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There are about 32 hills and hillocks of Vindhyachal ranges in Bandhavgarh. Among them highest one is about 811mtr. high. At this safe height, on a plateau of 4 sq. km. you find the fort, made in 10th century, on the top, called Bandhavgarh. Once it was a formidable stronghold of Bahela Rajputs and known by the name of Moti Mahal. At present only remains of fort are their to see. It is another important part of wildlife safari in this Tiger Reserve. At this height, one can have tantalizing view of Bandhavgarh National Park. Legends say that this fort was made by Lord Rama for his younger brother Laxman to keep eye over Lanka. As it was the fort of Brother Laxman, it was known by the name of Bandhavgarh, where Bandhav means Brother & Garh means Fort.
The Fort is visible from almost any point in core & buffer zone of Tala Range. There is fabulous sighting of hills of Bandhavgarh from fort. In current scenario, Bandhavgarh fort and Tiger Reserve are seems interwoven and seems as fort of real king of Forest. As if now, no human being lives in fort and often tigress visit the fort plateau as at this height, male tigers are often reluctant to come so it is a safe place for litter cubs.
To visit Bandhavgarh fort, prior permission is required to seek from authority. As fort is at the height of 811 meters of height, approaching road is steep with sharp turning points. As the safari jeep enters a narrow ancient gate called Karn Pol and takes left turn, we will notice that the old structures and forest have been meshed into each other. Here we can find man-made caves that were used as a horse stable, guard room, justice court etc. Dark areas of such caves become abode of bats. These caves are made by cutting sand-stone rocks are they are cool from inside. As we proceed further we will find two way, if we take left turn, we will reach the bird-sighting point and by taking right side, we will come across statue of wild boar called Varah means one of the nine reincarnation of Lord Vishnu. On proceeding further, we can notice other incarnations like “Matsya”, the fish statue of size 9ft.2in. x 11ft.2in, “Kachchap” the turtle statue largest one in India. On half way down, there is a large statue of Lord Vishnu reclining on the body of seven hooded serpent called “Sheshnag”. It is popular by the name of Sheshshaiya. Head of lord Vishnu is towards east direction and legs are on west direction from which a gush of natural water comes known as Bandhavgarh’s life line river “Charan-ganga”. On occasion of Janmashtami festival (birthday of lord Krishna), thousands of devotees visits Sheshshaiya & Bandhavgarhdheesh Temple. Kabir Chabutra at the top of the hill is another very serene place. Kabir Chabutra have 5 tomb structure, all of them in different sizes. Inside the structure, we can see small statue of saint Kabir. It is believed that saint Kabir visited Bandhavgarh and spent some time here. There are other structures also at the plateau like Treasury, Seth Dhani ka Temple, Bandhavdheesh Temple (still active), 12 ponds etc. Bandhavdheesh Temple have statues of Lord Rama, Sita with Laxman. It is a active temple and a preist remain their. Devotees visits Temple during birthday of Lord Krishna i.e. on Janmashtami festival. 18 ft high Narsimha (body of man with head of lion) is another attraction of Bandhavgarh fort visit.
Bandhavgarh is ruled by different dynasties since 2nd century like Magh, Maurya, Vakataka, Sengar, Kalchuri and Baghels. In 2nd & 3rd century, Bandhavgarh was under Magh dynasty and later in 5th century it was rulled by Sengar Dynasty followed by Kalchuri. The rule of Haihay Kalchuri during 9th century can be called the golden period of this region. Baghels finally took over the fort in 13th century. Baghel King Vikramaditya Singh abandoned Bandhavgarh fort in 1617 when Rewa, at a distance of 130 km from Bandhavgarh, was established as a capital. Abandonment leaves room for wildlife development in this region. When Baghel Kings became aware of it, the declared Bandhavgarh as their hunting preserve and strictly prohibited tree cutting, wildlife hunting etc.
Throughout the tour of Bandhavgarh fort we will never feel going away from wildlife as tigers, cubs, deer can be seen anytime. In addition to them many rare species of birds like Malabar pied hornbill, falcons, 4 species of vultures, tortoises swim can also be seen. At some point one can also see nests of vultures from top. Hill top is considered best for photography of flying birds due to the advantage of being positioned at the top. There is irrefutable evidence of human activity and architechural techinques used in the fort. There are several man mande caves with inscription and rock paintings.The archelogical surveys states that bandhavgarh dates back to before chirst period.
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