Nestled at the foothills of the Western Ghats Mountains, Bandipur National Park is well-known for its expansive tracts of virgin forests. Once a popular game reserve of the Mysore Maharajas, this national park forms a part of the Niligiri Biosphere Reserve today, which also encompasses the Nagarhole National Park of Karnataka, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary of Kerala and Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary of Tamil Nadu. Spread over an area of approximately 874 sq km, it was created out of the Bandipur Reserve Forest, in 1931.
In 1973, Bandipur Wildlife Sanctuary was conferred the status of a designated tiger reserve, as per the ambitious Project Tiger Scheme launched by the World Wide Fund (WWF). In 1974, the wildlife sanctuary was declared a National Park, under the Wildlife Protection Act. Since then, stringent anti-poaching measures have resulted in a steady increase in the big cat population. The park is open throughout the year, but the best time to visit is in monsoon season i.e. from May to September, when the wildlife is plenty and forest is full of greenery.
Bandipur National Park is a treasure trove of exotic species of flora and fauna. The vegetation ranges from deciduous and evergreen forest covers to open grassy woodlands. The upper tree canopy in the forest comprises Teak, Rosewood, Honne, Mathi, Bamboo, Bamboo, Nelli and Sandal Trees. It is because of this variety in the flora of the national park that it serves as home to a large popular of animals and birds.
Bandipur Wildlife Sanctuary plays host to a myriad of animal species, which include tiger, leopard, elephant, gaur, sambar (deer), chital, sloth bear, mouse deer, wild dog, wild boar, barking deer, giant squirrel, four-horned antelope, nocturnal porcupine and hyena. Apart from these, panther, mouse deer and osprey are some of the exotic species found in the park.
The avian population in Bandipur National Park is represented by grey junglefowl, pompadour green pigeon, honey buzzard, red-headed vulture, grey-headed fish eagle, brown hawk owl, bay owl, malabar trogon, nilgiri flycatcher, malabar pied hornbill, little spiderhunter, peacock, plain flowerpecker, woolly-necked stork, peafowl, partridge, quail, hornbill and ibis.
Bandipur Wildlife Sanctuary also houses reptiles like king cobra, common cobra, python, adder, viper, rat snake, water snake, marsh crocodile, lizard, chameleon, monitor lizard, frog, tree frog, toad and tortoise. It also serves as the abode to a wide variety of butterflies, along with ants and dung beetles. In short, you will find a wide variety in the sanctuary.
In and Around
Bandipur is a safe haven for a wide variety of wild animals. Spotting tigers in the Bandipur national Park is not as easy as in Ranthambore, but they exist in considerable numbers. A mini-bus Safari or jeep safari would be ideal to chance upon any opportunity of sighting a tiger. The sanctuary is also home to other animals like elephants, panthers, Jackals, spotted deer, sloth bears, grey langurs and snakes from cobra to the python. It is possible to sight them congregating around the guest houses. Four-horned antelope is also a member of the forest but it’s rarely sighted.
The Bandipur sanctuary can boast of being home to about 300 species of birds. Enjoyed by people of all ages, birdwatching can be an excellent way to pass time, especially if you have not been lucky enough to sight the tiger. Bird watching can be more fruitful in the morning hours and can be a real treat for the enthusiastic birdwatchers.
Trekking & Hiking
Trekking on the Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta hilltop is also an exciting activity to do in Bandipur. On the top of the hill is a temple dedicated to Lord Krishna. A beautiful mist covers the area for most part of the year. In fact, there is a greater chance of sighting animals from this hill top. Take along your trekking shoes and make sure that you make minimum noise so that you don’t disturb the natural habitat.
The best period to visit Bandipur wildlife Sanctuary is during the monsoon season i.e. from July to October.
How to Reach
The nearest airport to Bandipur is the Bangalore International Airport at a distance of 215 kms. All major domestic airlines such as Indian Airlines, Air India, Indigo, paramount etc connect to Bangalore. Bangalore is also well connected to the major foreign airports. State run buses or private taxis can be hired to reach Bandipur from Bangalore.
The nearest railway station to Bandipur is Mysore at a distance of 80 kms. The railway station is well connected to all the nearby cities and Bangalore. State run buses can be taken to reach Bandipur from Mysore. Private taxis can also be hired.
State owned buses run from all the nearby cities to reach Bandipur. The route followed is SH 17 to Bandipur via Maddur, Mysore, Nanjangud, Begur and Gundlupet. If you are going by a car, an alternative route is Bandipur via Kanakapura, Shivanasamudram, Kollegal, Chamarajnagar and Gundlupet.
Stay / Eat
Where to Stay
The forest department maintains reasonably priced lodges, rest houses and cottages. One such reasonably priced accommodation is Vana Vihar. Be sure to book in advance.
Bandipur Safari Lodge
Bandipur National Park,
Bandipur , Karnataka,571126
The Serai – Bandipur
Karnataka wildlife resorts,
Survey No 19/2,20, 21, Kaniyanapura Village,
Mangala Post,Bandipur , Karnataka,571126
Where to Eat
Being a national park eating out in Bandipur is restricted to the guest houses and lodges where you are staying in. The closest restaurant is the in-house Sanctuary in the hotel Serai Bandipur, just outside the limits of the national park. It serves a wide variety of international cuisines apart from the traditional South Indian fare.