Indian Wildlife is synonymous with the Tiger, i.e. when one talks about Indian Wildlife, one inadvertently talks about the Tiger. And, when one talks about the Tiger, one inadvertently talks about Bandhavgarh.
History of Bandhavgarh goes back to our scriptures. And my association with Bandhavgarh goes back just over 21 years. My journey in Indian wildlife started in the year 1990, and i visited Bandhavgarh for the first time in 1996. Ever since, this has been the park which i have most frequented over the last couple of decades. A time when just 2 to 3 safari vehicles would enter the park gate for a safari to today when the safari permits are sold out 120 days before the safari date has been a great learning curve for me. I can easily say that Bandhavgarh has been my wildlife academy where i have learnt a lot, not only about the Tiger, but also about general flora and fauna.
My first sighting of the legendary Charger in 1996, and Sita with her cubs at Shesh Shaiyaa were my foundation stones. Interestingly these two Tigers became the stepping stones for Bandhavgarh’s take off into wildlife tourism journey. Here i say that mine and Bandhavgarh’s journey into wildlife tourism is synchronized. Seeing B2 since he was 4-5 months old till he became the supreme commander of Bandhavgarh, and finally walked into immortality, has been an enriching journey for me.
From 2001 started my wildlife photography journey as well. It was in 2001 that we conducted “Tiger Photographic Safaris” for the first time in India. Many amateur photographers visited Bandhavgarh, and that perhaps was the smoothening of the inertia, and the world saw what Bandhavgarh had on offer.
Traveling all the way from New Delhi in a train in the 90’s (as i could not afford traveling in a flight those days) every fortnight, was out of sheer love for Bandhavgarh. And this love was not only towards the forest and it’s denizens, but also the local community in Tala. All the guides and drivers were exceptionally good human beings apart from being very knowledgeable. Even today those guides and drivers are an important pillar for the experience one has in Bandhavgarh. It was this love for wildlife that commenced my wildlife tourism journey in year 2000. A huge credit for this goes to Bandhavgarh as well. Motto of our company is “Conservation through Tourism"
From just two resorts with a total of about 24 rooms in late 90’s, to today over 500 rooms is like seeing one’s child grow from an infant to an adult. Bandhavgarh is a great success story of "conservation through tourism”.
In the year 2005 & 2006, we were chosen as the preferred Wildlife Operator for Bandhavgarh by BBC. I would share entire credit of this to the team and the Tigers of Bandhavgarh. Without their consistent sightings this was not possible. It was a great moment of pride for us. Our team in Bandhavgarh comprises of some very skilled guides, and drivers. Few of them are born and brought up in Bandhavgarh national park before it became a Tiger reserve. Hence their knowledge of the Tiger trails is quite unparalleled. They will leave an indelible impression upon you.
Our journey (Bandhavgarh and our company) has seen some ups and downs over the years, but as we did not leave each other so all the tough times were overcome. With Bandhavgarh i have kind of a social security feeling. Vey few of us realize that forests matter at a more fundamental level to the mankind. Every time i have entered Bandhavgarh for a safari, i see a happy forest. But development has a destruction side to it. Importantly the forest department was able to control what could have been an irreversible collateral damage by controlling tourism in the year 2012.
All our guests have had some wonderful experiences here. We wish the same for you too.
Sharad Kumar Vats