Bandhavgarh Fort

This fort is one reason of visual and historical interest in the Tala tourism zone of Bandhavgarh national park. The moment you reach the Chakradhara meadow you see this fort stand 2500 feet tall. The white coloured Bandhav-Dhish temple is visible from below. 

While it is no longer permitted to visit this beautiful old remnant of the Bandhavgarh Fort, we are sure there will be a time in the future when the permissions will be granted again. Once permission is granted to visit the fort we would will recommend to let go of one safari and do a trek upto the fort.

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bandhavgarh fort temple

Currently you can go only upto the half way point where you are permitted to get off the vehicle and see the reclining Vishnu statue (Shesh Shaiyya; Shesh is the hood of the serpent Shesh Nag which provides cover, and shadow to Lord Vishnu who is in his Yog-Nidra (sleep meditation) on his bed (Shaiyya).

While on your way upto this point you see some caves and sculptors left around untouched by time. You first see the horse stable of the Maharaja, then you move up and see the House of Commons where the general public was permitted to come and talk about their problems. Then you arrive at Shesh Shaiyya. It was right here that I saw my first Tiger way back in 1995, the queen of Bandhavgarh, Sita, one of the most beautiful Tigresses I have seen ever. There is a convenient place to park vehicles on the southern side of the fort in the lush jungle which surrounds its base.

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vishnu statue bandhavgarh
vishnu statue bandhavgarh

This point is known as Shesh Saaiya, here you see a unique 32 foot long statue of reclining Vishnu (the preserver in Indian trinity of Gods) carved around the 10th century, from whose feet the Charanganga river is said to flow. A rectangular pool of spring water lies just beneath the statue and the path to the main gate of the fort. The green cover on the pool is thought to be blue green algae, but it is actually cynanobacteria. The top few inches of water are dominated by air-breathing bacteria. It was communities of cyanobacteria that produced oxygen first and then made complex life simple. It is these aerobes that produce more than 60% of world oxygen. It is such old ponds and lakes that produce majority of world oxygen. Hence it is important to preserve such pools, and lakes. Is there a message that Vishnu the preserver sleeps on this pool of oxygen that preserves the humans?

You trek up from this point for an hour to enter through the beautifully sculpted gate of the fort. Then you reach the plateau of the imposing Bandhavgarh Fort whih is spread in about 560 acres of grassland. There are three lakes in this fort. When you walk around you see the treasury, the prison, the queen’s palace, the parliament, the school, the temple and some other remains of the human inhabitants. This fort was occupied until the Indian Independence in in 1947. As you follow the path southwards, the most remarkable sights are the 10th century rock images of the incarnations of Vishnu. A statue of Narsimhan (half man, half lion) towers almost 22 feet above the grass. There is a carving of Barah Bhagwan (the boar incarnation), and a small temple enshrining a large image of Vishnu in his fish avtaar. The tortoise incarnation stands unenclosed and flanked by later carvings of Ganesh, the elephant God, and other deities. The charm of this walk lies in discovering these monuments in the jungle, unspoiled and unexploited. Some of the statues lie off the main path and so it is best to take a guide. Apart from the avatars, well worth seeing are three small temples of around the 12th century. These temples are deserted, but the fort is still used as a place of worship. Kabir Das, the celebrated 16th century saint, once lived and preached here for close to two decades. There is a small temple in the fort, and a secret passage from this temple apparently was used as a route to move out of the fort. It is said that the famous musician Tansen one of the nine jewels of Emperor Akbar had spent time in Bandhavgarh Fort.

This is one of the oldest fort in India, considered to be more than 2500 years. The natural ramparts of the fort give breath-taking view of the surrounding countryside. Vultures wheel around the precipice which also attracts blue rock thrushes and crag martins.

Yes Bandhavgarh is a strange land, a new park with a very old history — Bandhavgarh has been a center of human activity and settlement for over 2000 years. There are references to it in the ancient books, the Narad-Panch Ratra, the Shiva Purana, and Akbarnama by Abul Fazal.

Explore the richness of Bandhavgarh with our most hot selling tiger safari tours. 

bandhavgarh fort gate
bandhavgarh fort temple
bandhavgarh ancient sculptures

Legend has it that Lord Rama, hero of the Hindu epic, the Ramayana, stopped at Bandhavgarh on his way back to his homeland after defeating the demon King Ravana of Lanka. Two monkey architects, who had engineered a bridge between the isle of Lanka and the mainland, are said to have built Bandhavgarh’s fort. Later Rama handed it over to his brother Lakshmana who became known as Bandhavdhish -The Lord of the Fort. Lakshmana is the particular God of the fort and is regularly worshipped in a temple there. Until the last decade when the fort was the personal property of the Maharaja of Rewa, the Bandhav-Dhish temple had a old Priest who welcomed us on our every visit.

A film by Harry Marshall (Temple of the Tiger) covers the Priest quite extensively. I had the privilege of meeting him on several occasions and having meals with him in the temple. In a deep baritone voice, he would reminisce his interactions with Tigers who used to visit the fort often and recognised him, and were very peaceful with him. Apparently he would come down to Tala Village once a week when he was young, and would walk upto the fort. Once he was attacked by a Sloth Bear near the Chakradhara meadow, and apparently a tiger emerged from the surrounding meadow, fought off the Bear and walked with the priest till the fort.

Thus Bandhavgarh offers excellent game, bird viewing and a historical interest which most other parks lack.

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