Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Bandhavgarh National Park, Jewel Of India.

Day 11 Bhedaghat To Bandhavgarh

Distance: 200 km

Road Condition: First 35 km tends to be chaotic so it is better to cover this stretch early in the morning. Pretty bad roads clubbed with zero road sense makes the drive horrifying. However, the moment you hit the state highway curvaceous road with excellent tarmac welcomes you. There is hardly any traffic and no pot holes until you reach Bandhavgarh. It is blissful to drive through ghat sections with beautiful trees adoring colorful leaves on either side of the highway. Once you reach Bandhavgarh, the 15 km stretch towards Tala is terrible. The roads are non-existent but the good news is work is underway to lay cement roads.

En Route Bandhavgarh
After a brief stay in Jabalpur, we head back to our home away from home, the jungles of India- this time Bandhavgarh. This national park lives up to it's expectation and hype as a tiger territory, it is believed that one has to be extremely unlucky to not sight a tiger here. 

So Comforting
Bandhavgarh national park is compact and beaming with wildlife, making it famous among tourists. There are 3 entry zones and Tala zone is the most sought after. However, one has to cough up more money to enter this zone. The booking counter for spot booking operates at a snail's speed and there is no gypsy booking booth near the counter. One has to call on a number provided on their notice board to book a gypsy for safari. On weekdays, you may get to enter the park via Magadhi or Kitauli zone and it is pretty much impossible to get a spot booking on weekends.

Show off
Safari expenses: Jeep charges Rs. 2000, entry Rs.1000, Guide fee Rs 300. No charges for camera. Entry for Tala zone is Rs 1000 more expensive.

Tala zone is right behind the booking office so there is no time spent in reaching the gate. For the other 2 zones, one would have to travel a few km to reach the entry gate. We had permit for Magadhi zone for our first safari and were greeted with lush green Sal trees, huge bamboo shoots, meadows and natural water holes. The terrain is hilly and the park is not as cold as other parks in MP. The fort, dam and lord Vishnu murti are within the park's boundaries.

Lush Green Park
We were right in time to witness breakfast being prepared for the mighty elephant, hot rotis were being prepared and each weighed around 3 kg.

Breakfast For The Giant
During the safari we spotted sambar, jackal, eagle, barking deer, chinkara, painted stork, peacocks, and caught a glimpse of elusive tiger crossing the road behind thick shrubs. This scene unfolded a few meters away yet only a few were lucky enough to witness it. As the safari came to an end, our guide drew our attention towards a jungle fowl in a hollow tree trunk incubation her eggs.

Mom At Work
We got permit to enter Khitauli zone for the evening safari. We had a great start- spotted a crested serpent eagle mere meters away which was not camera shy. After clicking a few pics we moved along to see a peacock trying to impress a peahen by a watering hole, pretty sure it does not take more than this for the hen to fall head over heels in love.

Serpent Eagle
While admiring the beauty of the peacock dance, we saw a very conscious and alert wild boar walk to a watering hole to quench his thirst and cool off. After spending considerable time we headed in search of more action. Mere meters away from our gypsy we spotted a vine snake take shelter in a bamboo shoot. It was quite a sight and our first time to see a snake in the wild. It was beautifully camouflaged making one aware of the lurking danger around.

Cooling Off
Green Vine Snake
Our 3rd and final safari was to the Tala zone, and with this we covered all three zones of the park. Binod Kumar, our guide with 19 years of experience knew the forest inside out. We followed warning calls of langurs, sambars and spotted deer in search of a predator and ended up in Kankatti's territory who got her name from a feud years ago in which her ear was cut, hence, the name. The calls led to thick shrubs and in the background we saw glowing orange with black stripes, she was engrossed feeding on her kill - a spotted deer.

Lunch Time
Spent time admiring her and proceeded towards the 10th century Vishnu murti, this 35 foot sculpture has been carved out of a single sandstone rock. Steep slopes take you to a hill where you see Vishnu resting on a serpent with Bramha and Shiv on either sides for company. We were in awe with the architecture, and amazed by the history and beauty of India. The park is home for a natural fort and many sandstone caves that are out of bound for tourists. Specialty of Tala zone is one gets to see all these monuments.  If the words of the guide are to be believed, these caves are now used as home for tiger cubs.

Resting Vishnu
We checked into Tiger Den Resort, a pretty posh property. We were promptly checked into our room, the staff is very friendly, courteous and helpful. The resort offers great aesthetics and spacious rooms, has a swimming pool, spa, souvenir shop and a well stocked library. The food served there is awesome. Personal food requests are entertained, desserts are out of the world, sinful and heavenly. Their Phirni and mud cake with chocolate sauce is to die for. Tala zone is only half a kilometer away from the premises, the other 2 zones are 3 and 6 km away.
Downside: The bathrooms are huge but the shower cubicle is too small for comfort.

Excited to say hi to our next destination Amarkantak.

1 comment:

  1. So beautiful pictures and great stuff thank you for sharing us.