Legend says that Lord Rama gifted the haunting Bandhavgarh Fort to his younger brother, Laxman, to keep a watch over Lanka. While the myth might be a bit too far-stretched, the charm and allure of this fabled jungle is surely not. Here, the tiger reigns supreme for its story is told by the lighthearted stream that flows along Chakradhara, the old Sal that overlooks the Banbei watchtower, the wrinkled forest guard who patrols day and night to protect this iconic wilderness, the ancient pebbles that line the burnt riverbeds and the ephemeral flower that blooms but for a few hours. The tale of this legendary creature is everywhere, and why not!
Deep inside the great wilderness of India's Madhya Pradesh, on an ancient river bed in the forest of Panna, alongside a tract of Dhonk trees that reminds one of Ranthambhore, saunters something big in black and orange. The shape grows in size as it moves toward a crystal clear pool of water, its reflection sparkling in the afternoon sun. A distant langoor cackles noisily as the tiger drinks to its heart's content. The great success story of Panna has just manifested itself in its most glamorous avatar.
What to expect?
Bandhavgarh and tiger go together like Mozart and symphony, they are synonyms of each other. Iconic tigers like Charger, Sita, B2 and Bamera have lived and died in this primeval forest, each one leaving their legacy on the land. While these tigers are no more, their descendants are ruling Bandhavgarh with passion and intent, for this last great wilderness in central Madhya Pradesh is theirs to preserve for generations to come. Bandhavgarh is an excellent place to try our luck with leopards and sloth bears too, for these creatures of the night do inhabit the woods in good numbers. Over the last many years, thanks to countless visits, we have developed an extremely potent team of local drivers and guides. Right from positioning the gypsy to get the best possible angles for photography to using their incredible gut instinct to take the jungle byway less beaten are just some of the many path-breaking things that these forest folk do. Their stories and tales about tiger tracking are just about as legendary as the tigers themselves.
A decade ago, Panna's tiger population was on the brink of extinction. As hopes fell and pessimism crept on the scene, one of India's greatest wildlife conservation stories took place. Tigers were carefully relocated from Tiger dense jungles from the central Indian landscape to Panna. Careful monitoring and regular tracking ensured their numbers rose slow and steady. Today, Panna boasts of an extremely healthy population of the Royal Bengal Tiger and the second generation of these new tigers is giving great sightings. While the Tiger would be our prime focus, we shall also track the many leopards that revel in this partly rocky landscape which suits their ways well. Winsome chital and sambar herds should keep us entertained while the occasional sightings of the Sloth Bear and the Wild Dog would make us all excited and thrilled. Our camp is located on a strategic piece of land adjoining the Ken river and the many animals and birds seen from the campus should keep the momentum going strong even during the non safari hours!