Situated in Shahdol district, among the hills of the Vindhya Range, Bandhavgarh National Park is known for having the highest density of Tiger population in India. Spread over an area of 168 sq miles, the sanctuary's central area-the original 40 sq miles, is said to be the home of over 22 tigers. Known as the White tiger country (the last one was found in 1951), the sanctuary became a national park in the year 1968 and in 1986 the area of the sanctuary was extended to include two large areas of forest adjoining it on the northern and southern sides. The park offers excellent game, bird viewing and historical interest, which attract a large number of visitors.
A game preserve of the Maharaja of Rewa till 1968, the Bandhavgarh National Park enchants every visitor with its wilderness and natural beauty and contains a very rich flora and fauna. The sanctuary has over 35 kinds of mammals, 111 species of butterflies, 250 different species of birds, 16 varieties of snakes and 500 kinds of plants and many more tress and shrubs. Species like Sambar, Barking Deer, the great Indian Gaur, the Indian Bison and Nilgai are the common sight in the sanctuary.
Bandhavgarh has a very old history. A large natural fort, famous as Bandhavgarh fort is situated in the center of the park, which has around 32 hills and eroded rocks. Today the fort houses a small population of black bucks inside it. The cliffs of the fort are 800 meters high and 300 meters high from the nearby countryside. The fort was constructed around 2,000 years ago, as there are references to it in the ancient books like the Narad-Panch Ratra and the Siva Purana. There are ancient temples and numerous caves around the fort that contains ancient Sanskrit inscriptions and shrines.
The fort has been under the patronage of many dynasties. The Maghas ruled it in the 1st century AD, the Vakatakas in the 3rd century, the Sengars in the 5th century and the Kalchuris in the 10th century. Finally, the Baghels took it over in the 13th century AD, and ruled it until 1617, till Maharajah Vikramaditya Singh moved his capital to Rewa. Legend has it that Lord Rama stopped at this place on his way back to Ayodhya after defeating the mighty King Ravana of Lanka and the two monkey architects built the fort. The famous 16th century Saint Kabir too mediated in this fort for years because of its wondrous soothing atmosphere.
The valleys in Bandhavgarh National Park end in small meadows known as 'Bohera'. Sal forest is the main vegetation in the valleys while mixed deciduous forest is found on the hills. Bamboo is found throughout the region. Jeep Safaris and Elephant rides are the only ways to explore the sanctuary.