Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Bandhavgarh - More of it

After the notification of Bandhavgarh as Tiger Reserve the area was increased to more than 100 hundred sq km. This constitutes both the core zone as well as the periphery.  The neighboring Panpatha Wildlife Sanctuary was also brought under the aegis of BTR.

The enlarged area is meant to accord greater protection to Bengal tigers and co-inhabitants as well as the ecosystem. A number settlements exist in the tiger preserve. Panpatha has hitherto become and entrance especially for tourism- Pan Patha Zone. This patch of forest was till now unexplored

Another interesting part of BTR is Marzad Garh where few tourist visit. The bamboo bridge on River Umrar is a sight to behold...the jungle road leads to a watch tower at the top of the mountain. The vantage point offers a breathtaking panoramic view of Bandhavgarh terrain. Marzad Garh is a less visited place and worth a visit.    

Tigers and leopards are reported in these forest which is home to impressive wildlife and bird life. The main road after leaving the forests leads to Barhi Highway from where one can reach to Muchmucha via Kuan Village. One has to take a turn towards Kuan Village about 12 km From Khitauli on Barhi Road. 

Muchmucha is a small village on the periphery of the reserve. It is an agricultural settlement of tribal and mixed communities. The surrounding forests, wetlands and open fields constitute an ideal birding destination. The tigers and leopards often kill livestock here and the bold ones lift them right out of the cowshed. The incidence happened whence I was on a birding trip here. I stayed in Muchmucha Kothi a quaint accommodation which was once a hunting lodge during the British Raj. The property belongs to Mr. Avinash Pathak -conservationist,  landlord and hotelier. He also runs a package tour company in MP.

The Kothi is enchanting with simple services and few modern amenities. It is spacious, well furnished with old time paraphernalia and exudes class. Many industrialists and businessmen have visited the place on holidays. I had good birding time here, and saw much wildlife though missed the tigers due to preoccupation with the avian species.

Muchmucha is about 30 km from Tala but offers peace and serenity away from the mad tiger rush. It is more for the niche traveler interested in birding and safaris in unexplored quarters. It is also for those in quest of peaceful hang about in a village living in old times. A ride to Tala Gate from here offers exciting wildlife watching at many places with little disturbance. A part of the drive is through villages while most of it is through the buffer zone.  

The Kothi is a unique experience and unlike the luxury hotels in Bandhavgarh the lodge is not crowded. The accommodation is more of a farm resort in picturesque surroundings. In winters as you sit under the camp fire the starry night sky enlivens your spirit and augurs hope. The food is classic with lot of local touch, enhanced by the enchanting little dining room with mahogany table and chairs. Candles flicker wild in expectation as you dine in cozy ambiance created by the candlelight.     

The Khitauli Zone offers the best in wildlife safaris and birding. Apart from Marzad Garh other interesting places are: Chakri Dongri, Kumbhi Kacchhar, Garhpuri Dam, Tedka Munara and Nigahi Nala. The extensive forest cover, perennial streams and grasslands offer ideal habitat to the herbivores, tigers and leopards. Nilgai and Sloth bear are often seen in this zone in BTR.