Go on a wildlife excursion of Bandhavgarh National Park

One of the largest national parks in India, Bandhavgarh is a massive natural habitat for wild animals. Located in the Umaria district of Madhya Pradesh, the Bandhavgarh National Park spreads across an area of 105 sq. km., with an extension into the forests of Katni, thus covering a total area of 802 sq. km.

Image source: Wikipedia

The park has quite a history associated with it. Prior to the independence of India, the entire forest area served as a hunting ground for the Maharajahs of the state and their guests. Even after it was declared a national park in 1968, no conservation policies were introduced. Eventually, after the Wildlife Protection Act was constituted in 1972, the Project Tiger was initiated which worked in favor of saving the diminishing species of tigers. If you’re keen on spotting tigers in the wild, book a taxi service in Allahabad.

Of wildlife and vegetation

This natural habitat is rich in biodiversity. With rippling streams cutting through the wide valleys are interspersed with grasslands and dense Sal forests, Bandhavgarh is a paradise for wilderness lovers. The thick forests of deciduous vegetation like Saja, Salai, Dhobin and bamboo flank the forest areas.

Bandhavgarh National Park has been a huge breeding ground for Indian leopards and various species of deer. Additionally, the park has a high density of Royal Bengal Tigers. There are about 50 tigers with famous names in the entire forest area, as of 2012. Featured in National Geographic, the tiger population of Bandhavgarh have become the highlight of this habitat.

Apart from the ferocious beasts, Bandhavgarh also houses more than 250 species of birds, about 80 species of butterflies and a huge number of reptiles- snakes, forest lizards, salamanders and more.

Image source: Wikipedia

Explorers and bird watchers have recorded a total of 350 species of avifauna. Some of the notable ones are the Malabar pied hornbills, falcons, four kinds of vultures and more. In the monsoon, the grasslands and the water banks become the breeding grounds for Sarus cranes.

On any given day, you can do a guided jungle safari to explore the dense forests of Bandhavgarh. And unlike many national parks in India, this one offers easy sightings of Sambar and barking deer, spotted deer, Indian leopards, Nilgai (wild buffalos), Indian wolves, grey mongoose, sloth bear, striped hyena among others.

Fort of the forest

In the middle of the wilderness, on an 800-meter high cliff, sits the historic Bandhavgarh Fort. In fact, the national park derived its name from the fort itself. Though in ruins, the fort makes for a panoramic view of the surrounding forests and landscape. If you so dare and are keen on exploring this fort, you can do a short trek to see the remains of a dynasty that once ruled the region.

The fort also has a history of its own. It is said that this fortress and its surrounding premises served as a kingdom to three or four dynasties: the Mauryas, Vakatakas, Dengars, Kalachuris and finally the Baghels. Until, in 1935, when the inhabitants abandoned the fortress and the kingdom.

Reaching Bandhavgarh

Image source: Wikipedia

Jabalpur airport in Madhya Pradesh is the closest and major point of travel for Bandhavgarh National Park. You can opt for any of the daily running flights to Jabalpur city from any of the major tier 1 and tier 2 cities in India and then book a cab from Jabalpur to Bandhavgarh. Alternatively, you can opt for a train journey. The nearest railway stations from Bandhavgarh are Katni and Umaria. For touring around the fort and forests, most jungle resorts and hotels arrange for a jeep service.

The wild has a charm of its own and exploring the forests of a natural habitat of such magnanimity can be of a thrill of another level- something you might not know till you reach there.

A Historical Exploration of Pachmarhi

Panchmarhi, is a hill station in Madhya Pradesh. Standing at an elevation of 1067m above the sea-level, amidst the Satpura mountain range, Panchmarhi is the only hill station of Central India. It is often fondly called the ‘Queen of Satpuras’, owing to its sheer natural beauty with waterfalls, rugged landscape and dense forest cover. The highest point on the mountains is Dhupgarh, at 1352meters. The entire hill town and its natural resources collectively form the Panchmarhi Biosphere Reserve. If you’re planning a trip to Pachmarhi some time soon, we recommend booking Bhopal to Pachmarhi cabs.

Image source: Wikipedia

History of Panchmari

If you are a history enthusiast, the existence and development of Panchmari would be of intrigue.

Etymology

Local story has it, that the Pandavas were residing in the forests of this region, in the thirteenth year of their exile. Eventually, they built the caves to make it a safe abode. Thus, the name got derived from Panch- five and Marchi- caves.

Indian mythology

Though mythological, the story of Panchmarchi still holds true, with all the five caves standing atop a hill and have attracted visitors for generations. The beauty of the caves lies in its structure and is now a protected place. All the five caves were cut out of a single sandstone and grouped around. The location of the caves makes for a great location to get a clear view of the mountains and valleys below.

From an archeological standpoint, these caves are said be of the Mesolithic era. An excavation in 1935 revealed painting on the walls of the caves. The motifs and symbols depicting the lives of hunters and gatherers speaks of ancient humans of that time, settled in this region.

Image source: Wikipedia

Another legend has it – that the plateau area of Panchmari was a huge lake guarded by a giant serpent who terrorized the pilgrims visiting the sacred shrines of the Mahadeo Hills in the area. This angered Lord Shiva who threw his trident on the serpent and stuck him in a canyon, which took the shape of a pot. However, as a side effect, the wrath of Shiva dried up the lake and it became a plateau, which today is Panchmari. As surprising as it may sound, modern day botanists claim that any flora only exists around water bodies in this area.

Panchmari and its natural reserve also holds significance in Buddhist mythology. It is said that in the 1st century AD, this hill town became a shelter for Buddhist monks.

The East India connection

Because of its forest cover and discreet location, the British officials chose Panchmarhi to build a sanitarium. In 1870, under the supervision and patronage of Sir Richard Temple, the first building of the area-the Bison Lodge was built. The building became a military center after few years. Today, the site is a military museum, which attracts tourists and visitors from all over.

This hill-enveloped plateau was said to be precious to the British, because of its natural beauty and serenity. Hence, they never allowed urbanization or commercial development of the land and restricted construction of tall buildings. That is why, even today, Panchmarhi remains a quiet, and quaint little hill town in the heart of Madhya Pradesh.


How to reach

Panchmarhi is almost centrally located in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Thus, it makes for convenient access for tourists from Bhopal, Indore, Jabalpur and neighboring cities. You can reach Panchmarhi by bus from any of these cities. It takes 5-6 hours if you book a Bhopal taxi and about 10-11 hours from Indore to reach this hill station. Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (MPTDC) run AC buses at regular intervals and are the most popular bus-line for this region. You can also opt for a train route to Panchmarchi. There is not railway station in the town and the nearest railhead is at Pipariya, about 47 Km from Panchmarhi.

As much as this hilly plateau is known for its historic connection, there are quite a few natural wonders to be found here. From a host of waterfalls to lakes, ravines and wildlife sanctuaries, Panchmari stays to be the most sought-after natural retreat of the heart of India.

Explore the magic of Mandu

The far-reaching hilltop fort of Mandu, a momentous city in Malwa plateau, is one of the most attractive places to visit in central India. Mandu is an evidence of life, delight, and romance of the poet-prince Baz Bahadur for his beautiful wife, Rani Roopmati. An absolute nature’s paradise, surrounded by monuments of historical importance, Mandu is located along the Vindhyan ranges at an altitude of 2000 feet in the Dhar district of western Madhya Pradesh.

Due to its strategic location, Mandu faced several attacks by invaders who were eager to make it a part of their empires. Each ruler added something to Mandu making it a cultural mix both in terms of people and structures. There are several impressive structures that you can see in Mandu. History aficionados will definitely fall in love with this place. On a spring break or summer getaway, if you are looking for some exciting place to explore with your family and kids, Mandu is the perfect destination for you. You can get to Mandu easily by booking Indore to Mandu cabs.

Jahaz Mahal, a compositional wonder gives an impression of a floating structure in water and is expressly moulded like a ship, hence the name Jahaz Mahal. You can also visit the Baz Bahadur’s Palace which showcases Islamic building styles along with designs inspired by Rajasthani patterns. On the southern side of the palace is the most visited place of Mandu, Rani Roopmati’s Pavillion. It is believed that it was constructed in such a manner that Rani Roopmati could gaze upon Baz Bahadur’s Palace.

Hoshang’s Tomb is India’s earliest marble structure of Afghan design, and this compositional wonder has been said to have affected Shah Jahan significantly. It is considered as original inspiration in the design of Taj Mahal. Adding to the list of the marvellous structures is the Jami Masjid, which is said to have been inspired by the Great Mosque of Damascus in Syria.

For the food lovers, Mandu is famous for its poha and tamarind (Imli). Both the food items are highly recommended and should not be missed. The number of hotels and restaurants are very limited with most serving vegetarian food. The MP tourism operates two hotels: Malwa Retreat and Malwa Resort. The latter is situated in an excellent location, so advance booking is recommended. Once you have visited Mandu, you can book a taxi to visit close-by vacation destinations like Maheshwar, Bagh Caves and Omkareshwar.

Throughout the year Mandu experiences pleasant climatic conditions, mainly due to its elevated location. However, it can get a little hot during the summers. The best time to visit is during the winter season between the months of October to March. The closest airport to Mandu is 99 Km away at Indore, and nearest railway station is Ratlam which is 124 Km from Mandu. Both the cities are well-connected with Mandu via road. You can take state-operated or private bus available from either city. You can also reach Mandu via outstation cabs from Indore, Ujjain, Ratlam, Bhopal and Dhar.