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"Bandhavgarh National Park is spread at vindhya hills in Madhya Pradesh."

Bandhavgarh National Park

The national park is situated at 197 km away north-east of Jabalpur.

Imagine yourself in an open Gypsy slowly and silently cruising along a dense forest trail listening to the alarm calls of a Langur warning the presence of a Tiger. You feel a tingling sensation in the nape of your neck as the forest floor quietens, and you silently watch, through the early morning mist, a faint image of yellow and black stripes crossing the trail ahead. You move on, as the early rays of the sun make an array of magical shapes through the trees across the forest floor, and your lungs revel in the fresh morning air. Such is the experience at Bandhavgarh National Park, one of the few remaining havens for the pride of Indian Wildlife - the Royal Bengal Tiger.

Bandhavgarh is a new National Park with a very long history. Set among the Vindhya hills of Madhya Pradesh with an area of 168sq miles (437sq kms) it contains a wide variety of habitats and a high density of game, including a large number of Tigers. This is also the White tiger country. These have been found in the old state of Rewa for many years. The last known was captured by Maharaja Martand Singh in 1951. This white Tiger, Mohun is now stuffed and on display in the Palace of Maharaja of Rewa.

Prior to becoming a National Park, the forests around Bandhavgarh had long been maintained as a Shikargarh, or game preserve of the Maharaja of Rewa. The Maharaja and his guests carried out hunting - otherwise the wildlife was well protected. It was considered a good omen for Maharaja of Rewa to shoot 109 tigers. His Highness Maharaja Venkat Raman Singh shot 111 Tigers by 1914.

Bandhavgarh has been a center of human activity and settlement for over 2000 years, and there are references to it in the ancient books, the Narad-Panch Ratra and the Shiva Purana. Legend has it that Lord Rama, hero of the Hindu epic, the Ramayana, stopped at Bandhavgarh on his way back to his homeland after defeating the demon King Ravana of Lanka. Two monkey architects, who had engineered a bridge between the isles of Lanka and the mainland, are said to have built Bandhavgarh's fort. Later Rama handed it over to his brother Lakshmana who became known as Bandhavdhish "The Lord of the Fort". Lakshmana is the particular God of the fort and is regularly worshipped in a temple there.

The oldest sign of habitation in the park are caves dug into the sandstone to the north of the fort. Several contain Brahmi inscriptions dating from the 1st century B.C. Various dynasties have ruled the fort, for example, the Maghas from the 1st century A.D., the Vakatakas from the 3rd century A.D., From that time onwards Bandhavgarh was ruled by a succession of dynasties including the Chandela Kings of Bundelkhand who built the famous temples at Khajuraho. The Baghel Kings, the direct ancestors of the present Royal family of Rewa, established their dynasty at Bandhavgarh in the 12th century. It remained their capital till 1617 when the center of court life moved to Rewa, 75 miles (120Kms) to the north. Without royal patronage Bandhavgarh became more and more deserted until forest overran the area band it became the royal hunting reserve. This helped to preserve the forest and its wildlife, although the Maharajas made full use of their rights. Each set out to kill the auspicious number of 109 Tigers.

At independence Bandhavgarh remained the private property of the Maharaja until he gave it to the state for the formation of the National Park in 1968. After the park was created poaching was brought under control and the number of animals rose dramatically. Small dams and water holes were built to solve the problem of water shortage. Grazing by local cattle was stopped and the village within the park boundaries was relocated. The Tigers in particular prospered and the 1986 extension provided much needed forest to accommodate them.

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