An off the grid experience awaits you this season in the realms of nature. Nagarhole National Park was declared the thirty seventh tiger reserve in Project Tiger in 1999. The Project was exclusively launched in 1973 by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to protect the big cats of India. The reserve derives its name from the Nagarhole River commonly called the Snake River in Kannada and is one of the richest biodiversity areas of our country. Being a part of Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, it is under consideration by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for selection as a World Heritage Reserve. The national park also known as Rajiv Gandhi National Park is situated in the heart of Karnataka state, in the Kodagu district and Mysore district.
The ethereal tiger reserve also called the hunsur wildlife division is distributed into three sub divisions with 7 ranges particularly Hunsur wildlife sub division includes three ranges namely Anechowkur, Veeranahosali and Kallahalla, Metikuppe wildlife sub division with ranges Antharasanthe, DB Kuppe and Metikuppe and Nagarhole sub division with yet another range called nagarhole wildlife range. Extending over an area of 643.39 sq Km, the reserve offers a wide range of flora and Fauna. The region is fed by the Lakshmanthirtha and Kabini rivers and the general slope of the land is in the direction of these rivers. It largely comprises of the dry and deciduous forest regions. The terrain includes few hill ranges.
It occupies the region of foothills of the Western Ghats and along with Bandipur National Park, Mudumalai Park and Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary serves as the largest protected area in southern India. The tiger reserve also serves as an important elephant habitat under the larger Mysore Elephant Reserve.
Although the beauty of the reserve is boundless throughout the year, but the best time to visit is before monsoon season in the months of April and march. The sights of the diverse wildlife of the distinguished tiger reserve can be captured in this season. However for the bird watchers and bird lovers the best season to visit is before winters and just after the monsoon season as most of the migratory birds from south visit the region.
The forests dept manages two rest houses but to avoid inconvenience one should book well in advance. The Kabini river lodge near the Karapur on the Mysore Manthavadi highway also has good accommodation facilities. It offers the colonial ambience and lavish interiors that will make your trip to this region worthwhile. The lodge is surrounded with wonderful scenic view to look out of the windows. The tiger reserve is not very far off from the Kabini river lodge which eventually saves you the time and exhaustion.
Nagarhole tiger reserve is enhanced with an excellent diversity and abundance of animal life. The wildlife animals include 32 species of large mammals, more than 300 species of birds and many species of reptiles, along with 13 species of amphibians and 10 species of fishes. The high population of tigers in the region is the result of best protection effort and an efficient scientific management over the years. Also the population density of large herbivorous mammals has been rapidly increasing. This is the only reserve in the entire country where the three endangered carnivores- tiger, leopard and wild dogs are known to coexist at a higher density. The reserve resides many of the endangered mammals. Due to the consistent distribution of moist and dry deciduous forests, with small areas of semi evergreen and scrub forests, the majority of animals can be easily spotted all over the park. The concentration is high where there is abundant food and water. The large population of herbivores provides ample opportunities for the tiger population to grow and flourish and the reserve herbivore population is comparable to the best in the Asia and the world. It proudly exhibits the single largest population of tiger in India. The even distribution of big cats and leopards in the reserve make your safari to the jungle worthwhile. The majestic predator is largely found in the tourism zones where the prey species abound. The wild dogs, one of the top three predators of this reserve can be seen in the pack of 5 to 11. And add to the richness of your safari trip. Along with these predators there are other animals that contribute to the diversity of wildlife namely small Indian Civet which are nocturnal and are armed with stink glands, common mongoose, striped neck mongoose and common ooter who is spotted mostly in the vicinity of Kabini River. Among the herbivores the most commonly seen are elephants, gaur, chital, sambar, barking deer, wild boar, sloth bear, mouse deer, four horned antelope, Malabar giant squirrels. The smaller mammals like bats, bush rats, etc can also be found without much effort in the reserve. The tiger reserve and its surrounding environments provide a great opportunity for all the bird lovers to explore various species of birds. A rich and varied habitat of birds, this reserve offers an abundant and outstanding bird life. With both terrestrial and aquatic species of birds, the area serves as an important birding area. The Kabini, Taraka reservoirs and their backwaters are a treat for the bird watchers. Some of the colourful birds are many like peacock, grey jungle fowl, river tern, emerald dove, alexandrine parakeet, bee-eaters, paradise flycatcher, whistling teal, Serpent eagle, Brown fish eagle, Crested hawk eagle, sun bird, flame back, hoopoe, white bellied woodpecker, yellow footed green pigeon, golden oriole etc. Some of the other avifauna commonly sighted in this tiger reserve is Red headed vulture, white-backed vultures, Indian Roller, Brown fish owl, Rocket tailed Drongo etc. The rich diversity of the flora and fauna can be enjoyed comfortably in the reserve.
Imbued with bushes and open grassy patches, it presents a range of trees as the major forests can be classified into Semi-evergreen forests, Moist deciduous forests and Dry deciduous forests. Southern Tropical Semi Evergreen Forests are present in patches along the western boundary with Kerala. The species are mostly of most deciduous type with a sprinkling of Alstonia scholaris sp, Spondias sp etc. The Southern Tropical moist deciduous forests includes wide range of trees namely Teak, Rosewood, Honni, Nandi, Mathi, Small Bamboo, Big Bamboo, Nago and Bage that are under the category of southern tropical moist deciduous forests. Nelli, Thadasalu, Palas, Bende, Shivane, Muttuga, Gotti, and Challe are some other trees that enrich the diversity of fauna of this region. These types of forests are found in the Reserve Forests in the area of Hatghat, Nalkeri, Arikeri and S.W. parts of Kakankote and western part of Metikuppe. The southern tropical dry deciduous forests are only confined to specific regions of Kakonte. Rainfall in this region is comparatively low and the forests have been subjected to severe fires during summer due to leaf fall and dry grass lands. Teak is present in different forms. The tiger reserve exhibits a broad belt of swampy ground. The lush growth of grass in the marshy regions imparts the reserve beautiful greenery even in summers when the surrounding forest dries up. The best swamp occurs in Nalkeri, Hatghat and Arikeri. Tiger reserve also boasts of the rich numbers of beautiful lakes and these lakes are inhabited by various free floating and rooted forms of hydrophytes. Apart from the forests, the well nourished plantations which have been raised during the last 100 years add on to the aesthetic beauty of the region. Mostly found plantations are teak in monoculture form, eucalyptus and various other plantations.
The safari trip brings out the naturalist in you. The tenderness of the scenic beauty, the lush green forests and exotic wildlife of the reserve serve as a beautiful escape from the mundane city life. Capture the most cherished moments of your life on a Safari to the jungle in this tiger reserve. The first safari starts as early as 6:30 AM in the morning till 9:30AM. The evening safari commences at 3:30 PM till 6: 15PM. Although the animals can be spotted all over the reserve during any time of the day but the morning timings are best to enjoy the scenic beauty of the place which is ecstatic. For van or mini bus, the entry fee for Indians is 300INR for vehicle safari. One can freely enjoy the view and do photography and videography for non commercial purposes. One of the best pictures is clicked in the leisure time of these animals.
Air: The nearest international airport is Bangalore which is about 220 km from the tiger reserve. Coimbatore and Calicut are also other airports in the proximity of the Nagarhole tiger reserve.
Rail: The nearest railway junction is Mysore and it is well connected with the nearby towns. It is about 95 km away from the reserve.
Road: The reserve is well connected with to the adjoining areas of Karnataka. The highways link the park to the towns of madikare and Mysore. The highways are motorable and the journey lasts for at least 2 hours from these towns to the tiger reserve.