Madhya Pradesh trip -10: Bandhavgarh National Park
Overview: After boarding the train from Jabalpur at 9pm, we reached Umaria the next day at around 2:30am in the morning. We stayed at Umaria railway station until 4:30am, and then we got into our taxi which we had booked from Sahil tours and travels, Umaria. We reached the Tala entrance of Bandhavgarh National Park at around 5:20am, and had hot cup of tea at a small shop to beat the cold.
The office at the Tala entrance opens at 5:30am and we had booked a shared Gypsy, which was to start at 6:30am. We got our identity validated and paid the fees at the office. We were soon joined by other members of our Gypsy, and we started at around 6:45am for the safari. The trails at the safari is very well marked and organised and different Gypsies take different routes. According to our safari driver and guide, normally tigers are sighted in the mornings, but due to the cold weather we are unable to see any on this day. We searched a lot for the tiger in vain, though we spotted other animals like wild boar, deer, bison etc. We took a breakfast break at around 8:30am, and bread omlette, maggi, poha and tea are available in these stalls. We continued our search for the tiger post breakfast and could manage to spot any until 10:30am. Realising that it was already time, we headed towards Shesha Shila, a massive image of Vishnu on the top of a hillock. This place is around 20mins away from the main hotspots for spotting tiger, and we could see Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva all three in a row. The statues date back to atleast 500 years ago, and is a must see if you are in this region.
We had a scumptous lunch at Umariya at a local dhaba, and then went to the railway station to board our train to Pendra Road in the afternoon.
How to reach Bandhavgarh: There are 3 entrances to the Bandhavgarh National Park. We went to the one at Tala, which is a big town. Another advantage of taking a safari at Tala is that we can go to Shesha Shila. Cabs can be hired from Umariya Railway station or Jabalpur. Regular buses also ply from Umaria to Bandhavgarh between 8am to 6pm. Accomodation is available at the National park.