Bandipur National Park

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Bandipur National park covers an area of 335.38 sq mi (868.63 km) in the district of Chamarajnagar in the state of Karnataka in India. This is a tiger reserve that was established in 1973 under Project Tiger. Since 1986, this has been a part of Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. This park has been established for protecting the wild life in the state of Karnataka.

Known for the wildlife, Bandipur has multiple types of biomes but the forest, deciduous and dry, are the dominant feature. This is considered to be one of the best habitats of the Asian elephant.

Bandipur National Park is known for different types of animals that include Gaur, Tigers, Chital, Sambhar, Four-horned antelope, Wild boar, Wild dogs, Panther, Sloth bear and a lot more.

This park also has 250 species of many birds. These include the black woodpecker, hornbill, trogan, the Indian pitta, and also the great imperial pigeon.

The park is filled with vegetation and a good range of flora. You also find abundant of rosewood and teak wood.

History

This park, in the past, was a hunting reserve for Mysore’s Maharaja. In 1931 this was declared as a ‘Reserve’ Forest. The area of this reserve is approximately 90 km. The Venugopala Park that was instituted here was further extended to 800 km square.

Wild at Bandipur National Park

Bandipur is the perfect destination for all the wildlife enthusiasts and also those who are looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and enjoy nature. This national park has been rated as one of the most sought after national parks in the whole of Asia. This park greets you with multiple glimpses of wildlife. This is a habitat for around 5000 wild elephants and also a home to a number of Indian tigers.

Things to do in Bandipur National Park

Mini-bus Safari

This Mini-bus safari works out the perfect option for exploring the Bandipur National Park. A 90 minute safari is organized by the park through the zone for tourism. You can enjoy the wildlife at close range. These safaris are crowded during holidays and weekends.

The timing of the Safari is from 6 in the morning to 9.30 in the morning and 2.30 in the afternoon to 6.30 in the evening. The cost of this safari is Rs.350 for each individual. You can book online.

Jeep Safari

For maximum exposure to the wildlife in Bandipur National Park, you can plan on a jeep safari. This is organized by the forest department. This safari lasts for almost 90 minutes. There are safaris in the morning as well as in the evening. The first and the last safari are ideal for sighting wild animals.

Elephant Rides

For those visiting Bandipur, an elephant ride needs to be a ‘must’. This is if you are looking to experience something unique and different. This elephant ride is for 20 minutes. The visitors are taken around the park on the back of an elephant. Elephant rides are also organized by the forest department. These rides can last for almost an hour or so. The fee is Rs.50 per person and the timing is from 10 in the morning to 11 in the morning.

Gopalswamy Betta

Gopalswamy Betta is a hill that is around 19km from Bandipur and 9km from Hangla. This hill lies in the core area of the National Park. Situated at a height of 1,450 m, the Gopalswamy Betta hill gets the prefix ‘Himavad’ as this is surrounded by fog and mist throughout the year. In Kannada, Betta means ‘mountain’ and Himavad means ‘fog’.

This hill is known for the temple that is dedicated to Lord Krishna. King Chola Ballala built this temple in 1315 AD. This temple is of great importance religiously. The hills surrounding Gopalswamy Betta offer a picturesque view.

This hill is frequented by elephants as this is located in the core area of the National Park. You can take an elephant safari that is offered here under the regulations of the administration.

Passengers have to take the KSRTC to the hilltop as private vehicles are not allowed. The timing here is from 8.30 in the morning to 4 in the evening.

Trekking

Besides opting for a safari, you have the choice of trekking through this national park. This offers an altogether different experience. You can take this tour with a guide offered by the Forest Department. Along the routes you find camps of anti-poaching. You can halt here. Your outing can be great only if you carry your camera and drinking water.

Exploring the Riverside

The Moyar River flows through the southern boundary of the park and Wayanad, through the many forests of rubber, teak, and eucalyptus. On the northern boundary you find the Kabini. You can spend time during sunset or even sunrise by these riversides.

Pykara Falls

The Todas tribes consider the Pykara River sacred. This river cascades from plateau into different series of falls. These are named as the ‘Pykara Falls’. You can choose to visit the settlements of the Todas or probably go boating in the reservoir here. From the Bandipur National Park, the Pykara Falls are around 82km.

Where to Stay?

Close to this national park you have not only basic lodges but also a number of resorts. You have the option of staying in the Safari lodge that is of the Karnataka government. These lodges can arrange for nature walks, safaris, and expeditions of bird watching. Staying in these lodges you can experience calmness that works as a lullaby.

There are not many eateries or restaurants here. But the lodges, guest houses and resorts serve meals from South India. You can also get a taste of international dishes here.

The best time to visit the Bandipur National Park is anytime during winters. That is, between the months of October and March. You have the choice of visiting this park also during the monsoons, that is, anytime between the months of July and September. The park is even greener during this time.