Situated in the Nilgiri mountain range, Nagarhole National Park is spread across Kodagu and Mysore districts of Karnataka. Situated 96 km from Mysore on the Karnataka-Kerala border, Nagarhole National Park is considered to be one of the best wildlife parks in the country.
The park, which once served as hunting grounds for the Mysore kings, covers an area of 643 sq km and is named after the river Nagar Hole, which means the ‘snake river’ winds through the park. It is officially known as Rajiv Gandhi National Park and is home to the Royal Bengal tiger.
Along with Mudumalai, Wayanad, Bandipur and other small parks and reserved forests, Nagarhole National Park forms the largest protected area in South India covering an area of 3300 sq km. Kabini reservoir separates it from Bandipur National Park.
Nagarhole National Park along with Mudumalai, Wayanad and Bandipur forests has one of the densest tiger populations. The Nilgiri Reserve is home to around 48 tigers.
Set up as a wildlife sanctuary in 1955 and a national park in 1988, it was declared a tiger reserve in 1999.
Apart from the tigers, leopards and wild dogs are the two other predators found in the wildlife sanctuary. Elephants and bison are other prime attractions. One can also spot animal species like jackals, striped hyena, sloth bears, mouse deer, black naped hare, etc. Russell’s viper, vine snake, Indian rock python, common krait, etc. are some of the common reptile species found in the park.
Nagahole is also an have for several varieties of birds. Over 270 varieties of avian species can be spotted in the park. The critically endangered oriental white-backed vulture is a key attraction. Lesser adjutant, Nilgiri wood-pigeon, greater spotted eagle, Indian peafowl, yellow legged green pigeon, painted bush quail, etc. are some of the other bird species that can be seen in the park.
The park has a rich green cover. Precious timber such as rosewood, sandalwood, teak, etc are found in abundance in the national park.
The park also has human settlements. Jenu Kurubas are the main inhabitants of the forest. They speak Jenu nadi, a dialect of Kannada.
The jungle safari is the best thing to do in this wildlife sanctuary. Safaris (Morning and Evening) are organized by the forest department in vans.
In and Around
Activities in Nagarhole National Park
Diverse environment of the park is noticeable from the park’s flora and fauna. Animals like the four-horned antelope, civet, sloth bear, spotted deer, flying fox, elephant, tiger, panther, leopard, gaur, sambhar, black-naped hare, wild boar, bonnet macaque, pangolin, etc freely dwell in this park.
Crawlers like cobras, mugger crocodiles, kraits, vipers, pythons and various species of lizards can be found here too. One can also spot rare species of birds like little cormorant, scarlet minivet, malabar whistling thrush, blue-bearded bee-eater, etc. This park is a great place for animal lovers and bird watchers.
The Jungle Safari is a must. Accompanied by a guide, visitors are likely to spot many birds, reptiles and animals. There is a fair chance of spotting large animal like the tiger, leopard, gaur and elephants. The boat ride and safari on the Kabini Lake is another way to explore and enjoy over a hundred species of birds near the beauty of the lake waters.
The Boat Safari can be done in a Coracle (a round native boat) too. Short excursions and trek around the forest can be arranged too with prior permission.
Around Nagarhole National Park
It is a small town situated near the Nagarhole national park. The town is recognized for its coffee estates and plantations of betel, nuts, paddy, bananas and spices. The town is enclosed by mountains, waterfalls and rivers which makes it very beautiful.
Located in the Brahmagiri Mountain Range, the falls are also known as Irupu Falls or Lakshmana Tirtha Falls. Originating from the Brahmagiri wildlife sanctuary, the waterfall drops from a height of 60m and merges with the Lakshamana Tirtha River. This waterfall can be preferably seen during the months of monsoon, when its power is at full and it offers a spectacular sight.
The temple is situated on the banks of the Lakshmana Tirtha River and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple remains packed with devotees during the Maha Shivaratri celebrations. It is considered to be a very sacred place and is believed that after offering prayers to Lord Shiva all sins can be cleansed.
October to February is the best time to visit the national park.
How to Reach
The nearest airport to Nagarhole national park is in Mysore around a distance of 98 km. Mysore connects flights to Bengaluru. Bangalore also known as Bengaluru is the closest international airport from the park at a distance of 268 km. Flights to major Indian and International cities operate from Bengaluru. Taxis can be hired to reach Nagarhole National Park from Mysore and Bengaluru.
The nearest railway station is again in Mysore at a distance of 87 km. Trains from major cities in the country are linked with Mysore. Buses and taxis are available from Mysore to reach the Nagarhole National Park.
Nagarhole National Park is well linked to various cities and towns of Karnataka by road. Private and state transport buses operate daily from Bengaluru and Mysore to reach HD Kote bus station which is approximately 30 km from the park; from here taxis can be hired.
Stay / Eat
Where to Stay
Accommodation options are limited in Nagarhole National Park. Forest Department runs rest houses; however, it needs to be booked in advance. Camping is not allowed inside the park. Private run mid-range and luxury resorts are also available inside the park. One can find lodges outside the park. Staying in Mysore is a better option as the town offers innumerable options to stay.