~Much more than a Tiger sanctuary!~
If the word Tiger pops in your mind as soon as you hear Bandhavgarh, you can’t be blamed! It is a place full of folklores of Sita (the most photographed tigress) and Charger, her male companion, then there are banka, mohini, langru …but the whole fixation with tiger takes away the real charm of the place! My first advice to you is, tell your guide that as much as you would like to sight a tiger, you don’t want to miss out on the jungle experience! Once you have curbed the desire of seeing a tiger and tiger only, the jungle opens up and plays in front of you like a fairy tale! The morning sun caressing the dew kissed trees and grass, the startled dear foul gaping at you, the jackal making its way amidst the jumping monkeys and the alexandrine parakeets singing a good morning song and then you hear a call, the jungle goes silent, the monkeys and chinkaras sound alerts and the rustle behind the bamboos intensifies! The hush, the occasional bird, the heightened senses and the thrill of anticipation, now that is what I call the jungle experience! The sudden rush of blood in the veins and the dried leaves crackling under the feet of Bamera, the magnificent giant with the most captivating persona!
It is this rush that makes people- addicts! The jungle junky as I call myself, Tiger is only a part of the whole high, the trees; tall, green, sheltering the birds, flowering, new and ancient, varied texture, shape and size ! Centuries old banyan trees are witnesses of tiger generations while bamboo grooves and sal trees weave a green sheet to wrap the jungle! The burst of colour and music is thrown in by birds that are found in couple of hundred species!But the most enchanting are the delicate little fairies people call butterflies, which are in abundance at this time of the year. Bursting like a colourful bubble in the lush green jungle, these happy creatures make wild and garden flowers smile, buds sway and hearts melt!
Bandhavgarh is lush green; its buffer zone is dense, which makes the whole place all the more interesting. It is jungle outside the sanctuary that plays around you while you are staying at the hotels. The encircled pug marks on the pathways of hotels and resorts intensify the expectations and if you are lucky you might have glimpses of leopards or tigers while dinning alfresco. Then you can go for excursions and feel the whispers of centuries in ruins of fort, be in awe of sleeping Vishnu and feel the vastness of the universe and realise the tiny presence of self. Tucked are the temples with Kamasutra statues carved on walls in small villages around streams!
Folklores mystify and confuse you but the very existence of the place cannot be denied. The place is ancient for sure, the air, the stillness and decay in the ruins speak for themselves but don’t go by my word, see for yourself. Ah now I am coming to the best kept secret -The rock paintings. Just about 3 km off Katni, are the rock paintings of Jhinjhari. About 14 shelters of ancient rock paintings are said to be 10 to 4000 BC old, tucked in the middle of the highway traffic and locals, this isn’t an easy to find place as even locals are not aware of it. That’s what makes it a perfectly hidden treasure! Once inside the enclosure, the hustle and bustle fades away. You might be the only tourist visiting in days , no pestering guides ,no hawkers ,no fellow noisy tourists . All by yourself you can sit under the shelters, touch the stones, close your eyes, and feel the touch, laughter and chatter of thousands of years. In that absolute quietude when you are looking at those beautiful ancient creations, the only apparent sound is your own heartbeat. And the sheer awareness of being alone with an ancient creation gives you goose bumps!
Every one should visit such places to experience joy, excitement and mortality. Places like Bandhavgarh make you fall in love with life, nature and culture. What more could you ask for?
Wildlife enthusiast | Inquisitive Explorer
Living media fossil -fighting extinction since 1987.