Wild life

Bandipur National Park, Karnataka

Part of the lushly-forested Deccan Plateau, Bandipur, in Karnataka, offers a rich and varied wildlife habitat. It is a part of a larger national park, which also includes the neighbouring wildlife sanctuaries, of Mudumalai in Tamil Nadu and Wynad in Kerala. This sanctuary is one of the 15 sanctuaries selected across India for Project Tiger, a scheme launched in 1973, by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature, to save the tiger and its habitat. Located on the highway connecting Mysore and Ooty, at the foothills of the western Ghats, Bandipur is truly a common man's getaway.

In 1931, Bandipur was a sanctuary spanning an area of only 90 sq kms. In 1941, it was stretched to about 800 sq kms and named the Venugopal Wildlife Park after the royal deity, Venugopala, worshipped by the Maharajas of Mysore. Today, Bandipur National Park, together with the Mudumalai Sanctuary in the south, the Nagarhole National Park in the north-west and the Wynad Sanctuary of Kerala in the south-west, forms the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve.

Covered with a mix of deciduous forests, evergreen forests and scrub, and well - irrigated by the Moyar river, Bandipur has a fairly open forest area, making it easy for vistors to spot wildlife. This sanctuary sprawls over an area of 880 sq. kilometres. The prominent fauna of this reserve, include the Asian elephant, gaur, sambar, chital, spotted deer, barking deer, mouse deer, four horned antelope, wild boar, black naped hare, Indian porcupine and the elusive tiger.According to a 1993 census, there are 66 tigers and more than 1900 elephants. Bandipur is also inhabited by a variety of birds.

The river Moyar, one of the three rivers flowing through the Park, acts as a boundary between the Park and the Mudumalai Sanctuary. The Moyar gorge is 260 metres deep and provides a fabulous view of the surroundings.

When to visit

It is warm for most part of the year in this area. During the months of October to March, the weather is cool and pleasant. The ideal time for viewing the wildlife, is during May and June, and again from September to November.

How to get there

The nearest town is Gundulpet, 20 kilometres away. The nearest railhead is at Nanjangud, 55 kilometres away, and the nearest airport is 80 kilometres away, at Mysore. The best way to visit this sanctuary, would be to make a day trip from Mysore.

Nagarhole National Park lies to the north of the Kabini river (the Bandipur national park lies to the south of it), spreading over 643.39 sq. kms. A dam on the Kabini river and its scenic reservoir demarcate the two parks. At Nagarhole, too, there are fine facilities for some good wildlife-watching and sizeable groups of gaur, elephants, sambar, chital and even an occasional tiger or leopard can be spotted. The other inhabitants of the Park are the muntjac, the tiny mouse deer, giant squirrel, slender loris, wild boar, langurs and macaques.The Park boasts around 250 species of birds, which include the Malabar trogan, the Malabar pied hornbill, the great black woodpecker, the Indian pitta and the green imperial pigeon. The jungle cat, leopard cat and the rusty spotted cat are the residents of the Park.

The best time to visit is March-August. The nearest towns are Kutta (7 km) and Mysore (80 km). The nearest railhead is Mysore and the nearest airport is at Bangalore (220 km). The Kabini River Lodge has excellent facilities, as far as accomodation is concerned.

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