Jabalpur—165 km/4 hrs—(via Shahpura and Umaria)—Bandhavgarh—97 km/2 hrs—(via Umaria and Shahpura)—Ghugwa—85 km/2 hrs—Jabalpur
Day 1 JABALPUR-BANDHAVGARH
Arrive at Jabalpur around noon and grab a quick lunch at the Indian Coffee House. Arrive at Bandhavgarh by sundown, settle in to the wood-lined Bandhavgarh Jungle Lodge, and enjoy a Baiga tribal dance performance in the evening.
Day 2 BANDHAVGARH
On a morning game drive (6-11 a.m.), watch the forest shake off its slumber. The bamboo thickets, sal, mahua, and tendu trees begin to buzz with langurs, rufous treepies, hornbills, and nearly 250 other avian species. This park hosts one of the highest densities of tigers in the world, along with a variety of prey like chital, sambar, and wild boar.
After lunch at the lodge, head into the Tala zone for an afternoon game drive (3-6 p.m.). Legends surround the 1536-sq-km national park. Bandhavgarh Fort, high on the crest of a hill, dominates the Tala zone. The story goes that Ram stopped in Bandhavgarh on his return from Lanka and gave the fort to his brother Lakshman, lending the region its name: “Bandhav” means brother, “garh” translates to fort.
Although at the time of writing, the fort wasn’t open to tourists, you could visit the 12-metre long statue of a reclining Vishnu, called Shesh Shaiya, located halfway up the hill. Next to the statue is the source of the Charanganga River.
Day 3 GHUGHWA-JABALPUR
Depart for Jabalpur, stopping en route at Ghughwa National Fossil Park to see the fascinating “trees of stone”. Millennia ago, when India, Africa, and Australia were part of one landmass called Gondwanaland, the Ghughwa region lay close to the equator. An evergreen forest thrived here, and the 65-million-year-old fossils of eucalyptus and palm trees from that time, are now displayed at the park.
Ghughwa National Fossil Park
Address: MP State Highway 11, Dindori district
Hours: Daily 8 a.m.- 5.30 p.m.
Entry: Indians ₹11; foreigners ₹165.
Bandhavgarh Jungle Lodge
Address: Tala Gate, Bandhavgarh National Park
Tariff: Doubles ₹8,500 per night, includes all meals and taxes.
Open: Oct 1-Jun 30
Hours: Twice daily open-top jeep safaris from 6 a.m. to 11a.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.; park is closed on Wednesday afternoon.
Booking: Book permits online at forest.mponline.gov.in.
Entry: Permits per jeep cost ₹1,550 for the core zones and ₹1,250 for the buffer zones. Each jeep seats six. Vehicle and guide charges are extra and payable at the gate, shared by all occupants of the jeep. Carry government-approved photo ID.
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