First and foremost never go towards the forest on foot or in a vehicle if it is prohibited. There are gates from where all tourists vehicles enter. Use only the authorised gates to enter at the given time with a valid permit to enter the park. Do not even try entering from any other area in the protected areas. There are many precautions to take while staying near a national park. Some are listed below.
Caught in a national park without a valid permit will attract a jail term for you besides impounding of your vehicle. So please do not even think on these lines even if any local or a resort person tells you to.
Never leave the vicinity of the resort by yourself after sunset. Not even if you plan to just take a stroll around after your dinner. After sunset Leopards often tend to come close to the villages and resorts in search of food or the livestock. Tigers also move around in the night outside the protected areas. It is not worth the risk or adventure that you might want to experience.
If you must go out for some emergency work, and you must cross the buffer area of the forest, please do not go on a two wheeler. Ensure you are in a car and take someone along from the resort who knows the area, and do not forget to carry a torch for sure. Driving a two wheeler in a forested area is a huge risk more so in the night. If it breaks down, or a flat tyre, you can be in for a tough time. Four wheeler will at-least ensure your safety from the predators.
But if you happen to be in the Elephant country, then even a four wheeler is not a good idea to travel in the night. It is best that you postpone all your work for next day morning. Wild Elephants can treat your vehicle like a football. Hence it is in your best interest to stay in safe vicinity of your rooms.
Please do not even consider carrying any weapon even if you have one. Caught with a firearm is a non bailable offense and attracts a term of up to 7 years in prison. But yes, it is a good idea to carry a wooden stick while on foot. No weapons whatsoever even in a safari vehicle.
While moving out of your room to go to the dining hall please carry a torch. Normally the electricity supply in the remote areas is erratic. Though most of the resorts have power back-up but it can take few seconds for the power supply to resume, hence carrying a torch is a good idea. These days there are wonderful caps which have a solar light, it is convenient to carry the same to as well. While doing the safari if the cap is on it keeps getting automatically charged, and in the night you can use it wherever you are going within the resort. Please click on this link below to see a good quality cap which i have been using for last 4 years.
Also be extremely careful not to go into bush, as there are many varieties of venomous snakes in the national parks.
I am beginning to feel for the soul of Panna National Park. It has already suffered a lot. In 2008 Panna lost all it’s Tigers to poachers. Panna became a closed chapter for many. But for one man, ably supported by his team, Mr Murthy revived Panna by his ironical will, and determination. It was an uphill task for him to bring Panna from ZERO to THIRTY FOUR Tigers. And now when Tigers had started to roar again in Panna, the news comes of a large chunk of Panna being drowned due to Ken-Betwa river linking project.
What is this river linking project? Our former Prime Minister (Mr A.B. Vajpayee) decided to mitigate the drought in the hilly regions of Bundelkhand. The whole region was practically parched, and agriculture was suffering. People had begun to leave their native towns and villages in search of work. Lot of farmers from Chattarpur area now work in metro cities as labour. Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee decided to link the two rivers of the region, so that excess water in the basin of Ken river could be diverted via a canal to the Betwa river thus irrigating lakhs of hectares of land.
But to divert this water the Daudhan dam is required to be built. This will submerge a substantial habitat of our national animal, the Tiger. Infact, the wildlife experts like Mr Ranjitsinh feel that Panna National Park will be bifurcated. If this comes about to be true, then nothing and no one will be able to save Panna. The river basin has lot of grass and food for the herbivores, when this area gets submerged due to the dam, the herbivores will move on. This will affect the quality of habitat in a big way and what happens to the Tigers then is anyone’s guess.
What is being done in this project?
A 230km canal linking the two rivers is a humongous task. This will take a few months and few thousand men working round the clock to complete. Does so much of work in the heart of the forest disturb the wildlife? Without doubt, considerably, and beyond reformation.
But a bigger question arises now, what is the solution and how we can fulfill the needs of humans and Tigers both. Is there one, if at all?
I was in the region this May (2016), and again in August (2016). As luck would have it, i saw both the rivers in May. To my surprise it was Ken which had far lesser water compared to Betwa. I spoke to some locals in the region, and they all confirmed that Betwa has more water compared to Ken year round. But it is Ken which gets more water during the monsoons. So, if the project is to divert water during monsoons only then it is perhaps a good thought. But at what cost? Tigers? Forests? Too huge a price to pay i guess.
In August 2016 when i visited, Ken was brimming with water this year. But that was also because this year the rain gods have been more generous in this area.
My personal opinion
Nature is almighty supreme. It will find a way around this man made misadventure. Nature has survived without man for eons, and if we do not change, nature is prepared to survive alone. The experts and activists have tried a lot but could not convince the Government to stop this river linking. As of now there is little that we can do, but hope and pray that good sense prevails and the Government let’s go of this project.
Let us remember the fact that the human population is only increasing, and the forests and glaciers are only shrinking. From the forests of India around 300 rivers originate. Would someone not think that if Ken has more water today, then does Panna contribute to it? Logically, scientifically, yes? So if we take away the forest will the water not reduce? Isn’t this an elementary conclusion. What if these 10000 crores are spent, and Ken just dries up? Is there any insurance that the Govt will claim, and get the river back. I doubt it.
Praying for Tigers of Panna, and i am optimistic that they will be fine, as nature when it falls sick takes an antibiotic just like us humans. It is sad that those antibiotics are floods, droughts, landslides, earthquakes and everything that harms humans than it benefits.
All, i can say at this point in time is, Lord, let thy will be done.
There is a lot of history hidden in the forests of Bandhavgarh. The Bandhavgarh Fort inside the national park is considered over 2000 years old. There is a mention of the Bandhavgarh Fort in Narad Panch Ratra, and Valmiki’s Ramayana. It is said that after killing the demon King Ravana, Lord Rama stopped here. He asked Nal and Neel, the two monkey architects to make this fort. It was these two who had also made the bridge to go to Lanka in the Indian ocean. The idea to make this fort was basically to keep an eye on Lanka from here, as this is one of the highest hills of central India. He made his younger brother Lakshman as resident deity of the fort. So the fort gifted to a brother (Bandhu in Hindi), came to be known as Bandhavgarh. Lakshman is also called as Bandhavdeesh after this.
History of Bandhavgarh
Around the fort there are caves dug in sandstone which are over 2000 years old. One can see the Brahmi inscriptions on the walls of these caves. It is said that many saints and sages meditated in these caves. The Maghas, the Vakatakas, the Chandels inherited the seat of this fort. Finally in the 12th century the Baghels laid their claim on this fort, and until 1969 the Royal family of Rewa ruled this fort. The Royal family played a big role in conservation of Bandhavgarh. Though they did some hunting in this area, but they overall protected it as well. Once it was declared as a national park in 1969, they vacated the fort. Inside the fort one can still see the remains of the court, the treasury, the temple, the horse stable, and the school etc.
You can also see the statues of the Dashavatar (the ten incarnations) of Lord Vishnu here. There are two big lakes in the fort. The story goes that the water from these lakes seeps in, and then emerges from the foot of a 32 feet reclining Vishnu statue at Shesh Shaiya. Thereon this stream is known as Charan Ganga which flows through the Chakradhara meadow, alongside Siddbaba, and out of the park).
Kabir in Bandhavgarh
The famous mystic poet saint of 14th century, Kabir also spend quite a few years in the fort meditating, and writing his famous Dohas (the couplets famously known as the Kabir Vaani). There is a Kabir hermitage in the fort. On my visit here i was shown a secret escape from a room in this hermitage which apparently Kabir used often to move out from the fort. This escape used to take him to Kashi (Varanasi) to meet his Guru (Master). The Kabir panthis (followers of Kabir) gather here in the month of August every year for a two day celebration. This is the largest gathering of Kabir followers worldwide. They walk on foot till the Fort, stay put there, and come back after two days.
It is indeed sad that after the Supreme Court decision in 2012 visit to this fort has been prohibited. The reason is that this fort is right in the heart of the core zone of Bandhavgarh, and to go up to the fort one has to trek about 25 minutes from Shesh Shaiyya. Needless to mention that there are Tigers and other wildlife in and around the fort, hence it is not considered safe to walk up. Besides it does disturb the wildlife too. I have personally seen Sita with her cubs close to Shesh Shaiyya way back in 1996-97.
Meeting B2 enroute to Bandhavgarh Fort
For me a visit to Bandhavgarh was incomplete if i had not visited the Fort. Way back in 2004, once while trekking up, i encountered B2 in his early days on this route. There were four of us on foot, and at a bend, we see B2 come up from the valley on to the track of the fort. We froze right there, and so did B2. He paused for a moment, gave us a glimpse, and without bother left the track to go down the valley. What seemed like eternity was actually just 5 seconds.
This was my first encounter on foot with the Tiger in his own backyard. I breathed a sigh of relief. The trek is steep so the camera was around my neck. With B2 looking into my eyes from about 10 meters in front of me, i forgot that i had a camera, so clicking a picture was totally out of question. But the image imprinted on my mind of that moment is still fresh like it happened yesterday, thought it was almost 12 years ago.
The Temple priest
From 1997 till 2008 i trekked upto the fort atleast 4-5 times every season. Not only I loved the hike to the fort, but the view from the fort, the feel of the fort, and more than anything else it was meeting and talking with the resident priest of the fort that i always looked forward to. A very old man, tall, with a broad frame, deep voice, and an intense look in his eyes. How he stayed in this temple all alone in this national park always surprised me. No company, no radio, television i doubt if he ever knew it existed. He would give Charnamrit (tulsi water) pronouncing the sacred Sanskrit shloka:
विष्णुपदोदकं पीत्वा पुनर्जन्म न विद्यते।।
Meaning, “whosoever takes this sacred water is protected from any accidental death, deadly diseases, and is liberated from the cycle of birth and death”. This chant in his deep voice in the corridors of the temple would resonate in my ears for a long long time.
He would walk down to the Tala village to secure his provisions and by late evening he would get back to Bandhavgarh. Once while going back he had an encounter with a Sloth bear. It is said that a Tiger emerged from the nearby grass, and fought the Sloth Bear away. Then the Tiger walked with the priest for some distance to ensure that he reached the temple.
He once told me, “the Tigers are my family, and I know all the Tigers of the area around the fort”. We would sit in the corridors of the temple, and he would make tea for us. Then we would share our lunch with him. There were times we just slept off in the corridor of the temple. As he grew quite old, he became unwell, and was brought down from the Fort much against his wishes as there was no one to take care of him inside the Jungle.
What all is bygone, and will those days return?
Though Charger, Sita, B2, have all gone, and they have been replaced by many beautiful Tigers of today. But the enigma of the priest, the temple, and the fort cannot be replaced by any. For people who have seen the Bandhavgarh Fort miss it still. And those who have visited Bandhavgarh after 2012, know not what they have missed.
The above photo is not photoshopped, yes there was a time when Bandhavgarh hardly had tourists. I recall sighting 10 different Tigers in 2005 in one morning safari of 4 hours. But the popularity of the Tigers and wildlife photography through social media has made wildlife tourism a big business everywhere.
Many resorts have sprung up in the area, Tala a small village now is a place where you will get everything you need, including a broadband, wi-fi, and a spa treatment. Do not expect the standard of the Spa to be anywhere close to a city hotel. To an extent if handled well, tourism can be a big conservation tool, but if gone awry, it can be a very disturbing factor for wildlife. So yes, those silent, peaceful days of less tourism are also bygone.
The rush of tourism has been regulated to quite an extent by opening of some more zones, and also buffer zones. Yet, one thing that has not reduced is the kind of Tiger sightings that are still taking place in Bandhavgarh. There was a lull year when there was a marginal drop in the Tala zone, but it seems the golden years of Bandhavgarh are almost back as far as Tiger sightings are concerned. The Tiger sightings of Bandhavgarh will never be bygone.
This is to inform all safari lovers of central India parks that online safari bookings for season starting 1st October are opening today. Bookings are available to be done for the next 120 days. For the first time there will be a quota of tickets for last minute bookings too. The details of the same will be out in the next couple of days.
In Bandhavgarh all the three zones, i.e. Tala, Magdhi, and Khitauli will be open for online safari bookings from 1st October. But in Kanha just Mukki and Kisli will be opening from 1st October. The other two zones, i.e. Kanha and Sarhi will open for tourism from 16th October. Reason for this partial delay is the black clayey soil of Kanha. Normally the monsoon gets over by mid or end of September, occasionally there are a couple of late showers in 1st week of October as well. This late rain hinders the track repairing process, and the black clayey soil being very slippery does not help matters either.
Similarly in Pench all the three zones, i.e. Touria, Karmajhiri, and Jhamtara will be opening from 1st October. Satpura will also see the opening of Madhai gate from 1st October, and Panna will also open the Madla and Hinouta gates from 1st October. Go ahead, plan your dates, and do your online safari bookings now.
General information for post monsoon opening.
Post monsoon is a great time for wildlife photography. Nature is at it’s best. The colors are deep, and thought provoking. There is lot of water in the forest, thus plenty of undergrowth, and lot of food for all the animals. October is also a busy time for birds, thus good for birding. Migration also tends to starts by end of October.
Only word of caution is that one must be careful with falciparum malaria. Certain areas of central India, in particular Kanha has this mosquito active in post monsoon time. Hence take precaution, carry anti-mosquito sprays and cream, wear full sleeve shirts and trousers, avoid T shirts and shorts.
In the first week of October there could be an odd shower or two, hence take precaution to keep your photography equipment safe. Carry some plastic covers to protect them.
This year has seen heavy rain in the state of Madhya Pradesh, so the road conditions in October might not be very good. The time taken from the Airport and railway stations could be a tad longer than usual.
As the national parks open after 3 months of closure, hence even the regular guides and drivers will not know the whereabouts of the predators. It takes a week of two for them to assess what is happening in which area of the park. So higher degree of patience will be good for you.
The days will be warm in central India in October. but mornings and evenings will be pleasant. If it rains, it can get a bit cold and misty in Kanha.
So what are you waiting for, book yourself now. Click on the link below to book direct.
Changes in the tourism policies in Madhya Pradesh NP’s, i.e. Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Pench and Panna National Parks done by the forest management.
Listing the most important changes below:
1. Good news coming in less then 24 hours of my yesterday’s blog about Premium zones, i.e. PREMIUM ZONES ARE SCRAPPED in #Kanha and #Bandhavgarh #National Parks from the coming season starting October 2016. All zones will have only one rate. Did the Chief read my blog post, and thought of doing changes, well i would love to believe so..
2. All the Foreign tourists have a reason to rejoice, the differential rates in entry permits of Indian and Foreigners has been done away with. Now there will be one rate for all tourists. Absolutely incredible. This means the safaris become a bit reasonable for our foreign tourists. This is a first of it’s kind step by any state in India. This is one of the best Changes in the tourism policies in Madhya Pradesh NP’s.
3. Even better for all foreign tourists doing Kanha and Bandhavgarh, Panna and Pench national Parks is that now the parks will remain open on Wednesday afternoons also.
4. There is some good news coming for last minute bookers as well. Wherein they can book individual seats in the Jeeps. A small percentage of seats will be kept for the last minute bookings. This means that you will get to do safari on sharing basis with four more guests. My recommendation is that you book your safaris in advance, ideally 120 days prior to safari date. The advantage of booking in advance is that you get to choose the zone of your preference. How to choose which zone? Well, we are there to take care of the same for you.
5. The opening timing of the park is from 1st October till 30th June henceforth.
Isn’t this all incredible, great news for tourism, that too coming on International Tiger’s Day. In my opinion these are some initial good signs. Some more will follow soon. Hopefully some good areas like Bamni Dadar in Kanha and Bandhavgarh Fort in Bandhavgarh might be opened for tourism again.
Doing #Tiger #Safari in India for the first time? Yes, then first things first, have you chosen the top Tiger #National #Parks you wish to visit? No, then please go through this link below, and subsequently it is important to understand the concept of premium zones.
Next, if you choose to visit these parks, which zones you should be doing safaris in? What are the premium zones? The name sounds, that all Tigers are in the #PremiumZones? NO, not true. Simple reason is that #Tigers do not know which are premium zones in the national parks.
In the Top 3 Tiger National Parks in India, there are two parks which have premium zones, namely, #TalaZone in Bandhavgarh National Park, and #KanhaZone in Kanha National Park.
What are the premium zones?
The concept of premium zones was started by the Forest department when they realized that the Tiger sightings were very good in certain parts/zones of the park. This resulted in lot of tourists gathering in those parts and not visiting the other areas. So the forest department did a good thing to dissuade the tourists. They increased the rates of those zones. In Tala zone they doubled the rate, and in Kanha zone they hiked it by 50%. This was a huge step which paid off, and the general tourists started to do other zones also, and during the visit to the park they would perhaps visit the premium zone once or max twice only.
But the things changed. Wildlife is ever changing, new Tigers come, old one’s move away, new cubs come, etc, and the dynamics of the park change every 2 years literally. Hence the two zones which were tagged as premium suffered a lot in the year 2014, and 2015, the Tiger sightings dipped. The normal zones of #Mukki zone and #Kisli zone in #Kanha started to perform, while #Magdhi zone and #Khitauli zone did well in #Bandhavgarh. Please read our year summaries of these two parks in my previous blog posts of July.
To ensure you do safaris in the right zones, where your chances of #TigerSightings are maximum you need to book your tour with the company which has ears in the national parks, and hands driving the Jeeps in these parks. Our resident naturalists in these parks are clued on to daily sightings, hence our guests have had some amazing Tiger sightings in the past season. To see some of the Tiger images of our guests, please see the link below:
Bandhavgarh National Park has been popular with the tourists as it provides excellent Tiger sightings consistently. Like every year the nature of the Tiger i.e. intense discipline, ferocious will power and fearlessness was on display this season at Bandhavgarh National Park. One always wants to get the glimpse of the Tiger walking in front of their jeep, or behind the Jeep. But would one have the rare sight of the Tiger depends on your destiny and devotion.
Will we be able to pass this legacy to our newer generations is a questions which keeps haunting us? But the efforts of the Forest department brought reasons for some celebrations. Bandhavgarh this year had 61 adult tigers and 14 sub adults. These are unprecedent Tiger numbers for the first time in the history of this park.
Bandhavgarh National Park opened on October 01, 2015 with only two routes in Tala zone. The opening wasn’t impressive with Bandhavgarh standards. It was like a lull before the storm. One could even say a sedate start to a Virat Kohli innings. But as the season progressed Bandhavgarh returned to it’s former glory of the best place on the planet to see the Tigers. Subsequently with every passing day the sighting graph only improved.
Banbei Tigress (T32) and her son Samrat were very frequently sighted near Sita Mandap, a historical point in the park. But in winters their sightings shifted to Ghorademon area. They were often seen playing with each other. On many occasions Samrat was seen near the water bodies of Kindarbah, Sita Mandap and Banbei river. For a Tiger just 18 months to be sighted alone so frequently is a bit unnatural. Samrat had everyone worried with his solitary excursions into the wilds, but luck favors the brave and he survived.
Spotti (T41) – This Tigress enchanted the visitors in the famous Tala zone. Infact during the winters she kept the healthiest record in sightings with her presence. She was seldom accompanied by the male of this region. This pair was seen mating at Andhiyari Jhiria, Rampur Road and Bandarchui. THis togetherness resulted in Spotti becoming a mother of her first litter of three cubs. In June this entire Royal family was seen at Damnar for three consecutive days. Guests who saw these cubs with their mother had sleepless nights.
Rajbehra Tigress (T34) – A very intelligent and an experienced Tigress. Initially she kept her cubs away from tourists behind Bathan area. Later in the season they were seen regularly as a family at Jhilki Nala. The summer months were quite amazing to see the whole family in the Sehra grassland. Almost every visitor in Magadhi had a glimpse of her with her cubs.
Sukhi Patiha Tigress (T5) was active from October to January near Patiha water hole. She was seen cooling off in summer months in the same water hole. Also her sighting was with T 18 near Dabhadol area. This area was also inhabited by a sub adult T 53 and has a healthy population of Indian Gaur.
Dotti’s (T17) movement was recorded primarily in winter months near the areas of Charakbah water hole, Boda Talab and Bhool Bhuliya area. She was occasionally sighted with male of Rajbahara offspring. Many were anticipating new cubs by the end of season but nothing happened.
New Kankati (T35)- Young offspring of Rajbahara is unrivaled queen of Tadoba – waterhole. In summer months she was accompanied by the male believed to be Bamera’s offspring. They were seen mating at least on three occasions in different parts of Magadhi zone.
Mahaman Tigress (T24) is an extremely shy female. She has been blessed with three young ones. These young cubs are now 1 year old and often seen crossing Magadhi to Khitouli zones by the tourists.
Bheem (T22) the male at his prime has been seen both in Magadhi and Khitouli. True to his name well-built challenging and winning the battles for dominancy from other males. It is most likely that he might fill in the void left by Bamera. He has all the requisite qualities to dominate the area. Besides, he is overcoming his shyness of tourists gradually.
Ranccha (T29) is a handsome male who roams in #Tala and #Khitouli. An exceptionally peaceful male #Tiger seen a few times at #Kindarbah and #Chakradhara area with the #Banbei and #Kankatti respectively.
Choti female (T40) – Mother of 4 cubs seen regularly in Khitouli. #Kodghar Nala, #Darha Talab and #Nigah water hole became popular this season. All thanks to T 40 and her cubs.
Dhamdhama female (T21) this elusive female was older of the lot. Last season her cubs were separated. This season brief sighting was reported near Dhamdhama area along with the new cub. Nothing mentioned for the rest of the season.
Chota Charger (T47) has been seen in Khitouli near #Nigha daria and #Kansa area. His name kept after his habit of mock Charging. Father of four cubs from Nigha or Choti female.
Solo (T42) – This young lady is sister of new Kankati. She was active throughout on #Nilgai road, #Jhurjhura and #Bathan road areas. She was often seen resting near #Nandu gufa.
Bamera bids bye to Bandhavgarh National Park
Finally we had to say Good bye to Bamera – a handsome male born in 2004 from Chakradhara and legendary B2. He was the undisputed king of Tala zone. After an injury in 2012 he was pushed out of his territory and he kept living in small area of Khitouli. Last six month he was kept at an enclosure in Bahera for his safety and survival. His tales became immortal forever on May 13, 2016.
Rest of the wildlife also kept the visitors busy this season. Khitouli had some good sightings of the pack of 18 wild dogs. This zone was also busy with Leopards as well this whole season along with sloth bears. Indian Gaur were also seen throughout the park. As of now the core zones Bandhavgarh national park are resting and preparing for the next season. Though the buffer zones are open for the tourists to come and enjoy the monsoons in Bandhavgarh.
Indian Wildlife pleasantly surprises many. We have 16% of world population living in less than 1% land mass of this planet. The bio-mass pressure of the human and cattle population creates a huge pressure on our forests. A worldwide trend where development, and GDP growth is an enemy of the environment.
While traveling in rural India you still find people worshipping trees, animals, rivers and practically everything that is in nature.
This is the reason India has still managed to hold on to some endangered species. The so called #TigerExperts had given a apocalypse that Tiger shall not survive to see the turn of the 21st century. Tiger survives well into 16 years of the century. Did these experts underestimate their subjects of study, or overestimate their own expertise? Perhaps they were quite right at the time of this prediction, maybe this prognosis served as an alarm bell in the right ears.
For every forest being disrobed, there are many Krishna’s prohibiting the same. There are poachers and there are protectors. In summary the experts saw only one side and predicted. They did not see the human side. But I would still like to thank them for the prediction, cause that woke up lot of sleeping souls of the society.
An Indian Wildlife savior in Bandhavgarh National Park
I would like to share a true incident I witnessed in #Bandhavgarh National Park in Feb 2016. Do see the image of the same below the text.
While doing an evening safari in #Bandhavgarh from a distance I noticed a forest guard sitting near the #Rajbhera waterhole. On looking closely we see a cheetal (spotted deer) by his side. The guard was feeding him with water and leaves. Later we asked what happened, he said while patrolling this morning he noticed the old and weak deer almost dying next to the water hole. He fed him with some leaves and water. Thereafter, the deer was able to lift his head in a couple of hours. When he came back in the evening to feed the cheetal, he saw more improvement. I was touched by his gesture, as no one had told him to do that.
We appreciated his work, and what he said after that amazed me, and made me laugh simultaneously. He said, “Sirji hum to tiger ko bhi aise kar dein agar woh karne de”. (Sir, we would treat / handle the #tiger similarly if he allows us to). His voice and eyes had genuine concern and love for animals. Whether the deer survived the night or not, whether he became food of some predator or not, is not important. But what is important is, that we do have a lot of people in our forests doing their job sincerely and silently, away from recognition. In my eyes, he did not only save the cheetal, he saved the tiger, and the forest simultaneously. This is why I say, that there are Krishna’s working silently saving Indian Wildlife in their own ways.
I have not lost any hope despite a lot of adversity towards Indian Wildlife. Nature will regenerate, it is powerful enough to take care of itself, it has done so for eons, and will continue to do so eternally.
Which are the Top 3 Tiger National Parks of India? Simple question with a no so simple answer. What you find below is my choice based on 27 years of doing safaris in India. The factors i considered are; the habitat, the prey base, water bodies in the park, forest management, tourism management, Tiger density, and frequency of sightings. The most important being the consistency over a span of 20 years. As the Tiger sightings can change radically like an ECG, hence time frame was given more importance over other parameters.
Ranthambhore National Park: Top 3 Tiger National Parks of India
A historical and a bit touristy park, as it is located in the heart of the Golden triangle circuit. The fort in the background, and jungle in the fore, must be making the Tiger also happy to be a part of this beautiful canvas. How the Tigers have accepted the natural and human creation in this forest is to be seen to be believed. To handle the tourism pressures the safaris here are done in Jeeps and 20 seater open safari buses. But don’t be discouraged if you get to do a safari in the 20 seater open safari bus, as the Tigers are impartial to both types of vehicles.
A word of caution for those who visit Ranthambhore for the first time. There could be occasions when you will not sight a Tiger for 2 or 3 consecutive safaris. But trust me, once you do, you will forget the previous blank safaris.
The factors that go in favor of Ranthambhore to be considered among the Top 3 Tiger National Parks in India are; negligible undergrowth, lot of water holes, big lakes, and surplus presence of Sambar deer. Thus enough of preferred prey, and water makes Tiger sightings easier here. Summers are excellent times for Tiger sightings in this park, as lot of action is seen closer to the water holes and the lakes. Hence Ranthambhore finds a place amongst the Top 3 Tiger National Parks of India. Ghengis Khan, Noor, Bamboo Ram, Jhumroo, T17, T24, and T23 were big names. But it has been Machli the longest living Tiger in the wild, which made people fall in love with Tigers and Wildlife. She passed away on 18th August 2016 at an age of 19 years.
Bandhavgarh National Park; Top 3 Tiger National Parks of India
Bandhavgarh is one park very close to the heart of most of the Tiger photographers worldwide. It shot into prominence in mid nineties when Sita the beautiful Tigress and #Charger a dominant male created a storm worldwide with their bold sightings. The nineties belonged to this bold and beautiful couple. But the next decade belonged to the Legendary B2. He took Tiger tourism to Himalayan heights, and a completely different level of economy. In a study done, he was rated amongst the most photographed male Tiger ever in the history of wildlife photography until he lived. It was later that this title went to Machli in Ranthambhore.
As tourism bridgework increased, Bhamera, Jhurjhura, and Vanvai, took the load off handling tourists from B2 in Tala zone of Bandhavgarh National Park. Currently it is the Sukhi Patia, Rajbhera females with their cubs and the Mahamen male which are the hot favorites of everyone.
Grasslands with small rivulets flowing through them attract lot of prey, thereby predators. Bandhavgarh is one park where you can see a Tiger in the water, in the bamboo, in the grassland, on the rocks, on the trails. You can expect a Tiger to appear from anywhere and anytime in Bandhavgarh. Sighting Tigers here is not tough, and hence it is among the Top 3 Tiger National Parks of India. Good time for Tiger sightings here is round the year. In all parks they say that “you are lucky if you see one Tiger”. But for Bandhavgarh they coined an adage; “you are unlucky if you only see one Tiger here”.
Kanha National Park; Top 3 Tiger National Parks of India
A park which needs no publicity. Kanha’s raw and ever green beauty makes it one of the most humbling forests i visit regularly. Kanha is one park where it is easy to get lost in the beauty so much that you might forget to click.
When Tigers of Kanha decide to come on the track, they then just own it. They will walk few kilometers before changing course. So if you happen to be ahead of them or on their tail, give them distance, if you wish to take loads of great images. A Tiger head on sighting here is unmatched in India.
The habitat in Kanha is ideal for Tigers to survive here. A study by a researcher concluded that Kanha along with Corbett and Nandhaur will be the last bastions of the Tiger in India. The dense undergrowth, two rivers going through it, prey in tens of thousands, plus friendly local community are all pluses in Tiger’s favor. Kanha provides big prey to the Tigers, the Swamp Deers, the Indian Gaur, Sambar deers are in surplus here, apart from the regular deers. Perhaps it is the size of the prey here which determines the big size of Kanha Tigers.
Now does this image give you a feel of the size of Kanha Male Tigers?
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”–Benjamin Franklin. Very apt lines for all travelers by a wise man. India is a diverse nation with equally diverse weather. While packing for Indian safari it is important to know the weather during safaris in India. What temperatures you will encounter in the wilderness of India? Is there a possibility of rain? Else, it can be a surprise if you are not fully equipped.
We always provide a list of things to carry, including clothing while on a safari in India, depending on the month of the safari. It is important to know that the safaris are conducted in open vehicles, so there is no insulation from weather whatsoever. The winds, the dust, the sun, it all comes direct, and one is better served if better equipped. Sun screen sprays and creams are a must.
Winters (December till February)
During winters, i.e from Dec till about mid February, it gets very chilly when you enter the national parks in the morning. First one hour is your test to handle the chill, in particular in the Sal forests of north, and central India. The temperature can range anything from zero degree in the night to about 25 degrees centigrade during the day. Guests arriving from the cold countries are also taken by surprise by the weather during safaris in India. The chill seems to increase when the sun comes out in the morning. How does this happen? Simple, when the sun rays hit the dew drops, they evaporate, and start to rise, and the temperature starts to drop.
We recommend multi layer and comfortable clothing. One must carry a head gear, woolen gloves, socks, and thermal wear during these months. You may also encounter fog in some parks for an hour or two in the morning. If visiting Dudhwa, your entire day can be fogged out as well. This means hardly any sun during the day. When you book with us at Nature Safari India, we will provide you a detailed note on the weather during safaris in India, on what to carry and not to carry.
Summers (March till June)
Similarly while traveling in the summer months of April and May, one should be prepared to meet the peak heat. The mercury crosses 45 degree centigrade in couple of national parks. Hence again, what wear becomes important to ensure that you do not get a heat stroke. Important point to remember is that these temperatures are usually between 2-4pm, and this is time when you are in the comfortable environs of your resort. The evening safari commences around 4pm, and the temperature starts to dip, and by late evening it normally becomes pleasant in all the parks. But in the parks of Panna, Satpura, Pench, and Tadoba, the evenings also tend to remain warm if not hot.
Idea is not to discourage you, but to better prepare you better for the weather during safaris in India.
Do write to us to know about the weather on firstname.lastname@example.org.