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Bandhavgarh: The tiger domain

Landscaped by a 2,000-year-old fort, Bandhavgarh and its many striped inhabitants are a treat for tourists yearning for a wild adventure.

Hushed tones, a sombre gaze, a frozen stealth and an endless wait… Yes, it's Bandhavgarh and we are waiting to catch a sight of the regal Royal. Like a collection of tiger poems set in the backdrop of rich history still whispering its presence, the forest reserve opens up to endless excitement.

Landscaped by a 2,000-year-old fort, believed to have been gifted by Lord Ram to his brother Lakshman to keep a watch over Lanka, this park is a jewel that shines as one of the most important tiger habitats not only in India but across the world too.

The perfume of history here mingles with the legacy of fabled tigers who ruled the jungle in the past. Charger, B2, Bamera, Sita are a few names that have symbolised the striped tribe and epitomised Bandhavgarh as a destination of admiration.

The area is majorly divided into three zones – Tala, Magadhi and Khitouli along with the buffer that provides us lesser mortals with a chance to encounter the extraordinary.

From vast landscapes to bamboo clutters resigning to the wisdom of the imposing Saal, Bandhavgarh offers an unlimited quantum of visual delight topped with its feline charm.

The forest confides in you with its changing colours. From the fragility of the dew to the insistence of the raindrops, from the baritone of the undergrowth to the sweet nothings of spring, Bandhavgarh has many layers to its soul, if you can connect. The region, truly, breathes through its seasons.

This eternal dance of change has not altered since the birth of this tiger land. Here, life dies and death is born with an unfailing honesty, this truth of nature makes Bandhavgarh outgrow immortality. It is an endless cycle of birth and death. It is a never-ending story of life, marked with unlimited optimism and exhilaration.

The sightings are fascinating. Spotty and her three glowing daughters held the string of promise as it continued to script memories on every grass blade of their home in the heart of Tala. The songs of faith hit the sweetest note when Bamera's Son-T-37 was seen mating with Solo (T-42).

The caracole of autumn ended as the mist took over. The cold Bandhavgarh still had a warm heart beating. Spotty cubs and Banbehi cubs ensured that visitors carried back several unforgettable moments and memories, stories, some smiles and a promise to come back soon.

Magadhi saw the return of the Pathia family. One female and one male cub in their adolescence have come back from their summer hibernation. The mother has two cubs who have learnt the lesson that bravery is not the absence of fear — a key to their survival. Sudden, yet rare sightings of the Mahaman male and a bit more regular appearances of Dotty ensured long durations of chai pe charcha (discussion over tea).

Khitouli saw a gypsy soul take over a kingdom. Pannalal who has walked from the forests of Panna, stamped his authority in this patch of Eden. Darrha female with her new cubs and Bheem ensured that Khitouli earned its stripes well.

The news of Jr. Kankatti's (T-35) death dimmed the light of freedom for its three cubs who rode the storm of change in the last season. Solo's single cub also didn't survive the monsoon. Even the Rajbhera sub-adult males have moved out with sporadic sightings of one of the brothers (R-3). Nevertheless, it is the relentless pursuit of life that makes nature eternal.

The forest again changes colour. The bleeding trees stand tall with their loss. The forest bed is covered with the opulence of the fallen. The winds of change sweep through the forest floor with a rustic rhapsody. The Barbett's call is suddenly audible as the brain-fever bird (common-hawk cuckoo) lends its voice over to the summer milieu.

Breathe in! Another season of fortitude sets in!

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