Road Trip Through Madhya Pradesh - Fourth Stop - Bandhavgarh National Park

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Road Trip Through Madhya Pradesh - Fourth Stop - Bandhavgarh National Park

Bandhavgarh National Park is a four hour journey from Bargi Dam, Jabalpur (similar time if you are coming straight from Jabalpur). The drive is very smooth as you drive onto MP SH 11. The only problem is that you won't find a decent place to stop over for food or restrooms. If you are stopping at Maikal resort in Jabalpur make sure to use the restrooms there.

[Missed our post on Gwalior, Orchha or Jabalpur - click on the city name to go read all about it!]

bandhavgarh national park

Bandhavgarh National Park is known for its tiger safaris. The safari has to be booked online at https://forest.mponline.gov.in/  - make sure you book the safari well in advance. We could not get a permit for the core areas but we really wanted to do the safari so we booked for Dhamokhar region. This is a buffer area very close to the resort we were staying at. We were told that a lot of tiger spotting was happening in Dhamokar as well so we had our fingers crossed.


Road to Bandhavgarh
Road to Bandhavgarh

We reached our resort, Roaring Salvan County around 3. We had requested the owner to have some lunch prepared for us since we had not found anything on the way. Varun Sharma is the owner; he is a naturalist, works as the official photographer for Nat Geo and is also their guide. Roaring Salvan County is a lovely rustic resort inside the forest 5 minutes from Dhamokar gate, 11 km from Tala (core area of the national park).

The Roaring Salvan County
The Roaring Salvan County

Roaring Salvan County Cottage
Roaring Salvan County Cottage

It has around 10 cottages each with twin beds, an open bath area and a lovely sit out area where personal bonfire can be arranged. Upon reaching the resort we were given a briefing about the area along with some dos & don't since we were inside the forest. For lunch we were served a hot meal after which we had the evening to our selves which we spent by walking around the resort.

Roaring Salvan County Cottage Interiors (with open bathroom)
Roaring Salvan County Cottage Interiors (with open bathroom)
The Roaring Salvan County Sit Out Area
The Roaring Salvan County Sit Out Area

Roaring Salvan County Dining Hall
Roaring Salvan County Dining Hall
Later in the evening we joined the staff at the central bonfire to hear interesting stories about the villages near by. People here still believe in 'jhaara phoonka' (exorcism) and if they get bitten by a scorpion even the doctor sends them off to the old village priest to ward off the poison. After dinner a call  from the jackal was heard and the staff came out with a search light to see if we could spot the tiger passing through the forest behind the resort. We were given a cottage which was right in front of the place the tiger Bhima had been spotted from. Food was just like home cooked meals. Next morning I woke up early to catch the sunrise and do some bird-watching. After that we walked around to the nearby village.

Sunrise At The Roaring Salvan County, Bandhavgarh
Sunrise At The Roaring Salvan County, Bandhavgarh

Birds Spotted at Bandhavgarh National Park
Birds Spotted at Bandhavgarh National Park


Woodpeckers Caught In Action - Bandhavgarh National Park
Woodpeckers Caught In Action - Bandhavgarh National Park

Gadawahi village is right outside the resort premises. It is a tribal but developed village. I was happy to see girls going to school with backpacks.

Reception - The Roaring Salvan County
Reception - The Roaring Salvan County

For breakfast we had aloo paratha and ginger tea. We still had a few hours before the time for our safari so we got dressed and drove to Tala which is the core area. We spotted a few langoors and lots of spotted dears on the road. We stopped to buy some souveniers and tiger printed t-shirts for ourselves.

After lunch our gypsy came (3350) to pick us up from the resort. Total charges for the gypsy were Rs 3350. When you book online you have to pay Rs 1250 for the gypsy permit. Gypsy charges are to be paid at the resort (there are other private agents from whom you can book your gypsy+guide+pickup)
At the Dhamokar gate you have to take the official guide with you.  We saw 3 elephants as soon as we entered. These were tamed elephants used for the elephant safari (Rs 60,000 cost for a full day safari) The elephants were super thirsty, one of them drank water and also splashed a lot of it on himself. Another elephant wanted to go towards the water but wasn't allowed to, in protest she started throwing sand all over herself!

Safari at Bandhavgarh National Park
Safari at Bandhavgarh National Park

The safari itself was quite boring. We were taken to the spot where a tiger had just finished a kill a few days ago. We waited there for some time and since there was no movement we were taken ahead. We drove through the forest up-to a view point (they always have a view point - even inside the forest!) We were shown the lake which has some spooky stories associated with it (many horses are said to have died in this lake and people say you can still hear their wails at night). 

On returning from this area we heard the calls made by the langoors and the running away of spotted dear. We were told that there is some carnivorous around, we drove slowly around hoping to spot the tiger or leopard whatever it was. We couldn't find anything so we were taken back to the original spot where the tiger was probable - we reached there and heard that one gypsy had just seen two cubs run into the bushes, four other gypsies (and ours) was standing there for over half an hour in the hope that the cubs and the tigress would return. But nothing happened. Disappointed we returned back to the resort. Varun saw my disappointment and decided to drive us into the forest (by a road) at night. we left around 10:30pm into the forest but unlucky me could not spot any tiger even though we could hear the calls nearby. We did however spot porcupines, deers and a hare crossing the road into the forest). Varun recommended that we try the Panna National Park on our way to Khajuraho. He made a call to someone he knows to help us out when we reach there which was really nice of him.

If you are preparing for a safari during the colder months please do take care of the following:

  • Keep a warm cap, muffler, jacket (even a blanket if you have one!)
  • Make sure you have gone to the restroom before the safari begins
  • Don't forget sunglasses
  • Have a face mask - carry it - the dust caused by gypsies during the safari can become awful to bear at times
The Team at The Roaring Salvan County
The Team at The Roaring Salvan County
Roaring Salvan County is a very nice place to stay at if you want to get that forest feel and learn about the forest. The entire staff was very courteous and it felt like a family. For the safari remember to book in advance and book in the core area. Tiger spotting is a matter of luck but the core area gives you a higher chance of spotting the big cat!
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Next morning we started for Khajuraho around 10:15am. The route that we took was through Barhi, Katni bypass, Pawai, Amanganj, Panna National Park, and Mandla. Did we get to do the safari at Panna or not - wait to find out in my next post where I'll I take you to Khajuraho!

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3 comments:

  1. What a wonderful vacation! Those places look so relaxing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. so pretty. I cant wait to visit India one day

    ReplyDelete

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