This holiday season enjoy the pleasure of being a guest at residence of the majestic beast of the planet. The Bandipur Tiger Reserve serves home to a large population of tigers. It is one of the most visited wildlife reserve in our country. Situated in the arms of mesmerizing beauty, the Bandipur National Park exhibits serene aesthetic beauty. It is located near the region of Mysore and Chamarajanagar districts of Karnataka state. The chances of finding the sight of these big cats freely roaming around in their natural habitat are quite high as the reserve boasts of rapidly increasing numbers of these solitary creatures.
The exquisite national park has a rich history behind its origin. It was created by including most of the forest areas of the Venugopala Wildlife Park. This tiger reserve served as the favorite hunting ground for the Maharajas of Mysore till 1941. The late Maharaja Jaya Chamaraja Wodeyar, who was the founding chairman of Indian Board of Wildlife, was an eccentric wildlife lover. Brought under Project Tiger in 1973, this reserve is regarded as one of the most beautiful and better managed national parks of India. The Project Tiger was aimed at protecting and preserving the tiger population in our country. This robust reserve quietly survived the ill effects of the Kabini river valley project and outbreaks of rinderpest that almost completely destroyed the local gaur population. But due to the efforts of government and different NGOs, it remains one of the most travelled safari spot of our country.
The enthralling park is enriched with dry deciduous forest dominantly. It spans a spacious area of 874 sq km that provides habitat to a large population of flora and fauna. Also it is just about 80 km away from the city of Mysore. The park offers a wide variety of biomes namely moist deciduous forests, dry deciduous forests and shrub lands. It includes rocky hills enveloped with Kabana River in the north and Moyar river in the south. Nugu River runs through the park enriching the rich flora and fauna residing in the reserve.
The enormity of the forest leaves you astounded and takes out the naturalist in you. Carefully watching the wild animals in their natural habitat and observing them at a distance of few meters is quite an experience. While elephants can be seen easily, but the glimpse of the solitary big cat is a rare occasion.
This ecological haven is an around the year tourist spot. The temperature ranges from a moderate 18 degree Celsius to 24 degree Celsius. The sun is glaring during the summers and causes green forests to dry out. Nights are cool in winters. Winters are climatically the most pleasant but the greatest chances of wildlife sightings are in March or April when the animals can be seen by the watering holes. During a drought, Bandipur is devoid of animals since most of them move to the adjoining Mudumalai reserve. For bird watchers winter months are the perfect time for visiting as most of the migratory birds come down south to roost.
The Bandipur Tiger Reserve caters many good options to stay. One can choose from budget hotels to luxury hotels. The government run lodges are cheap and a good option to put up at the place. They offer comfortable and inexpensive rooms with nice ambience. Apart from this, there are many other good options too to lodge at the park.
The reserve accommodates varied endangered and vulnerable species. Apart from the reserve being natural habitat of the big cats, it also encompasses a vast population of Indian rock pythons, gaurs, Indian elephants, sloth, muggers, bears, four horned antelopes and dholes. Bandipur reserve is also home to reptiles due to its varied habitat. The rivers enclosing the region provide the perfect leisure space for the reptiles in the area. The huge Indian python, Indian cobra, vine snake, common krait, wolf snake, green keelback, rat snake, rock python, bamboo pit viper and Russell�s viper are likely to be seen in the moist region of western vegetation cover. The most commonly seen mammals are chital, gray langurs, Indian giant squirrels, flying squirrel, Indian porcupine, Black Naped hare, Indian wild boar, common langur, mouse deer and bonnet Macaque can be easily spotted along the public access roads in the park. Bird lovers will not suffer as some of the rarest species of birds are found exclusively in the western part of the reserve. The plethora of birds like Bluewing parakeet, White bellied minivet, Malabar grey hornbill, partridges, stone curlews, quails, Malabar Trogon cannot be spotted anywhere else in the world. Drongo, yellow browed bulbul, white-headed babblers are some other birds found in the region. Hued butterflies in the region are a feast for the eyes. Common rose, common jay, crimson rose, lime butterfly, tailed, common Mormon, blue mormon, Malabar raven, red Helen, common wanderer, southern birdwing, mottled emigrant, common grass yellowone, spot grass yellow, commom jezebel, spotless grass yellow, Psyche, common gull, caper white, common castor, tawny coster, common evening brown, color sergeant, dark palm dart, brown awl, pea blue, chestnustreaked saiolor, chocolate pansy, dark pierrot, chestnut bob, peacock pansy, lime blue, glassy blue tiger, orange pansy, dark blue tiger, blue pansy, grey count, grey pansy, red baron, common tiger, blue admiral, zebra blue, blue tiger, gram blue, etc. can be spotted easily. Other than butterflies, there are various types of ants and beetles. Ant species include Anenictus sp1, Anoplolepis longipes, solenopsis geminate etc.
Infused with bushes and open grassy patches, it supports a wide range of timber trees including teak, sandalwood, rosewood, Indian Kino tree , Indian laurel, giant clumping bamboo. It is also a habitat for various flowering and fruiting trees such as Kadam tree, Indian gooseberry, golden shower tree, satinwood, indigo berry. The area is enthused with herbs, medicinal and ornamental plants. The rich and varied forests of the reserve are filled with mostly scrub forests in the eastern portions, while the central portion exhibits dry deciduous vegetation cover. The western parts are endowed with moist deciduous vegetation cover.
The best way to experience the expansiveness of these lush green forests, the majesty of the wildlife and the magnificence of picturesque landscape is through safari. Celebrate the immensity of these captivating locations on jungle safaris. Capture the moments with a camera and freeze them with you for the rest of your lives. The reserve offers amazing opportunity for the wildlife photographers who crave to capture wildlife. The reserve provides various options for safari. There are mainly six department safari buses to carry the visitors into the eco-tourism area by Bandipur tiger reserve. Also giving further options to choose from, the jungle lodges and resorts roads of Bandipur tiger reserve maintain 15 other safari vehicles. The day commences as early as 6:30AM which is when the first safari is taken to the jungle and the last at 9:30 AM. In the evening, it starts from 3:30PM and goes on till 6:30PM before the sunset. The entry fee chargeable for each safari trip is quite affordable. It is INR 75 for Indian nationals. There is no additional fee for photography and videography. So without restrictions you can capture as many photographs as you want.
Air: The most convenient way to reach is through Mysore airport. It is the nearest airport and is just 80km away from the reserve.
Rail: Nanjangud which is 55km from the reserve is the nearest railhead. Mysore is another option that is probably well connected and hence provides a more convenient option.
Road: Gundulpet, at a distance of 20km, is the nearest town. Bandipur is located on the highway between Ooty and Mysore, therefore buses generally stop here. KSRTC buses moving between these two cities drop visitors at the entrance of the national park at the forest dept�s reception centre.