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Bandhavgarh National Park

Drive through the gates of Bandhavgarh and a great vista of grassland opens up, sweeping up to a dramatic red sandstone escarpment. These were the former hunting grounds of the Maharajas of Rewa, tucked between the Vindhyan ranges and the eastern flank of the Satpura hills, and were once famous for their white tigers. Today, the grasslands and sal forests harbour a healthy population of tigers, as well as deer, langur monkeys, sloth bear and wonderful birds such as drongos, bee-eaters and rare hornbills. On top of the escarpment is a temple with its own priest, whose approach is guarded by a beautiful, sleeping Vishnu the base of the cliff, which dates back to the 10th Century.

Early morning and afternoon game drives are by jeep, but when tigers are positively sighted in the forest, elephant-back is the best way to get as close to them as possible. Tiger-lovers can expect a sighting within two to three days, which is roughly the same as the more famous Ranthambore National Park, and the best time to visit Bandavgarh for tiger sightings is from February to June. There are also more than 40 leopards at Bandhavgarh.

Located in the east of Madhya Pradesh state, Bandhavgarh is one of India’s top national parks despite being a relatively small park – its core area is 105 sq km with a buffer zone of 446 sq km. It was officially declared a national park in 1968 but human history here goes back thousands of years. Bandhavgarh fort is thought to be 2,000 years old and around these ruins are numerous caves containing shrines and ancient Sanskrit inscription.

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