Bandipur National Park
As you cross the enchanting Nilgiri Mountains covering the West Ghats, you cannot miss out the spectacular and awesome lush garden located on the foothills of this terrain - The Bandipur National Park. Situated in the Chamarajanagar district of southern Karnataka in South India, this forest supports a remarkable variety of flora and fauna, making it veritable paradise for wildlife.
What was once the hunting reserve of the Maharajas of Mysore today stands as one of the first Indian Tiger reserves and the southernmost of the nine reserves specially established under Project Tiger, a scheme launched by the Government of India to save the tiger and its habitat.
By Air: The nearest airport to Bandipur is Banglore which is 220 km from Bandipur.
By Rail: The nearest railway station is Nanjungud, 55 kms away from Mysore station.
By Road: Bandipur is 220kms away from Bangalore, 80 kms from Mysore and 80 kms from Ooty. The nearest town is Gundulpet which is 20 kms away from the park. You could reach this town through state run buses and taxis from Mysore or Ooty.
Bandipur National Park's history dates back to the reign of late Maharaja of Mysore, Jayachamaraja Wodeyar, an active wildlife enthusiast who gave up hunting in 1955. He later became the chairman of the Indian Board of Wildlife. In 1973, Bandipur was established as a tiger reserve and in 1974 was declared as a national park under the Indian Wildlife Act.
The picturesque location
The Bandipur National Park stretches along the Kerela-Tamil Nadu border covering the Wayanad and Mudumalai National park. Located on the Mysore-Ooty highway, the park includes rocky hills and valleys by rivers Kabini, Nugu, Moyar and numerous small streams. The alluring Nilgiri Mountains and their cloud-covered peaks form a picturesque backdrop for the park.
Animals and Avian population at Bandipur National Park
Bandipur is well known for Asian elephants. Apart from elephants, the park remains home to wildlife like spotted deer and sambhar, gaur and flying squirrel, four horned antelope, Nilgiri langur and sloth bear. One can also witness the big cat, wild dog, spotted deer, sambhar, barking deer, chausingha, bonnet macaques and the giant squirrel at the park.
Bandipur is also rich in avian population. Peafowl and the game birds like the grey jungle fowl, red spur fowl can be spotted at the national park. The Kabini backwaters and the larger tanks attract cormorants, ducks, herons, teals, and waders. Among the woodland birds the hawk eagle, serpent eagle, the collared scops owl, the yellow-legged green pigeon, parakeets, woodpeckers and barbets, hornbills, drongos, scarlet minivets, and diverse warblers can be easily seen in the national park.
The park is a mixture of deciduous forests, evergreen forests and scrub along the waters of the Moyar River. Apart from being home to the Asiatic elephants, Bandipur houses a large number of tigers, which number around 66 in number (according to the 1997 census). Also, the deciduous areas accommodate large tracts of stunted tress, bushes and fragrant sandalwood and rosewood.
Safaris at Bandipur National Park
Bandipur is well known for its safaris that are conducted in well-protected and eco-friendly buses. The forest department also organizes group treks inside the park led by professionally trained guides. An elephant safari around Bandipur is the most scintillating of all. You can also book a machan near a watering hole for the best view of all habitats. One can also visit the highest point, Gopalaswamy Betta (Hill) where the temple of Lord Venugopal is located. The adjacent spot termed as the Rolling Rocks are picturesque and photogenic.
Tourist guide for Bandipur
Best time to visit: The pre-monsoon showers in April enable the resident birds to commence their breeding activities. The park is a paradise during the months of April and October where one can get to watch larger mammals in their natural surroundings.
Accommodation: There are ample accommodation options in and around the Bandipur National park. This includes the Forest Resthouses and Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) cottages, besides a few luxury resorts and hotels. The forest resthouses here are deluxe bungalows and also have dormitory beds; both should be reserved in advance at the Forest Office in Bangalore or Mysore. Rooms at the resthouses cost between Rs 300 and 400 a night.