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Karnataka: Bandipur National Park and Tiger Reserve
Bandipur National Park, hidden in the shadowy forest of Jhamuna, Sandalwood, Mahogany, Ebony, Tectona Grandis, Bamboo and Deodar trees, spreading across 874.20 square km, at the varying elevations of 1022 meters to 1454.5 meters, adjacent to the impressive green paradise of Mudumalai and Wynad, is situated at the roadside of Mysore- Ooty road. The Stream of Moyar River, originating from Mudumalai, is flowing in the Bandipur National Park and is an additional allurement for the nature lovers. The place is also blessed with the slender stream of Kabini River which is acting as a natural rim between Nagarhole and Bandipur. The compelling green land of Bandipur and splendid Nagarhole National Park are well spread in the south and in the north sides of Kabini River respectively.
Built recently in 1931, Bandipur, at the foothill of Nilgiri hill, covering 90 square km of heavenly and delightful manor, was a primeval hunting field of the Mysore kings and was merged with the Nagarhole National Park to become Venugopal Wildlife Sanctuary in 1941. Since then the volume of the National Park has increased to 800 square km from 90 square km. It was also rewarded with the title of Bandipur Tiger Reserve in 1973. The majestic land has 75 tigers according to the statistics of 1997.
Even though the place is gaining its reputation and pulling huge crowds throughout the year for the blessings of the awe-inspiring nature and strolling tigers as the Bandipur Tiger Reserve, but besides tigers a number of Leopards, 2000 wild elephants, Shambars, Bison, Antelope, Gaur, various species of deer, Beer and wild dogs amble around to enjoy the magical cosmos. You can often watch monkeys playing with their companions and jumping from one branch of the tree to the other. Be careful while strolling around with your kids, because they can even harm you.
Towering Tectona Grandis, Bombax ceiba, Sandalwood, Jamuna and Rosewood trees are helping Myna, Indian pied hornbill and various other species of small and large birds to form small and secured nests on their strong branches. The pleasing sight of promenading peacocks would enthrall all the nature lovers and bird watchers as well.
To watch the charming nature from a different perspective, take a walk to Gopalswamy Betta. The hilly range of Paschimghat and well spread out green trees on its slopes would be enticing and beguiling experience for the hordes of tourists and nature lovers.
Bandipur National Park was the homeland of the sandalwood smuggler and a known figure of India, Veerappan.
Holiday makers can enjoy the spectacular natural backdrop riding on an elephant. The tour to various corners of the fascinating green manor is organized by the Forest Authority every day. If you want to get into the forest riding on an elephant then you have to spend near about 95 rupees per head where as if you travel by jeep then the charge is 195 per head. A mini bus which carries 20 tourists goes inside the forest through Game Road as well. Expect to watch the striking nature and denizens in their wild forms and wait for a number of surprises inside the woods as well. Climb up the watch tower inside the woodland to enjoy the mesmerizing nature and watch the ambling denizens. You can even take snaps of the surrounds from the watch tower to remember the trip for a long time.
Even though the best season to watch the grandeur of Bandipur National Park is during November- May but the green nature would offer you a lot in the month of January and February. The temperature hovers around 30 degrees Celsius in summers where as the temperature stays close to 18 degrees Celsius in winters. The land of mysteries and darkness experiences 1000 mm of rainfall on an average.
How to reach: Bus which starts from Mysore and travels to Ooty touches the Bandipur Reception Centre on its way. Tourists would be entertained with the sight of a large number of ambling elephants at the roadside on the way to the forest from Mysore and Ooty. It would be wise to visit the Bandipur National Park from Mysore by bus. It is a 2 ½ hours journey. The car which you are planning to hire to go inside the forest has to be reserved beforehand as well. However, private cars are not allowed inside the forest.
Where to stay: Even though a number of hotels and cottages are dotted around but you have to book one for you well in advance. To book the 7 cottages of Bandipur National Park, write to Field Director, Project Tiger or call @ (0821) 2480901-02.
There are two other cottages as well in the vicinity. You have to call @ (080) 23341993 to book these two cottages.
9 cottages of Forest Department with 18 rooms and dormitories are available inside the forest compound as well. Gajendra, Harini, Chittal, Papecha, Kokila, Vanashree, Vanasuma, Kuteera and Mayura Lodge are the names of these cottages. If you sit at the window side of the cottage you can watch different species of deer. If sufficient number of tourists congregate at the Tourist Interpretation Centre at the entrance then all of them together can watch a feature film of wild animals of the forest.
Located at a distance of 20 km from Bandipur National Park, on the top of Himavat Gopalaswami hill, is Venu Vihar Lodge. Stay here overnight to start your day by watching the splendor of strolling deer and peacock.
Apart from all these places, another noteworthy lodge in the proximity for the tourists is Bandipur Safari Lodge. Plan your tour appropriately ahead of time and collect necessary information from the Deputy Conservator of Forest, Bandipur National Park. You can call them @ (08229) 236043.
Check our hotel booking links below for photos, rates, options and online bookings at Bandipur National Park.