Located on the foothills of the Western Ghats, the Nagarhole National Park is a delightful natural area profound with beauty, wilderness and species of many kinds. ‘Nagar’ means snake and ‘hole’ means river in Kannada and indeed a number of streams snake their way in and around the Park. The main Kabini river acts as the water life line of this region and the Kabini reservoir separates the Nagarhole and Bandipur National Park. A part of the largest forest reserve in south India, called the Nilgiri Biosphere, the Nagarhole National Park is a picturesque forest reserve, with a healthy ratio of the predator and prey wildlife, thus sustaining a robust ecosystem.
WHAT TO SEE
The Park was once a hunting ground for the Wodeyar dynasty in Mysore. In 1955 it was set up as a wildlife sanctuary and established as national park in 1988. It was declared as a tiger reserve in 1999. The Park has been renamed as the Rajiv Gandhi National Park.
How to reach
The Park is situated in the Kodugu district of Karnataka and is nestled between the Mysore Plateau and the Nilgiri Hills.
Rail – Mysore is the most convenient and nearest railway station to the Park.
Air – Mysore (96km) and Bangalore (230km) are the nearest airports.
Road – From Mysore it takes about 2 hours to reach the Park by car. Buses also ply daily from Mysore and the Park is well connected by road to Bangalore, Madikere(93km) and Hunsur.
What to see
The Park is amongst the richest in terms of biodiversity and wildlife population. The tiger and Asiatic elephants are crowd pullers, however, it the herbivorous animal population that is more ubiquitous and varied here. Four different deer species, the four horned antelope or chausingha, sambar, chital and the mouse deer are found here. The mangoose, flying squirrel, hare , wild pigs and pangolin are some other species that dot the reserve.
Amongst the predators, beside the tigers, the leopard cat civet, jackal, jungle cat and dhole or wild dog are seen here.
The marshes and riverine areas are great places to spot the crocodiles, Russel’s viper and the other reptiles include the rock python, cobra and the golden flying snake. Turtles, terrapins also abound in the water areas. The rare Travancore tortoise is found in the mountain and moist deciduous areas of the Park.
Fish species such as the masheer are found in the rivers.
There are about 270 bird species, including the osprey, Nigiri wood pigeon, darters, ibis, grey headed fish eagle, white backed vulture and Malabar grey hornbill which take shelter here. The Park is identified as an ‘Important Bird Area.’
The Park comprises of undulating slope areas with the highest ground being the Masalabetta peak at 959m and the lowest land being the River Kabini at 701m. ‘Handlus’ locally called swamp areas are extremely vivacious grounds for differing wildlife species. The Kabini Dam was built in 1974 and submerges large tracts of the land.
The forest cover is mainly moist deciduous type in the Western Ghats region. Teak and rosewood are the main tree species seen here. The dry deciduous forests are found in the Deccan plateau area with trees such as the axlewood, and Indian kino.
Things to do
Besides the jeep safari the Park also boasts of boat safaris. Boating over the Kabini river is a great way to explore the wilderness of the area. A ride on the coracle, a round shaped boat is a unique experience where one drifts across the river to admire, be awed and be rewarded by sights of the sought after animals, birds and landscapes.
Some other tourist attractions include:
- The Iruppu falls near the Park are one of the many attractions that pull the crowds.
- Ishwara temple is visited by devotees and is one of the most sacred places around this area.
- Since the Park is surrounded by lush forests, sanctuaries and wildlife centers all around, Nagarhole does act as a gateway and excuse to visit the Bandipur National Park, Wayanad National Park, Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, Mudumalai National Park and the Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary.
- Not to forget, the Kabini Lake that is located 13 km away from the Park which is also a wonderful spot to visit.
- The tribals from within the Park have been relocated in the recent years through consistent efforts by the government and the NGOs. Some of these can be visited on the outskirts of the Park to gauge and experience the village life, the arts and crafts of the locals.
Day 1 – Reach the Park by noon and enjoy a quiet lunch. Meet with the group and decide on the course of plan for the following days. Retire for an early night and rest well.
Day 2 – We start off early in the morning for the safari and spend a good few hours within the reserve spotting and clicking the wildlife and wilderness. Post lunch we venture back into the forests for more explorations and inspiration. Return to the hotel in the evening and discuss the events of the day with the team.