Bandhavgarh was formed as a
National Park in 1968 and wildlife tourism started here in 1978.
M.P State Tourism Devl Corpn was
formed in 1977-78 and when they started their unit here then Tourism Department
started promoting Kanha and Bandhavgarh National Parks in M.P.
Initially there were more foreign
visitors in the park than Indian Tourists.
Saturday baiting for Tigers was
started only to attract the Indian tourists. Those were the days when Forest
Department policy was to let people understand that Tiger is not a maneater.
Those were the tough years for tourism. No infrastructure and no proper
publicity for tourism. Visit of any Journalist was greeted with open arms.
Wildlife Tourism in M.P. started
with no proper guide or driver in lodges. Some people saw the opportunity and
private lodges started mushrooming and that became major point of their
publicity against the Govt run organisation. At one time Tourism Corpn lodges
use to cater 80% or more tourists visiting the park. Tourism corpn did all the
hard work of promoting these destinations but could not maintain the standard
in long run or one can say could not fulfil the demand of wildlife tourists.
Wildlife tourism was cheap, it
looked cheap only because for thirty years hardly any tariff was changed except
the vehicle charges. Till mid 90s the entry fee for a jeep was only Rs 10/ per
day and guide fee was Rs 30 per trip. Those were the days when me and Kay use
to go to Chakradhara meadow for our afternoon tea. We use to park our Gypsy in
Chakradhara meadow to spend next two hours or so. Almost everyday we saw a
tiger during those hours.
Spending forty rupees and two
liter of petrol for Tea was a costly affair for us.
This is the time when few British
Travel agents started adding Bandhavgarh in their itinerary and a constant flow
of foreign tourists started visiting this place. This trend kept on going for
another ten or twelve years and then, after the entry of some new lodges in
M.P., suddenly forest department was told that you are selling your Tigers very
cheap. The entry fee should be much much higher.
People who suggested this to the
department some of them were working here since last decade or so but because
their boss is changed so they started singing the song as told by their bosses.
This was a game plan of making the wildlife tourism costlier and eliminating
the local tourism but this was the time when Indian economy was also growing
and people who wanted to see the Tiger started visiting the park.
Hidden agenda by suggesting this
of these lodges was that making the park so costly that locals could not afford
it and by that we will have the park solely for ourselves. But their this plan
failed miserably due to economical growth in the country.
We know people from the places
like Katni Damoh Jaitpuri Shadol Rewa and Jablapur who were visiting
Bandhavgarh on an average twice in a month in the season. In those days parks
use to get tourists not crowd.
Major changes in wildlife Tourism
came after the Tourism Policy came through supreme court and tourism area was
restricted to 20% of the core area. The reasons which were given in the
favor of animal welfare were proven wrong by the animals itself.
Wildlife tourism could not
recover since this 20% order passed by the court. The policies of online
bookings were also not very helpful for a foreigner to plan their holiday. A
person who plans their holiday months and years in advance wants a confirmation
for his booking. This is one of the biggest drawback in this booking system.
There should be some quota open for throughout the season in online booking
system so if someone is planning to come in next April or May then one confirm
his booking the day the online booking opens for the season. What they call it
Early bird, here there is no early bird here but sab dhaan baais panseri so
with this kind of booking system we lose business to those states who opens
their booking partially for whole season and one can confirm the bookings more
than four months in advance.
I feel that minimum three
vehicles in each zone should be available for whole season as it use to be for
few season before, when the online booking started in 2009 or so.
Bandhavgarh lost its major middle
class business from foreign countries for two reasons:
1 . Lodges could not provide them
proper facilities as promised.
2. Online booking system is never
a foreign tourist friendly. Four months is very less time for assuring a
I shall not go here on services
provide by lodges on this blog but actually they are the main culprit because
of whom the locals lost their income. Here it's not the question of wages but
the question is of services and extra income for locals in the form of TIP.
Along with all the odds which
press and some people cry about Bandhavgarh, it's still a good place to view
Tiger and some wildlife in Central India.
We failed to make the guides and
drivers to be tourism friendly in the park. Most of the drivers just care for
their own guest and they spin in the park in the search of Tiger. In this case
if any other tourist is watching / photographing Monkey's or deer then they
just pass the spot without realising that they have spoiled the game for
others. I know some people who stopped coming here for this reason only.
Hope things will improve in the
future but by that time the whole trend of wildlife tourism will be different