Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Temples of Kalchuri period in Umaria District

 Most of the Kalchuri period Temples in Umaria District are lying in Tala Range of Bandhavgarh National Park. There could be more than twenty temples in Tala Range. Except Sheshshaiyya none other temple is live means no idol or no regular prayer.

I have no knowledge about history of the rea or of the Kalchuri period. What I am doing is recording the position and condition of these temples.

Most famous temples in the District Jwalamukhi Temple Manpur and Manibagh Vishvnath temple.

Umaria district has a strong presence of Buddhism also.

I have seen only two temples on the bank of river Son Chaturbhuj Temple Masiraghat and Shiv Temple at Amiliya which has now turned to be Durga Temple like Jwalamukhi.

Jwalamukhi temple in Manpur have Vishnu statue and they have done the makeup of Kali on that Vishnu statue.

There are ruins of a Shiva temple are lying in Reusa village.

Patehra have some interesting statues and so the Bijhhariya temple is of Surya Devta but people worship him as Vishnu.

There are some interesting Shivling lying in private temples of Tikuritola.

There should be some more temples on Son River. If you have any info please inform.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

What went wrong with Tourism in Bandhavgarh?

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 confirmed booking.

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 here.    

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Blogs on Tourism spots in Madhya Pradesh.

These blogs will cover almost all the information what a tourist and policy makers of Tourism wants to know so keep an eye on this blog.

Will try to give you all first hand information on this subject.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Pyari's cub stalking squirrel, 2006

This day in 2006 pyari made a kill in Barua Nala and brought all her cubs to share the kill.
At this age cubs are very curios and wants to explore the area. They get alert from any noise or movement. This cub just heard a squirrel and heard the rustling sound made by squirrel by running on these dry leaves.
He came as close as 2 mtrs to the jeep without looking at us but sniffing ground to find the source of that rustling noise.
He was highly disappointed but we had fun.

Wildlife Photographers who stayed with us in last 19 years.

In late 90s we met a young wildlife photographer rom Britain in the park. Often we were the only two vehicles in the park so often we chat about the Tigers and the park.
One day he, Mr Iain Green , asked us if he could come and stay with us.
That's when we had just the one spare room so in fact Iain Green was the first person who started Skays Camp.
He started coming for long stay with us and then about 2 to three visits in a season.
Later on he was the first person to write a book Wild Tigers of Bandhavgarh.
This was the time when Bachchi  was growing and Charger was losing his domain. When Bachchis three male cubs grew they were the only male tigers in the park. They never faced any challenge from any other male means there was no other male tiger in close vicinity of Bandhvagarh.
B2 a.k.a  as Shashi settled in Chakradhara B3  found hills safer for himself and B1 moved to Rajbehra and Beyond.
Shashi became a regular feature on daily basis in Bandhavgarh.
Iain wrote another book this time Tiger Jungle on Shashi.
By this time Steve Bloom, Nick Garbutt and Tony & Sharon Heald started visiting Bandhavgarh on regular basis and staying with us.
Once my picture of a tiger cub appeared on BBC wildlife cover then photographers started enquiring about me and our place.
Then came the Andrew Parkinson, Danny Green, Mark Sisson, Paul Hobson, Tom Way, Richard Barrett, Kim Sulivan and many more who are still patronising Skays Camp.
We dont provide luxury but we comfortable accommodation with running hot and cold water in each room. (All the rooms have attach bathroom). 
Food is mostly vegetarian.
So why all these top grade photographers comes to stay with us?
The answer could be that we provide the best Jungle Experience to them. We have the best record of Tigers of bandhavgarh. Kay keeps the family tree of Tigers of Bandhavgarh which is from 1982 to up to date although now it's getting little difficult to track the record of all the tigers because the tourist zone is limited to 20% of the park.
We are here since 1990.
Now Skays Camp Homestay have 5 twin bedded and one double bed room.
Best way to contact us is through email skayscamp@gmail.com

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Elephant feeding

After coming out of corral and showing his skill of understanding the Mahavat's command he was offered food first time out of corral.
This is the best way to feed a captive elephant, Mr Mridul K Pathak said.
You can see here Roti and Jaggery in his meal.
By this way the number of roti he gets per day and amount of jaggery gets embedded in his memory.
Just within less than four months he became such a docile animal that here the mahavats are standing just having a stick in his hand. I have seen them working in corral it was simply the Tender loving care of the staff which made him friendly towards human being. No doubt this was all possible under the stewardship of Mr Mridul K Pathak. The new boys were appointed to work with these new elephants and very soon they develop a rapport between them.  
There is a story from Bori from 70's about elephant feeding.
Hopefully Dinesh K Dubey will tell us because this was told us by his father, who use to be CF Hoshangabad in those days. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Wild elephant release from corral on 26th Jan 2019

When I say that this wild elephant capture programme was unique in many sense then really it was. There are so many stories which needs to be written about this.
This elephant was the most naughtiest in all for breaking the wall. His footprints were smaller than the other big tusker and his footprints were more common around the houses.
He was the caught in mid september and in October he was put in the corral.
Mr Mridul K Pathak the then Field Director of Bandhavgarh Ntl park use to visit Corral almost every day and every time he went to see them he use to feed them Jaggery or Roti by hand.
His stewardship made new mahavats to work with new, unknown, temperamental elephants.
His only order for them was to win them with love.
Staff worked hard to achieve these goal and results were very positive and were seen very early.
In two months time Mahavats were telling me that they can go inside to clean the corral and for dressing of their old gunshot wounds.

One even offered me to take his picture inside the corral but I refused.
In less than four months time this elephant is brought out of the corral.
You can see a houda on his back with sandbags.
This all was done when elephant was in corral.
After his release he walked around and then his hauda was removed.
Within 40 minutes of his release Mr Pathak was feeding him by hand.
This was confidence and faith on that animal.
This was a great achievement in elephant training.
We know in other states the elephants were treated so badly that court has to order to release them back in the jungle.
Initially when he was put in corral he tried his level best to get out that corral and in that process he broke his left tusk.
In May I saw him standing next to a tiger.