Nagarhole National Park is one of the best wildlife sanctuaries in India and also one of the popular places to visit in Coorg. Popularly called as Rajiv Gandhi National Park, the park is spread across Mysore and Coorg districts in Karnataka. This jungle oasis in South India is less popular than its northern counterparts, but the incredible scenery and extensive wildlife make it one of the best National Parks in India and also a perfect getaway for the wildlife photographers, bird watchers as well as wildlife enthusiasts.
History at a Glance
Initially, Nagarhole was the private hunting ground for the Maharajas of Mysore. Nagarhole was converted into a sanctuary in the year 1955 covering an area of 258 sq. km and subsequently enlarged to include the adjoining areas of Mysore district and now extends over an area of 643 sq. km. Nagarhole got National Park status in 1988 and declared as 37th Project Tiger Reserve in 1999. It is part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. This reserve forest is flanked by the Nagarhole and Kabini Rivers from different sides and encompasses lush forest cover, small hills, waterfalls, valleys and streams within its boundary.
Wildlife in Nagarhole
Named after late prime minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi, Nagarhole is situated to the north-west of Bandipur National Park which are separated by Kabini River. The park has a healthy predator-prey ratio, with many tigers, Indian bison and elephants and therefore the chances of sighting a tiger in the wild is quite high. Other mammals includes the common langur, bonnet macaque, jungle cat, leopard, civet cat, mongoose, common otter, giant flying squirrel, giant squirrel, porcupine, jackal, mouse-deer, hare and pangolin. Over 250 species of birds are also found at Nagarhole National Park. The vegetation of Nagarhole National Park is mostly moist deciduous in nature.
Safaris are organized in the forest department vans during morning from 6 AM - 8 AM and from 3 PM - 5 PM in the evening. Government-run 4WD safaris and boat trips are conducted from Kabini River Lodge, which are good options to explore the animals in the park. Traffic movement is restricted from 6 pm to 6 am every day and the gates are closed on either sides of entry into the forest. Two wheelers, three wheelers and goods vehicles are not permitted inside the park. The best time to visit Nagarhole National Park is November - May, especially April - May.
Best Season to Visit
The best time to visit Nagarhole National Park is from October to May while the peak season is from April - May. During monsoon season (June-September), the park remains closed for the visitors.
The Forest Department manages two rest houses at Kabini, but reservation has to be made well in advance through the Forest Department offices in Mysore or Bangalore. The Kabini River Lodge near Karapur on the Mysore-Mananthavadi highway with good accommodation facilities which also organizes safaris including elephant ride and coracle ride. Various home stays are also available near to Kutta, Srimangala and Gonikoppal.
How to Reach
Bangalore Airport is the nearest airport to Nagarhole National Park which is around 236 km from the Park. Bangalore is well connected with all major cities of the country. Mysore is the nearest rail head which is about 88 km from Nagarhole. The park can be reached by bus from Mysore, Bangalore, and Madikeri.