One of the most pictures realms of the tiger, Bandhavgarh boast of a terrain that captivates and allures. In the igneous rocks, the chisel has created amazing statues of Lord Vishnu in varied state of leisure, and in the zoomorphic forms.
The focal point of the paradise is the Bandhavgarh Fort situated atop a hill rising 800 MSL forest clad and towering the reserve. Built by the tribal, the structure finds mention in the ancient Hindu texts dating 2000 years back. Although out of bounds, the tribal are allowed to access the complex on religious occasions to offer prayers and relish a day of festivities.
On the fort time comes to a standstill as an eerie silence creep into your nerves and you begin to contemplate how our ancestors managed to dwell so deep into nothingness – an esoteric confine. A visit to the fort complex leaves each and every visitor spellbind. The tiger reserve, and National Park is an amazing combination of wilderness and history.
The story begins a hundred yards below at Shesh Shaiyya or the statue of the reclining Vishnu. Carved out of an igneous rock lying asleep, the 20 feet statue always creates an engrossing moment whenever I visit. The fairy tale like ambiance is heightened by overshadowing Jamun groove that offer shade and cools.
Shesh Shaiyya is the first stop to the fort, and it offered much needed rest after a long climb to battle worn tribal soldiers on horseback. All along the climb small chambers created out of the mountain fold greet the visitors. They were used as in between stops for the horses and some served as a meeting grounds.
Lord Vishnu lies besides a tiny pool fed by several trickles from the forest clad, fern covered mountain slope. The pool is infested with algae, moss and lichens which decorate the enclosing walls and the reclining statue. It is an amazing spectacle dating more than 2000 years.
The surroundings are the breeding grounds of the big cats in Bandhavgarh. They accord protection and privacy to families that come to breed here. The place is mid-way to the Fort, and one has to climb on foot from here onwards on a dusty worn-out metal road. As you climb up an eerie spectacle greets you, the silence creeps in and you begin to comprehend solitude in this over populated World.
The first stop is the Huge Wooden Gate supported by mortar pillars. The arched gate is with locked access to the complex, and the key is with the Pujari. Hence the name Tala (Lock). As a kind gesture the priest will let you in. He is a figure of intrigue, trudging kilometers inside the forest for the temple’s up keep. Wild animals greet him almost every day!
If you are a wildlife photographer, the dome shaped chattri or guard chamber next to the gate is home to bats and you get ample time to film the night creatures.
The climb is steep from here onwards and you have to sip constantly during the hot summer. Dense forest, tall grass crops up here and there and the path narrows as you walk further. You have to be on alert for tigers, wild pigs and pythons and what not. Keep quite and observe the spectacle there is nothing like this on Earth to witness.
Lord Vishnu – Zoomorphic Structures
The huge idol looms vacant literally from the edge of the mountain. From the edge one gets a breathtaking view of the amazing valley. Forested but often scarred bare at slopes, the steep cliffs and glens with sparkling rivulets trespassing create a panoramic grandeur that dazzles.
At the fort complex time stands still, you are transported back to centuries a period when tigers ruled and wilderness prevailed. Overhead a lone eagle calls echoing the valleys as the sound pierces through the vacuum.
Here in the complex a long stretch of grassy meadow prevails, home to wild creatures’ – tigers, antelopes and deer. The confines of the fort complex offer chance to spot the four horned antelope a rare creature on the Earth.
Ram Janki Temple
The fort was gifted by Lord Rama to his brother Laxman as the name suggests (Bandhav=brother, Garh=fort)). The park is named after the Bandhavgarh Fort and is now ruled by tigers after the departure of the last ruling King. The Ram Janki Temple stands as testimony to the park’s history. The overstretching wall and temple are two structures visible from down below on a jungle safari.
Within the complex lie idols of Lord Vishnu in zoo morphic avatars namely Varha avatar, Matsya avatar and Kashyap Avatar. The complex comprises twelve huge man-made reservoirs besides a number of scattered artifacts and small structures in ruins. Vermillion idols can be seen here and there on exploration but the main structure the Fort is absent after centuries of disintegration.
The fort complex is now out of bound for the tourists, but a drive up to the reclining Visnhu is possible when you book a safari in Tala Zone. It is worth a visit!
Contact Wildlifeekart for booking safari at Bandhavgarh National Park!