Bandhavgarh National Park Wildlife – Beyond The Tigers


Bandhavgarh National Park beyond tigersBandhavgarh National Park is best known for tiger sightings. Being a small national park with fair number of tigers, tiger sightings here are almost guaranteed. In fact we were told that you have to be lacking in luck to not see tiger here. As luck would have it, Tigers decided to give us a miss for all the three safaris that we took in the Magadi and Tala Zone. Some fellow-travelers did see the tiger. Confirming that it was indeed a matter of destiny for those who missed. What happens when you miss the most coveted catch of the jungle? You start observing the rest of the jungle and its eco-system. This is exactly what happened with us. We saw the Bandhavgarh national park in all its diversity.

Animals Crossing our paths at Bandhavgarh National Park
Animals Crossing our paths at Bandhavgarh National Park
Spotted Deer at Bandhavgarh National Park
Spotted Deer at Bandhavgarh

Bandhavgarh National Park beyond Tigers.

Trees at Bandhavgarh.

Sal trees with their fresh green leaves dominated the jungles of Bandhavgarh National Park. Followed by the bunches of Bamboo trees. Sandy earth from which these trees come out, remind of the times when this place might have been a part of a ocean. That left its mark on this land with its sand. An intriguing part of the these jungles is the Lyna Vine – which is a vine that grows on Sal trees by wrapping itself around the tree. Irony is that it is a parasitic vine and eats the very tree that it grows on. Once the tree that it grows on dies, it obviously dies itself. At a philosophical level, is this not how many people behave in life. They cut the very trees that sustain them, only to realize that they have no identity without this tree.

Our guide showed us many medicinal plants in the jungle that are used by the local tribal populations. Who have been residing in these jungles since time immemorial. For example Anti-Malaria plant like Chloroxylon Swietania, locally known as Bhira.

Lyna Vive around Sal tree at Bandhavgarh National Park
Lyna Vive around Sal tree at Bandhavgarh National Park

Saja tree is a ash grey colored tree with a skin pattern resembling that of crocodile skin. This is a tree that is worshiped by the locals as a representative of Shiva for this tree also resembles his ash smeared skin. They never cut this tree for any purpose and would bow down to it as and when they pass through it. There were Jamun tress at places leaving the dirty paths pink and purple with their juice.

Indian Roller bird at Bandhavgarh
Indian Roller bird at Bandhavgarh
Indian Pitta bird at Bandhavgarh National Park
Indian Pitta bird at Bandhavgarh

Birds at Bandhavgarh.

Birds flying in their natural habitat became the favorite catch for my camera. Pitta and Indian Roller flew around flaunting their colors as they flew. Indian Pitta looks lovely in its bright yet somber colors when it is sitting. But is a riot of colors when it flies – specially with its red back. No wonder is called Nauranga in Hindi or the Nine-colored. Indian Roller reveals its bright blue colors beneath its wings as it flies while the blue merges with its grey top while it is sitting on the branches. Woodpeckers and Orioles gave a tough time to my camera as if saying – enjoy us. And let others come to us and meet us rather than see us through your camera. Point taken.

Oriental Honey Buzzard at Bandhavgarh
Oriental Honey Buzzard at Bandhavgarh
Crested Serpent Eagle at Bandhavgarh National Park
Crested Serpent Eagle at Bandhavgarh

Variety of Birds.

Birds of prey like Oriental Honey Buzzard, Crested Serpent Eagle sat confidently on the tree branches oblivious to the tourist pointing their long lenses towards them. They were either flying high in search of a prey or sitting quietly on the tree branches. I assume after having their fill of the day. Painted Storks sat in the distant, mostly in the meadows, with their eyes scanning the grasslands for a potential meal. Jungle Babblers camouflaged their dusty color but would get noticed with their constant movements. And for the fact they always occupied the branches in bunches. Black and White Magpie played hide and seek with me and my camera and beat me hands down for I could not catch it.

Spotted doves had a quite presence in these jungles. Black Ibis, Drongos, Cormorants and Lap wigs were also seen mostly in flight. Peacocks ready to shed their feathers ran around adding their brightness to the jungle.

Sloth bear busy digging its food at Bandhavgarh National Park
Sloth bear busy digging its food at Bandhavgarh National Park

Wild Animals.

A bear busy looking for its food entertained us for quite a few minutes. He was digging a small termite hill ferociously looking for termites to eat. It turned around a few times to dig the pit from various sides. While we clicked its video and pictures, but it showed us its face for a split second may be. Wild boars made guest appearances here and there. Spotted dears dominated with their numbers – always found in big groups. As if being in the group would save them from the animals who feed on them. Sambar deer that is always referred as the most stupid animal can be found in pairs moving around – with its alert ears.

Monkeys – common monkey as well as the Hanuman Langurs were found with their little ones clinging in to them or some of them hugging the trees. At one place we found a huge bunch of them drinking water from a pond, and then admiring their own reflection.

Video of Sloth Bear.

Watch this video of the Sloth Bear I managed to capture at Bandhavgarh.

Read about our Night Safari at Satpura National Park when we sighted a pair of sloth bears.

Butterfly at Bandhavgarh National Park
Butterfly at Bandhavgarh National Park

Butterflies & Insects.

One particular tree that I choose to call Buzzing Tree with small white flowers was home to many butterflies and insects. We spent quite some time standing under this tree in two different safaris. And were amazed to see two different sets of insects and butterflies in morning and evening.

Rhesus monkeys or Rhesus Macaques - Drinking Water or admiring their own reflection
Rhesus monkeys or Rhesus Macaques – Drinking Water or admiring their own reflection

3 Zones of Bandhavgarh National Park.

Bandhavgarh National Park is divided into 3 main tourist zones – Khatauli, Magadi & Tala. Tala is the premium zone followed by Magadi. Both these zones are located on either side of a giant rock hill also called the Bandhavgarh Fort. Even when they are adjacent, you can easily see the difference between the two zones. Tala is a much denser zone with thick tress, lovely landscapes compared to Magadi zone. I did 2 safaris in Magadi and one in Tala. I would definitely choose Tala over Magadi, although I was told the tiger sightings are much more in Magadi.

Little Cormorant at Bandhavgarh
Little Cormorant at Bandhavgarh
Giant Chapatis or bread for Elephants at Bandhavgarh National Park
Giant Chapatis or bread for Elephants at Bandhavgarh National Park

Giant Bread for the Elephant.

A forest department elephant with a Mahout roams around looking for tigers and directs the jeep in the most probable directions to see them. Now near a well where a big snake was resting coiled inside the well. We found the feeding place of this elephant. Giant chapatis – each made from a kilo of flour were being cooked. They looked too small for the elephant. But we were told that each day elephant is given two such chapatis for breakfast and 8 for a later meal. And then he is free to graze in the jungle.

Orchid flowers at Bandhavgarh National Park
Orchid flowers at Bandhavgarh National Park

Here and there we found orchids sprouting from the tree trunks. At one place we found a man from Baiga tribe picking up the fallen stuff in the jungle. I assume as they did always, taking what the jungle offers gracefully.

Gray Langurs or Hanuman Langurs, the Black-faced monkeys at Bandhavgarh
Gray Langurs or Hanuman Langurs, the Black-faced monkeys at Bandhavgarh National Park

It seems not finding the tiger turned out to be a blessing in disguise. We observed the jungle in all its diversity – of course limited to birds and animals who decided to make an appearance on our path.

Recommend you to read following blog posts on National Parks of India on my Travel Blog.

  1. Meeting Munna – Rock Star Tiger at Kanha National Park.
  2. Listen to Kanha National Park speak to me.
  3. History, Life inside Bandhavgarh National Park.
  4. Meet oldest residents of India at Ghughua Fossil Park.
  5. Jeep Safari at Satpura National Park.
  6. 5 ways to explore Forests of Satpura.
  7. Bird Photography at Satpura National Park.
  8. Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary.
  9. Home to Single Horned Rhinos – Kaziranga National Park.
  10. Nameri National Park & Tiger Reserve.
  11. Bondla Zoo & Wildlife Sanctuary.
  12. Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary – A walker’s paradise.


  1. I have fond memories of my visit to Bandhavgarh and even if you didn’t see the Tiger I am sure they saw you!!! Lucky you got to see the sloth bear I didn’t!!! Of course we did see the tigers and three cubs too. Also went for the evening joy ride on the elephant, lovely ride even through thick forest, not just on the roads.

  2. Wonderful experience. It is mostly when we don’t spot the main attraction that we enjoy the forest and the other animals better. Had a similar experience in Bandhavgarh. Din’t sight any tigers but loved the forest.

    • Thank you Sunil. Why do you say ‘We Indians’? In my opinion, we in India always had the tradition of travelling, it is recommended right in Rig Veda. Yes, it was never such a big commercial product, as it is today.

  3. Thanks for sharing this experience and your lovely pictures for those of us who can only dream of such travels!