Travellers to Ooty and Wayanad can plan a detour at Nagarhole National Park and Tiger Reserve nearby, which has the highest concentration of herbivorous animals in Asia.
The thickly forested park on the banks of Kabini River and teeming with picturesque waterfalls gets its name from the numerous streams snaking through it – 'naga' in local language refers to a snake. There are, in fact, 47 streams, of which four are perennial, in the national park area. In addition, Nagarhole boasts of 41 man-made tanks, four perennial lakes, one reservoir and a dam. A number of swampy areas in the park are also favourite haunts of wild animals.
The population of the park includes over 250 species. Elephants, bears, wild bison, tigers, leopards, deer, wild boars, wild buffaloes, and numerous birds are a few among them.
Bandipur National Park is adjacent to Nagarhole and the Kabini serves as a boundary between them. Nagarhole, located in the Kodagu district of Karnataka, is also known as the Rajiv Gandhi National Park.
How to reach
The nearest airport is in Mysuru, which is 80 km away. Taxis are available from there. By train the most convenient railway station is again Mysuru. Another railway station from where travellers can head to Nagarhole is Nanjangud, which is 55 km away. Travellers planning a trip from Bengaluru can drive in their own vehicles or take a cab. The Bengaluru – Nagerhole distance is 220 km. From Mysuru, the road to Nagarhole is via Hunsur.
There are three main entry points to the national park, each of which is at a driving distance of one hour from the other. They are Veeranahosahalli near Hunsur in the north, Nanachi near Kutta on the west, and Antharasanthe near Kabini River in Coorg, also in the west.
Best time to visit
To observe wild animals, plan a trip to Nagerhole during the months of March and April. This is considering the movement of the beasts to the periphery of the forest as water sources dry up in the interiors.
Considering the weather, the November to February period is the favourable time to head to the national park.
However, the monsoon months from July to October may disappoint visitors as the wildlife safaris are sometimes not allowed.
Highlights of the park
Nagarhole National Park is situated in a geographically important area as it is the meeting point of the Deccan Plateau and Western Ghats. The Kabini river forms the southern boundary of the park, which receives copious rainfall every year. The area near the river has abundant vegetation and is home to a variety of herbivorous animals.
But a trip to the south-eastern part of the park rewards a visitor with sights of birds and carnivorous animals. Meanwhile, the central parts of the park flaunt a number of pretty waterfalls originating from the Kabini. On the other hand, the western portion of Nagarhole presents amazing views of hills, waterfalls, valleys, sandalwood trees, and bamboo forests.
The park remains open for visitors from 6 am to 6 pm every day. Travellers can drive their own vehicles through the forest paths, but there are speed restrictions. Moreover, stopping the vehicle inside the park or stepping out of it is not allowed. Violation of these rules invites a fine.
However, to venture into the deep forest, one has to travel in the safaris arranged by the Forest Department. There are two safaris every day, one each in the morning and evening. Forest Department's jeep and van are available for the purpose.
Things to note
The best entry gate is near the Kabini where good facilities for tourists are available.
Ensure that the hotel you check in arranges a safari. If that option is not offered, you may have to book tickets for the safari from the Forest Department's office which is always crowded and you would have to queue up at least two hours before the time of the safari to ensure a ticket.