Here we have shared information on history of Bandhavgarh forest region. During jungle safari in Tala safari zone, we will find many historical marks, indicating about the great historical past of Bandhavgarh forest region. Presence of caves, statues, buildings, sculptured notes etc. are the evidence of flourishing human society in Bandhavgarh national park area. This forest was part of human settlement and its present status is an indication of victory of animals over human society. These words sounds cool that at least we have some place where wildlife takeover human establishments.
History of Bandhavgarh is around 2000 years old. It menas human presence has been established here since more than 2000 years period. Current history of Bandhavgarh revolves around Baghela dynasty which ruled over this region in last few centuries. Thus they have considerable impact on the history of this region. Some ruling details are also available for ruling dynasties before Baghela established their rule thus we can broadly divide the history of Bandhavgarh region into two parts i.e. post Baghela period and Baghela period.
In post Baghela period, we includes the period of before 16th century when Bandhavgarh region was under control of various powerful ruling dynasties of India. Basic information of post Baghela period is derived from the inscriptions noted from various caves, structures and found during any excavation project. As per the collected information, its old history goes back to 2nd & 3rd century when Magh rulers have control over this region. It was period of 86 AD. After Magh dynasty, this region came under control of Bhar Shiva Nag rulers. This was period of 150 AD. In those days, this region was named as Uchhakalp and Paribvajak. As per their name, they are followers of lord Shiva and they are also referred as Shaiva devotees. With the passage of time many other powerful dyansties had control over this region. It was ruled by Gupta dynasty which had control over vast area of India. After Guptas, it came under control of Sengar rulers. They have good control over Bundelkhand region in Central India. After Sengars, this region was ruled by Haihay Kalchuri dynasties who paid special interest on development of historical buildings, temples and other infrastructural activities.
During the rule of Kalchuri dynasty, Baghela emerged into power. They increased their power by various means like through wars, treaties, marital allies etc. In thos days, Kalchuri rulers had control over Bandhavgarh region. After marriage of Baghela ruler, with the daughter of Kalchuri royal family, they get the Bandhavgarh fort as gift on marriage. This was the period of 16th century when Baghela rulers has their capital in Gahora. Later in year 1562, they shifted their capital from Gahora to Bandhavgarh. This was the time when glory of Baghel dynasty was at its peak. It was the same period when Mughal empire was under leadership of emperor Akbar who was in process to expand its kingdom in all directions. Eminent historical personalities Birbal (Mahesh Das) and musician Tansen were working for Baghel dynasty and were been to Bandhavgarh. Later both of them were gifted by Baghel ruler to Mughal dynasty and they became part of Akbar's court, included in team of Navratna (9-gems). In those days, Bandhavgarh was seen as the major power center of Central India. Due to change in political dynamics, Mughals created pressure on Baghels thus in year 1618 AD, they decided to shift their capital from Bandhavgarh to Rewa. Maharaja Vikramaditya took this decision and thus was the first ruler of Rewa. This was done to exercise better administrative control on kingdom with central location and thus fate of Bandhavgarh changed. Many people got migrated from Bandhavgarh to Rewa and thus place was left abandoned with some small local villages. Fort and its surrounding region was left as human free zone thus wildlife started growing in this region. Despite of this fact, Bandhavdheesh temple, adjoining to fort remain active. Similarly, due to visit of saint Kabir, in Bandhavgarh, Kabir temple is also actively worshipped here. Every year Kabir Panthis (followers) use to visit Kabir temple in Bandhavgarh. Their visit is termed as Kabir Darshan Yatra which is very popular among local people. This holy journey allows common man to visit Bandhavgarh fort site, else it is closed for tourism.
As we all know that Bandhavgarh is located on Vindhyan hills which is major range, covers considerable part of Central India and nestles rare wildlife species with presence of many national parks & tiger reserves. Forest area of Bandhavgarh includes 39 hills. Due to hilly terrain with sufficient rainfall, this region is blessed with healthy forest. Due to ideal survival conditions, wildlife of Bandhavgarh is also very good. This region was preferred by tigers. Baghel rulers used Bandhavgarh as their private game reserve. They use to do visit Bandhavgarh forest on their hunting expeditions. Maintaining private hunting reserve as a trend on those days as similar private hunting reserves were found at Shivpuri in Madhya Pradesh, Cooch Behar of West Bengal, Mysuru of Karnataka, Ranthambore & Sariska in Rajasthan, Gir at Gujarat etc. Hunting expeditions were used as part of political diplomacy also. The XXXII Baghel king Gulab Singh Ju Deo (1918-1946) shot 616 tigers in their lifetime. In this figure, 327 were male tigers & 289 were female tigresses. The largest tiger shot was of 10 ft. 9 inches long. Another Baghel ruler Martand Singh Ju Deo shot 131 tigers. He shot first tiger at the age of 13 years. It was him who took path of wildlife conservation. Baghela rulers had their own calculations on number of tigers to shot down by each rulers. It was said that at least 109 tigers to be shot down by a king, in his life time. Killing tigers was a social duty also to relieve local people from threat of predators. It was seen as controlling the population of tigers. Maharaja Martand Singh Ju Deo caught a white tiger cub on 27/May/1951, from forest of present Sanjay Dubri tiger reserve and was kept in captivity for white tiger breeding purpose. Current Maharaja Pushpraj Singh Ju Deo was born in year 1960. He was wildlife lover. Bandhavgarh remained as private preserve till 1968 when Baghela Maharaja decided to handover this forest to Indian Government for better management & control. Since then actual wildlife conservation begun in Bandhavgarh.