Bandhavgarh is best known for its spectacular setting, as well as having the highest concentration of tigers at any park in India. It's relatively difficult to reach but it offers the best chance of seeing tigers in their natural habitat.
The park features dense green valleys and rocky hill terrain, with an ancient fort built on 800 meter (2,624 foot) high cliffs. It's a relatively small park, with an area of 105 square kilometers (65 square miles) that’s open to tourists. In addition to tigers, the park has a large array of wildlife including sloth bears, deers, leopards, jackals, and birds.
In Madhya Pradesh state, almost 200 kilometers (124 miles) north east of Jabalpur. The nearest village is Tala, which is the access point of the park.
How to Get to Bandhavgarh:
Air Deccan flies directly to Jabalpur from Delhi, then it’s around 4-5 hours by road from there to Bandhavgarh. Alternatively, Bandhavgarh can also be reached by rail from India’s major cities. The nearest train stations are Umaria, 45 minutes away, and Katni, around 2.5 hours away.
When to Visit Bandhavgarh:
March and April, when the temperature increases and the tigers come out to cool themselves in the grass or by a watering hole. May and June are also good months for tiger sightings, except the weather is very hot at this time. Try to avoid peak months from December to January, and March during the Indian Holi festival, as it's extremely busy. Expect the winter to be very cold.
Bandhavgarh Opening Hours:
Safaris operate twice a day, starting at dawn until late morning, and mid afternoon until sunset. The best time to visit the park is early in the morning or after 4 p.m. to spot the animals. The park is closed from July 1 to September 30 due to the monsoon rains. It will also be closed for safaris every Wednesday evening from April 2011.
Bandhavgarh Entry Fee:
Note: Entry fees to Bandhavgarh National Park increased
in October 2011.
When going on a safari, separate fees must be paid for jeep hire and jeep entry. The latest jeep entry rates for Tala (the park's premium zone, with the most tigers) per jeep, carrying up to six people, are 4,000 rupees for foreigners and 2,000 rupees for Indians. Child rates are 2,000 rupees and 1,000 rupees respectively. If there's a mixture of foreigners and Indians in the jeep, the foreigner rate will be charged. Expect to pay around 1,800 rupees to hire a jeep, in addition to the entry cost. This can be done at the park entrance, at the commencement of the safari. Alternatively all hotels can arrange jeep hire and tours, but at a higher rate.
Bandhavgarh Travel Tips:
Tiger shows, whereby you'll be taken on a 10 minute elephant ride to see a tiger that's been tracked, are possible. The cost is 200 rupees for Indians and 600 rupees for foreigners. It's also possible to go on an hour-long elephant safari at the park. The cost is 500 rupees for Indians and 1,500 rupees for foreigners. The elephant safaris take place in the Maghadi zone. You can also go on a jeep safari in this zone, if you don't want to pay the exorbitant rates for the Tala zone. Jeep entry rates for the Maghadi zone are 1,000 rupees for Indians and 2,000 rupees for foreigners. The zone is much bigger than Tala and located on the fringe of the park. However, tiger sightings still happen there, and the zone has become more popular since the fee increase at Tala. Jeep safari bookings for all zones can be made at the MP Online website.
If you're traveling alone, you can usually find other travelers to share a jeep at the entrance gate or main street in Tala. Holidays such as the New Year and Diwali are peak times, along with long weekends, so make sure you book well in advance.
Most accommodations are located in Tala. There are plenty of basic budget rooms on offer there. Otherwise, King’s Lodge
is 8-10 minutes from the park gate on a sprawling estate surrounded by forested hills. They specialize in providing jeeps for couples or families, and each comes with a trained naturalist. Other popular accommodations include Tiger's Den Resort
, Mogli Jungle Resort
, and the cheaper Bandhavgarh Jungle Lodge
. For unsurpassed luxury you can't go past the Taj Hotel's Mahua Kothi
resort, although it's pricey at around $1,500 for a double room per night. For a really romantic experience, stay in a Treehouse Hideaway
from $280 for a double tree house room per night.