Karnataka National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuary

The area covered by the national parks and the wildlife sanctuaries in Karnataka is over 6320 sq km encompassing 5 national parks and 21 wildlife sanctuaries.  Of these Bandipur and Bhadra are Tiger Reserves.  About 6725 sq km area comprising of Bangalore, Bangalore Riral, Mandya, Mysore, Kodagu and Hassan has also been declared as the 'Elephant Reserve' under the centrally sponsored scheme of Project Elephant.  Many of these parks and sanctuaries have interesting escapades and facilities for sports and camping.  For details contact The Chief Wildlife Warden, 18th Cross Malleshwaram, Bangalore Phone: 080-23346846.

Forests in Karnataka occupy about 22 percent of the total geographical area of the state.  The north of the state is dry with mostly scrub forests and open grasslands.  The area enclosing the Eastern Ghats is less dry and the evergreen forests of the Western Ghats offer enchanting landscapes. A wide variety of habitats teems with diverse flora and fauna. It varies from the imposing elephant to the majestic tiger.  The highest density of tigers in India is found here, as are a quarter of the world's population of the Asiatic elephants.

Corresponding to its diverse terrain, Karnataka is endowed with characteristic flora and fauna.  The flora includes over 3500 flowering plants, of which about 1500 are endemic to the region.  About 100 mammal species, including elephants, tigers, bird species, reptiles and amphibians are found here.

The drier northern and eastern parts have their typical representations like the blackbuck and the great Indian bustard in its grasslands and scrub forests.  The Western Ghats has a rich diversity of flora and fauna in its mostly moist forests.  The coastal areas also have a few patches of mangrove and a variety of marine fauna.  The wetlands form a unique and diverse ecosystem.

Among the birds the white-bellied tree pie and gray headed myna are notable endemics to the Western ghats and the lion-tailed macaque is now found rarely inprotected sanctuaries; the endemic mammal wroughton's free tailed bat is restricted to a site near Belgaum.  Beaches along the coastal Karnataka are nesting grounds for the endangered olive ridley turtle and the rare leatherback turtle.

Bandipur National Park

Bandipur National Park is about 220km from Bengaluru. Once the private hunting ground of the Mysore royalty, Bandipur National Park is now a tiger reserve.  Drained by the rivers Kabini, Nugu and Moyar it is part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve including the Rajiv Gandhi National Park (Nagarhole) to its northwest, the neighboring Madumalai Wildlife Sanctuary to its south in Tamil Nadu and the Wayanand in Kerala to its southwest.

Teak, rosewood, Sandalwood grows naturally in this area. Huge congregations of large mammals especially the elephant (about 5000 plus in number) and gaur (Indian bison) make for a breathtaking spectacle.  Though not frequently seen, tigers reportedly roam here.  Animals like wild boar, panther, sambar, chital, wild dog, mongoose and common langur can be viewed.  The four horned antelope (chowsingha) is sighted here only in the rocky terrain through300 species of birds including crested hawk, serpent eagles, tiny-eared owl, Malabar trogon, gray hornbill and white bellied minivet.  Reptiles are represented by rat snake, flying snake, cobra, common krait, Indian python etc.

All buses between Mysore and Ooty stop at the main entrance of the park.  Private vehicles are not allowed to tour the park.  Forest Department arranges for vehicle and the elephant safari.  Safari bus leaves every one hour from the park entrance from timing: 06.00 to 09.00 and 15.30 to 18.30.

Perched atop a hillock (1455m) is the Himavad, where a temple dedicated to Lord Krishna is much revered. The Place is a popular stop for trekkers and the summit offers dazzling sight of the sun set and a panoramic view of the surroundings. Best Season: June to October, Climate and Temperature Max around 35°C and min about 10°C Average Rainfall 625-1250mm.

Rajiv Gandhi National Park

Rajiv Gandhi National Park is about 96km from Mysore. Also known as, Nagarhole NP, the park derives its name from the winding course of the river Nagarhole (Kannada for Snake River) that winds through it to finally meet the Kabini.  Once the exclusive hunting preserve of the Mysore Maharajas, the park a part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is set against the backdrop of the distant misty blue Brahmagiri Mountains.

It includes swampland, streams and forest dominated by teak and rosewood and stands of bamboo.  The swampy areas locally called hadlus dominated by grasses are the fovured grazing spots of herbivores.  Large hordes of elephants and Indian bison (gaur) can be seen inside the park.  Many tigers and leopards reportedly roam about in the park but difficult to spot because of dense forests.  The other mammals in the park include sloth bear, dhole (Asiatic wild dog), jugle cat, striped hyena, barking deer, bonet macaques, common langur, chital, mouse deer, mongoose, giant squirredl, blacknaped hare, porcupine and the elusive slender loris.  Over 250 species of birds include herons, storks, egrets, partrides, quail, woodpeckers, sandpipers, babblers, sunbirds, wagtails, shrikes and owls.  Reptiles include the marsh crocodile, star tortoise, common Indian monitor, chameleon, rat snake, Russell's viper and a variety of snakes.

To approach the park, drive from Mysore to Hunsur (45km) and on to Nagarhole, 45km via Murkal.  The Forest Department vehicles are available for wildlife viewing. Timing 06.00to 09.00, 15.30 to 18.30.  The forest is home to a prominent tribe, Kurubans.  Every year from mid April to May, for fifteen days, Bode Namme (the Begging Festival) is the time of revelry for the Kurubas.

Altitude 700-957, Total Area: 643.39 sq km Location Kodagu and Mysore district, Nearest Town Mysore (96km) Best Season May-October Temperature Max 35°C and Min 10°C Average Rainfall: 1270 to 1778mm Phone: 08222-252041.

Kudremukh National Park

Kudremukh National Park is about 95 km from Chimangalur. The park derives its name from the horse face (Kudremukh) shape of its range overlooking the Arabian Sea and is characterized by deep valleys and steep precipices.  The park is flanked by coffee and tea gardens on the north and the east.  Rivers Nethravati, Tunga and Bhadra are believed to originate here at Gangmoola, a short trek.  Kdremukh is a trekker's paradise replete with crystal clear streams, captivating cascades, and shola grasslands.  Inside the park the mammals include tiger, leopard, wild dog, jackals and sloth bear etc. Species of antelopes, reptiles (snakes ad tortoises) and fairly rare birdlife make it great for wildlife lovers.

By road, From Bangalore drive vai Hassan (175km) then to Sakleshpur (35km), Mudigere (35km) and on to Kalasa (38km).  Alternatively you can also reach from mangalore by road Karkala (50Km) and on to Bhagavathi (27km) inside the park.  The pilgrimage centre of Sringeri is about 10km from the northeast centre of the park.  Timing 06.00 to 09.00, 15.30 to 18.30.

Altitude: 120-1892m Total Area: 563 sq km Location: Dakshina Kannada, Udpi and Chikmangalur districts.  Nearest towns: Chikmangalur (95km), Karkala (50km), Kudremukh (10km) Best Season: October to May, Climate and Temperature 17°C to 28°C, Average Rainfalll 1778 - 6350mm

Bannerghatta Bio Park

Bannerghatta Bio Park is about 21km south of the Bangalore city this nature reserve provides an ideal opportunity to go on a lion and tiger safari in a 'caged' area.  It is also known for its large population of wild elephants. The vegetation is mostly dry deciduous forests and bamboos are common in the park.  Mammals n the park include deer, wild boar, bison, lion,langur, porcupine and macaque etc. the park is also home to a large variety of birds represented by ibis, storks, eagles, quails, partridges, sunbirds and flowerpeckers.  Among reptiles, monitor lizards are common here. 

The zoological garden in the park boasts of an amazing reptile collection.  The Butterfly park here is India's first such park, home to 42 rare varieties of butterflies.  It also houses a butterfly rearing centre to breed Western ghats butterflies.  Timing 09.00 ot 13.00, 14.00 to 17.00. Closed on Tuesdays.  For those inclined there are beautiful temples of Anjaneyaswamy, Champakadhraswamy and Eswara close to the picnic corner.
Altitude: 740-1034m Total Area: 104.27 sq km Climate: 20°C to 35°C. Average Rain Fall: 700mm.

Anshi National Park

Anshi is located in the eco-sensitive area of the Western Ghats adjoining Goa (145km). The area is very rich in rare species of flora as well as fauna.  The park is home to elephant, gaur, deer, jungle cat, Black Panther, sloth boar, giant squirrel, jackal, wild dog and porcupine etc.  Among the snakes, the king cobra is commonly seen.  The bird variety includes the great pied hornbill, the Malabar pied hornbill and the Ceylon frogmouth.  The park is approachable from Dharwad to Dandli (by road) and on to Anshi. From Belgaum also a road leads to Ganeshgudi (76km) then to Joida (8km) and Kumbharvada (12km) and on to the park (4km).  The Dandeli-Karwar road passes through the park.

Bhadra wildlife Sanctuary

Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary was upgrade to Tiger Reserved status in 1998, this sanctuary also popularly known as Muthodi Wildlife Sanctuary consists of Lokkavalli, Muthodi and Bababudangiri state forests. Large coffee plantations surround the area. Situated in the Western Ghats, the reserve has mostly moist deciduous forests, dry deciduous forests, shola grasslands patches in the higher altitudes of Bababudangiri area, and bamboos.  The reservoir of the Bhadra irrigation project or Lakkavali Dam has also added to the variety of habitats.  it is a great place to see the Indian Bison, elephants and a variety of mammals, though the ferocious tiger and leopard are not frequently sighted.  The strange calls of the brilliant chestnut colored Indian giant squirrel are commonly heard and the spectacular sight of the flying lizard gliding amidst the huge trees is simply gratifying.  The southern part of the sanctuary is rich in birds (more than 250 species), butterflies (more than 90 species) and about 32 species of reptiles.  Many of the endemic bird species like the quaker babbler; blue monarch, yellow bulbul and the rare melodious shama are spotted here.

From Chikmagalur the south of the sanctuary onto Lakkavalli (22km), the northern part of the sanctuary is easily approachable.  Timing 06.00 to 09.00, 16.00 t0 18.30.

Muthodi Nature Trail (3.5km walk through the captivating forest) is a special attraction.  The Nature Centre here houses a good library and has interesting exhibits on animals.  A local adage says 'if the bamboo swings to the voice of the wind and the tiger wanders with gaiety, it must be jagara Valley.  the largest teak tree in Karnataka, the so called Jagara Giaant, has a girth of 5.2m and is said to be 300 years old.  The isolated bungalow, Sigekhan, offers the most enchanting views of the Jagara Valley encircled by the cloud topped Bababudangiri hills.  Forest Department accommodation available Phone: 08262-234904

Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary

Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary is the second largest sanctuary in Karnataka is located amidst undulating streams, whispering bamboo, teak plantations habituating various species of flora and fauna Most of the reserve area has moist deciduous and semi evergreen forests.  The sanctuary is reported to have the black panther, elephants, gaur, chital and about 196 bird species including the hordes of colorful hornbills, Malabar pied hornbill and great pied hornbill.  Crocodiles congregate in large numbers in the Kali River even just outside the precincts of the town. The Dandeli forests also play host to the graceful Virnoli Rapids; Kavala Cave (30km) the lime stone caves with their Shivling like stalagmites; Shiroli Peak (25km), the highest point offering great vistas of the Ghats; Kulgi Nature Camp (14km), a nature interpretation centre with a museum; Syke's View Point (21 km), offers a lovely view of the Kali river valley; Nagjhari View Point (14km) provides a magnificent view of the Nagjhari valley; the sinister Syntheri Rocks and the Supa Dam.
Dandeli is easily approachable from Dharwad (rail and bus head).  Timings 06.00 to 08.30, 15.30 to 18.30.

BR Hills Sanctuary

A unique blend of the wildlife reserve and a hill resort it is named from the ancient Biligiri Ranganathaswamy Temple.  Situated at the junction of the Eastern and Western Ghats, the hills are interspersed with valleys, streams and places of scenic beauty.

The deciduous, evergreen and grassland vegetation harbors a variety of wildlife.  Commonly sighted mammals are dhole, sloth bear, wild boar ad bison with a good population of elephants and gaur.  BR Hills is home to more than 270 species of colorful birds, including the lovely paradise flycatcher and the racquet-tailed drongo. 116 species of butterflies and 48 species of ants have also been recorded here. 150 odd steps reach the 500 years old Renganathaswamy Temple standing atop BR Hills in the northwestern part with a drop of more than 300m into a dense forest.

The local hill tribal, Soligas, believe it to be th abode of Lord Rangaswamy (Vishnu) - the patron deity of these forests.  They consider the Lord their brother in law.  He is said to have married a Soliga grl.  The great Champak tree, Dodda Sampige, planted by sage Agastya is believed to be more than 3000 years old.  The river Bhargavi nearby is said to be a form of Renuka, the consort of the great sage Jamadagni.  Do not miss the trips to the nearby coffee estates, visit to the Soliga tribe settlements and the Vivekananda Girijana Kalyana Kendra which displays information on the tribal and the biodiversity of the region.  There are many trekking trails and camping sites here.  The area is also a haven for river rafting, coracle boat rides and angling. Timing 06.00 to 09.00.

Close to B R Hills is the seven range M M Hills.  The ancient temple here dedicated to Lord Siva, Sri Male Mahadeshwara attracts large clouds on the festival of Shivratri.

Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary

Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary is situated just 5km upstream of Srirangapatna where the river Cauvery flows around a string of tiny islets.  The water birds to watch include storks, ibis, egrets, spoonbills and cormorants. One can experience the excitement of an early morning boat ride that takes you round the island to watch birds.  Timing 07.00 to 18.00. Accommodation facilities are available at nearby Srirangapatna.

Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary

The river Cauvery bouncing over jagged rocks provides an opportunity for the Mahseer, Asia's premier sporting fish and a prized catch for the committed anglers.  One can also raft down the foaming white waters of the river Cauvery.
The riverine forests of this sanctuary are habitat for a herd of elephants, the spotted deer, wild boar, sambar, four horned antelope and giant squirrel etc and the species of bird include the shirker cuckoo, green billed malkoha, white browed bulbul and pygmy woodpecker.

The Cauvery Fishing and Nature Camp at Bheemeshwari, just inside the northeast boundary of the sanctuary is a retreat for those in search for calm environs with a dash of adventure.  Further upstream is another satellite camp at Doddamakali.

Kokkrebellur Pelicanry

This little village, 60km from Bheemeshwari in the sugarcane rich district of Mandya in the months December-April every year becomes home to birds ranging from painted storks to cranes perching atop the tamarind, Portia and peepul trees.  In fact, villagers look after these birds from all over the world nesting here like family members.

Gudavi Bird Sanctuary

In the month of June every year the tree, lined banks of the Gudavi Lake become a brilliant mosaic of colors with branches buried under bright plumage.  The gray heron, night heron, little cormorant, jungle fowl, waterfowl, white-headed crane, pond heron, black headed crane are spotted here.  An average of 8000 white ibis visits this sanctuary every year.  Timing 06.00 to 18.00.

The sanctuary is approachable from Shimoga, on to Sagar (70km) and then to village of Soraba (30km) and finally to the Sanctuary (12km).  Accommodation is available at Shimoga.

Mandagadde Bird Sanctuary

Mandagadde Bird Sanctuary is about 30km from Shimoga, the median egret, the little cormorant and the darter with the start of monsoon visit an obscure village Mandagadde in June.  Although a majority of the birds stays on until the end of September, at its peak in August, the total number of birds in the sanctuary is estimated at over 5000 on the island in the river Tunga.