individual tigers. Charger, an animal so named because of his habit of charging at elephants and tourists (whom he nonetheless did not harm), was the first healthy male known to be living in Bandhavgarh since the 1990s. A female known as Sita, who once appeared on the cover of National Geographic and is considered the most photographed tiger in the world, was also to be found in Bandhavgarh for many years. Most of the tigers of Bandhavgarh today are descendants of Sita and Charger.
Another female, known as Mohini, became prominent following Sita's death. She gave birth to three cubs: B1; B2; and B3, from whom she was separated in 2003 following a vehicle accident and an incident in which tourists separated her from the cubs. She later died of her wounds from the vehicle accident.
Charger died in 2002. Between 2003 and 2006 his family met with a series of unfortunate ends. B1 was electrocuted and B3 was killed by poachers. Sita was killed by poachers. Mohini died of serious wounds to her body. The fully grown B2 survived as the dominant male in the forest between 2004 and 2007, mating with a female in the Siddhubaba region of Bandhavgarh and fathering three cubs. One of them was a male. This new male was first sighted in 2008 and is now Bandhavgarh's dominant male; however, one of his daughters has been known to mate with another male tiger who is likely to challenge B2's son for the crown.
Tourists are restricted to an area of 105 km² of the park, known as the Tala range. However this area is richest in terms of biodiversity, mainly tigers. There are four more ranges in the reserve namely – Magdhi, Kallwah, Khitauli and Panpatha. Together, these five ranges comprise the 'Core' of the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve constituting a total area of 694 km². The buffer zone is spread over the forest divisions of Umaria and Katni and totals another 437 km². The legal status as a national park dates back to 1968, but was limited only to the present Tala range for a considerable length of time. In 1993 the present scheme of things was put in place.
Bandhavgarh National Park lies on the extreme north-eastern border of the present state of Madhya Pradesh in India and the northern flanks of the eastern Satpuda Mountain range. The altitude of the park varies between 410 metres (1,345 ft) and 810 metres (2,657 ft). The geology is soft feldspathic sandstone with quartzite. The soil is generally sandy to sandy-loam. At least twenty streams rise or flow through the park, amongst the streams Umrar (forming the western boundary) is the largest. The other important streams are Johilla (eastern boundary), Janadh, Charnganga, Damnar, Banbei, Ambanala and Andhyari Jhiria. All these streams eventually flow into the river Son, which is an important southern tributary to the Ganges. At the centre of the Park is the Bandhavgarh hill, rising 811 m above sea level – surrounding it are a large number of smaller hills separated by gently sloping valleys. These valleys end in small, swampy meadows, locally known as 'bohera'. The lowest point in the park is at Tala, 440 m above sea level. The terrain is of great rocky hills rising sharply from the swampy and densely forested valley bottoms. The finest of these hills is Bandhavgarh, sided with great cliffs and eroded rocks.
The park lies within the tropical monsoon climatic zone, characterized by well-defined winters, summers and rains. Temperature as low as 2.2 °C (36 °F) and as high as 44 °C (111 °F) have been recorded. Average rainfall is 1,173 millimetres (46 in), most of which falls during the monsoons. Some rains result from the cyclonic depressions as well, between the months of November and February.