There are three core zones in Bandhavgarh National Park – Tala, Khitauli and Magadhi. Each zone has its own diversity of flora and fauna and its natural beauty when it comes to terrains and landscapes.
Out of those three zones, Tala was announced as the premium zone with higher entry fee to control and reduce tourist crowd on the vulnerable eco-system of the region and distribute the footfalls to other zones. However, there is no guarantee that premium zone offers better wildlife sightings every time.
These safari zones are split into two routes allotted in one safari. One route is from entry gate to center and another route is from center to exit gate. So, visitors can easily cover the maximum area and cover the zone in total. All of these zones have different routes and points which have been popular over the years.
Bandhavgarh is one of the best national parks to spot a tiger as it has great population of tigers. But keep in mind that tigers are elusive and shy creatures and spotting them is a matter of luck. It doesn’t mean you should focus only on tigers or you will miss out a lot of interesting creatures around you.
For a great wildlife experience, it is always recommended to take safaris in all the zones. Due to advance bookings and peak season, the forest department has issued new guidelines for offering limited number of safaris. According to recent guidelines, safaris are not available on Wednesdays.
Morning Safari – 6:30 AM to 11:00 AM
Evening Safari – 2:30 PM to 5:30 PM
Morning Safari – 6 AM to 11 AM
Evening Safari – 3 PM to 6 PM
Morning – 5:30 AM to 10 AM
Evening – 4 PM to 7 PM
Tala (Gate 1) – 20 vehicles for morning safari and 20 for evening safari
Magadhi (Gate 2) – 20 vehicles for morning and 20 for evening safari
Khitauli (Gate 3) – 16 vehicles for morning and 15 for evening safari.
This tourism zone has been created in an area of about 142 sq. km. The Preserve has been divided in 3 safari zones. Tala Zone, Magdhi Zone and Khitauli Zone.
Points of tourist interest Bandhavgarh
Tala Zone – Zone I – Bandhavgarh National Park
Siddha Baba or Lord Shiva Lingam resides besides the stretch of swampy grassland in Tala Zone. It is revered by Hindus who seek blessings for a successful tiger safari or photographic expedition in the preserve. The spectacular panorama of grasslands in Bandhavgarh unfolds here the steep hills add to the amazing landscape. Siddha Baba is a prime tiger habitat and on many occasions’ tiger sightings takes place on road or in the swampy grasslands. The place offers excellent sightings of Sambar, Spotted Deer and other denizens of the forests.
Chakradhara is a large stretch of marshy grassland which offers passage to River Charanganga. The enchanting river twists and turns on its way out of the park and in the process create the finest habitat for the tigers and deer. This is the prime habitat for big cats in Tala Zone and home to dominant males and females. Successful mating and breeding takes place in confines of Chakradhara. The magnificent panorama of steep cliff formation and Bandhavgarh Hill with the Fort atop stuns the visitors. It stuns on all visits again and again.
Overlooking the large stretch of Chakradhara meadow is an old watch tower built during the shikaar days. Now the tower provides an excellent look out for the tourists and photographers alike. It provides the finest opportunity to view the jungle life as it unfolds – tiger on hunt – wild dog on deer chase – use your imagination.
This is a pond a bit larger which is home to many wetland birds. It is one of the main elements of life support system that becomes crucial in hot summers. In the heat the animals including the big cats make a beeline for survival here. The wetland provides excellent opportunity to witness jungle drama as distance between the prey and predator is narrowed down by extreme thirst.
One of the biggest men made cave dating back to 10th AD it draws many visitors on tiger safari. The cave is of great archeological importance and home to a colony of wide variety of bats.
Shesh Shaiya offers an esoteric experience with a fairy tale pool and a reclining VIshnu on its edge. The mountain rises steeply from the edge and is loaded with miniscule falls that keep the pool inundated during the desiccating heat of the summers. The pristine vegetation adds to the beauty and the grace of Shesh Shaiyya the source of Charanganga River. The reclining idol of Lord Vishnu is about 32 feet long carved out of single stone. The structure is built around 10th Century or dates back perhaps. The dense green canopy gives way to open sky as one climbs up to the Fort. From here one gets a captivating splendor of the neighboring hillocks and the Chakradhara meadow though which Charanganga flows in zig zag formation.
In spite of years of depredation and neglect this ancient monumental wonder retains its glorious awe. The Fort is in complete ruins but objects of art and archeological value are scattered all over amidst dense forest and grasslands. The zoo morphic idols of Lord Vishnu intrigue and enchant. The Fort dates back to 2000 years and was gifted to brother Laxman by Lord Rama hence the name. The Bandhavadheesh temple stands erect and tall on the periphery of the mountain. It overlooks the vast stretch of the ranges in Vindhya Hills. The surrounding habitat on the plateau constitutes fruiting tree lines and large stretch of grassland. The habitat support wide species of animals especially the tigers. It is excellent nesting grounds for Malabar Pied Hornbill and Vultures.
One of the many niche ecosystems where Ketki shrubs, aromatic plant Pandanus (Kewra) grow in wild abundance. The lofty Jamun and Arjun Trees create the right ambiance for the unique plants to flourish.
The watch tower or hide overlooks the Bhitari Wah Meadow. it accords a vantage point to view the happenings of wild theatre as things unfold.
The Bhitari Wah meadow that always remains inundated by the Bhitari River. The slush formation attracts barking deer and the tiger alike. The habitat is unique niche for swampy grass land species. Ideal place for birders with wood peckers, Indian Pitta and flycatchers. Buch a medicinal plant grows in abundance along with Jamun and Arjun trees. The hills surround the meadow on all sides making it a spectacle to watch.
The stream flows below the small strip of arch like bridge called Sita Mandap. The tortured terrain leads down to a gorge wherein the stream flows. In the surrounding are a number of natural caves worth exploring.
Used as shelter by wild animals and big cats the caves are man made. These caves are visible from Ganesh Hillock Road and stand testimony to ingenuity of men to create shelter like prehistoric man did.
Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve is an excellent habitat of the endangered vultures. Long Billed Vulture and other species nest on the walls of the steep hills. The nest can be seen on steep walls of the rocks surrounding Sita Manadap
This is a deep gorge between two mountains that is curved towards the mouth and creates excellent shelter for tigers, mountain area worth to visit on tiger safari.
Rampur Pahadi as it is called offers panaromic view of the preserve. This point is much preferred for sighting and habitat photography.
The watch tower or hide faces perennial Banbei Nullah Banbei ideal for keeping an eye on the surroundings for wildlife watching.
The dense canopy of mango, arjun and saptaparni trees prevents much of the sunlight from reaching the floor. This creates a niche ecosystem of damp surroundings and streams and grassland. Ideal for Sloth Bear, Tiger and Large Owls.
Magdhi Zone – Zone II- Bandhavgarh National Park
‘Charger’ the beloved male tiger of Bandhavgarh, dominated the tourism zone for a decade. He died on 29th September 2000 and rests here in peace.
Rocky outcrop surrounded by greenery, this natural wonder reminds of the ‘Jurassic Age’
A hide facing Bhadrashila pond to watch wild animals and birds.
This waterhole surrounded by dense bamboo clumps is an ideal place to watch variety of herbivores as well as some carnivores.
This waterhole located in a meadow attracts lots of waterfowls including black storks, woolly-necked storks, lesser adjutant storks, herons and ibises as well as red jungle fowl. If lucky, one can also spot a tiger.
This marshy meadow is the origin of river Damnar. One can have the clear view of Bandhaini hillock from here. Sprawling meadow with water overflowing over the stop dam almost throughout the year harbors many vultures and herds of chital, sambhar and wild pigs.
Woody climbers such as Butea superba and Bauhinia vahlii reaching from one tree to another amidst the lush green sal trees offer spectacular view for the tourists.
A meadow located on the southwestern boundary of the Park is a place frequented by wild pigs.
This is the biggest meadow of the Reserve. In the month of June breeding pair of Saras Crane can be seen in and around this meadow. It harbors the insectivore plant Drosera. One captures the majestic view of Bandhavgarh hill from here.
A seasonal water source, this place is frequented by tigers and is located on Park periphery.
This meadow is a favorite haunt of tigers.
A temporary elephant camp located in picturesque marshy grassland.
A perennial artificial water tank, which attracts a large number of winter visiting birds.
A good grassland which attracts lot of herbivores such as chital, nilgai, chinkara etc.
A marshy grassland with perennial spring with a small patch of wild banana, hence the name.
A hillock with a patrolling camp with a 360º panoramic view of forests.
Khitauli Zone – Zone III-Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve
A hillock with wireless station giving a wide view of forests.
A forest patch with bamboo and grasslands attracting large number of herbivores and a good tiger habitat with frequent tiger presence.
An irrigation dam on the periphery of village Garhpuri attracting a large number of winter visiting birds.
A perennial water course and summer abode of tiger.
A good wildlife habitat attracting with large number of herbivores and a good tiger and leopard habitats.